The ten coolest Le Mans Prototypes of all time

The big race is this weekend, so we're taking a look back at ten of the coolest racing prototypes to have sped around the track at La Sarthe as selected by Jalopnik readers. These selections include both prototype class cars and the pre-1992 proto-prototypes.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our Jalopnik summer feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Aston Martin DBR-1 Fan Page


10.) Jaguar D-Type

Suggested By: Mister Scroggs

Why It's Cool: The Jaguar D-Type was full of groundbreaking technology for its time. It used a monocoque chassis with deformable fuel bags, draped in one of the most beautiful aluminum bodywork designs to pass through Jaguar's Browns Lane Plant. It used many of the same mechanical bits and pieces as the outgoing C-Type, including its XK straight-6 engine and disc brakes, with modifications. It would win in 1955. In 1956, a D-Type run by privateers Ecurie Ecosse would cross the line first at Le Mans, beating out the then-dominant Ferraris and Aston Martins. In 1957 D-Types would take five of the top six positions, for a third straight victory. Unfortunately, the rules changed for the 1958 race, rendering the D-Type obsolete.

Photo credit: Youtube

The ten coolest Le Mans Prototypes of all timeS


9.) Porsche 911 GT-1

Suggested By: Dr_Watson

Why It's Cool: Despite being labelled a 911, the GT-1 had very little to do with its road-going namesake. Its front chassis came from a 993-edition 911, but the rest of it (including the water-cooled engine) came from a 962. Though the car would win its GT1 class in its first outing in 1996, it would not be until 1998 when a modified version would take the outright win, partly due to mechanical problems that sidelined the faster BMW V12 LM, Mercedes CLK-LM, and Toyota GT-One. This gave Porsche their record-breaking 16th overall win at La Sarthe.

Photo credit: Sports Car Digest

The ten coolest Le Mans Prototypes of all time


8.) Jaguar XJR-9

Suggested By: evoCS

Why It's Cool: The Jaguar XJR-9, though maybe not the prettiest Le Mans prototype, is certainly one of the most distinctive-looking. Though the Porsches qualified faster in 1988, by the second lap the Jag had taken the lead. The car had gearbox issues, and was kept in fourth gear for much of the race. Despite that it won, marking the first time since 1980 that a Porsche did not take the top step of the podium, and the first time since 1957 that a Jaguar would occupy that spot.

Photo credit: Ultimate Car Page


7.) Chaparral 2F

Suggested By: jvanproy

Why It's Cool: The Chaparrals were always ahead of their time. So much so that their reliability never really matched their technological advancements. The 2F used the big wing design of the earlier 2E, but on the closed-cockpit of the lighter 2D, in the hopes that a winner could be produced. Unfortunately, its 7-liter engine proved to be too much for its automatic transmission, and it broke constantly. By the time Jim Hall and his team figured out how to fix the problem, it was too late. The 2F dropped out of its only entry at Le Mans in 1967, and the rules changed teh following year, outlawing its use.

Photo credit: Youtube

The ten coolest Le Mans Prototypes of all time


6.) Ferrari 330 P3/4

Suggested By: evoCS

Why It's Cool: The Ferrari 330 P3/4 is one of the most beautiful cars to hit the pavement at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1967, they were coming in off their triumphant 1-2-3 photo finish at the 24 Hours of Daytona, where they recreated Ford's dominance from the year before. Unfortunately, Ferrari was not so lucky in France, finishing with two cars right behind Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt in a GT40. Some would argue the Ferraris looked better doing it, though.

Photo credit: AudioKarma.org


5.) Toyota GT-One

Suggested By: vlmdesigner

Why It's Cool: Though the GT-One was a success in looking cool, that success didn't translate to the track. Plagued by reliability issues and straight up bad luck, the quick GT-Ones never got their moment in the sun. That's not to say they didn't try: Toyota's designers took a good, hard look at both the ACO's sporting regulations and the designs of the other two heavy-hitters of the time, the Mercedes Benz CLK-GTR and Porsche 911GT1. As a result, Toyota convinced ACO scruitineering officials that the car's empty fuel tank fulfilled their requirement to have trunk space. They also built one "road going" version of the car, with no intention to actually sell it to a customer. Toyota gets an "A" for effort, but an "F" for winning the Big One.

Photo credit: Youtube


4.) Audi R10 TDi

Suggested By: Quattro-luvr

Why It's Cool: The only way to really describe the R10 is "dominant". The car won every installment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans it was entered in from 2006 until its replacement by the R15. It was designed to take over from the now regulation-crippled R8 and it did so brilliantly, emphatically winning three times outright at Le Mans, a first for a diesel-powered car.

Photo credit: Youtube


3.) Ford GT40

Suggested By: geistkoenig

Why It's Cool: What can be said about the GT40? It was built as payback for Ferrari who had refused a Ford buyout several years earlier. It won Le Mans four times in a row from 1966 to 1969, ending Ferrari's previous six-year streak. The cars consistently looked great, and consistently won. In 1967, the winning GT40 would be the only American car, run by an American team, and driven by all-American drivers, to win at Le Mans.

Photo credit: Youtube


2.) Porsche 962

Suggested By: snapoversteer

Why It's Cool: The 962 was exceptionally long-lived. It was introduced in 1984, and examples would remain racing competitively well into the mid-1990's. In that time, many teams would end up completely rebuilding their cars, to the point that they were redesigning chassis and buying replacement parts from Porsche. With a bigger engine in 1987 though, the 962 reigned supreme at Le Mans, winning Porsche's record seventh consecutive 24 race there. In 1994, with a ten-year-old 962 modified for road use, Jochen Dauer won the race overall. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is.

Photo credit: Youtube

The ten coolest Le Mans Prototypes of all time


1.) Mazda 787B

Suggested By: rawtoast

Why It's Cool: It's got four rotors in its engine and won the 1991 edition of the 24 hour French classic. Also, it sounds like a swarm of angry Japanese bees. And that paint! I don't know who thought a green and orange checkered print would be the way to go. It's certainly an unconventional choice. But it looked awesome. The 787B was the first, and so far only, Japanese manufacturer to win at La Sarthe, and the only car to win without piston power.