Four weeks ago we enjoyed the 2016 Silverstone Classic and once again, there were in the order of 1000 race cars competing across a wide spectrum of classes and eras. We have attempted to select just ten racers from amongst this awesome field, and called them the ‘VMP Top 10 racers.’ These were selected for reasons that they reminded us of a golden era of motorsport, or for some other personal reason. Everybody will have their own ten favourites, and we would like you to let us know what those are. To be honest, it was that difficult that we could have made it our favourite 30 or 50 cars, but here are our Top 10 racers, in no particular order.
The Porsche 910 is probably responsible for my enduring interest in Porsche cars and endurance racing. As a very young boy, in the black and white 1960s, I received a Corgi model Porsche 910 as a Christmas present. I was captivated by the detail, the glass dome windscreen and all the mechanicals visible under the raised bonnet. A far cry from the matchbox post office vans and the like that were in my collection. In those days of public interest broadcasting, the start of the Le Mans 24-Hour race was broadcast live on the BBC, in black and white…and there was ‘my’ Porsche 910 on the TV.
The JPS Lotus F1 cars were the stand out F1 cars of their era. Probably the first time I became aware of the power of marketing and advertising, not that it encouraged me to smoke. But the F1 cars and all of the merchandising and advertising certainly opened up a wide world of previously unseen vistas and glamour, together with the genius and endeavour of Colin Chapman.
What can you say about the McLaren M8F, 8.1-litres of thunder and oblivion, a car that looks like it was carved from a house brick, built in a shed but is probably one of the most elegant when at full tilt thundering down the back straight. This picture demonstrates the poise of the car as the front splitter skims the track.
1990 BMW M3 (E30) – this car epitomises for me the Touring Car challenges of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Building on the popularity of the 3-Series, BMW Motorsport GmbH produced this racing version with an enlarged 2.5-litre engine, developing 330bhp from its 4-cylinder, in-line engine. This model was hugely successful in the Group A DTM, European, British, Italian and Australian Touring Car Championships. Even standing still, your eyes are drawn to it, and a smile breaks out…you can’t help it.
This 1987 model Porsche 962 C (chassis 962-118) was powered by a race version of Porsche’s 3-litre flat-six production engine. This car, prepared in period by the Cologne-based Kremer Racing team, was sponsored by Leyton House, a Japanese real estate company. It has always amazed me how Porsche managed to achieve such an incredible tally of victories with its 956 and 962 models (232 major international victories between 1982-1994), powered by essentially race versions of their production engine. The Porsche 956/962 is widely regarded as the most successful single model of sports racer ever to turn a wheel.
The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, is regarded as the last of Ferrari’s real hairy-chested front-engined V12 sports cars. Powered by a 4.4-litre engine developing some 350bhp, the Daytona was good for 170mph in road trim, a true supercar in its day. A full competition version of the Daytona was only produced late in 1970, crediting its maker with a 5th overall place finish at Le Mans in 1971. The following year the Daytona called the GT class its own at Le Mans, taking the first five places. This was followed by GT class wins in the French race in both 1973 and 1974. Was it successful? I think so!
In 1973 the Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 was launched as a roadgoing sports car that doubled as a very successful racer, while its bigger brother, the RSR 2.8 was a pure racer. The following year the RS 3.0 broke cover which offered the privateer racer a car that could hold its own against anything the rest of the field had to give. These three models formed the foundation of Porsche’s onslaught in the field of sports car racing, and it was on this that the all-conquering 934 and 935 racers were based. Showcased here is the RS 3.0, a formidable contender through the mid-60s.
And some more favourites…
The Ford Mustang stunned the world when it was introduced in 1964, the first of the pony car phenomenon. The Mustang would shape American culture for years to come, and it stands to this day as the fastest selling automobile, reaching 1.0-million units sold in 18 months. It wasn’t long before Carroll Shelby got his hands on one and the 4700cc Mustang GT350 seen here, was the result. This car holds a special place in the minds of many motorsport enthusiast and is a deserved member of our Top 10 racers.
Another Ford, the GT40, took the racing world by storm when it debuted in 1964. Henry Ford’s idea was to beat Ferrari at Le Mans, and beat him they did, winning the French 24-Hour race for four years on the trot, from 1966-1969. This record of results did not come cheaply, but Ford left no stone unturned in their pursuit of glory. It is a good thing that he went to such lengths, because the racing world is that much the richer for having the glorious GT40s that grace our tracks today.
Although the Lola T70 had all the potential to win, it was slightly outdated by the time the Mk3B was introduced in 1969. Based on the Can-Am racer, the later Lola entered service at the same time as the Porsche 917 (1969) and the Ferrari 512 S (1970), against which it stood little chance. Despite this situation, the Lola T70 is popular with many race goers because it represents an era that was full of power, speed…and a lot of noise. Comprising a British chassis and design, and powered by an American Chevy V8 engine, made this evergreen racer a favourite on both sides of the Atlantic.
Written by Glen Smale and John Mountney
Photos by Glen Smale, John Mountney and Roland Harrison