10 of the most iconic racing cars of all time
Icons are frequently the racing cars that act as the greatest definitions for their particular type or era. Their fame touches the next generation, who they inspire with their superiority over the rest of the field. Quite simply, they move the world of racing on, and they think outside the box. And in this blog, I’ll be assembling a list of 10 of the most iconic racing cars in history. So, in no particular order...
Rallying purists will be wanting me to specify what particular version of the Quattro I’m referring to upon listing it amongst icons. But the Quattro’s claim to fame - that of it bringing 4 wheel drive to the world of rallying - is intrinsic to the breed as a whole.
McLaren F1 GTR
In the June of 1995, the McLaren F1 GTR won the 24 hours of Le Mans, with other F1 GTRs finishing the race in 3rd, 4th, and 5th place. The only thing interrupting the spread of McLarens was a Porsche 935 racing in top-tier WSC class. The McLaren on the other hand was in the GT1 division - 2 lower than the Porsche - and it still won the race outright.
Another legend of Le Mans - and one that came with a soundtrack of unmatchable intensity. Winning the 24 hour race in 1991, the Mazda’s icon-status can be found wrapped up in its 2.6 litre 4-rotor engine.
The shape of this 917 alone is enough to inspire a smile to form on the face. For in 1970, the 917 gave Porsche their first ever overall victory at Le Mans. Fast forward the clock 48 years, and Porsche has positioned 1st at the race a total of 19 times - more than any other manufacturer - and 7 times consecutively, which is also a record.
Here’s a history lesson for you children: once upon a time, F1 cars looked like this. That aforementioned time was 1954, and more than any other Formula 1 car of the era, the 250F serves as a poster-car for the dawn of the F1 age. Not to mention that someone called “Sterling Moss” once referred to the 250F as the best front-engined F1 car that he’d ever driven.
If you were to ask the kids of today what an MP4 was, they’d tell you it was a type of video. Back in 1988 however, an MP4/4 was the coolest Formula 1 car around - driven to championship victory by the greatest driver in history, Ayrton Senna.
The GT40’s purpose in life was simple: to beat Ferrari at Le Mans after Enzo abruptly cancelled the sale of his company to Ford. And in 1966, 3 GT40’s finished the 24 hour race in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd position. It wasn’t just a victory - it was a perfect way of getting revenge.
The 956’s legend isn’t merely the result of its victories - but also of one particular record. For in 1983, Stefan Bellof piloted it around the Nurburgring in just 6:11.13 - an outright record that remained unbroken for 35 years until Porsche went back to the circuit in their 919.
If this is the first time that you’ve seen the P34, I can assure you that your eyes aren’t playing tricks with you; it really does have 6 wheels! Strangely in the world of icons, the P34 isn’t legendary for its achievement - but simply for its radical approach.
Another radical design is the fastest vacuum cleaner in the world, the Chaparrel 2J. Known not only for its boxy shape, but also for the pair of fans at the rear that created a vacuum, the 2J was capable of incredible downforce in the corners. It is unquestionably an icon of the racing world.
Now all that lovely lot’s out the way, I want to ask you guys: what’s your favourite racing car of all time? Let me know in the comments.
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