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Ford GT40s dominate Le Mans Legend

18 June, 2015

The spectacle that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been stealing all the headlines this week, but just as exciting — if not even more so, dare we say it — was the biannual ‘support’ race that is the Le Mans Legend.

This amazing warm-up to the real deal 24 Hours of Le Mans recently had the rules changed, allowing entry of iconic racing vehicles from between 1949 and 1968 — with a line-up including such elegant machinery as the Ford GT40, Porsche’s 908 and 910 race cars, and Jaguar C-types, all alongside the characterful vehicles of the era that made Le Mans what it is, the racing would always be great.

Image: Jakob Ebrey Photography

And great it was, with a field of 61 entrants racing cars as diverse as an Alpine A220, Shelby Cobra, and Alfa Romeo TZ1. Ultimately, the podium would be taken over by the blue oval, with a pair of Ford GT40s taking pole and second — a fitting flashback to the cars’ dominance at Le Mans 50 years ago, especially considering both cars had competed at La Sarthe in the 1960s.

Bernard Thuner took pole behind the wheel of Claude Nahum’s GT40, with Andrew Smith and James Cottingham in hot pursuit, to claim second. Ludovic Caron took third in a Shelby Cobra, with David Hart finishing in fourth behind the wheel of the AC Cobra. The GT40s’ dominance didn’t end on the podium either, with Richard Meins’ GT40 coming across the line in fifth, and Philip Walker and Miles Griffiths’ GT40 right behind.

There’s a reason Le Mans is still considered the world’s premier motorsport event, and its rich history — still showcased in such an awesome manner — is why. What a race!

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.