WhichCar
Powered by
  • WheelsWheels
  • MOTORMOTOR
  • 4X4 Australia4X4 Australia
  • Street MachineStreet Machine
  • Trade Unique CarsTrade Unique Cars

The best road-legal Le Mans racers

By Chris Thompson, 15 Jun 2018 Features

The best road-legal Le Mans racers

These road versions of endurance racers are legendary

These cars have seen their time on track, before becoming road-legal racers.

In no particular order, here are some of our favourite Le Mans-veteran homologation and tribute cars.

Toyota GT-One (TS020)

Based on the TS020 LMGTP racer fielded by Toyota in the late 1990s, the GT-One is likely one of the best-known prototype homologation cars.

Powered by an astonishingly powerful 3.6-litre twin-turbo V8, the GT-One produced around 450kW and is reportedly capable of over 400km/h.

Nissan R390 GT1

As with the GT-One, Nissan’s R390 GT1 road car is a one-off, powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V8. This special, however, produces about 420kW and tops out at a reported around 350km/h.

Designed by Ian Callum, it’s said to have changed from a short to long-tail design when Nissan needed to homologate its updated racer.

Nissan r390

Porsche 911 GT1

A twin-turbo flat-six with more than 400kW and 600Nm at its disposal isn’t unheard of these days, but even a 991.2 911 Turbo doesn’t stand out this much.

It’s thought twenty road-legal cars based on Porsche’s successful GT1 racer were built with 996-inspired headlights, though it’s said two exist with 993 lights – one was used for emissions testing, while the other is reportedly owned by head of Cebarco Bahrain Khalid Abdul Rahim, builder of the Bahrain International Circuit, Yas Marina Circuit.

POrsche 911 gti

Dauer 962 Le Mans & Schuppan 962CR

A good portion of the underpinnings of the previous car on this list actually came from the Porsche 962, a car which itself spawned a couple of road versions.

Read next: Five greatest Le Mans onboard videos

Though not strictly for homologation, Aussie racer Vern Shuppan had a crack at turning the racer into a road-going supercar, as did outfit Dauer Racing.

Schuppan

Schuppan’s CR was created as a celebration of his win at Le Mans driving a Porsche 956, while the Dauer car actually did allow Porsche to be represented again at Le Mans through a homologation loophole.

Both road cars used twin-turbo flat-six engines, the CR a 3.3-litre and the Dauer a 3.0.

Ford GT40

Arguably the most widely-recognisable Le Mans racer-to-road car, and certainly one of the most iconic, the GT40 is still around today in the form of its ‘GT’ successor.

The race version of the Ford GT40 was so successful it won in 1966, ‘67, ‘68, and ’69. Notable drivers include Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, and Jacky Ickx.

Want more? Gallery: Ford GT40 historic shots

A 4.7-litre V8, as used in the Mustang at the time, was the engine of choice for this legendary racer.

Fors gt40

Mercedes-Benz AMG CLK GTR

A 6.9-litre naturally aspirated V12 should have been enough to make this car one of AMG’s wildest creations, but the frankly ludicrous design sure helps.

It reportedly cost more than USD$1.5 million to buy one, so it’s no surprise one ended up in the hands of a Sultan of Brunei.

Retro review: 1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR

AMG experts HWA also built some roadster versions, of which its believed six were completed.

Merceds Benz AMG  CLK GTR

Lister Storm

Perhaps Lister's best known car today, the Jaguar V12-powered Storm boasted ‘the largest V12 engine fitted to a production road car since World War II.’ According to Lister.

The road version of this Le Mans racer (with a chequered report card) was good for 407kW and 790Nm, and could hit 97km/h (60mph) in 4.1 seconds.

Read next: Lister to reveal ‘World’s fastest SUV’

It wasn’t cheap, priced at around 200,000 pounds, which meant only four road cars were built.

Lister

Lotus Elise GT1

While the Elise came well before the GT1 racer was built, a road-going version of the GT1 did come to exist afterwards.

It was reportedly used as a test car, though it ended up running on a V* engine from the previous Esprit racer.

It’s the only one to exist, and Lotus never ended up selling it.

Lotus ELise gt1

Panoz Esperante GTR-1

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of the Panoz Esperante, it’s an odd little sports car built in small numbers in the US.

A GT1 car ended up being built based on it, which then spawned a road version of that. According to Panoz, it still featured a ‘front/mid-mounted American V8.’

Its racing brother’s Le Mans career has been littered with DNFs – actually, pretty much only DNFs – which means it’s never been widely-celebrated.

Panoz