Thursday, May 21, 2020

Le Mans 24 Hour Museum, Le Mans, France

The Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance race was first held in 1923 and is the longest running endurance race in the world. The track is situated on the outskirts of the French town of Le Mans, an ancient town with a well preserved medieval centre that is well worth a visit. There is a museum at the track which houses a fine collection of French classic cars as well as historic motor racing vehicles.

The track is available for users. Vehicles were being driven around the track while we visited.

The museum is divided into three parts. There is an introductory hall with an exhibition of legends of racing. This is followed by a collection of French veteran and vintage cars and then a collection of historic racing cars.

Tazio Nuvolari drove for Alfa Romeo and Auto-Union in the 1930s.

Ferry Porsche. Porsche made his company's name in the 1951 Le Mans race, fielding three Porsche 356s. Porsche has regularly competed in Le Mans ever since.

Steve McQueen wasn't only a famous actor, he was also a hard-core motoring enthusiast and competed in the Le Mans in 1970. Footage was compiled into the 1971 movie "Le Mans."

1904 Renault (left) and 1902 Peugeot (right)

1902 Panhard and Levassor Type A2. Panhard were the first company to move the car's engine from the rear to the front, with drive transmitted to the rear wheels. It was known at the time as the 'Panhard system.'

De Dion Bouton and Trepardoux stream car. These were built between 1886 and 1896 when De Dion began building petrol cars.

1902 De Dion Bouton vis a vis Type 6

1912 Amedee Bollee Fils

Passenger tricycles were a popular budget vehicle in the veteran era.

Amedee Bollee fils

1897 Henri Vallee vis a vis

1906 Mototri Contal tricycle (right) and a Chenard and Walcker tricycle.

Amedee Bollee display. Amedee Bollee was a Le Mans foundry owner and automotive pioneer. He built steam cars until the early years of the 20th century. His son's Amedee and Leon took over the company after his death in 1917 and built petrol engine cars.

The vintage era - tricycles, motorcycles and cars.

1911 Chenard-Walcker

1916 Delahaye Type 37 and Darraq

The innovative and advanced Lancia Lambda from Italy.


Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and a magnificent portmanteau


Panhard and Levassor



1938 Rosengart. A very rare marque that originally built Austin Sevens under license in France.

The Rosengart was powered by 1.9 litre Citroen engine.


Peugeot 402 Darl-mat


One of my favourite cars of all time, the Panhard and Levassor Dynamic

The PL Dynamic is art-deco styling exemplified.

Chevrolet Corvair 500 (USA)

Citroen Traction Avant, Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Thunderbird

Citroen Type B

People's cars of the world - Fiat Topolino, the original Fiat 500, and Ford Model T

The Fiat Topolino was popular and successful car that was in production from 1936 to 1955.

An electric car, possibly a conversion?

The East German people's car - the Trabant 601

The Citroen DS was certainly space age in its day.

A pair of extraordinary streamliners - an experimental Gregoire and a Czech Tatraplan.

1952 Socema Gregoire turbine prototype

1952 Tatraplan. France was a large market for Tatra exports.


Citroen 2CV Safari and Citroen Kegresse.

In 1922 Andre Citroen sponsored an expedition across Algeria and the Sahara Desert. It was in large part another of Citroen's imaginative publicity campaigns, drumming up interest from the French army for his half track Kegresse model. The Kegresse however didn't prove to be the success that he's hoped for.

Citroen's stunning Maserati engined SM was designed as a GT performance sedan successor to the legendary DS. The car had even more advanced features than the DS and had exceptional performance for its class, but the cost of development meant that Citroen lost money on every car sold. In 1975 Citroen went bankrupt and the SM was cut from the range.

1937 Chenard and Walcker "Tank 1"

1923 Bentley Four 1/2 litre. Bentley fielded three cars in the 1923 Le Mans and won the inaugural race. 

Citroen Ami. Developed as the successor the 2CV but it was never as popular as that hardy little car.

1939 Simca Gordini

Two more Gordini specials - a Renault 8 Gordini and Simca Gordini

Panhard and Jaguar D

Competition cars. During this era cars were tuned versions of production cars.

Panhard DB Le Mans

Renault Alpine

Ferrari versus...

The legendary Ford GT

In the 1970s the competition really became specialized with custom designed performance vehicles dominating the field.

And the latest competitors

Audi Le Mans


Bentley Speed 8

And we finish with the ultimate in performance vehicles - Renault tractor

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