This year's 24 Hours of Le Mans is the hundredth anniversary of the first-ever running of the race. While worker strikes and a world war mean it is not the hundredth running, it is still among the most significant events in the long history of the world's most famous endurance race. In the event itself, that means new top-class entries from Porsche, Ferrari, Cadillac, and Peugeot all making their debut at once. Off track, it means even the auctions are all-timers.
RM Sotheby's is currently listing just five cars in its 2023 Le Mans field. Each is a race car, and three are prototypes that fought for the overall win in the race itself. The field is headlined by a Ferrari 121 LM that competed in the ill-fated 1955 race, one of just four 180-mph inline-six Ferrari racers produced for that season. The specific car offered, Chassis number 0546 LM, sold for $5.7 million back in 2017. A racing variant of the 365 GTB/4 is also included, a car built to racing specifications by Luigi Chinetti before finishing fifth overall in the 1971 race.
Ferrari also built the engine behind the most compelling car at the auction, a Lancia LC2. Although Lancia won three Group C races over the course of the car's life, this particular LC2 owns the car's highest honor: chassis 0005 was the one that qualified on pole for the 1984 race. The Lancia lived up to its reputation for speed without reliability in the race itself, failing to stay competitive after struggling with a gearbox issue. The Group C era is also represented by a Nissan R90CK, although it does not seem to be the R90CK chassis that achieved Nissan's biggest success at the race by starting on pole for the 1990 race.
Although it was the least competitive in the battle for overall wins of the cars in the auction, this Alpine A210 may be the most memorable. The A210 marked the most successful evolution of the rallying brand's first racing prototypes. These smaller-engined Alpines impressed in the race, but the V-8-powered counterparts that contended for overall wins disappointed and eventually led the brand to withdraw from the race in the late 1960s. This particular car was a barn find back in 2017, selling for over $900,000 in the ultimate ran-when-parked state.
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