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Visiting the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum

July 1, 2013

by Iggy Perez

My brother and I spent some days close to Le Mans, France. So we had the chance to visit the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum. Although we expected a bit more of the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans races, the museum was cool anyway. They have lots of historic race cars, but also some iconic cars and surely, some special pieces of French automotive history.


One icon of French automotive history is surely the Citroens DS (the car literally standing on the left). It had self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension, which gave the car a very good handling and a made it very comfortable. The clutch and transmission were hydraulic too. By the way, this car had also directional headlights! The DS was produced for more than 20 years (1955 to 1975) and was a great success for the french maker. Citroen produced about 1’470’000 units of this car, in different model variations (four door, coupe, convertible and station wagon). This car is also know as the “Godess”, since the porunounciation of the letters “DS” in french in very similar to the french word for godess (la déesse).

24hours_le_Mans_Bugatti_Type30_Torperdo_001 24hours_le_Mans_Bugatti_Type30_Torperdo_002

The black car above is a Bugatti Type 30 Torpedo Lavocat-Marsaud. This car features a 8 cylinders in line with three valves per cylinder (not bad for a ride from 1927), but its 3 three bearings overhead crankshaft (instead of 9) kept the car far from success at the tracks – Bugatti later corrected this weakness, giving the crankshaft 9 bearings.

1925 Picture of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race

The pic above shows some racing action of 1925. We also have a video of the same scene (captured from a running video on the museum), we may post it any time soon.


Racing was surely an adventure back then. Although the cars aren’t as fast as racing cars nowadays, they here by far less secure.

1958 Cadillac Fleetwood 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood

The museum also had a 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood. I liked the car because it conserves the real old patina – it wasn’t restored. Unrestored cars have turned very popular lately. Note the yellow headlights installed in the car. This, for those you don’t know, was required by law in France until the early 90’s – when due to european harmonisation, France had to adopt the usual white lights. While these lights may look funny for most of us, they seemed to have some advantages such as a better sight in foggy weather plus, as the supporters said, the human eye reacts better to the yellow lights. Finally, the supporters also claimed that yellow lights dazzled less than the white ones. At the end of day, though, the yellow lights showed between 10% and 30% less light power than the equivalent white lights (maybe that’s why they dazzle less?). Anyway, this was a very polemic topic back then.

hal osborn July 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Great pictures guys.
It is always super to see what is going on in other countries other than the USA and up here in Canada.
Cheers and keep up the scouting of auto history.

Vern July 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Looks like a good time

Seb July 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm

oh yeah!

Paul Coma July 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I didn’t realize that Cadillac had rear suicide rear doors. I thought I new my cars, and the front lights having a fog light built in. Must be a separate switch to allow the fogs to work seperatley.

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