84th Geneva International Motor Show

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Special exhibition

© Guillaume Rousseau/ACO/Nikon
© Archives ACO

The history of Le Mans 24 Hours illustrated by 20 mythical race cars


Some 20 cars that have either won the 24 Hours of Le Mans or figured prominently in its history will be on display at the 2014 edition of the Geneva International Motor Show at Palexpo.



Ask anyone you know what the biggest car race in the world is and their answer will most likely be the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Like the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo Rally or the Indy 500, Le Mans is a mechanical marathon with truly mythical status. Its popularity is due to the highly evocative 24-hour format, which makes even finishing the race, let alone winning it, a real feat of endurance. At the same time, Le Mans is legendary for the ferocious rivalry it inspires. Indeed, only very few teams, car makers, accessory manufacturers, sponsors or drivers can resist the challenge of vying for potential glory at Le Mans.

Of course, Switzerland has already tasted victory there, with Peter Sauber, backed by Mercedes, being the first Swiss car maker to win in 1989. And in 2011 and 2012, Marcel Fässler put Switzerland back on the rostrum as one of the three victorious drivers of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Today, as ever, Le Mans is an absolutely brutal testing ground for future technologies. For the past two years, the top-performing vehicles have all been Audi or Toyota hybrids, though fully electric and hydrogen-powered prototypes are on the way. So history is definitely in the making!


In 1923, when the 24 Hours of Le Mans was first organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), taking vehicles to their limit was a real feat for venerable mechanics. But technological advances have seen endurance supplanted by speed, and today the race is very much a 24-hour sprint, like any Formula 1 Grand Prix!


Discover the pictures of the 20 race cars that will be on display at Palexpo in the photo gallery


24 heures Le mans