CUtoday Automotive – Le Mans comes to Coventry

A new exhibition, ‘Le Mans through the Ages’, has opened at Coventry Transport Museum.

To celebrate the world’s oldest endurance race, the display features a diverse collection of classic racers spanning nearly 90 years. Key cars from each decade showcase technological innovations that have subsequently made their way into everyday production cars. Writes Philip Shoulder…

Some of the cars on display include: Mike Hawthorn’s Le Mans winning 1955 Jaguar D-Type, a 1977 Lola T297 and 1987 Porsche 962 – both donated by Pink Floyd Drummer, Nick Mason.

Centre stage is the famous 1988 Le Mans winning Jaguar XJR-9LM, supplied by Don Law racing.

Don Law's Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-9LM

Coventry Transport Museum’s CEO, Gary Hall explained the reasons for showcasing the classic French endurance race: “We wanted to do a Le Mans exhibition because it’s not something that the museum has done before. I wanted to see a car from each decade to tell the story of the race. Except for the war period during the 1940s, when no Le Mans racing took place, the cars go right the way from 1923
to the present day.”

According to Gary, it was quite a feat in getting these exotic racers together under one roof: “A friend of mine based in Le Mans, Don Law, of ‘Don Law Racing’, helped me in acquiring these cars, which turned out to be a long and tortuous process. Many of the cars were either busy racing or in the process of being restored. Some weren’t confirmed to be available until a week before the event opened.”

This exhibition gives the public a rare opportunity to see these classic Le Mans racers in the metal.
“Le Mans through the Ages gives our visitors an insight into what the race is all about, but most importantly it gets them really close to the cars, which is something that I’m really keen for them to
be able to do,” Gary added.

Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb drove the No. 6 Jaguar D-Type to Victory at Le Mans in '55.

The museum is also running a competition in conjunction with Peugeot UK. The lucky winner will get two free tickets to see the 2011 Le Mans event in June. The prize includes return ferry crossings.

Coventry Transport’s Head of PR, Clive Skelon said of the competition: “Anybody over the age of 18 can enter. All the answers to the questions you will find in the gallery – so you have to come here to the museum – enjoy what the museum has to offer and get the chance to go to Le Mans.”

The temporary exhibition runs until 2 May 2011 and is located on the ground floor of the museum. Planned future exhibitions also relate to motoring, but will be different in their appeal. They include: an Ace Cafe London exhibition of classic motorcycles from the 1950s and 1960s and a surfing exhibition.


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