How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car
The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and was considered the heavy favourite to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen.
There is some great real footage from Steve McQueen’s film, Le Mans. But, aside from the dubious wheel-to-wheel ‘racing’ in the closing stages, one thing that really stands out is that a Gulf Porsche 917 wins.
In real life, the JW Automotive Engineering Gulf squad had won Le Mans with the ageing Ford GT40 in 1968-69 and was the team to beat in the world sportscar championship once it joined forces with old rival Porsche for 1970-71. But Le Mans success with the iconic blue-and-orange 917s eluded John Wyer’s team.
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