There aren’t many Audi Le Mans cars out in the wild, for a bunch of reasons: competing from 1999 until 2016, they won 12 times, and the car company is pretty proud of them. The then-bleeding-edge prototype tech is still relevant to cars today, too, so they’re typically squirreled away for the rare showing. You also need a garage full of experts, the kind of tires that cost a few thousand dollars each, and a race track to run any kind of prototype race car, let alone a factory LMP1, so even if it’s technically classed as a sports car you’d have to be having a hell of a midlife crisis.
Still, if that’s where 2021 finds you and you have pretty much infinite amounts of money you’re struggling to spend, firstly we’d like to talk and secondly, allow us to recommend a purchase. Over at Arts & Revs, they’re auctioning an actual 2011 Audi factory LMP1, their final pre-hybrid Le Mans-winning car. This is the only working model in private hands, complete with its ECU and in fully functional condition. The listing even says Audi would be happy to supply an engineer if you want to race it.
At 532 horsepower, it might sound a little down compared to the later LMP1 cars making 1,000 hp with trick hybrid systems. But the R18 TDI outright won Le Mans that year from pole, having survived early-race carnage to outlast its sister cars and out-drive the competition. The car for sale, chassis 100, was never raced but was lying in reserve at Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge races that year, having been used for testing and homologation.
Although it subsequently got dressed up as a later, hybrid car, chassis 100 has been fully restored to the way it was intended by the team at Audi Sport. It boasts the “hot vee” turbocharged V6 diesel the cars were built with and oh, look, it’s basically identical to the one that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year. The only question is, how do you get hold of the kind of money it would take to own it?
It’s not unheard of for private racers to try and run prototypes, and the R18 TDI has a significant advantage over its immediate descendants by not being a hybrid. That not only de-complicates things somewhat but means you don’t need anyone trained in high voltage handling to run it. And ok, it probably costs an absolutely disgusting amount of money (the listing threatens only to tell you on asking) but you won’t have to worry about any big depreciation hits.
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