1976 Mirage GR8
Pilots: F. Migault, J-L. Lafosse
Team: Grand Touring Cars Inc.
Race: 2nd GC (Group 6 class) at Le Mans in 1976
Ixo - LMC 063 (diecast)
Ford’s withdrawal from international sports car racing in 1966 created a void in the FIA World Manufacturers’ Championship. With that in mind, John Weyer founded J.W. Automotive Engineering (JWA) in 1967 to produce and race prototypes in the 1967 championship. These cars were called Mirages, and from the beginning were sponsored by the Gulf Oil Corporation. The Mirage M1 was doing well, but in 1969 FIA changed the rules and it became obsolete. At the same time, JWA was contracted by Porsche to work on the 917 project, so a Mirage car only returned to the race tracks in 1972, as the M6 version.
In 1974 JWA became Gulf Research Racing to reflect the name of the Mirages’ loyal sponsor. The new car, called Mirage GR7, was tailor-made for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But for the next season in 1975 a new car was developed, the GR8, and driven by Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx, the car not only won the race but was also awarded the prestigious Index of Thermal Efficiency trophy.
Despite the smashing win, in late 1975 Gulf Oil withdrew sponsorship for international sports car racing. That was almost the end for Mirage. But former racing driver Harley Cluxton III came to the rescue. He purchased the Mirage team and all associated manufacturing rights from John Wyer and the Gulf Research Racing Company, and created the Grand Touring Cars Inc team. The team had two Group 6 prototypes at La Sarthe for 1976. Both were basically the same cars of 1975, with the same 2993 cm³ Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 with 32 valves and DOHC. GR8 #10 is chassis #802 that in 1976 came in 2nd overall, 11 laps behind the winning Martini 936 – in 1975 the same chassis came in 3rd, but in Gulf colors.
It would be hard to be candid about this one, so I’ll be blunt: this GR8 #10 is a stinker. For instance, headlights have pegs (“dead eyes”), and the interior is frankly terrible. Every grill, vent or opening on the body is solid, just painted black. And to add insult to injury, one of the side decals folded up before the application of clear coat. So unless you get it for dirt cheap, just avoid it. It’s basically a (bad) pw model, so the more expensive Spark version is a better investment. Compare this to say my Lola B10/60… That is a GREAT model. This sucks – honestly, this is my worse Ixo 🙁