Spice SE88C #171 – Spark

SE88C #171
1988 Spice SE88C #171
Pilots: R. Stirling, R. Hyett, D. Shead
Team: Team Mako
Race: 16th overall (2nd in C2 class) at Le Mans in 1989
Spark - S6801 (resin)

Published 12/20/23

By 1987, Spice Engineering was a well-known manufacturer, after their successful SE86C and SE87C models. At the time, Spice cars were very well regarded for the so-called “junior” Group C, class C2. For the 1988 season they upgraded their design, releasing the SE88C. The big improvement of the SE88C was that it was very versatile. Depending on the engine fitted, it could race in Group C, Group C2, GTP or GTP Lights. The SE88C counted on an aluminum honeycomb and carbon fiber monocoque body, covered by kevlar panels. Though teams could use other engines, the most common was the Ford-Cosworth DFL. The DFL was a 3298 cm³ 90º V4 with 16 valves, DOHC and fuel injection. Tuned by Mader, the DFL delivered 347 kW (465 hp) and 420 Nm of torque. For shifting, Spice used a  Hewland DGB 5-speed manual gearbox, with the car weighing a total of 710 kg.

Because of the lower costs, C2 racing was very popular in the 80s. And that was Spice’s market.

Spice produced a total of five SE88C chassis, for their own works team and customer’s teams. Team Mako bought chassis #003 (built in 1988) directly from Spice, in early 1989. The Spice works team used chassis #003 in the 1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship, winning in C2 in six races. In the 1988 Le Mans race, they came in first place in the C2 class. The grid of the 1989 24 Heures du Mans consisted of 55 cars, and nine were Spice. Of these, there were four SE89C, two SE88C, one SE87C and two SE86C models. Of the nine, only three finished the race – interestingly, none of the SE89C works cars finished. Mako’s SE88C #171 came in 16th place overall and second in the C2 class. A truly outstanding result for a team’s first go at La Sarthe.

SE88C #171
First time you go to Le Mans and you finish second in class? Not bad.

As I said when I presented my 1988 SE86C #131, Spice was basically a garagista manufacturer. A small operation that nonetheless filled up the grids of endurance racing in the late 80s. Something that for today’s standards would be totally unthinkable. Simpler times, I guess. Anyhow, Spark’s rendition of the SE88C #171 is flawless – it looks awesome. However, being a car from a small time manufacturer that did not win anything won’t make it very popular. Well, at least not amongst the normal collectors, the non-Le Mans nuts. 

The SE88C may not be a winner, but sure is a looker.

For me though, it is attractive exactly because it is an oddball 😋. What can I say, I always had a soft spot for the underdogs. Taking on Le Mans with huge corporate resources is one thing. Yet doing so with a shoestring budget is absurdly harder. And Spice was one of the few who did that. Chapeau to them. Besides, the car looks really nice in that livery.

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