I don’t know if you guys know this, but there’s a race in France coming up, it’s pretty cool, I guess. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Some people here think it’s neat. What a bunch of weirdos, am I right? I mean, who would want to drive a car around for 24 hours, let alone watch some cars drive around for a day? You can’t even see them at night! Sad!


Gimme a minute here... hoo boy...

Indeed, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, apparently a motor race set about a quaint French village, once again approaches. As is tradition, this will unleash 50,000 unstoppable Watts a totally ridiculous Le Monslaught of toy car pictures from around the globe, but mostly from a loosely associated band of lunatics from California and Holland, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the same time last year... Fortunately, these madmen have indoctrinated others to the cause, so surely this year will yield even more of the best cars in racing history around these parts.

Thus, I present another Renault-Alpine A442, this one a privateer (that’s “privateer”, nudge nudge wink wink) entered by Ecurie (maybe Equipe, I’ve seen both) Calberson for Le Mans in 1978. Obviously it’s a sister car to the winning A442b that I’ve featured before and which was most recently featured by dadurling with his excellent diorama photos. Powered by the same “CHS” turbo V6 as that B-model, this “A” had a slightly different and less Le Mans-specific aero package, as you’ll see in a bit.

The factory Renault Sport squad had fielded three cars, one “A” model like this one, the bubble-top “B”, and a special long wheelbase A443 with a slightly bigger engine to act as the hare to Porsche’s almighty 936s, which it did before retiring. This, then, was effectively a fourth factory car, which makes its race number doubly appropriate because that’s where it would finish on Sunday afternoon. Fourth overall, nine laps down, in the hands of Jean Ragnotti and Guy Frequelin. It sandwiched two works Martini Porsches between it and the winning A442B, the second place 936 being one I’ve also featured before.

You know you’re doing it right when your wing has intakes.

Now we’ll see the differences in bodywork between A and B models. Of course, the B had that crazy canopy, which I’ve read was good for an additional 5mph on the top end, which adds up at sustained high speeds for 24 hours. You’ll also note that it’s got a longer tail, a rounded splitter, front fender vents, and revisions to the airbox and other intakes.

Spark top, IXO bottom. Note difference in rear body length between A and B model.

The B model is the Spark I’ve featured before, this Calberson #4 A model an IXO that just arrived in the great package from Jobjoris that came in this week. I felt the Spark was superior based on pictures of the IXO before, but I have to say, side by side this IXO is much better than I expected, and I’ve come to expect great value from them. The giveaways are the lights and some minor graphics imperfections, but it’s a damn nice model that I’m stoked to have now. Guess I’ll have to keep filling out the 1978 grid now, thanks for the tip, Jobjoris! Happy to add another Ragnotti car to the list, and one in the Calberson colors that I’ve also bagged a couple of rally cars in, one also driven by Ragnotti in the same year’s Monte Carlo rally! Frequelin drove another R5 in the Monte Carlo that year too, both men being jacks of all trades. Can you imagine Seb Ogier gunning for the win at Le Mans only months after a podium at the Monte Carlo in this day and age? Not that he couldn’t, but it’s unlikely.

With that, I wish you a good weekend, and can’t wait to see what other Le Mans machines come out in the coming weeks!