As promised, it’s time for some Le Mans goodness. The Sauber C9 needs no introduction around these parts, I suspect. Suffice to say it was one of the definitive cars of the Group C era, its great success culminating in victory at Le Mans and in the World Championship in 1989 after C9s won all but one race that year (seeing a pattern of Mercedes’ racing efforts?).
An evolution of its predecessor the C8, Peter Sauber’s prototype was fairly straightforward in construction, along the lines of the Porsche 962 in having a mostly aluminum chassis. This one, 88-C9-03, was the third made and was nearly a year old by the time Le Mans came around. It qualified only 12th, but its reliability and accomplished driver lineup of Jochen Mass, Manuel Reuter, and Stanley Dickens would see it to the win. It seems to have had a very successful career overall, finishing no lower than 5th in any event it started according to the results on Racingsportscars.com.
Using a modified twin-turbo version of the Mercedes M119 4-cam V8, the engine used in the hallowed 500E road car, the C9 was purportedly good for nearly 800hp at 2.2 bar boost pressure. That boost was provided by KKK K27 turbos, the same model fitted to Porsche’s legendary 930 Turbo. It was reduced to 1.9 bar for race trim, but at maximum boost it was enough to propel the #61 C9 that would eventually finish second to 248mph in qualifying trim, the second fastest ever seen at Le Mans. Of course, 1989 was the last year before the Mulsanne would be tamed by the chicanes. Only a year prior, in 1988, the all-time Le Mans speed record had been set at 251mph by a specially prepared WM-Peugeot. Incredible stuff, but concern for keeping the cars earthbound won the day. Interesting then that it would be Mercedes’ CLR that would repeatedly leave the ground only a decade later at Le Mans, despite the reduced speeds.
The followup C11 (so named because “C10" sounded weird when pronounced in German) would enjoy similar success, but would not compete at Le Mans, making the C9 the last Silver Arrow to win there.
This model is in 1/43 by IXO, and I have to say, it’s one of the better IXO/Altaya race cars I have. The paint is great, and the bodywork, wheels, and decals are sharp. Not up to Spark or TSM standards, of course, but from viewing distance you can hardly tell. The generic headlights and rear bodywork openings are a giveaway though, and it’s missing the bright yellow paint around the right taillamp as the real car had to identify it from its teammates. Might have to touch that up somehow. There isn’t much to the interior, but that’s hard enough to see on such prototypes, so not a big deal. I was very fortunate to score it for $11 on eBay, in the box. I couldn’t believe it! So my mission to build a collection of 1/43 Le Mans winners marches on.
Have a delightful Dienstag!