The 1971 Ligier JS3 was the second sports prototype manufactured and raced by Equipe Ligier, one of France’s most successful racing teams. It used the traditional F1 drivetrain of a Cosworth DFV mated to a Hewland gearbox, and weighed in at just 1,430 pounds. The JS3 did not fulfill Ligier’s dream of winning Le Mans, but it found reasonable success with 1 win and 2 podiums in 6 starts. For the past 15 years, the restored JS3 has been a mainstay of historic racing in Europe.

The JS3 at speed. Le Mans 1971.
Image: mosleylucky (Caradisiac Forum-Auto)

I found this W.T. diecast at a flea market about a month ago and was enthralled. The JS3 is about as obscure as it gets in racing and I never expected to find a 1/64 diecast of it. The $1 car I found definitely needed some work. The body was scratched up, the windshield cracked, and it was missing the rear axle.

Since I was taking this diecast back to the bare metal, I decided to make it look like the real thing. I painted the car in the distinctive yellow and green of Ligier’s primary sponsor, British Petroleum. After a few coats of clear, I sorted through my stack of random decals to give it some period-correct sponsor logos. Unfortunately, I had no BP decals so I went with Shell. As egregious as that is, I liked how well the Shell colors went with the livery. I decided not to paint in the headlights as that rarely looks great and in shorter races the real car ran with lightless bodywork.

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In terms of part replacement and addition, the front wheels were sourced from a Hot Wheels Minecart. I never thought I’d ever buy one of them, but while I was sifting the pegs I realized the small diameter turbofans are perfect for the front axles of old sportscars. The rear wheels are the Matchbox tri-spokes I’m always in search of. I made a rollbar from a paper clip and the seats and velocity stacks were sourced from a Hot Wheels Chevy Luv.

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That’ll do it for this little piece of French history!