W.T. Ligier JS3 Restoration

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.


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.


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

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