1978 Rondeau M378 Ford-Cosworth

Offered by RM Auctions | Monaco | May 12, 2012

What is it about Le Mans that inspires racecar drivers to want to become manufacturers? Yves Courage, Henri Pescarolo, Alain de Cadenet all caught the bug – and so did Jean Rondeau, who began constructing and racing his own cars at the famed 24 Hours in 1976. 1978 was the first year that the cars actually bore his name and this was the first of them. Rondeau would win the 1980 race in a car of his own design – the only time this has ever happened.

This car, chassis no. 001 holds the record for the most starts at the race with 10. No longer are single cars competitive for an entire decade. It’s an impressive feat. Here’s a rundown of those years:

  • 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans – 9th overall, 1st in class (with Rondeau, Bernard Darniche, and Jacky Haran)
  • 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans – 30th, DNF (with Rondeau and Haran)
  • 1980 24 Hours of Le Mans – 3rd (with Gordon Spice, Philippe Martin and Jean-Michel Martin)
  • 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans – 2nd (with Haran, Jean-Louis Schlesser and Philippe Streiff)
  • 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans – 10th (with Pierre Yver, Bruno Scotty and Lucien Guitteny)
  • 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans – 28th, DNF (with Vic Elford, Joël Gouhier and Anne-Charlotte Verney)
  • 1984 24 Hours of Le Mans – 11th (with Jean-Philippe Grand, Jean-Paul Libert and Pascal Witmeur
  • 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans – 43rd, DNF (with Michel Dubois, Hubert Striebig and Noël del Bello)
  • 1986 24 Hours of Le Mans – 17th (with del Bello, Scotty and Lucien Rossiaud
  • 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans – 27th, not classified (with Scotty and Pierre-Alain Lombardi)

Jean Rondeau was killed in a road car accident in 1985, but his name lived on at the race he lived for – on this car, through 1988. This car also competed in nine other European endurance events, with at least one win.

The engine is a 3.0-liter V8 from Cosworth making 415 horsepower. It’s a race car and weighs next to nothing. So it’s quick. And it’s a piece of history – although it never won the big race, it holds an impressive record and is eligible for historic events. The pre-sale estimate is $790,000-$990,000. To read the complete description, click here. And for the entire RM in Monaco offering, click here.

Update: sold $464,128.