Sports car racing in the 1970s was filled with the stuff of legend. Names like Stuck, Posey, Hobbs, Donahue, Folmer, Busby, Haywood and Bell were painted on spans of roof above netted window openings, or just below them on door tops. The cars themselves looked similar to the ones you could drool over at your local dealership, but they were meaner and rawer, with fender flares wide enough to conceal tires the size of a steamroller and their exhausts bellowed deafening, angry noises — spitting flames in the process. You wouldn’t necessarily want to get too close to one of these cars; it might somehow devour you whole.
For those dreaming of the “good old days” or for those who weren’t young enough to experience them in the first place, the 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will recreate the spectacle authentically enough. Just make sure you bring along a good set of earplugs and check out our five favorite participating cars in the Group 4A class.
1975 Porsche 911 3.0 Carrera RSR
Between the lean “small bumper” 1973 2.8 RSR and the fire-breathing, turbocharged 934 and 935 Porsches, the 3.0 RSR was the brand’s bread-and-butter racer of the mid-‘70s. The car enjoyed a dominant run in both IMSA and European FIA racing thanks to the rear-mounted, 300-hp-plus, air-cooled flat-six.
1975 BMW 3.0 CSL
Nicknamed “batmobile” for its myriad wings, fins, and scoops, BMW’s 3.0 CSL was a homologated racing version of the roadgoing 3.0 CS built by what would ultimately become the brand’s Motorsports division. The ‘L’ in CLS stands for ‘lightweight’ due to the racing version’s alloy body panels.
1980 BMW M1
When you combine German engineering values with Italian design and mid-engine prowess, you end up with the BMW M1. BMW originally partnered with Lamborghini to produce its V-6-powered supercar, but ultimately it took three other companies (two Italian, one German) to get the car built. The racing version? Even wilder than the road car.
1980 Ferrari 512BB LM
Ferrari’s Berlinetta Boxer was the brand’s first foray into massively powerful, mid-engined supercars in the late ‘70s. On the street, its primary competition came from the vaunted Lamborghini Countach, but this long-tailed racing version would take on competitors the world over at events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Photo by Kyle Burt)
1976 DeKon Monza
Remember the Chevrolet Monza of the mid-‘70s? Wonder why anyone would bother racing one? The racing versions, commissioned by Chevrolet to DeKon Engineering, bore only passing visual resemblance to the street cars. Underneath lightweight fiberglass panels was a tube-frame chassis and a 600-hp V-8. The cars won the IMSA GT championship three years in a row: 1976, 1977, and 1978.