A FORMER works Cadillac prototype race car that completed in the Le Mans 24 Hour and hasn’t turned a wheel in 20 years has landed in Australia with its excited new owner.
Melbourne-based sportscar and GT specialist Jordan Roddy of Bespoke Motor Cars has imported the impressive piece of GM racing history to Melbourne and the car has just cleared customs and been released into his hands.
The Cadillac LMP-00 is chassis 003 and is understood to have raced in the 2000 Daytona 24 Hour, Sebring 12 Hour, Le Mans 24 Hour and Petit Le Mans.
At Le Mans it was reportedly driven by Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and Franck Lagorce and finished 21st.
At Sebring it reportedly finished sixth in the hands of Eric van de Poele, Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli.
Roddy, the son of 1985 Bathurst-winning Jaguar XJ-S owner Mike, says the car has spent much of its time post its racing life in the GM museum. It will undergo a sympathetic restoration to allow it to be run on a track in the future.
“As far as I know it’s the only LMP1/LMP900 car in Australia, it’s very cool,” he told V8 Sleuth this week.
“It was built in 2000 and converted to 2001 specification. We know its 2000 race history, but the information is a bit scratchy after that, though we think it was a test car in 2001 and GM took it back after that and put it on display in Detroit in ’01 spec.
“The only thing carried over from the 2000 to 2001 spec was the monocoque and chassis plate, everything else was new – wishbones, floors, even the gearbox was different. This car is front to tail in 2001 spec having competed in the big four races of the previous season.”
The Cadillac Le Mans prototypes debuted in 2000 and were run by both the factory Cadillac team and the French DAMS operation. DAMS brought its pair of cars to the Adelaide Le Mans Series ‘Race of a Thousand Years’ event at the end of that season.
However, the Cadillac arrival in sportscar racing was a case of impeccable bad timing given the rise of the Audi R8 that went on to become the dominator of sportscar racing of the early to mid 2000s.
The chassis for the cars were built by Riley & Scott and the cars ran with a twin-turbocharged, four-litre V8 engine.
“By all accounts it was a fairly promising car but was probably pushed into racing a year too early,” says Roddy.
“The Cadillac was designed fairly conservatively, and I don’t think they quite understood just how far the other manufacturers had pushed the limits of the rule book. The GM budget apparently for the whole program in 2000, including building the cars, was a fraction of the Audi factory budget.”
Roddy is aiming to have the car return to the track at next March’s Phillip Island Historics event and is sending the engine to Geoff Page, ex-F1 engine builder, in England, while the driveline work will be looked after by Holinger in Melbourne and the rest of the chassis work taken care by Roddy.
“I’ve already spoken with the VHRR, and they’ve approved me to be an Invited car for the event,” says Roddy.
“It’s over 20 years old now but not quite old enough to be fully Historic, so if I can get it done in time for March, we’ll run it at Phillip Island next year. Going forward we’ll probably base the car in Europe because I’d love to do the Festival of Speed if we can get the moons to align.”
GM sold the car to an American industrialist just over a decade ago when it was forced to sell a wide range of cars from its collection as part of the US Government bail-out when the GFC hit. The Cadillac had sat in his private collection of Caddys in Florida ever since until Roddy did a deal earlier this year to acquire the car.
“I wanted some form of works car that ran at Le Mans,” says Roddy.
“I was 13 at the Adelaide Le Mans race and I remember seeing the DAMS cars there, I was absolutely in awe of them. They had a unique exhaust layout, one of the cylinders bypassed the turbo and went straight out the back; they sounded crazy, so I fell in love with them!”