Every automaker wants to dominate in motorsports. Motorsports give automakers a platform to showcase their engineering and technological prowess in an environment where they don't have to worry about restrictions typically associated with road-going cars.

RELATED: 10 Most Dominant Turbocharged Race Cars Ever

Over the last century, there have been many different types of motorsport competitions that have spawned hundreds of race cars, including the FIA GT Championship, the World Rally Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, among others. Of all the race cars ever built, several stand out from the pack due to their racing success, advanced technology, and overall impact on the auto industry. Let's explore some of the best race cars ever created.

10 Ford GT40

Andretti and McLaren Posing
Via: Ford Motor Company

After Ferrari pulled out of a takeover deal with Ford in the early '60s, Henry Ford was determined to get revenge on the Italians. As such, Ford decided to hit Ferrari where it hurt the most - motorsports. Ford's plan was simple - to build the ultimate race car that could end Ferrari's streak at Le Mans.

1966 Ford GT40 MKII 3rd Place Le Mans
Via: Hemmings

Ford hired the legendary Carroll Shelby to develop the race car, and after a few months of hard work, the iconic GT40 was born. The GT40 turned out to be a huge success, as it ended Ferrari's Le Mans-winning streak in 1966 and repeated it three years in a row.

9 Porsche 917

1970 Porsche 917K
Via: Sotheby's

Porsche has always been among the top dogs in motorsports. The most dominant period for the manufacturer came in the early '70s, largely thanks to the 917. ​​​​​​​

A magnificent Porsche 917
Via - Sonoma Speed Fest

The 917 was introduced in 1969 and was initially developed for endurance racing. It immediately found success, winning Porsche its first Le Mans overall win in 1970 and repeating it in 1971. Sadly, Le Mans rule changes in 1972 made the 917 obsolete, but instead of retiring it, Porsche turned it into a Can-Am racer.

8 Mazda 787B

55 Mazda 787B 30th Anniversary Le Mans Car
Via: Mazda.Com

The 24 Hours Of Le Mans is undoubtedly the greatest endurance race ever. To win this competition, a car needs to be not only fast and powerful, but also built solidly enough to handle 24 hours of non-stop racing.

RELATED: Here's What Everyone Forgot About The Mazda 787B

1991 55 Mazda 787B
Via: Wikipedia

In the early '90s, Mazda wanted to conquer the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so it built the 787B. Although the 787B wasn't as fast as European race cars from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, it was more reliable than any other car at the competition, which is why it managed to win it all in 1991.

7 Lancia Stratos HF

Lancia Stratos
via BH Auction

Lancia has a lot of cars to be proud of, but few of them are as iconic as the Stratos. There's a lot to love about the Stratos, starting with the design - it has a gorgeous wedge-shaped design penned by Marcello Gandini. ​​​​​​​

Lancia Stratos HF on a rally dirt track
Via Hemmings

What we love most about the Stratos, though, is its racing history. The Stratos is among the most successful rally cars, having won the World Rally Championship three years in a row in the '70s.

6 McLaren F1 GTR

Front quarter view of the F1 GTR

The first road-legal McLaren - the F1 - is considered to be one of the greatest European sports cars ever. When it debuted in the early '90s, everyone fell in love with its design, race-sourced technologies, and blistering speed - it crushed the existing production car speed record. ​​​​​​​

McLaren F1 GTR Long Tail For Sale 2
via Tom Hartley Jnr

After the success of the F1, McLaren decided to build a racing version for the FIA GT Championship. The result was the F1 GTR. The F1 GTR shocked everyone when it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans competition in 1995 as it beat more powerful custom-built prototypes. ​​​​​​​

5 Audi Sport Quattro

Audi Sport Quattro S1
Via Bring A Trailer

The Group B rallying era produced some of the most extreme rally cars we've seen, including the Porsche 959, the Ford RS200, and this - the Audi Sport Quattro. The Sport Quattro pretty much dominated rallying in the early '80s.​​​​​​​

Audi Sport Quattro S1 Front
via ArtStation

There were several versions of the Sport Quattro, but the S1 E2 sits above them all. Powered by a 2.2-liter turbo five-cylinder blurting out 470 horses, the S1 E2 was a Group B beast that destroyed everything in its path.

4 Dodge Charger Daytona

dodge charger daytona
via hemmings.com

NASCAR was heating up in the '60s, with top American automakers competing for glory. After a disappointing 1968 season, Dodge went back to the drawing board and came up with a high-performance limited edition version of the popular Charger in 1969 - the Charger Daytona. ​​​​​​​

RELATED: 10 Obscure Facts Most Gearheads Don't Know About The Dodge Charger

1969 daytona
Via American Muscle Car Museum

The Charger Daytona was developed with the sole purpose of winning NASCAR races. It was based on the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T but had an elaborate body kit with a large rear wing to boost aerodynamics. At the heart of the Charger Daytona was a 7.2-liter V8 developing up to 425 hp, making it incredibly quick.

3 BMW E30 M3 Touring Car

1986 BMW E30 M3 Track Car
Via: BMW

The E30 M3 is widely considered to be one of the best BMW models ever. Everyone loves its classic looks, advanced engineering, power, and the fact that it's one of the main reasons why BMW's M division is well respected worldwide.


Another reason why the E30 M3 is iconic is its success in motorsports. The E30 M3 achieved great success in rally championships, touring car championships, and hillclimb championships. ​​​​​​​

2 Ferrari 250 GTO

Nick Mason - 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO
Via: British GQ

When it comes to Ferraris, it doesn't get better than the legendary 250 GTO. The 250 GTO was produced in the early '60s to meet homologation requirements for the FIA's Group 3 GT category, where it would compete against the likes of the Shelby Cobra and Jaguar E-Type. ​​​​​​​

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Via gq-magazine.co.uk

The 250 GTO was a huge success, winning three Le Mans championships for Ferrari and other renowned competitions. The 250 GTO has become one of the most highly sought-after collector cars today. One reportedly sold for a crazy $70 million at a private auction. ​​​​​​​

1 Porsche 959 Dakar

paris dakar rally porsche 959
Via presskit.porsche.de

In the late '80s, Porsche built the 959 with one goal - to dominate Group B rallying. The 959 looked like a worthy contender, but it never got to compete as Group B rallying was abolished after several fatal accidents. ​​​​​​​

Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar Rally
Via: RM Sotheby's

Porsche had spent a lot of time and money developing the 959, so instead of giving up on the project, they decided to convert it into a Dakar Rally racer. The move worked out great, as the 959 recorded a 1-2 finish at the 1986 Dakar Rally.

The Pros & Cons Of Buying A Race Car
Read Next
About The Author