You don’t need a fire suit, or a name like Andretti, to own a racecar. All you need is cash. If you want a car that comes with racing numbers as standard equipment, head to Monaco on May 12. RM Auctions will be selling a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, a bona fide racecar that competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 908 was the culmination of Peugeot’s campaign to beat perennial champion Audi in the French race. Like its main competitor, the Audi R10 TDI, the 908 has a diesel engine. This is no truck engine, though. It’s a twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter V12, with over 700 horsepower and a gravity-altering 885 pound-feet of torque. The engine displaces the maximum amount allowed by race regulations, and it has a 100-degree bank angle to keep the center of gravity low.
The diesel power plant gave the 908 better mileage, meaning fewer pit stops. The tremendous torque also helped acceleration. To make the engine emissions-legal, Peugeot equipped it with a particulate filter, or filter a particules, hence the “FAP” in the car’s name. Diesels are also much quieter than gasoline engines, so don’t expect to impress people at car shows with a throaty engine roar.
The 908’s chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque, which makes this racer extremely light and rigid. The first 908 body was reportedly designed and built in one week, then refined with wind tunnel testing over the course of three months. The parts that are bolted to the monocoque are pretty high tech, too. Many critics derided the electric power steering in the 2012 Porsche 911, but it was apparently good enough for a car competing in a 24-hour endurance race. The 908 also has pushrod suspension and an electro-pneumatic, six-speed sequential transmission.
The car up for auction is 908 chassis number 02, which made its racing debut in 2007 at Monza. Chassis 02 went on to race at Silverstone, Interlagos, Barcelona, and Spa, and eventually Le Mans. It raced there in 2009, entered by the Peugeot factory team. One of the team’s other 908s took the win, ending a 16-year drought for Peugeot, and breaking Audi’s six-year winning streak. Peugeot is one of only three teams (along with Audi and Bentley) to win Le Mans since 2000.
If a race-proven 700 hp engine and carbon fiber chassis don’t sound impressive enough, consider this: the 908 could be the last Peugeot Le Mans racer; the company decided to disband its race team earlier this year. Talk about potential historical value.
Of course, all of that provenance will not come cheap. RM estimates the 908’s final price at 1.5 to 1.8 million euros, or between $1.2 and $1.3 million. For that money, you won’t even be able to drive the 908 without assistance. “Starting and running this vehicle calls for specific equipment, third-party software licenses and skills,” RM says. Peugeot will provide these services, and other technical assistance, for three years as part of the sale. That seems like a hassle, but you’ll never see another Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at the local show n’ shine.