The 24 Hours of Le Mans is going on today and tomorrow. It’s interesting, but I don’t have strong impressions of eighties Le Mans racing. The 1950s have the terrible Mercedes-Benz crash, the 1960s have Ferrari versus Ford, the 1970s have the Porsches, and the 1990s have the flying Mercedes-Benz prototypes. So, I did a little research on the cars racing that at least resembled cars you could purchase.
In 1980, the IMSA class winner was a Porsche 935, with another 935 in second, and a Ferrari 512BB in third. Further down the finishing list were many more Porsches and Ferraris, along with a few BMW M1s and a single Mazda RX-7.
In 1981, the IMSA class winner was a Ferrari 512BB, with a Porsche 935 in second, and another 512BB in third. More Ferraris and Porsches were also featured, along with a few BMW M1s, a single Mazda RX-7, and Chevrolet Camaro driven by Cale Yarborough that only completed 13 laps before the brakes failed.
In 1982, the IMSA class winner was once again a Porsche 935, with another 935 in second, and a Ferrari 512BB in third. Further down the list were more Porsches (both 935s and 924s), more Ferraris, two Chevrolet Camaros, two BMW M1s, and two Mazda RX-7s.
The classes changed in 1983, and the results were that Porsche 930s filled all three podium spots in the then new Group B class. Further down the list were more Porsche 930s along with a single 928S and a single BMW M1. The Ferraris, Camaros, and Mazdas were all gone (Mazda had moved to the prototype class).
Two separate street car-based classes raced in 1984. A BMW M1 won the Group B class inaugurated in 1983, with a Porsche 930 and Porsche 928S filling the other two podium spots. However, IMSA/GTO was back; a Porsche 911 won, with Porsche 930s in second and third place. Other cars in the field included a BMW M1, a Ferrari 512BB, and another Porsche 930.
Le Mans moved back to a single and small Group B class in 1985. A BMW M1 won again, with another M1 in second, and a Porsche 911 SC in third. One more M1 was further down the finishing order.
Things were even thinner in 1986. A single car participated in the GTX class: a Porsche 961. It was the same story in Group B—a BMW M1 won.
By 1987, Group B no longer existed. Once again, a single car participated in the GTX class: a Porsche 961. There would not be any street-based cars in 1988 or 1989—they would not return until 1993.