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The Sportscars That Never Raced: 1, Rondeau M579

Six wheeled billboard for Haiti!

Here’s the first in what is set to be a (very) long-running series on DSC looking at the stories behind sportscars that never raced.

Some went no further than the ideas stage, others made it as a completed car but never competed. There will be GTs and prototypes, some from the biggest names in motorsport, plus not a few who aspired to those heights!

First up, and with thanks to DSC’s Mat Fernandez, a unique offering in this series (we think!).

Jean Rondeau’s story is a mixture of triumph and tragedy, an overall Le Mans 24 Hours win in 1980 in his self built Ford DFV powered car only to lose his life five year later in a senseless accident on a level crossing.

Back in 1977 though he had released details of the car he wanted to take on Le Mans with in 1979, His proposed M579 though not only proposed a boosted Ford DFV, it also looked to follow the lead of the then current Tyrrell P34 Formula One car sporting six wheels!

There is much speculation that this was never a serious effort to bring the car to the track, the sport’s rulemakers having already responded to the Tyrrell, and to a number of other manufacturers by then testing other six wheeled F1 cars, by limiting the number of wheels by regulation to four. It was said that the Rondeau design was merely a mechanism to attract the attention of potential sponsors.

If so then it worked, to a degree at least, and plans were put together for the car to contest Le Mans with full backing from the Government of Haiti (see above)!

To nobody’s great surprise not so much as a centime was forthcoming from the cash strapped state and the M579 was never to progress beyond concept stage.