• Motor Sport celebrates its 100th anniversary with special poll
• Race Car of the Century voting now open
• Ten shortlisted finalists each representing its own decade
• Ferrari, Jaguar, McLaren, Porsche and Red Bull all nominated

What is the world’s greatest ever racing car? That is a highly contentious subject hotly debated by enthusiasts all over the globe ever since the dawn of motorised sport.

Could it be one of the mighty Bentley’s that put British motor racing on the map during the 1920s? Or, perhaps, the legendary Porsche 917 which revolutionised sportscar racing with its Le Mans wins at the start of the 1970s? Rally fans will point to the awesome Audi quattro, another game-changer and the harbinger of the hallowed Group B era, while the current generation of F1 fans will no look further than the all-conquering Red Bull RB19 – an undoubted titan which won a record 21 out of 22 Grands Prix in 2023 and took Max Verstappen to his third consecutive world championship. Everyone has their own favourite.

To find some consensus, though, Motor Sport is celebrating its landmark 100 years of publication with a very special ‘Race Car of the Century’ poll. Founded originally as The Brooklands Gazette in 1924, Motor Sport has featured every significant racing car of the period in its authoritative pages and today is the UK’s best-selling magazine covering Formula 1.

Marking its very special milestone, Motor Sport has explored its own remarkable history to shortlist ten all-time greats – one from each decade it has been published for – and opened a public ballot in which all can vote.

The final three standout contenders representing the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s have been announced in the latest May issue of the magazine on sale this week and voting is now open on Motor Sport’s website. The poll will close on 16 May and ‘the greatest of the greats’ winner will be announced at a star-studded dinner to be held at the Dorchester Hotel in London in the week running up to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Reflecting the breadth of magazine’s coverage over the past 100 years, the shortlist includes five of the greatest Grand Prix cars, four supreme sportscars and one icon from the world of rallying. Just about all the great sporting marques are represented: Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lotus, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Red Bull and Subaru.

“Picking just one car from each decade was almost impossible but we are confident that the ten stand out cars that we ultimately selected are all especially worthy of inclusion,” said Joe Dunn, Motor Sport editor. “The search for the Race Car of the Century is the perfect way for Motor Sport to celebrate its centenary and we are intrigued and excited in equal measure to discover the outcome of the voting. Who knows, the result could, once and for all times, settle the ‘what’s the world’s greatest racing car’ debate!”

1920s – Bentley Speed Six

For many, the dark green Bentley Speed Six was the car which put Britain on the motor sport map with five famous Le Mans wins between 1924 and 1930. The Union Jack-waver supreme fired Brits’ endearing love for the French classic.

1930s – Mercedes W154

Taking victory after victory in 1938 and 1939, the supercharged Mercedes W154 ‘Silver Arrow’ would prove to be the peak of pre-war Grand Prix engineering. Very powerful and a devil to drive, the W154 had no equal as the world went to war.

1940s – Ferrari 166

Winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Targo Florio and Mille Miglia, the stocky 166 is hailed by many as the greatest Ferrari of all. It is certainly the car that started the legend and with which the feted Prancing Horse hit its stride.

1950s – Jaguar D-type

Beautiful, influential, fast – and a lasting winner, Jaguar’s aero-inspired D-type defined the new post-war era. The Spitfire of the racetracks and as British as bully beef, the ground-breaking D-type won where it mattered: the Le Mans 24 Hours.

1960s – Lotus 49

With its fully-stressed Cosworth DFV attached to the back of a neat monocoque chassis, Colin Chapman’s revolutionary Lotus 49 made everything else obsolete and blazingly illuminated a new path for Formula 1 design.

1970s – Porsche 917

The revered and feared Porsche 917 ruled endurance racing at the dawn of the 1970s giving the German company its breakthrough wins at Le Mans. Nothing stirs the blood like a full-fat 917 – a racing car so great they outlawed it twice!

1980s – McLaren MP4/4

With 15 wins out of 16 races, McLaren’s MP4/4 was not just the F1 car of 1988 but of the entire decade. Immaculate in concept, McLaren matched the best engine (Honda) with sublime drivers (Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna) to rewrite the record books.

1990s – Subaru Impreza

With its gold wheels and blue livery, flat four ‘boxer’ engine warble and the swashbuckling heroics of drivers such as Colin McRae, the Impreza transcended WRC and motor sport, and was truly emblematic of its time and generation.

2000s – Audi R8 LMP

Easy to drive, reliable, good on fuel and a cinch to repair, Audi’s LMP1 racer altered the sport’s landscape. It was a machine designed to be driven flat-out for every corner of every lap, twice around the clock if necessary – hence its five Le Mans wins from six attempts.

2010s – Red Bull RB9

In Sebastien Vettel’s hands the RB9 was a record-breaker: 13 wins from 19 races, nine of which came consecutively. From the pen of motor racing’s greatest designer, the RB9 helped set the template by which Adrian Newey still grafts today.