Not the least of these came at the first attempt. Following a 10-year gap, the race returned in 1949, and one of Enzo Ferrari’s key allies, the indefatigable Luigi Chinetti, twice a former winner, persuaded the Old Man to enter. Two 166 MM Barchettas lined up on the grid on 25 June 1949 and, 24 hours later, Chinetti won the race, pretty much single-handedly, piloting the same chassis that had won the Mille Miglia a few months earlier.
The second win came five years later when Ferrari’s 375 Plus dominated proceedings. The 4.9-litre V12 had enormous firepower and, despite a nerve-shredding last pit-stop, José Froilán-González (along with co-driver Maurice Trintignant) took a gutsy win.
In 1958, Ferrari’s Le Mans imperial streak began, a period that coincided with the arrival of the 250 Testa Rossa, powered by the Gioachino Colombo-designed 3.0-litre V12.