The first story ever published, The 24 Hours is a four-page story used to gauge reader interest in a new comic. The story takes place at an unspecified 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The story, published in 1958, already showcases a lot of the characteristics that would be the red line through all Michel Vaillant stories.
The comic starts off by showcasing what has been happening up until that point, narrated by a radio reporter. It is now the 23rd hour of the race. Leading the race are the Vaillante Le Mans #11 piloted by Jean-Pierre Vaillant and Paul Delari Viére, the Jaguar #2 and the Aston Martin #10. After a daring overtake earlier in the morning when driving second place, Michel had crashed his car and had sustained minor injuries. Per the rules, only teammates are allowed to help out, but none are in the vicinity. Michel therefore started digging out his car himself, which took him half an hour and during which time he lost eleven places. Still, he continued on after a short pit-stop and gave over the wheels to his co-pilot Mansart at 08:00; he had been able to surpass three cars, placing them at 9th. Taking a nap, commotion woke him up at 11:30: Mansart had been able to win back four places. Now driving 5th, Michel was able to convince his father to do a last driver change, even though Henri's plan was for Mansart to finish the race. With favorite pole-positioner Willy Peters unable to continue on at 12:00, Michel takes over from Mansart and manages to push the car (and himself) to third place. At that moment, track officials motion him to slow down. Slightly annoyed at first, he soon sees why: Jean-Pierre has been asked to wait for him, resulting in a double Vaillante victory.
At the start of the story, the narrator mentions that the accident at 05:00 was casued by Mansart. This appears not to be the case: Michel is behind the wheels at that moment. Also mentioned is the fact that due to the accident, Michel had to drive alone afterwards. Seeing as he takes over from Mansart at 12:00, who was slated to finish the race per team orders, this is false. It is also unclear if the Vaillante team finished third and second or second and first.