Porsche motorsport heritage on display
September 12, 2006 Porsche aficionados down under will be in for a rare treat this Southern Hemisphere summer when a priceless collection of iconic racing cars from the Porsche Museum tour the country and appear at two of the country’s glamour historic racing events - the Classic Adelaide and the Phillip Island Classic. Among the seven unique Porsche racing cars will be Formula One, Le Mans and Targa Florio winners, with each car having its own unique place in history. Heading the list is the 804 – Porsche’s first and only wholly-produced F1 car that won the 1962 French GP driven by Dan Gurney. Other vehicles to be seen at the Classic Adelaide and Phillip Island Classic include a 1954 Carrera Panamericana-winning 550 Spyder, a 1977 Le Mans-winning 936 and a Targa Florio-winning 908/03 Spyder.
Porsche withdrew from Formula 1 at the end of the 1962 season, believing there were more benefits to be yielded for its road cars from GT and sports car racing. The 804’s 1.5-litre eight-cylinder engine produces 132 kW and has a 270 km/h top speed.
This led to the creation of lightweight and agile race cars such as the 908/03 Spyder; a purpose-built open-top eight-cylinder (3.0-litre) racer which competed in four prestigious races and won three – Targa Florio in 1970 and the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometre endurance races in 1970 and ‘71.
Joining this pair in Australia will be two Le Mans racers. The sublime 936/77 Spyder gave Porsche perhaps the most memorable of its Le Mans 24 Hour victories back in 1977. The heroics of drivers Jacki Ickx, Juergen Barth and Hurley Haywood saw the 936/77 Spyder claw its way back from a discouraging 41st place to take a stunning victory. This car also won the Le Mans 24 hour in 1976 – the first for a turbocharged Porsche.
Porsche’s last factory assault on Le Mans was in 1998 with the all-conquering 911 GT1. The lightweight, hi-tech GT1 was powered by a 400 kW turbocharged 3.2-litre engine and scored an emphatic 1-2 for Porsche in its 50th year, bringing total Porsche victories at Le Mans to a record-setting 16.
Perhaps the most emotive of the Museum cars to tour is the 550 Spyder – the genesis of Porsche racing cars. Powered by a unique, quad-camshaft, four-cylinder engine, the 550 Spyder embodied Porsche philosophy of light weight and manoeuvrability and resulted in the 550 Spyder scoring a 1-2 class win in the Carrera Panamericana, a notorious border to border race across Mexico in 1954.
The 908/02 Spyder also has a special place in Porsche history as its first race car to win the Constructors’ World Championship, in 1969, going on to win races at the Targa Florio and Brands Hatch. Rounding out the rare collection is the 356 B Carrera GT of 1960 – an adored car that won its historic class in Targa Tasmania in 1998, and was running an amazing third outright in 2000 with genius Walter Rohrl at the wheel before suffering a minor mechanical fault.
Rarely does such a significant collection of valuable cars leave the Porsche Museum for promotion and competition half way across the world,
“It is Porsche’s approach that our museum cars are maintained in working order so they can be featured in competition, demonstrations or static display,” says Porsche Cars Australia Managing Director, Mr. Michael Winkler.
“Not since our 50 year celebration in Australia in 1998 have we been able to secure such an impressive collection of iconic race cars from Porsche’s rolling museum,” said Mr. Winkler.
Porsche Cars Australia will confirm in the months ahead which museum cars will appear at the Classic Adelaide and Phillip Island events.
Classic Adelaide, in which Porsche this year is the ‘featured marque’, runs from November 15 to 19, with 85 Porsche entries expected. The Phillip Island Classics, which last year attracted 20,000 fans, runs March 9 to11, 2007. The Museum cars will also be seen at Porsche Centres during their five month stay.
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