Historic racing and Porsche enthusiasts attending the 2007 Shannons Phillip Island Classic from 9-11 March are in for a special treat.
After testing the water at the 2006 ‘Classic’, the Porsche Museum is sending up to seven special racing cars from their seemingly inexhaustible collection in Stuttgart to the meeting. And they’re not just any racing Porsches.
The factory’s only all-Porsche Formula 1 car, two Targa Florio road race winners and two Le Mans 24-Hour race victors are amongst them, with a famous early 1950s 550 Spyder thrown in for good measure.
Heading the list is the Porsche’s first and only wholly-produced F1 car – the
Type 804 that raced in only one season, 1962.
When F1 moved to its new 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine limit in 1961, Porsche decided to play with the big boys.
They made do with their existing F2 car for the first year, as was allowed under the rules, but for 1962 the factory unveiled its first purpose-built F1 car.
Featuring a 1.5-litre eight-cylinder air cooled engine producing 132 kW, the Type 804 weighed just 452kg and had a top speed of 270 km/h.
American racer Dan Gurney gave Porsche its first F1 Grand Prix win in the French Grand Prix at Rouen and a week later beat Jim Clark’s Lotus to win again in front of 300,000 spectators at the non-championship F1 race on the Solitude circuit near Stuttgart.
After its brief F1 foray, Porsche concentrated its energies on sports car racing, developing a series of legendary 908 eight-cylinder sports cars in the late 1960s.
Two of the most famous of these racing 908s are also heading to the Shannons Phillip Island Classic – the 1969 Targa Florio-winning 908/02 Spyder that contributed to Porsche winning is first World Championship for Makes the same year and the famous 908/03 Spyder that won the Nurburgring 1000km and Targa Florio in 1970, delivering Porsche its second successive Sportscar title. Both are powered by naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre eight cylinder air-cooled engines developing around 270kW.
Joining this trio in Australia will be two equally famous Le Mans 24-Hour race winners.
When the Porsche 936 won the French endurance classic in 1976, it marked the first Le Mans victory by a turbocharged Porsche. However it was the 936/77’s victory the following year that is regarded as perhaps the most memorable of all Porsche’s Le Mans successes.
Heroic drives by Belgian Jacky Ickx, German Juergen Barth and American Hurley Heywood saw the 936/77 Spyder claw its way back from a seemingly hopeless 41st place to take a stunning victory in the 1977 race, with Barth driving the two final laps with the car’s 400kW, 2.1-litre twin turbo engine running on only five of its six cylinders.
Also coming is the car that gave Porsche victory in its last factory assault on Le Mans in 1998 – the all conquering 911 GT1, based on the 911 road car.
The lightweight, hi-tech carbon fibre-bodied GT1 was powered by a 400 kW turbocharged 3.2-litre engine and blitzed the field to score an emphatic 1-2 for Porsche in its 50th year, bringing total Porsche outright victories at Le Mans to 16 since 1970.
For classic Porsche enthusiasts, perhaps the most stirring of the Museum cars visiting Phillip Island is the 550 Spyder that was a member of the factory’s team that took a 1-2 class win in the 1954 Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.
Rounding off the rare collection is the 356 B Carrera GT of 1960 – a famous car that won the then-new Classic Category in Targa Tasmania in 1998, driven by Australian Peter Fitzgerald.
At Phillip Island, Australia’s former Le Mans winner for Porsche, Vern Schuppan will join Museum director Klaus Bischof, Alex Davison and perhaps Jim Richards in demonstrating these fabulous cars as part of the meeting’s ’Tribute to Porsche’, with up to 100 other special Porsche road and racing cars spanning more than 50 years either on track or on display throughout the weekend.