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Porsche 911 50 Years

At the end of 96 hours, the drivers finished their 20,000th kilometer and had established five new world and 11 international records in the process. During the entire time, Hensler was on edge because as they left Zuffenhausen for Monza he learned that the engine he had chosen for installation was not a fresh rebuild as he believed but one that just had finished a 100-hour bench test. That engine got them to Monza, sped the four drivers around it for four days, and powered the car back to Stuttgart for celebrations. Such accomplishments helped build the legend of the R models and set the stage for the production-based 911 racers that followed. To many American racing enthusiasts, 1967 will remain the year that a great episode of creative writing changed Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition rules. It had the fine hand of racing manager Huschke von Hanstein all over it when the SCCA reclassified the 911 as an under 2.0-liter sedan. This interpretation allowed 911 racers to enter the one-year-old Trans-American Sedan Championship, a series with a class each for engine displacements greater and less than two liters. The judgment stunned Alfa Romeo, BMW, and Ford Cortina owners. It became a significant decision to Porsche because the SCCA established the Trans-Am as a manufacturer’s championship, awarding the cars and not the driver’s finishing points. This presented the winning carmaker significant advertising advantages among enthusiasts. Alfa had won in 1966; Porsche (in particular, Peter Gregg in a Brumos-prepared 911) took the title in 1967. As 911S production passed 500 and then 1,000 units, Porsche homologated the coupe as a Group 3 Grand Touring racer. It did the same with the lighterweight 911 T model. Fitted with the S engine tuned to 170 horsepower, lightened body panels, and sport seats, these models weighed in at 2,031 pounds. Many of the special engine and chassis parts developed for the R and the 906 race cars ended inside, on, in, and underneath these lighter models. Some of these cars became known as ST models, although Porsche used that designation officially a couple years later. Other variations including 1968 911L models with S or R running gear and T models with R engines and drivetrains, the 911TR models, were factory-invented and/or factory-encouraged cars for rallies throughout Europe. No one inside Porsche doubted the value of extensive road and endurance testing, and it’s likely that by the end of 1968, any manufacturer who was not following such a regimen regularly lost to 911 models. Even for some of its drivers, this reliability initially stretched their faith. Vic Eford had signed on to drive a factory 911 at the Tour de Corse. When the car arrived, on an open trailer behind a van, Elford met von Hanstein and had a look inside the van. It was filled with tires and wheels. “That’s great. Car looks great,” Elford told him. “But where are the spare parts? And Husckhe said, ‘We don’t have spare parts. Porsches don’t break.’” It didn’t and Elford finished third overall. A loophole in the British Saloon Car championship rules, perhaps inspired by the allowance in Trans-Am, classified the 911 as a saloon, and Elford won two of the series events in two-liter class while Dutchman Toine Hezemans claimed second in another of the series contests. In April at the Monza 1,000 Kilometers, Dieter Glemser and Helmut Kelleners finished eighth overall to win twoliter GT class in a 911T with 911s in three of the next five spots. A month later, another 911T won two-liter GT in the Targa Florio, the highest finish of any production-derived car. Two weeks after that, another T took two-liter GT honors at the Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers, then again at Spa a week later, and again at Watkins Glen in mid-July with Peter Gregg and Bert Everett in a 911T. Everett won the 1967 Trans-Am two-liter title in his 911T for Porsche.
The 1968 London-to-Sydney Marathon was perhaps one of racing’s most ambitious and audacious events, spanning four continents and 10,000 miles. Polish rally veteran Sobieslaw Zasada, who headed a private Porsche effort in cars prepared for battle against kangaroos and other wildlife, finished fourth overall. Porsche Archiv
The 1968 London-to-Sydney Marathon was perhaps one of racing’s most ambitious and audacious events, spanning four continents and 10,000 miles. Polish rally veteran Sobieslaw Zasada, who headed a private Porsche effort in cars prepared for battle against kangaroos and other wildlife, finished fourth overall. Porsche Archiv From its earliest days, Porsche used racing to test its engineering and to promote its products. The 84-hour Marathon at Nurburgring became particularly useful because it occurred in August, just before new model release. The 911 for 1969 introduced several innovations, including a longer wheelbase and a load-leveling hydro-pneumatic front suspension from Boge meant to be standard on the 911E (fuel injection) models. While the official entry listed Porsche’s three Marathon entries as 911E models, they were more highly developed GTS models on which engineers and mechanics had replaced everything possible, even as obscure as steel headlight buckets, with identical structures fabricated out of paper-thin aluminum. Impossibly complex rules required each car to carry its spares (except for gas, oil, and tires) and any necessary tools in the car. Pit stops for work were permitted only at prescribed times that did not allow fuel and tire changes. Drivers were allowed to stop along the racecourse to effect repairs if they were capable. Entrants developed a routine in which ailing cars limped to the pits but not into them, parking alongside the track. Drivers made repairs from instructions that mechanics shouted to them from the other side of the pit wall, a few feet away. Two of the three 911GTS entries finished first and second, and winning co-driver Herbert Linge commented decades later that his lasting memory of that endless race was that the hydropneumatic front suspension was far too soft. “On down hills and in braking,” Linge explained, “at night the lights pointed at the ground a few meters in front of the car. Accelerating or going up hills, the lights shined the tops of the trees. I could never see where I was going.” The 1968 season ended with the September running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, delayed from its typical June date by student and then civil unrest throughout France. Two Belgians, Jean- Pierre Gaban and Roger Vanderschreik, finished the season-long International Championship for Manufacturers by taking a two-liter GT class victory in their 911T. This along with outright wins in 907 and 908 models put Porsche in second behind Ford’s GT for the manufacturer’s championship but first in the Grand Touring trophy.
The starting line for the Spa European Touring Car race in July 1968 resembled a starting grid photo for Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am events. Erwin Kremer, Helmut Kelleners, and Willi Kauhsen won the race in a 911L. Porsche Archiv
The starting line for the Spa European Touring Car race in July 1968 resembled a starting grid photo for Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am events. Erwin Kremer, Helmut Kelleners, and Willi Kauhsen won the race in a 911L. Porsche Archiv The Le Mans 24-hour race and even the Marathon’s 84 hours were barely warmup events to 1968’s longest slog, the 10,000-mile London-to-Sydney Marathon. Departing from London on November 24, the route took three heavily modified 911s and 57 other entrants through Paris, Turin, Belgrade, Istanbul, Tehran, Kabul, and Delhi to Bombay, where the teams sailed to Gloucester Park, Australia, for a final 2,600-mile run to finish in Sydney. The Zuffenhausen race shops prepared three private entry 911s, drastically lightened and intensely reinforced with internal roll cages and external wildlife and brush bars. European Rally champion for 1967, Polish driver Sobieslaw Zasada, and his codriver Marek Wachowski finished third overall, taking home a prize of £3,000 rewarded by the London Daily Express and Sydney Daily Telegraph newspapers, who had jointly sponsored the event. While Porsche suffered durability problems with its 908s during the 1968 season, racing mechanics eradicated those conditions and also launched a new entry, the 917 for 1969. For the 911s, the slightly longer wheelbase, the magnesium crankcase and transmission house, and hundreds of other modifications and improvements led to another season of racing and rally successes. Americans Tony Adamowicz and Bruce Jennings started the year with a two-liter GT victory at Daytona, finishing fourth overall. Gerard Larrousse, André Wicky, and Jean Sage took two-liter GT honors at Sebring in 12th overall; another followed at Monza with Dieter Froelich and Jürgen Neuhaus and still another in the Targa driven by Everardo Ostini and Gianpiero Moretti, again at Spa with Larrousse, and then at the ’Ring with Froelich and Neuhaus, all in 911T models. At Le Mans, Jean-Pierre Gaban and Yves Deprez finished tenth overall and first in two-liter GT in a 911S, as did Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood at Watkins Glen in another 911S. The season ender at Österreichring saw Herbert Linge and Roland Bauer wrap up the Grand Touring Trophy in a factory 911T. With victories in Porsche’s ultra-reliable 908/2 Spyders and 908L coupes, the World Manufacturer’s Championship went home to Zuffenhausen, and team driver Jo Siffert claimed the driver’s title. OUTLAWING THE SEDAN AND WELCOMING THE SPORTS CAR Dissent within SCCA ranks led to several changes in American racing at the end of the 1969 season. While Porsche took the under two-liter Trans-Am title for a third year in a row, entreaties from the other manufacturers resulted in the SCCA (and FIA for European events) reclassifying the sedan as a sports car. But that was only the tip of a large iceberg that supported SCCA director John Bishop’s frustrated departure and the organization of a new International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) with Bill France. France had founded National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) as an organization of racing drivers, not manufacturers. For 1970, Bishop and IMSA promoted a new series for FIA Group 2 and Group 4 cars, providing a North American home for the entrants that SCCA had disqualified.
Claude Ballot-Léna and Jean-Claude Morénas took fourth overall and first in GT 2.0 in the 1969 Tour de France de l’Automobile. Paris distributor SonAuto entered this and a second 1969 911T that finished third overall and first in Special Touring 2.0. Porsche Archiv
Claude Ballot-Léna and Jean-Claude Morénas took fourth overall and first in GT 2.0 in the 1969 Tour de France de l’Automobile. Paris distributor SonAuto entered this and a second 1969 911T that finished third overall and first in Special Touring 2.0. Porsche Archiv WHAT’S IN THOSE LETTERS? TRY PERMISSION TO RACE! FIA. FISA. CSI. WCM? The AIACR started it all. A group of racers and racing promoters established the Association International des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR), that is, the international association of recognized automobiles clubs, in June 1904. This group approved and sanctioned European automobile speed events until immediately after World War II, when, in 1946, it changed its name and reorganized as the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). In 1953, the FIA created the World Sportscar Championship (WSC) as a points race series for manufacturers throughout the world. The WSC evolved into the nearly forgotten International Championship for GT Manufacturers (starting in 1966), which in 1972 had become the World Championship of Makes (WCM). The WCM opened its arms in 1976 to include Group 5 Special Production cars, such as Porsche’s 935, Group 4 Grand Touring cars, including the 934, and a prototype category that arrived at the last minute in 1976, called Group 6. This accommodated carry-over open prototype sports racers such as 908/3s and Ferrari PBs that separately was labeled World Championship for Sports Cars. That lasted only through 1977. The FIA had hoped to tame the excesses of 235-mile-per-hour Porsche 917s and InterSerie 917-30s with 1,000 horsepower in 1973, and it tried again in 1982 after years of Porsche 935s topping 220 on Mulsanne. The FIA ended the Group 5 classification and replaced it with Group C, oriented toward fuel consumption. Throughout all this, there also existed the Fédération International de Sport Automobiles (FISA). This group grew out of a 1922 decision by FIA directors to delegate automobile racing organizations to an autonomous committee known as the Commission Sportive International de la FIA (CSI). In 1978, CSI reorganized and became FISA. In 1993, the FIA board of governors restructured the organization and eliminated FISA, returning all racing to direct management from the FIA. Then there was FOCA, the Formula One Constructors Organization. This group battled FISA for supremacy in virtually every decision relating to Formula One (F1) racing from the mid-1970s until 1981, when both sides accepted the terms of the Concorde Agreement, a truce that lasted until 1987. During this time, while Porsche developed the successful TAG engine for McLaren F1 racing, the 911 had nothing to do with Formula One. However, Porsche continued to work within the rules and regulations issued to it and other competitors from the FIA.
Porsche prepared several of these 1970 2.2-liter ST models for the Monte Carlo Rally and other events. Björn Waldegård had won the 1969 Monte and went on to win again in 1970 in one of these STs. Porsche Archiv
Porsche prepared several of these 1970 2.2-liter ST models for the Monte Carlo Rally and other events. Björn Waldegård had won the 1969 Monte and went on to win again in 1970 in one of these STs. Porsche Archiv While one set of Porsche’s racing mechanics, drivers, and engineers concentrated on campaigning the 917, another group introduced the highly evolved 911 ST model with very thin gauge steel for the rear quarter panels, roof, and rear seat pan. Countless extraneous parts fell away as engineers and mechanics weighed ounces of weight and went so far as to manage the paint mixture, decreasing pigment to save a bit more of the load. Zuffenhausen built the cars for racing or rallies, fitting either 21- or 29-gallon fuel tanks with a large filler cut through the ultra-light front deck lid. Rally customers made good use of the 2,195cc engine, tuned to develop 180 horsepower at 6,500 rpm with reliable performance for days on end. Racers received a slightly bored out (one additional millimeter, from 84 to 85 millimeters) engine that increased displacement to 2,247cc and produced 240 horsepower at 7,900 rpm. This version met FIA homologation regulations for Group 4 Special Grand Touring Cars category. Zuffenhausen mechanics modified 908 brakes for the front wheels of these cars. At Daytona and Sebring, previous-year specification 911T models acquitted themselves well, with two-liter class wins by Ralph Meaney and Gary Wright for the 24-hours, followed by Peter Gregg and Pete Harrison for the 12. Through the 1970 European season, the two-liter S models won their classes at Monza, the Targa, Spa, and Nurburgring. Starting at Le Mans, class regulations changed, opening the category to maximum displacement 2.5-liter engines in GT and privateers Nicolas Koob and Manfred Kremer took the class win, finishing ninth overall behind the company’s first outright win with Hans Hermann and Richard Attwood in the red-and-white Piëch-family Salzburg 917K. From there on, the STs ruled, claiming class wins at Watkins Glen and Austria to seal the Grand Touring Trophy once again.
Weissach racing engineers prepared this 2.4-liter S for Gerard Larrousse to contest the 1970 Tour de France de l’Automobile. This potent ultra-light S, at 1,736 pounds with 245 horsepower, finished second overall behind a Matra prototype. Porsche Archiv
Weissach racing engineers prepared this 2.4-liter S for Gerard Larrousse to contest the 1970 Tour de France de l’Automobile. This potent ultra-light S, at 1,736 pounds with 245 horsepower, finished second overall behind a Matra prototype. Porsche Archiv Le Mans and the August Marathon de la Route were interesting events for 911 watchers as Porsche left its customers to campaign the rear-engine models. The competition department, of course, campaigned 917s and the potent 908/3 Spyders for certain events. Sales and marketing promoted the new 914/6 models and at Le Mans, Auguste Veuillet’s SonAuto team won the twoliter GT class with a barely disguised factory-supported 914/6GT. The same emphasis appeared at the Nurburgring where Porsche fielded a team of three of the mid-engine GTs for the 84 hours. The effort yielded extraordinary results with a 1-2-3 finish. One other 1970 event was worth noting in 911 racing history. The Tour de France d l’Automobile was no less grueling a speed-and-distance event than its similarly named bicycle race. Initiated in 1899, four years before the inaugural two-wheel event, it reappeared after World War II in 1951. The Tour generally constituted half a dozen road course and hillclimb timed events linked by transit stages over open roads that often were timed as well. Porsche had homologated the S for racing in Group 4, the special GT class, and Group 3, the production GT category at 1,848 pounds. The Tour, however, was more wide-open because it was in the FIA Manufacturer’s Championship, allowing truly special GT cars. For Gerard Larrousse, the factory set a benchmark, making a car even lighter than 911 R models. Larrousse offered a challenge: once engineers had gotten the car to 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) on the scales, he offered them a bottle of champagne for each additional kilogram they could eliminate. He delivered nearly a case; they pared away an additional 11 kilograms, taking overall weight to 1,739 pounds. As Porsche engineer/racer/ historian Jürgen Barth characterized the car, “This was the lightest 911 that kept the standard floor pan and running gear.”
With fuel from Shell and whitewall tires from Sears, Zobieslaw Zasada attacked the 1971 Africa Safari Rally in this 2.2-liter S. Zasada and co-driver Marian Bien finished fifth overall in the highest-placed Porsche entry. Porsche Archiv
With fuel from Shell and whitewall tires from Sears, Zobieslaw Zasada attacked the 1971 Africa Safari Rally in this 2.2-liter S. Zasada and co-driver Marian Bien finished fifth overall in the highest-placed Porsche entry. Porsche Archiv
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