The most important assembly of racing Porsches anywhere in the world outside the factory.
True there are other candidates, both from the marque with which this magazine is concerned, and others. It could be anything from a Speed Six Bentley to an Audi R8 with any number of Jaguars, Fords and Ferraris in between, not to mention the Porsche 908, 917, 935 and 936. It could even be a car that has yet to turn a wheel. But it won’t be. I’m not one for making predictions, but in the case of the Porsche 956 and its long wheelbase 962 derivative, I am delighted to make an exception.
Let’s very briefly examine the evidence. Here is a car that won Le Mans six times on the trot, a feat managed by no other car in the history of the race. It won the world sports car championship five times in succession, also an unparalleled achievement in the sport. It won the IMSA championship three times despite not even being allowed to enter for the first two years of its life and in 1991, in its tenth season of racing, it was still good enough to win the Daytona 24 hours outright and for the fifth time. In 1994, 13 seasons after it first started racing, the Dauer version of the car won Le Mans for the seventh time. And there were five Japanese championships, numerous Interserie wins, but I think you get the picture. The 956/962 was the most long lived and successful sports car the world has ever known and there’s nothing even the mighty 917 can do to change that.
There are two reasons for writing this now. First and most obviously, its story started 30 years ago this year, and for those of us old enough to remember its competition debut at Silverstone in May 1982 (one of very few races it didn’t actually win), that’s a sobering thought.
The second reason came through the discovery of the most brain-fuddlingly, knee-bucklingly, jaw-droppingly astonishing collection of these cars is not in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, but down a little lane somewhere in southern England. Called simply the Historic Porsche Collection, it is actually the most important assembly of racing Porsches anywhere in the world outside the factory. There are 15 Porsches here, every one of them not just a 956 or a 962, which would be impressive enough, but a really important example. The very first 956 is here, and the very last 962C to be built and raced by the factory. Between the poles lie the privateers from teams like Brun Motorsport, Richard Lloyd Racing, Kremer and John Fitzpatrick Racing.
And the liveries, oh the liveries. Here are the best of the best: Rothmans, Shell Dunlop, Skoal Bandit, Hydro Aluminium and, to me at least, the most beautiful of all: Richard Lloyd’s Canon 956. There are a staggering 15 cars in the collection and over this month and next we will delve deeply into the individual histories of each one, allowing the cars themselves to tell the story of this most remarkable of closed-wheel racing cars.
But we should look first at how they got that way.
By all logical reasoning, the 956 should not have been a success, it should have been a catastrophic failure. Not only was it rushed from drawing board to race-readiness in a ludicrously short period of time, its design was so fundamentally different to any other racing car in Porsche’s long and illustrious history you’d think it couldn’t be perfect out of the box, that a process of at least some trial and error would be needed to iron out its bugs. But Porsche doesn’t do trial and error.
The bare fact are these: six months before its scheduled debut at Le Mans in 1982, not a single 956 had even started to be built. Three months before the race not a single 956 had so much as turned a wheel under its own power. Yet the car was actually able to make its debut over a month early at Silverstone on May 16th. At Le Mans itself by the time the 24 hours had reached its conclusion on the afternoon of June 20th 1982, there were three 956s in the first three positions, the slowest of which was 11 clear laps ahead of the fourth placed car, which is almost 100 miles. The winning car was 30 laps clear.
Even by Porsche standards that was going some and for Derek Bell, who shared the winning car with Jacky Ickx, the race was so straightforward he struggles to recall it. ‘It was great for Porsche, but not for the drivers,’ he recalls. ‘It’s the ones where you have to battle from flag to flag that I remember most even if, like in 1983, you don’t actually win. In 1982, we got in the car, it went round for 24 hours and won. That was pretty much it.’
Quite so. But none of this explains why the 956 was built in the first place. It came to be because the FIA dreamt up some new rules for sports car racing. The fundamental premise behind these regulations sounded tedious in the extreme and the name given to them more tedious still: Group C.
The thinking behind Group C was to simplify the way people went sports car racing by the most basic means possible: though there were other stipulations about the size and weight of participating cars, the fundamental principle of Group C was that all cars were given a fixed ration of fuel for every race. And that was it.
Dull huh? I remember the complaints at the time, predicting visions of race cars crawling around in the latter part of a race, ekeing out the allowance and unable to defend position. That wasn’t racing: it was an economy run. Or so it seemed at the time.
In fact it was pure genius. What had been created was not an economy formula, but an engineer’s formula, giving a mandate to car designers for almost unlimited creative thinking. Race car design today is all about exploiting loopholes in rule books: in Group C there were no loopholes because there was damn near no rule book. In its heyday from 1982-1990 cars raced with 4, 6, 8 and 12 cylinders and engine capacities ranging from 1.4-litres to 7.4-litres. So for us, the race car loving public this brought an unprecedented variety of machinery for us to enjoy: rumbling Porsches, snarling Jaguars, thunderous Astons, shrieking (rotary powered) Mazdas and howling Lancias created a blend of sights and sounds unprecedented in the history of the sport.
And at the head of almost every field, sat a Porsche. It actually got quite boring. I remember being at Le Mans in 1988 when, at the seventh time of asking something other than a 956 or 962 won the race, there was a sense of jubilation in the crowd not just because Jaguar has won but, understandably after a period of such utter dominance, because Porsche had not.
But the most remarkable thing about this Group C Porsche is that the demolition job it was able to do on the opposition year in year out, was not due to Porsche chucking millions at the car each winter as Audi does today, and producing an effectively freshly designed car each summer. Sure they kept on top of aero and engine power developments, but if you compare 956/001 and 962/010, respectively the first and last chassis to be both built and raced by the factory, you’ll find the aluminium tub, engine and gearbox, while updated, changed in no fundamental way from first to last. Truth is, the 956 was so far ahead of the competition when it was brand new, it didn’t take much to keep it that way.
The reason for this was that, against all the odds, Porsche got all its sums right first time. This might sound an odd thing to say about a company not known for regularly making a Horlicks out of either road or race car design: its last sports car, the 936, had first won Le Mans in 1976 and was still good enough to do so again 1981. But there were two crucial differences between the 956 and any previous Porsche race cars, both of which took Porsche into territories in which it had precisely no experience at all.
First was the fundamental way in which the car was constructed. Since the 1950s Porsche had built racing cars either by bolting or bonding bodies onto simple ladder frame chassis or, latterly, cladding tubular steel spaceframe skeletons. But the Group C rules demanded a level of crash test performance that could not easily be met by a spaceframe, forcing Porsche to built its first monocoque racing car. Of course there’d been monocoque racing cars for years: Lotus had one in F1 in 1962, Lola a full monocoque sports car in 1965 and with good reason: the construction method resulted in cars that were light, strong and safe. But for Porsche this was new territory.
The second departure was in the field of aerodynamics. When the 936 had been developed, Ground Effect, where the air flowing under the car is exploited to suck the car onto the track and create an unprecedented amount of grip, was still in the theoretical domain. By the time the 956 came along it featured on every F1 car on the grid. But Porsche couldn’t just copy F1 design firstly because a sports car with all enveloping bodywork and enclosed wheels makes the comparison almost meaningless, second because the rules banned the sliding skirts that were key to F1 Ground Effect performance and, third, because its engine got in the way.
To make a Ground Effect car truly effective you need a V-formation engine to provide space at the back of the car for venturi to accelerate the air leaving the car. As Ferrari had already found out in F1 and as Porsche was discovering in Group C, a flat formation engine is excellent at keeping your centre of gravity nice and low, but absolutely useless for the purposes of Ground Effect.
Of course Porsche could have made a brand new V-formation engine for the 956 but that would have taken time it did not have and money it was not inclined to spend. In the event it did the best it could with what it had and took the flat six motor from the 936 and its all synchromesh gearbox and somehow made it work.
The result is a car that was better even, one suspects, than Porsche had anticipated. Those who drove it for the first time, Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell in particular, both emerged from those early tests quietly impressed with the new car without ever thinking it was some kind of landmark. But like Porsche they too were at the start of their acquaintance with Ground Effect and had yet fully to realise how to make the most of it. ‘It was only when you really started to push it that the Ground Effect began to work properly,’ says Bell. ‘Only then did we start to get a idea of just what an extraordinary car this was.
Ickx tells a story of a kink at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France that was nowhere near flat out in the 936. It seemed the corner could not be taken flat in the 956 too. But then as he built up courage and confidence he realised it might just be possible, did it once and realised that far from being marginal it was easy.
Built as the first Rothmans Team Car, it ran for the first time at Weissach on March 27th 1982, with Jurgen Barth at the wheel. It was then tested extensively by Barth, Jacky Ickx, Roland Kussmaul and Derek Bell. According to “Excellence Was Expected” it covered 4244 miles in testing before heading to the Silverstone Six Hours, held on May 16th.
With the Bell and Ickx dream team driving, it should have won with ease. And it would have done but for requiring to complete 6 hrs of racing, equalling 1,132 kms, with a fuel allocation for just 1,000 kms. The Lancia LC1 driven by Riccardo Patrese and Michele Alboreto was first over the line because it was a Group 6 car from the previous season and didn’t have to conform to Group C fuel regulations. So while the Lancia could sprint off into the distance using all the fuel it liked, 001 was condemned to an economy run to second place, running lap times 10 seconds off it’s initial race pace and three laps down at the finish, all be it securing the class win for Group C at it’s debut.
It then returned to testing at Weissach and was used for a 30 hour simulation ahead of Le Mans, at which it served all the drivers as the T car while its younger sisters clean swept the podium. It was to do just one more race, a DRM round at the Norisring a week later, Jochen Mass finally earning it the victory it deserved. 001 was then retired and, in turn, given to Jacky Ickx as a retirement present at the end of 1985. Today it exists in standard, original form with a 2.65-litre engine, standard nose and a sprint tail but retains many unique original components, as befits its primary role as the chief test and development car.
A Rothmans factory 956 newly built for the 1983 Le Mans. Driven by the stellar German pairing of Stefan Bellof and Jochen Mass, the race was story of what-ifs as it qualified third, led the race for the first four hours before a catalogue of issues slipped it down the order and into eventual retirement after 22 hours of racing. It recorded the second fastest lap time and the second highest speed on the Mulsanne of 218mph.
A week later however Bellof won the prestigious ‘Gold Race’ at the Norisring before being lightly damaged at Weissach and renumbered 007 after the car that originally bore that number had a spectacular aerial accident at the Nurburgring, just after Bellof had smashed the outright lap record.
In 1984 it was loaned to Richard Lloyd Racing for use as a ‘camera car’ and after retiring at Le Mans (where it was driven by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason) it did three more races that season as a works entered Rothmans car, driven by Vern Schuppan, Johnny Dumfries and Jack Brabham. without further success.
It finished on the podium for it last race, in 1985, driven by Schuppan and James Weaver and exists today in full Rothmans livery with a sprint body, although it also retains its original Le Mans bodywork as well.
One of the seven early customer 956s built, sold new to Richard Lloyd and raced by his GTI Engineering team. Originally in Canon livery, it enjoyed a chequered career over four seasons, its most notable result for 1983 being pole at Mugello, co driven by Derek Bell and Henri Toivenen, finishing 3rd and also finishing 3rd at the Silverstone 1,000 km and third on aggregate (first on the road) at the 1983 Nurburgring 1000km, this time being co driven by world F1 champion Keke Rosberg; the last time Group C cars, or any proper prototype sports machines, would race on the fearsome full Nurburging circuit.
It came eighth at Le Mans that year helmed by Jan Lammers and Jonathan Palmer, two of its more regular drivers.
It raced again in 1984, still in Canon livery this time leading the works Rothmans cars at Silverstone by a lap before a water leak dropped them to fifth, and also securing a second place at the 200 mile Norisring round, 3rd at the Monza 1,000 km, fourth at the Nurburgring 1,000 km and two further fifth places and an eventual retirement at Le Mans, after dicing and leading during the first four hours. But at Brands Hatch it all came together beautifully with Lammers and Palmer achieving the pole, fastest lap and win hat-trick.
The car was then sold to Walter Brun for whom it raced for two seasons in numerous liveries in the hands of the likes of Derek Bell, Hans Stuck, Jochen Mass, Gerhard Berger, Frank Jelinski, Thierry Boutsen, and many more – achieving many podium finishes and it’s final race seeing it home in second place at Mount Fuji, a result that ensured Brun won the 1986 sports car World Championship.
Although it spent much the intervening time as a show car in Eterna colours, it has recently been returned to its original Canon livery. It’s powered by a standard 956 engine.
A super original, highly successful car and the second 956 bought by John Fitzpatrick Racing in 1983. Sponsored by J David it made its Group C debut at the 1983 Le Mans, running as high as third before retiring with fuel pump issues.
It then crossed the Atlantic to become the first and only 956 to win on American soil in period, Fitzpatrick claiming victory in a Can-Am race at Elkhart Lake and a podium at Mosport.
Back in the UK Fitzpatrick shared with Derek Warwick to win the prized Brands Hatch 1000km, beating the Rothmans works team in the process and scored a second place with David Hobbs at Imola.
At the end of the season it was transferred into Skoal Bandit livery but did just two races, retiring at Monza but coming third at the Silverstone 1000km with Guy Edwards and Rupert Keegan behind the wheel, before being sold to Paul Vestey.
After once more failing to finish at Le Mans it was sold to a private collector in the US and has today been returned to its original and correct J David colours. It retains full Le Mans bodywork and standard early 956 mechanicals.
A rare bird, even by 956 standards, this is one of just four chassis built for the world championship to what is now known as 956B specification. Of these just three survive, chassis 956/116 being completey destroyed in the crash at Spa in 1985 which tragically claimed the life of Stefan Bellof. Chassis 956/117 is the Joest back to back double Le Mans winner.
The 956B is a customer version of the works Rothmans 956, with the same bespoke Singer profile chassis underside and with an engine running full Bosch Motronic engine management. It may not sound like a big deal but it was. Fully electronic and integrated ignition and injection made much closer control of the combustion process possible. There were three distinct benefits: more power, better fuel consumption and a more progressive throttle response, largely because Motronic permitted much high compression ratios to be used. Although the first factory 956 was fitted with Motronic late in 1982, it would be 1984 before they got around to putting it onto customer cars, by which stage it had already developed the 962, first to race in North America and then, in 1985 as the 962C, in Group C.
956/114 did three full seasons with Fitzpatrick, first as a Skoal Bandit car, then in American 100 colours and finally as a Danone car. It won in the hands of Thierry Boutsen at the Norisring and was second in 1000km races at both the Nurburgring and Mosport in 1984 and finished Le Mans three times, twice in 4th place and, in 1984, on the third step of the podium. It famously secured Derek Bell the world drivers title in 1986, which was decided by a tie breaker based on the race result at the Norisring race that year.
It has now been returned to Skoal Bandit livery and is fitted with full sprint bodywork with a high downforce nose and tail.
This is the second 956B to reside in the Porsche Historic Collection. Mechanically the same as 956/114 it was bought and run by Porsche Kremer. It’s big claim to fame was leading Le Mans convincingly in 1984 as the Kenwood car for many hours, eventually finishing sixth and in fifth place the following year but mainly by winning the 1984 ‘Money Race’ at the Norisring, though elsewhere and despite the talents of Vern Schuppan, Alan Jones, Manfred Winkelhock, Klaus Ludwig and many others, it’s best result was 4th at the Imola 1,000 kms.
It was sold to Renoma Alpha Cubic to race in the Japanese domestic sports car championship and scored three podiums in two seasons before being bought back by the Kremer Brothers, restored and returned to Winkelhock’s victorious Liqui Moly Norisring livery. Like 114, it exists today with full sprint bodywork and a Motronic 2.65-litre engine.
In fact we owe the existence of the 962 to the International Motor Sports Association, another of those hilariously entitled Stateside organisations who use the word ‘International’ as a synonym for ‘American’. Then as now IMSA governed premier league sports car racing in North America and it had its enthusiasm for the idea of Porsche steam-rollering its way across the States as it had across Group C under very firm control.
Porsche’s problem was more than merely a public relations issue whereby certain undertakings could be made that might provide IMSA with the reassurances it needed to let Porsche race. Rather more seriously, the 956 was made just plain ineligible. Under new IMSA rules, the feet of the driver had to be no further forward than the car’s front axle centre line and while in the 956 they were indeed a few inches ahead of this centre line, it was nothing like the 936, 917, 908 and who knows how many other previous Porsche racing prototypes, where the driver’s hooves were well ahead of this imaginary line. Worse, IMSA didn’t much like the look of the 956’s multi-valve, twin turbo, water-cooled motor either. For years IMSA had been dominated by private Porsches, or Porsche-powered prototypes and they all had good ole fashioned air cooled, single turbo, single cam flat sixes.
The only place the 956 was not completely frowned upon was the CanAm championship into which our very own John Fitzpatrick was able to enter his J David sponsored 956 for two rounds of the 1983 championship. He came third at Mosport, but at Road America – that fabulous circuit known also as Elkhart Lake – he won, the only time a 956 would win a major race in period on American soil. But that had nothing to do with and therefore set no precedent at all for IMSA.
Porsche behaved as it always had. When it became clear that IMSA was not prepared to compromise and let the 956 in, Porsche decided not to flounce off back to Germany, but instead turn the 956 into a car to which the American authorities could not possibly object. The factory’s refusal to be beaten by mere rules called to mind the creation of the 917, which saw Porsche build and display 25 examples to meet new homologation requirements designed specifically to ensure that precisely that kind of car could not be made eligible for racing.
So what could be done? Two areas in particular needed addressing: the engine and the location of the driver’s feet. The former proved by far the easiest issue to sort, largely because Porsche had an entirely eligible single cam, single-turbo 12-valve air-cooled version of the flat six engine already dominating IMSA in the back of the 935. It had the requisite 2.8-litre capacity to allow it to run as a sub 4-litre car (there was a multiplication factor of 1.4-litres for turbo motors) and because it had no need to run to a fuel consumption formula, could be boosted to give at least as much power as the far more technically sophisticated 956 motor, possibly more.
The issue of how to bring the feet of the driver in line with the front axle was a problem of an altogether greater magnitude. What was certain was that either the driver would have to move back, or the wheels would have to move forward. In theory reversing the driver was the preferable option from the point of view of mass management but in reality it simply wasn’t possible without redesigning the entire car: the driver sat against the rear bulkhead to which the engine and gearbox were bolted as stressed members – there was simply nowhere for him to go. Porsche would have either to restrict its choice of driver to those with ludicrously abbreviated lower limbs, or extend the wheelbase.
Which is how the 962 came to have a 109.1 inch wheelbase. This might not sound long by road car standards, but for a sports car like this it was a stretched limo: a 935 had a wheelbase almost 20 inches shorter… A commensurate amount was then lopped off the nose to keep the overall length of the car within permitted parameters.
So if like me you’ve looked at a 1980s Porsche prototype and wondered whether it’s a 956 or a 962, there are two easy ways of telling: if there is barely a hand’s breadth between the front of the door and the back of the front wheelarch, it’s a 956. Similarly if the front overhang is small and seemingly abbreviated, it’s 962. In short a 956 is by some margin the prettier car.
This in no way affected the 962’s competitiveness as a race car. In its debut year in 1984 and with little time to get cars to customers, it won five IMSA rounds, all thanks to the driving combo of Al Holbert and Derek Bell. Then and for the next three seasons, it dominated the championship.
Moreover Porsche’s efforts with IMSA would soon pay dividends on this side of the Atlantic as an IMSA-inspired FIA mandate that feet could no longer protrude beyond the front axle line would soon render the 956 obsolete. What was needed was a 962 with all the 956 mechanical trickery. Welcome, then, the Group C 962, better known to you and me as the 962C. So while Porsche would race 962s in America and 956s everywhere else throughout 1984, from 1985 onwards all its Group C cars would be 962Cs even though privateer 956s continued to race into the end of 1986.
At first at least, the 962C was little more than a 962 with 956B running gear mildly modified to improve fuel consumption. But it worked, probably beyond even Porsche’s wildest imaginings. By 1991 and the tenth consecutive season of competition for the 956 and 962, Porsche said 148 had been built which, with 956 production totally around 27 units (depending on how you count cars with fitted with new tubs etc or rebuilt with new chassis numbers), that puts total 962 production at over 120, of which just 10 were works cars, but with the last 5 works cars used a production numbered tub as the basis, unlike the 956.
In fact, there was a total of 77 customer factory chassis numbers allocated, starting at ‘101’, which splits down as 5 tubs used for works cars 006 to 010, 6 tubs for Joest/works cars 011 to 016, 3 tubs converted for the 1994 Dauer GT cars, 18 IMSA spec cars, 13 962Cs up to 1988 for the world championship teams, and 5 cars for Japan.
In 1987, Porsche stated they would end production at chassis ‘138’, but post 1988, they were persuaded to and produced an ’88 “works spec” car with fully water cooled MP 1.7 engine starting at number 962-143 for Vern Schuppan, and went on to produce a further 12 examples for world championship team use the following year and 8 examples for Japan; the remaining 6 numbers being made up of factory prototypes or spare tubs, which were also supplied to Japan. There have been fully developed production road cars built in smaller numbers than that overall total, the McLaren F1 among them.
The 962 would win Le Mans twice in period, equalling compared to the 956’s record of four consecutive wins (and almost five, looking to be set for a win again in 1986 as well – had it not been for a very long pace car period during the night) and then once more as a Dauer in 1994. It would claim two of the five world sports car championships notched up by the 956/962 and win the Daytona 24 hours – a race for which the 956 was not eligible, a barely believably five times, the final victory coming in 1991.
So now we turn to the Historic Porsche Collection to attempt to shed further light on the career and successes of the 962, as told by the chassis histories of some of the most important cars not just in the history of the 962, or Group C or even Porsche’s racing history, but in the history of global sports car racing.
As the first 962 was the IMSA test bed, next to be built were the first three works 962Cs. Chassis 004 duly lined up in fifth position as car number 3 at its debut at the 1985 Le Mans driven by Al Holbert, John Watson and Vern Schuppan. But the race did not go the way of the factory team, despite locking out the front of the grid in qualifying.
Various issues relegated the 002 and 003 cars to tenth and third at the flag. 004 started from fifth place and worked its way up to second place after the first six hours or so; the position it held for the following 10 hours.
A rare engine problem dropped it back to fifth at around 9 am the following morning, with final retirement due to engine trouble with just 3 hours of the race remaining. Happily thanks to the Porsche customer programme, a Joest New Man 956 was there to pick up the pieces, winning the race and spared Porsche any corporate blushes, with the Richard Lloyd Canon 956 finishing second and eight Group C Porsches finishing within the top 10.
004 did three more races that year, all running as car number 1, with the Jacky Ickx/Jochen Mass A-team at its wheel, finishing in second place at Mosport, but with non finishes at Hockenheim and Spa and Ickx retired at the end of the season.
For 1986, Mass was joined by Bob Wollek but the luck of 962/004 did not change. There were no wins and despite qualifying on pole for Le Mans, being joined by Vern Schuppan and sitting in 2nd and 3rd positions for almost half the race, retirement awaited. Then, at the Nurburgring, Stuck’s sister car hit Mass in appalling weather, and that was the end of the 1986 season for both 962/003 and 004.
The factory rebuilt 004, which had come off with far lighter damage than 962/003 and sold it to Joest to campaign as the satellite factory supported team in 1987, after the works team withdrew from the world championship after winning Le Mans that year. It raced with the works pairing of Derek Bell and Hans Stuck, in Rothmans livery at the Nurburgring 1,000km, finishing second to the totally dominant Jaguar XJR 8, and also at Spa, finishing 5th – both sporting the famous Joest lucky number 7.
004 was also driven very successfully by works drivers Bob Wollek and Klaus Ludwig in a number of different liveries that year, including Blaupunkt, Camel and SAT, with results including a heat win for Bob at Kyalami and second overall and also a couple of podiums for Frank Jelinski in the ADAC Supercup.
For 1988, it sported the Blaupunkt livery, with a podium finish at the first world championship round in Jerez, with Wollek and Ludwig, and it finally finished Le Mans at the third attempt, with a creditable fifth place for David Hobbs, Franz Konrad and Didier Theys, behind two Jaguar XJR 9s. At the end of 1988, 004 was acquired by a collector in the USA and retired.
The car has now been restored to its original Rothmans livery, sprint bodywork and its fitted with a 2.85-litre engine with Motronic engine management.
The first of the three famed Shell Dunlop cars that would in 1988 heroically try yet ultimately fail to extend Porsche’s dominance at Le Mans for one more year, against the rapidly advancing tide of carbon-fibre tubbed, far more frugal Jaguars.
However its life had started the year before as one of two newly built ‘lightweight’ Rothmans factory team cars, uniquely equipped with the latest 3-litre engine which at last dispensed with air-cooling even for the cylinder block, making the 962 the first ever fully water cooled flat six Porsche.
Its job was as replacement wheels for Wollek and Mass, whose 004 car now belonged to Joest and after a sixth place finish at Monza and a fourth at Silverstone, it was to have headed to Le Mans. In the event its season was ended by a crash whilst being shaken down before loading for the 24-hour race by Hans Stuck, who subsequently famously had to give up his own car as a result, and Stuck famously went on to win, with Derek Bell, in the team’s spare car. After Le Mans that year, Porsche withdrew from the world championship as a works team.
As Porsche was not contesting the 1988 championship either, Le Mans would be its only serious outing of the year. 007 was driven by Vern Schuppan, Bob Wollek and Sarel van de Merwe, and qualified on the front row, next to 962/010 and despite the onslaught of five works Jaguars, it would lead the race for many hours before eventually succumbing to engine failure. It was then converted to sprint spec for the all-important domestic ADAC championship, helping to achieve the title for Porsche with Hans Stuck winning the Nurburgring Supersprint in the car that September.
The car was then sold to the Joest team, achieving a podium first time out, at the Nurburgring 1,000km and a second place at the final race in Kyalami that year, driven by Klaus Ludwig, this being the 1988 highlight for this car with Joest.
For 1989,with Wollek and Jelinski at the wheel, there was another podium at the first championship round at Suzuka. It raced on through 1989 in lesser races, with second place at the Nurburgring round of the ADAC championship.
Its third visit to Le Mans saw a start on the seventh row, co driven by Winter and Raphanel. All looked to be a possible repeat of the first part of 1988, with 007 being up to 4th place by the end of the first hour, third the next hour and then up to second place by the 6th hour, behind the leading sister car of Stuck and Wollek. Sadly, by the eighth hour a water leak forced retirement after such a promising start. However, there was a little consolation with a podium at the following 200 Meilen Norisring and then a couple of wins in an Interserie race with Louis Krages driving under the pseudonym ‘John Winter’ at the wheel. It was retired at the end of 1989 and subsequently sold to another collector in the USA.
It has been restored to Shell Dunlop livery and sports full low drag Le Mans bodywork
An interesting car, even by works Group C Porsche standards. Not only was it the last 962 to be built to race in Rothmans colours, it was also one of relatively few 962s to race with PDK, double clutch transmission.
The double-clutch gearbox is a common or garden item on the streets these days but even in the rarefied world of racing in the late 1980s, it was an unknown, untried and therefore unproven concept. The appeal was easy to see, particularly for racing Porsches that had long been hampered by the factory’s insistence on using synchromesh transmissions that were slow but far harder for drivers to damage. PDK would allow much quicker upshifts and continuous power delivery, so eliminating turbo lag between gears. On the way down the car would not be able to be destabilised by a ham-fisted gearchange from an exhausted driver. On the downside, PDK was heavy and not always blessed with Porsche-style reliability.
In its first season, as the other of two new lightweight spec cars built to take on Jaguar, 008 took Derek Bell and Hans Stuck to the podium of every race it finished, and it finished them all up until Le Mans. Here the car was handed to Mass, Wollek and Schuppan and promptly earned itself pole position. But it was not to be: within 16 laps, suspect poor fuel had made the engine run lean, burning a piston.
Rebuilt to the new MP 1.7 spec of the 1988 works Le Mans team entry and repainted in Shell Dunlop colours, it became the car in which Mario, Michael and Jeff Andretti tried to become the first family affair to win the race. Had they done so, Mario would have also joined Graham Hill as the only person to have claimed racing’s holy trinity: the F1 world championship, the Indy 500 and Le Mans. In the end, after running as high as second place, sixth was the final result. It was shipped to Japan at the end of the season to tackle the 1,000 km of Fuji, where it came second. Despite Omron sponsorship this was still a works entry and, as it would transpire, the final works entry of the Group C era.
Vern Schuppan bought the car at the season’s end and raced it in Japan throughout 1989, winning the Fuji 1000km and achieving 2nd and 3rd places at Fuji as well. 008 was also entered at Le Mans, it’s third visit there. Driven by Schuppan himself, it ran as number 55 in Omron colours. The race was going well and the car was up to 4th place overall, behind the two Mercedes C9’s and ahead of all the Jaguars by eight o’clock in the morning. It held this position for the next 4 hrs, when Vern became too concerned about some fuel fires to other 962’s in the race, and called 008 in to renew all the fuel lines, being totally sympathetic - even then - as to how special this car’s history is. Losing almost 2 hours in the pit stop, it returned to the race with 3.5 hrs remaining and claimed 10th in Group C over the finish line. The following year, the last the of the traditional Group C formula, was less successful and the car was sold to an American collector before being returned to the Shell Dunlop livery it wears today, complete with 1988 Le Mans body.
This is probably the least used Porsche in the entire collection. It did two races and won neither but, with the exception of 956/001, it’s still probably the most important car in the collection.
Unlike its two Shell Dunlop sisters, 010 was not a repainted ’87 Rothmans car but brand new chassis (number 962/140) built specially and specifically for one reason only: to win Le Mans in 1988. Full of trick, lightweight parts and staffed by the three best drivers on Porsche’s books – Hans Stuck, Derek Bell and Klaus Ludwig – it blitzed the field in qualifying with a special high boost engine giving a reputed 880bhp. Stuck’s lap of 3min 15.6sec was three full seconds clear of 007 in second place, with 008 a further three seconds down the road. Fourth was the best that Jaguar could manage.
What happened next is the stuff of legend, still argued over by the protagonists to this day. With the race under control, 010 inexplicably ran out of fuel with Klaus Ludwig at the helm. To this day Ludwig insists the 10 litre reserve didn’t work and given how much development and racing Klaus had done in the 962 it appears to beggar belief that such a consummate professional could have made such a simple mistake, but Bell has since growled that it worked every time he tried it. What’s beyond dispute is that, somehow, Ludwig got the car back to the pits on the starter motor. And while more time was lost than would separate the 962 from the winning Jaguar at the end of the race, it was nothing like the two laps lost repairing an intercooler later on.
Even so and despite such tribulations, it seemed the Porsche might win because, as the race drew to a close, it started to rain. Rain was a literally a present from the heavens to a 962C at Le Mans in the late 1980s. It meant fuel consumption was no longer an issue, removing the car’s single biggest weakness relative to the Jags. What’s more they just happened to have Hans Stuck, the greatest wet weather sports car driver of his era, not only on strength but also at the wheel as the heavens opened. So while everyone else dived into the pits for wets, Hans stayed out on slicks. For those of us who were there, sitting above the old pits, the sight of Stuck sideways, on the grass, foot down going for broke will live in our minds forever. Had the rain stayed I have no doubt Porsche would have won, not least because, unbeknown to Stuttgart, the only Jaguar ahead had slowed not to ease down over the last few laps but because it had but one gear left in its transmission. Had Stuck been able to push it, it would not have been able to respond.
So 010 came second, did one sprint at the Nurburgring in which Ludwig came fourth, and was sold to a collector in America. Today it exists with its original factory paint still on its original factory body, exactly as it finished Le Mans, a time capsule, an aching tale of what might have been, and a first hand witness to probably the finest hour Porsche ever had on a track without actually winning.
An interesting and very successful car, spanning four seasons. It was the first chassis built and developed at Weissach for the official factory supported Joest team, to race as their lead car in 1989. It featured relocated front suspension, a greater downforce nose and a short tail with separate rear wing. Raced mainly by Bob Wollek and Frank Jelinski, it won at the Nurburgring and Silverstone before winning at Dijon, the last Group C world championship race victory by a Porsche. 4th place followed at Donington and second place at Spa, against the might of the dominant Mercedes Silver Arrows C9. This was followed by another win at the ADAC round at the Nurburgring.
It had a quiet 1990 only entering the Daytona 24 hours and Sebring 12 hours and failing to finish both, and was then the spare car for the world championship rounds at Nurburgring, Donington and Mexico, where it was used for the race, finishing 7th.
1991 was another quieter year, with a 3rd and 2nd in Interserie and a 6th and 4th in IMSA at Watkins Glen and Laguna Seca at the end of the year.
1992 was a much busier year in IMSA, as the Momo–Joest entry, with results around 6th and 7th places, plus some wins again in Interserie.
There was a big change for 1993. Weissach were heavily involved in some radical wind tunnel development, resulting in two Joest team cars for the USA sporting ‘3rd generation’ style bi-plane rear wings and a new body with significantly increased downforce. 011 was immediately far more competitive, with a second place at Road America and 3rd place at Road Atlanta and there was a last attempt at Daytona at the start of the year and a double win in October, at the Zeltweg Interserie rounds, before enjoying a well-earned retirement.
It has gone on to more success as an historic racing car and now exists in the final 1993 high downforce configuration, with FATurbo livery, in which it competed at Daytona almost 20 years ago.
One of the most extraordinary 962s in the world with an amazingly chequered history, one landmark result and probably the fastest 962 ever built, with arguably the most famous and iconic livery in IMSA, in the USA. Its career started inauspiciously as a factory built car with a big accident at Daytona in 1985, requiring a new tub.
The opportunity was taken to commission and design a different chassis, which was a stiffer honeycomb item supplied not by Porsche, but Jim Chapman causing the car to be retitled 962/108 B.
It did 10 IMSA rounds in 1987, scoring a couple of podiums before being crashed again, the tub being changed as a result, and in preparation for 1988, but this 108 B chassis has been saved for repair all this time and is now being restored to add to the collection.
The rebuilt car was now called 962/108C, with a second Chapman tub, featuring honeycomb construction and a milled billet bulkhead. It took pole at its debut - the 1988 Daytona 24 hours - and, with Wollek, Mauro Baldi and the great Brian Redman at its wheel, was second at the flag after a race long battle and leading much of the race, in a fight with the new Castrol Jaguar XJR9s and many other 962s.
Then its body was extensively modified to look like no other 962 on earth and it raced on in IMSA as 108-C2, achieving two podiums and never finishing lower than fifth. In 1989 it was driven back to back directly with Porsche’s own Shell Dunlop Lightweight Sprint 962C (009) where it proved 1.75sec quicker at Lime Rock and 2.5sec quicker at Road America. But its greatest moment came at Daytona that year which Bell, Wollek and John Andretti won outright, against the huge opposition of the factory Jaguar and Nissan teams, scoring the 962’s 50th race victory in just five years. It was also the only Porsche win in IMSA that year, with a victory at West Palm Beach, driven by Andretti and Wollek, against the otherwise total domination of the NPTI Nissans.
It was retired at the end of 1989 and has being cherished in collections ever since, with Derek Bell reunited with “his favourite 962” to drive at the 2005 Goodwood Festival of Speed and also an appearance back at Daytona, in demonstration runs at Rennsport 3, in 2007. It is in this form, resplendent with Miller livery that it exists today.
You’re not like to miss this 962, with its bright pink bodywork. A sister car for 962/200 and also with a Nigel Stroud tub, it’s debut race was at Le Mans, in black Raika colours in 1989 with David Hobbs, Steven Andskar and future F1 world champion Damon Hill in his one and only outing at La Sarthe. It retired from 9th position in the 14th hour and also ran as a second team entry at Brands Hatch and the Nurburgring that season.
It gained its pink body courtesy of sponsor Italya Sports for 1990 and was the sole team entry, and was raced for the full world championship season, mainly by James Weaver and Manuel Reuter, who were joined by Steven Andskar for it’s return to Le Mans, which sadly again ended in retirement. Most significantly in September the pairing of Andskar and Reuter came third at Montreal in what would turn out to be the final podium position for a 962 in a world championship round.
More recently, it has been used in historic Group C, with Win Percy’s 962 debut putting the car on the front row at Silverstone in 2003, and it did a full historic season with Henry Pearman in 2005 and went on in 2008 to win the historic Group C championship with Henry Pearman and Mike Wilds driving and is still wearing it’s original 1990 livery and paint.
Like Richard Lloyd, Walter Brun also recognised that his team needed to further develop the 962 to keep it competitive in the late 1980s, having won the teams world championship title against the might of the works Porsche and Jaguar teams in 1986.
He commissioned John Thompson to design a bespoke part honeycomb, part carbon 962 tub and also had the use of the 1988 fully water cooled MP 1.7 works spec engines from the factory for his lead team cars. 962/003BM was the lead team car for the 1989 world championship and therefore was equipped from new with a hybrid aluminium/carbon John Thompson chassis to the specification of Brun Motorsport (hence the BM in its title) and with short tail and separate rear wing and high down force nose.
It raced all over the world in its debut 1989 season in Hydro Aluminium livery and sometimes Jagermeister colours for the domestic ADAC rounds. It was also part of the five strong team of Brun 962s at Le Mans, this time with all yellow From A livery. Always a competitive car, it was fifth at Donington in a year dominated by the Silver Arrows Mercedes factory team, and its best result came in Mexico with Harald Huysman and Oscar Larrauri placing second, the last time a 962 would do so in a world championship round.
In 1990 it competed at Monza and then at Le Mans, this time in the Hydro Aluminium colours, finishing tenth and despite doing other Interserie rounds during the year, that is how it presents today, in full, low downforce bodywork.