There can be few people better qualified to write about a race car than those who drove that car in competition. When you add into the formula, the fact that the racing driver in question also worked in the motorsport department of the manufacturer responsible for building that car, then you have about as solid a source of information as you could wish for.
Jürgen Barth, the son of Porsche racing legend, Edgar Barth, literally grew up around race cars. When Barth Junior started working for Porsche back in 1966, he joined the company at a time when Porsche was rising up rapidly through the ranks of the world of motorsport at a dizzying pace. He would have seen first-hand how the 906, the first of the ‘plastic Porsches’, was succeeded by the 910, the 907 and 908, and the 917 in 1969. This must have been an infectious time for any young man seeking to work his way up through the ranks of a sports car maker. Later, Jürgen Barth would be responsible for the Porsche customer racing department, a position he held for many years.
In 1971, Jürgen Barth made the first of thirteen appearances at Le Mans, that year in a 911 S, but in 1977 he drove a 936 to victory in the French endurance race with Jacky Ickx. Barth was known as one of those drivers who would bring a car home, no matter what, and this attitude to driving saw him score many notable successes. With this background, Jürgen Barth set about writing the definitive book on the Type 936, a race car not covered much as it didn’t grab the limelight like the 917 before it, nor the 956/962 which followed it.
Porsche built a total of three 936s – with chassis numbers 936001 to 936003 – and the authors have meticulously traced the history, development and progress of these three racing cars. The period covered includes the development of the first prototypes to the last international Porsche 936 victory in the hands of Jacky Ickx/Derek Bell, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1981 (chassis #936003).
This book, which is in German only, is a chunky work giving a great deal of detail about how the 936 came about, tracing the development of the racer and showing the evolution of its aerodynamics from an early stage. Useful tables show the test conditions and results of various aerodynamic tests carried out in the wind tunnel, with dated excerpts from engineer’s working papers. There is also a detailed results section at the rear of the book, given race dates, drivers and results for each chassis.
The text is well supported with images that show precisely the evolution and development of this open sports prototype, as it took shape back at the factory or on the test track. In addition, with Barth knowing first-hand the different steps in the 936’s development, he is in the perfect position to know which images to source, to best illustrate the text.
With Barth’s closeness to both the car’s development and its success on the race track, he has been able to turn that practical experience into words. Knowing all of the engineers, drivers and other development staff intimately, Jürgen Barth has brought a refreshing and individual flavour to the book. Combined with the excellent research and writing skills of Bernd Dobronz, the two authors have successfully captured the particular atmosphere of this era of racing.
This is an important book on a race car that has been largely overlooked, but which contributed two of Porsche’s Le Mans titles to their record-breaking tally of nineteen victories in the French classic endurance race. Being able to read German would obviously be an advantage, but having this well-presented book to hand will serve as a useful record of this car’s achievements. As a Porschephile, you will want to have this book on your bookshelf.
Jürgen Barth and Bernd Dobronz
307 B&W and 189 Colour
230mm x 265mm, Hardcover
Written by: Glen Smale
Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes annoying ads, lets enjoy unlimited access to all our premium Porsche content and offers you awesome discounts on Porsche related products.