Porsche 718 – The Story
A hugely competitive race car with 250+ class victories and 600+ podium finishes
This is your center for all things Porsche 718. The ultimate reference center.
Evolution / The Story / Model Guides / Data & Research / Picture Galleries / Videos / News & Updates
Built for circuit track, road and hill climb racing, the Porsche factory team and numerous customers successfully used the 718 race sports cars from 1953 to the mid-1960s. Famous racers like Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips, Hans Herrmann, Graham Hill, Ricardo Rodriguez and Joakim Bonnier brought home more than 1,000 race victories with the fast and agile Porsche race cars. They really caused a sensation in motorsport thanks to their small four-cylinder flat engines which won races overall against a competition that had superior engine power (but were heavier cars).
Manufacturer: Porsche / Production Years: 1957-1962 / Production: ~ 78 units / Assembly: Germany / Chassis: Spaceframe chassis / Suspension (front): torsion bars, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar / Suspension (rear): Watt-linkage, coil springs over telescopic shock absorbers / Engine: Type 547 1,498 cc (91.4 cu in) DOHC F4 boxer engine normally aspirated Mid-engined / Transmission: 5-speed manual / Weight: 570 kg (1,256.6 lb) / Designer(s): Wilhelm Hild / Predecessor: Porsche 550
The 718 was all about ongoing development, itself an evolution of the type 550. In 1956 it was followed by the 550 A Spyder (40 units) which had a tubular space frame and a more powerful engine. In 1956, the Italian driver Umberto Maglioli raced to sensational victory in a 550 A at the Targa Florio, which was the most challenging road race at that time. Today, the engine known as the “Fuhrmann engine” is nearly as legendary as the vehicles themselves with its four overhead camshafts. Nearly as legendary as the car itself is its power train with four overhead camshafts, known to this day as a Fuhrmann engine.
The successor to the 550 A made its debut in 1957 as the 718 RSK (34 units). Motorsport and technology were closely intertwined in its name. While the “RS” stands for “race sport”, the “K” referred to the newly developed front torsion bar springs. They were arranged in the form of a capital “K” on its back. The 718 was further improved to address all concerns compared to its predecessor. A frame made of seamless steel tubing gave it high strength and an ideal lightweight design. The engine, chassis and drum brakes were also further optimised.
The 718 RSK celebrated successes across the globe, e.g. at Le Mans, the Nürburgring, in Argentina, Riverside in California and at numerous hill climb races. The 550 A Spyder and the 718 RSK both proved the enormous potential of their Porsche designs in Formula-2 racing. Further developed into a monoposto, the 718/2 even won the Formula-2 manufacturers world championship in 1960.
When new FIA regulations for race sports cars demanded greater similarities with production street cars, Porsche responded with the 718 RS 60 (19 units) for the 1960 season. The car quickly became the benchmark in the 1.6-litre class. Its greatest sport successes were overall victories at the Targa Florio, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the European Hill Climb Championship in the years 1960 and 1961. The 718 RS 61 Spyder (13 units) was built starting in October 1960. It was primarily raced by individual drivers. Its technical highlight was a new rear suspension with wishbones.
In order to also exploit the potential of the 718 Spyder at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 718 RS 61 was further developed into a coupé version. In 1961, the 718 GTR – which still had a four-cylinder engine – went to the starting line. For the 1962 season, it was equipped with a two-litre eight-cylinder and disc brakes. Also using these two engine types was the 718 W-RS Spyder that raced from 1961 to 1964. Mechanics gave it the endearing nickname “Grandmother” during its multi-year race career. The one-off car won the European Hill Climb Championship in 1963 and 1964 and proved once again the potential of the Porsche mid-engine concept.
The Porsche 718/2 was a single-seater development of the 718 sportscar chassis and in fact intended for racing in Formula Two. But when the Formula One regulations limited engine capacity to 1.5-litre in 1961, they offered the possibility to run the car in Formula One.
Up against strong opposition from Cooper, Ferrari and Lotus, Porsche won the unofficial Formula 2 World Championship in 1960 – the “Coupe des Constructeurs”. As a design platform for the single-seater Porsche opts for the proven 718/2 RSK Spyder chassis with independent suspension and torsion bar springs at the front as well as coil springs at the rear and dual-circuit drum brakes. The aluminium body is formed by hand over a wooden body buck.
The 718/2 F2 is powered by the four-cam Carrera motor that has notched up countless race victories, and the power transmission is by an in-house-developed synchronised manual six-speed gearbox. Because Formula 2 is contested alongside Formula 1 over longer distances, from 1961 the wheelbase of the 718/2 is extended by ten centimetres to make room for larger fuel tanks. Joakim Bonnier clinches second at the Brussels Grand Prix in 1962, and third place two weeks later at Snetterton.
As successor and further development of the 550 A, the 718 RSK debuted in 1957 (34 cars made). Its name paid tribute to both racing and technology: the RS stands for Rennsport (“racing sport”) and the K reflects the configuration of the newly developed front torsion rods on its back. The 718 RSK demonstrated the enormous potential of these Porsche designs in Formula Two as well. Further developed as a single-seater, the 718/2 won the 1960 Formula Two manufacturers’ world championship. When the new FIA regulations stipulated closer ties to production cars, Porsche responded in the 1960 season with the 718 RS 60 (19 cars made). Its greatest successes included overall victories at the Targa Florio, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the European Hill Climb Championship in 1960 and 1961. The 718 RS 61 Spyder (13 cars) made its first appearance in October of 1960. In order to exploit the potential of the 718 Spyder for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 718 RS 61 was further developed into a coupe version. In the 1961 season, the 718 GTR was still entering races with a four-cylinder engine, whereas in 1962 it featured a two-liter eight-cylinder variant as well as disc brakes. The 718 W-RS Spyder, of which only one was built, also used these two types of engines for its races from 1961 to 1964. It won the European Hill Climb Championship in 1963 and 1964.
We dig into some of the data surrounding the Porsche 718, including production numbers, specifications, chassis numbers and much more. The 718 variants were all mid-engined layout and used the 1.5-litre Type 547/3 quad-cam engine introduced in the 550A. There were also a handful of 8 cylinder engines added to special variants but that was largely the exception.
The successor to the 550 A Spyder, the 718 RSK improved in many respects. A space frame of seamless steel tubing provides high rigidity at a very low weight; the suspension and the drum brakes have undergone optimization. The aerodynamics were refined which is why the 718s look sleeker and tighter. Enjoy these galleries and pictures of various Porsche 718s.
Recent auctions, awesome review videos and all the latest news and posts regarding anything to do with the Porsche 718.
Join Our Porsche Community
Sign up for our weekly Porsche newsletter. The latest Porsche news, rumors, reviews and more delivered to your inbox. Cool Porsche stuff perfect for the flat-six obsessed.