The 1961 4-cylinder special Spyder that became a 1962 8-cylinder W-RS Spyder
Premiere: 4-cylinder 1961 April 30 Targa Florio, 8-cylinder (W-RS) 1962 May 6 Targa Florio
For the 1961 racing season, three special 718 racing cars were created for the factory team. These special 718 had longer wheelbase and the body didn't share any parts with the 718 RSK/RS60/RS61. Two of those special cars were built as coupés and one as a Spyder - with chassis number 718-047.
At the 1961 Targa Florio, the 718-047 with a 2-litre 4-cylinder 4-cam Fuhrmann Carrera engine scored an impressive 2nd after a 2.4-litre V6 Ferrari Dino 246 and was followed by a 718 RS 61 of Hans Herrmann and Edgar Barth.
After the Targa Florio in April, the 718-047 competed at the Nürburgring 1000 km race in May and at the Le Mans in June where the 2-litre 4-cylinder 718-047 scored a class victory and 5th overall after 3-litre V12 engined Ferraris and a V12 Maserati.
1963 and 1964 European Hill Climb Champion
The 718-047 was built for the 8-cylinder engine from day one and was finally fitted with it for the 1962 season. The car with the 176 kW (240 PS) 8-cylinder engine (and a new engine cover) was now called as the W-RS (Welt-RennSport, World Racing) Spyder. The engine size remained at 2-litres. Drum brakes were replaced with annular disc brakes. The first outing with the 8-cylinder engine was at the 1962 Targa Florio, but accident stopped the race for 718-047. Up next was the Nürburgring 1000 km race which became a success - the 2-litre W-RS finished 3rd after larger engined Ferraris.
Although Porsche had registered the 718 W-RS Spyder and the 718 GTR Coupé with 8-cylinder engines for the 1962 Le Mans 24 hour race, their participation was postponed to 1963. The 718-047 spent the rest of the 1962 season at the European hill climb races. Heini Walter scored second at Mont Ventoux (France), Trento Bondone (Italy), Freiburg-Schauinsland (Germany) and third at Ollon Villars (Switzerland). Between September and December 1962, in less than 3 months the W-RS raced in at least 7 races in Canada, USA, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas. The best results were 3rd (1st in 2-litre class) at GP Puerto Rico driven by Dan Gurney and 2nd (1st in 2-litre) at Bahamas Speed Weeks driven by Bob Holbert (the same result in 2 different races).
For the 1963 season the W-RS got a new front end with smaller front lid. The lids and doors were made of fibreglass, a first for Porsche.
At the 1963 Targa Florio the W-RS scored 7th while its sister car, the 8-cylinder 718 GTR Coupe, won. And the 1963 Le Mans 24 h race was completely dominated by Ferraris in addition to the misfortune of the W-RS.
At the 1963 Le Mans 24 h race the 718-047 was the best Porsche (driven by Edgar Barth/Herbert Linge), but scored just 8th. As there was no 2-litre class for prototypes, the 718 W-RS competed in the 3-litre class and therefore didn't get the class victory (all cars in front of it had 3-litre or larger engines).
Following the not so ideal start to the 1963 circuit racing season, the W-RS was taken back to the European Hill Climb Championship where it had performed well in 1962. And now it became unbeatable - Edgar Barth won the 1963 EHCC races at Trento Bondone (Italy), Cesana Sestrieres (Italy), Schauinsland (Germany), Ollon Villars (Switzerland) and Gaisberg (Austria). This naturally gave him the European Hill Climb Champion title.
In March 1964, the W-RS was shipped overseas again, to race at the Sebring 12 hour race. The W-RS didn't get a clean race and it couldn't do anything against the dominating Ferraris and Shelby Cobras with much larger engines. The W-RS was taken back to Europe to race at the Targa Florio, but technical problems stopped its conquest in Italy.
It was time to take the W-RS back to where it was unbeatable - at the hill climb races. At the Mont Ventoux Barth scored second and won at Gaisberg.
The following races were at Trento Bondone, Cesana Sestrieres and Freiburg-Schauinsland - Barth won all of these, like a year ago!
At the last race of the 1964 EHCC season at Sierre Montana Crans (Switzerland), failing fuel pump stopped the charge for W-RS, but it didn't have impact on Barth - he had already scored enough points to win the 1964 European Hill Climb Championship, second year in a row.
As the 718-047 competed 4 racing seasons with more than 30 races in total, it was nicknamed as the "grandmother". The 718-047 belongs to Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
© James Herne / Stuttcars.com
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