Porsche 908/03 Spyder ’70

Premiere: May 3, 1970 Targa Florio

The 908/03 Spyders before the Targa Florio 1970, JWA cars in light blue and the Porsche Salzburg car in red and white. The cars were marked with playing card symbols on their right front corner - #20 Heart, #12 Diamond, #36 Spade, #40 Club. Every driver knew his symbol and when the pit crew showed information tables to driving-by pilots, the driver could quickly understand which information was for him. © Porsche

Porsche introduced the 908/03 for the 1970 Targa Florio. The 908/03 used the know-how from the superlightweight 909 Bergspyder. The 908/03 was just 4"/10 cm longer than the 909, so with a length of 139"/354 cm it is a small car (it does look bigger on the photos). Working under Ferdinand Piëch, the project manager was Manfred Bantle. While the 909 was designed for tracks of 20 km in length, the 908/03 had to withstand 1000 km races - so you see, it couldn't be made as light as the 909 was. Still, it was very light. The aluminium frame weighed just ~30 kg/66 lb and the foam-reinforced plastic skin only 12 kg/26 lb. Piëch wasn't ready to compromise on weight, so his response to engineers usually was "Too heavy!". For an extreme example, the screws from the braking lamps were removed and the lenses glued to save a few grams. The 1970 908/03 finally came it at 545 kg/1200 lb. The 908/03 was built because the 917 was too large and heavy for the twisty tracks like the Targa Florio.

The exterior design was a work of Eugen Kolb based on the suggestion from the aerodynamics engineer Hermann Burst. Like in the 909, the transmission was positioned in front of the differential, forcing the engine and driver position further forward. With this the "ideal for racing" 45/55 weight distribution was achieved. The drivers didn't like the frontal and upright seating position until they saw the lap times. The new cars with inner-vented and perforated brake discs were an immediate success and Porsche took 1-2 victory at the 1970 Targa Florio. The winning 908/03 Spyder #12 was piloted by the talented tandem of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman and second place went to car #40 of Leo Kinnunen/Pedro Rodriguez. Again a Porsche 1-2-3 victory (or actually a 1-2-3-4 victory) was spoiled by a Ferrari. 4th place went to 908/02 K Spyder of Gijs van Lennep/Hans Laine and 5th place to 908/03 Spyder #36 of Björn Waldegaard/Richard Attwood. The fourth entered 908/03 #20 had to retire because of an accident.

1970 Targa Florio video: "Seppi (Jo Siffert) had only one speed - he was flat out"
1970 Targa Florio footage - nice video with good period matching music
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1970 May 3, Targa Florio 2nd place 908/03 (chassis 009) #40 Leo Kinnunen/Pedro Rodriguez. Kinnunen achieved the unbeatable lap record of 33 minutes and 36 seconds.© Porsche
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1970 May 3, Targa Florio winner 908/03 (chassis 008) #12 Jo Siffert/Brian Redman© Porsche

The first version of the 908/03 (1970 model) was entered only in two races, the second one being the Nürburgring 1000 km on May 31, 1970, where a 1-2 victory was taken again. The winning car was the same (chassis 008) which won the Targa Florio. The car had a completely different color scheme (actually, now, no color scheme at all) although there were only 4 weeks between the Targa and the Ring event.

1970 May 31, Nürburgring 1000 km winner 908/03-008 #22 Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr. (Elford on the photo). The second place went to 908/03 #15 of Hans Herrmann/Richard Attwood and third place to a 5-litre Ferrari. © unknown (please inform us if you know)
1970 May 31, Nürburgring 1000 km winner 908/03 #22 Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr. (Ahrens on the photo) © unknown (please inform us if you know)
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1970 Nürburgring 1000 km winners Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens jr. © Porsche

Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com


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