Porsche 908/03 Spyder ’70

Premiere: 1970 May 3 at Targa Florio

1970 Nürburgring 1000 km winning Porsche 908
1970 Nürburgring 1000 km winner© Porsche

Engine: 3.0-litre flat-8

Porsche introduced the 908/03 for the 1970 Targa Florio. The 908/03 used the know-how from the superlightweight 909 Bergspyder. The 3-litre 908/03 was just 4"/10 cm longer than the 2-litre 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 in 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.

Porsche 908/03 prototype
908/03 prototype in the spring of 1970© unknown (please inform us if you know)

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.

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Porsche 908/03
© Porsche
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The 908/03 Spyders before the 1970 Targa Florio, Porsche Salzburg car in red-white and the JWA cars in Gulf light blue. 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
1970 Targa Florio video: "Seppi only had one speed - flat out". Seppi is Porsche driver Jo Siffert.
1970 Targa Florio footage - nice video with good period matching music
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Porsche 908/03 #40 at 1970 Targa Florio
#40 car of Kinnunen/Rodriguez© Porsche
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1970 Targa Florio winner, Porsche 908/03
Brian Redman at the wheel of the #12 on the way to victory© Porsche

The new cars with inner-vented and perforated brake discs were an immediate success at the 1970 Targa Florio and Porsche took 1-2 victory. 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 Porsche Salzburg entered 908/03 #20 had to retire because of an accident.

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1970 May 3, Targa Florio winning 908/03 (chassis 008) #12 of Jo Siffert (on the photo) and Brian Redman© Porsche
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© Porsche
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1970 May 3, Targa Florio 2nd place 908/03 (chassis 009) #40 of Leo Kinnunen and Pedro Rodriguez. Kinnunen achieved the unbeatable lap record of 33 minutes and 36 seconds.© 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, or, actually, no color scheme at all. It was piloted to victory by Kurt Ahrens and Vic Elford. They were followed by 908/03 #15 of Hans Herrmann/Richard Attwood and third place went to a 5-litre Ferrari.

1970 May 31, Nürburgring 1000 km winner 908/03 #22 Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr. (Ahrens in the car)© unknown (please inform us if you know)
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1970 Nürburgring 1000 km winning Porsche 908
1970 May 31, Nürburgring 1000 km winning 908/03-008© Porsche
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1970 Nürburgring 1000 km winners Kurt Ahrens Jr. and Vic Elford© Porsche

In Porsche Museum collection


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1970 Porsche 908/03 Spyder
© Porsche
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1970 Porsche 908/30
Flat-8 engine is a cool piece of Porsche engineering © Porsche

Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com


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