Premiere: 1977 March 20 at Mugello 6 hours in Italy
Engine: 2.85-litre bi-turbo or 1.4-litre single turbo ("Baby")
This article is about the factory racing team's 935/77, not about the 935/77A built for customers in 1977 (these were 935/76 in essence).
The 935/77 was a result of relaxed rules and the car got a completely new suspension. The mirrors were incorporated into the front fenders and the rear window had a new angle. The 935/77 was visually very pleasing. While the 935/76 had a single turbocharger, the 2.85-litre engine of the 935/77 had two turbochargers.
The 935/77 was first shown to the public in Italy at the Mugello 6 hour race in March 1977. The first race ended in an accident when Jürgen Barth took the car back to the track after brake refreshment and had the brakes failing immediately. It was the car with chassis number 935004. Because of the extensive front-end damage, the car was not repaired.
The next time a 935/77 entered a battle, was at the Silverstone 6 hours in May 1977. There weren't much other cars in the race than Porsches, with six 935 among them (the 935/77 plus five customer cars).
The Silverstone winning Porsche 935/77 of Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass was followed by two customer 935 making it a 1-2-3 victory for 935. Two weeks later, at the Nürburgring 1000 km race, the same 935/77 with the same drivers scored another pole position, but an engine problem terminated the race of the Martini-Porsche. Another two weeks later, the 935005 participated at the 1977 Le Mans, but an engine problem caused an early retirement.
The third and the last 935/77, or actually the first one built, chassis 935003, saw racing action on July 3, 1977 at the Norisring Trophy where Bob Wollek scored 2nd between two customer 935.
At the Norisring, a 1.4-litre single-turbo version of the 935/77, called "Baby", was also first used. The reason for the small engine was to fit into the 2-litre class and with the coefficient of 1.4 for turbocharged cars, it meant the maximum engine capacity could be 1.4 litres. Imagine a 1.4-litre flat-6!
The 935 "Baby" was entered only in two races. First on July 3, 1977 at Norisring and the second time on July 30, 1977 at Hockenheim. The Division II was typically crowded with BMW 320 and although these 2-litre engines had around 300 horsepower, Porsche's 1.4-litre turbo was much more powerful.
The 935/77 with chassis number 935005 was sent to USA. Driven by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass, it won the 1977 Watkins Glen 6 hour race in New York state. Then, at Mosport 6 hours in Canada, the 935005 took the pole position, but didn't finish because of an engine problem. Five weeks later the car raced in UK near London at the Brands Hatch 6 hours. It took pole position and race victory driven by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass.
In total, four 935/77 were made by Porsche: chassis 935003, -004, -005 and 935/2-001 ("Baby").
In 1977, a professional track cyclist Jean-Claude Rude declared that he wanted to beat the bicycle speed record of 138 mph/223 km/h set in 1973. Such speed records are achieved riding a bicycle behind a fast motorcycle or a car with special wind deflector installed on its rear end. Porsche prepared a 935/77 for Rude's record attempt.
August 23, 1978, was the day scheduled for the record ride. Jean-Claude Rude's ambition was to achieve 240 km/h, but at 170 km/h he lost the control of the bike. The rear tyre was damaged. It is not clear if the tyre was damaged because of the rider or the control was lost because of the failing tyre. Luckily Rude didn't fall this time (he killed himself 1.5 years later when training for a record ride beside a fast train).
In 1979, Joest Racing built four 935 J visually similar to 935/77. The first car was ready already in the summer of 1979 and won the first race, the Norisring Trophy driven by Rolf Stommelen. The greatest success came in the beginning of 1980, when a 935 J won the Daytona 24 hour race.
As another success, the 1981 Silverstone 6 hours was won with 935 J driven by Walter Röhrl, Harald Grohs, Dieter Schornstein.
Photos of the 935 Baby in Porsche Museum collection
Photos of the 935/77 2.85-litre cars in Porsche Museum collection
While the remains of the 004 ended up in private hands, the 003 and 005 belong to Porsche Museum collection.
Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com
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