In 2018, we reviewed one of the other books in this series, Porsche Spyders 1956-1964, and this year we will have a couple more to do. White Racers from Zuffenhausen, is another in this series, and as we said earlier these books do not provide a detailed narrative description of the subject, but they do offer a very convenient quick reference guide to the models covered. In addition, they are inexpensive which makes building the series in your own library that much easier on the pocket.
This edition covers the Porsche models 904, 906, 907, 908, 909 and 910 which appears correct numerically, except that the models were not introduced in that same order. The introduction of these models cover the period 1963 through to 1971, when the last of the 908/03 racers overlapped with the 917 – this last model, the 917, being the subject of a separate publication.
The period from the introduction of the 904 through to the 908, was without doubt one of the most explosive in Porsche’s motor racing history. Each new model was a development of the one before it, and so the company was able to progressively work its way up the ladder of achievement until in 1969, the 908 lost out at the Le Mans 24 Hour race to the Ford GT40 by a mere eighty metres. Ferdinand Piëch, the grandson of Professor Ferdinand Porsche, took over the running of the Experimental Department in 1966, and it became his goal to win the Le Mans 24 Hours. With each successive model, Piëch was able to guide Porsche one step closer to achieving that goal.
The Porsche 904 was ready to enter competition in 1964, and it was immediately successful, winning its prototype class in the Daytona 2000 km event in February 1964. Just two months later, a pair of 904s finished first and second in the Targa Florio. Initially, still powered by the 4-cylinder 4-cam Fuhrmann engine, the 904 was powerful, lightweight and agile. While it had been intended to fit the 6-cylinder 911 engine to the 904, that engine was not considered ready for competition when the 904 first launched, and it was only later that the race car did receive both the 6-cylinder engine as well as the 2-litre 8-cylinder engine. But the reliable and well-proven 4-cylinder engine powered most of the 904s that saw action between 1963 and 1965.
The Porsche 906 followed the 904, and this model was powered by the production 6-cylinder 911 engine developing 210 bhp, courtesy of some significant tuning upgrades. Unlike the 904, which was classed as a GT model, the 906 was purely a racing machine and was available in both short tail and long tail versions. Close on the heels of the 906 came the 910, powered by the same 6-cylinder engine. The 906 and 910 looked very similar, but there were important differences under the skin, as the 910 was both stiffer and lighter, and the engine’s output had risen slightly to 220 bhp.
As mentioned, each successive model borrowed from the model before it, while also introducing some new innovation that lifted the newer car above its predecessor. The 907, though, introduced a number of new features such as the ‘teardrop’ design offering a more streamlined body, and while some 907s were still powered by the trusty 6-cylinder engine of the 910, the 2.2-litre 8-cylinder became the 907’s preferred engine.
The 909 Bergspyder, introduced in 1968, was really a development of the 906/8 and 910/8 Bergspyders. All of these models were powered by the 2-litre 8-cylinder engine, but the weight of the 909 Bergspyder was pared back to just 430 kg, making it extremely fast indeed and a formidable competitor. Introduced for track racing in 1968, was the 908, produced in both short tail and long tail configuration. This model was powered by a larger 3-litre 8-cylinder engine pushing out 350 bhp. The 908 was also produced in Spyder form, and this model was very successful in events such as the Targa Florio. Many drivers who were lucky enough to drive the 908/03, say that this version was one of the sweetest models produced by Porsche during these years.
It is not difficult to see that Porsche’s race department workshop was a busy place through the 1960s, with a new model being produced every year, and sometimes more than one new model in that year. But this pressure to climb the motor sport ladder at a relentless rate brought rewards, and Porsche racked up victories in a bewildering array of racing classes, around the world. All of this success of course brought much-needed increases in the sale of road cars.
The style and presentation of the various models in this book is simple and informative, with detailed captions supporting the many images. Each successive model is well represented pictorially, and so for the Porsche enthusiast looking to learn more about Porsche’s most productive period in race car production, this book will make a very useful starting point. Each of the six models covered are individually a huge subject in their own right, but this publication brings them together in a convenient manner. At the risk of repeating myself, I am glad that I have this book in my library – it has certainly simplified this period of Porsche’s race cars.
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