Monday, May 7, 2012

Top 10 Porsches of all time…at least according to me!

Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to see some great Porsches. Rennsport Reunion, Brian Redman’s Targa 66, as well as events I have attended in Texas and it got me thinking. There are so many great cars throughout the decades, maybe it was time to put together a list; what I needed was a Porsche bucket list. Actually two of them. The first (this one) will be my all time favorite Porsches. The next post will be from a slightly different perspective. Won’t say what it will be, you will have to visit the blog to check it out for yourself.

So here it goes…my list of The Top 10 Porsches of all time.

10. 911 RSR–How could you go wrong with this? Back in the early 70’s Porsche wanted to take the 911 racing, so it built enough cars to race in several FIA GT race classes. This is called homologation, meaning that a manufacturer has to build a certain amount so that the car will be legal to race. Nevertheless, the RSR was the outright winner of the 24-hour of Daytona in 1973 beating out several prototypes from competitors like Ferrari and Matra. Not bad for a racer based on a road going chassis. My research shows that a stock RSR recently sold for $455,000. And a one-off version that was the prototype for the turbo charged 934/935/936 that would follow would sell for a record $3,245,000! Not bad, I’ll take two!

9. 962 – This car dominated sports car racing for more than 10 years. In IMSA GTP and European Group C the 956 (and then the 962) dominated on every continent. Porsche built 91 chassis, but some teams felt the frame was not stiff enough so they built their own frames and mated them to the reliable Porsche turbo charged flat six motors. So besides the factory teams, these cars won in the hands of Kramer and Deuer. The car had almost outlived its usefulness, but managed to snatch a Daytona -24 win away from Ferrari in 1996 and even the new factory Porsche Sypder effort in the 1997 Le Mans race. It was indeed a mighty racer. One recently sold at the Gooding and Co. auction following Amelia Island concours for $1,925,000. Well bought I say!

8. 935 – The racer based on the 930 Turbo was unstoppable. A natural development of the RSR; turbo charging was still a bit of an unknown quantity in the mid-70’s when Porsche tasked Norbert Singer to develop a racing program for the 911. The first effort (the RSR) was a complete success. But it was the 934 and 935 that really knocked out the competition. From 1976 to the early 80’s the brigade of 935’s won most of the events the cars were entered into. Porsche won the World GT Championship for makes in 1976 and 1978 and scored an outright Le Mans win in 1979. One recently sold for $2.530,000. Still kicking tail to this day!

7. GT3 RS 4.0 (2011 version) – I have to put a couple of street cars on this list. And this one just makes my heart ache. It is the ultimate version of the normally aspirated 997 GT series cars. This is probably the closest you can get to driving a GT3 Cup car on the street and still pass inspection. 500 HP, 0-60 in 3.8 sec and with a top speed of 190+, you can almost see yourself racing this thing in ALMS, Rolex Grand AM, GT3 or any number of worldwide racing series. God bless Porsche for building it!

6. Carrera GT – When I see one of these it takes my breath away. Just look at it! I am willing there are police that would give it a speeding ticket when it is sitting still. Which come to think of it, is not very often. Porsche wanted to show the world that it could build supercars. They were overdue, since the outrageous 959 had been unleashed on the world over 10 years earlier. So this was kind of a halo car for Porsche, using a racing derived V10 pumping out over 600 HP, the tiny multidisc clutch could fit in your hand and requiring a deft touch to get the car launched. The thought of how much one of those costs to install makes me a bit light headed. Anyway, they sold for $400,000 when new and regularly sell in the mid-$300,000 range. But with only 1,270 built, they will be sure to become sought after (read increase in price…). Better buy one now.

5. 550 Spyder – Yes, yes, I know they were the devil (James Dean was killed in one) and a saint (because they conquered so many races). I think the term punching above their weight can easily be applied to the 550. Ferry Porsche wanted a racer to take on the giants of the day. He turned to factory engineer Wilhelm Hild. He in turn took Porsche’s trademark engineering philosophy to heart – mid engined, light weight, aerodynamic shape and agile handling were the hallmarks of this amazing little car. I have seen several over the years and they are tiny. Funny that something that is so small can carry such a big stick in motor racing history. One recently sold for $3,685,000 (from the Drendel Family Collection) at the recent Gooding and Co. auction at Amelia Island.

4. 917/30 CamAm Sypder – In the hands of Mark Donahue and Geroge Folmer these cars had 1100 HP in engine saving race tune! 1500 HP for qualifying! I just had to list both because they are still such crazy numbers to this day. At the end of 1971, the 917 was a thing of the past. The FIA had made it illegal, so Porsche turned it’s attention the North American racing scene and Can-Am. There chassis numbers 917/30-002 and 003 were campaigned by Penske Racing for Porsche and in 1972 and 1973, these won basically everything. In ’72 Donahue only lost one race, he won the rest. Porsche owns chassis number 002, but another chassis, 004 was never delivered and has passed through several owners, most recently the Drendel Family collection. That car just sold for a staggering $4,400,000 at Gooding and Co. following Amelia Island.

3. 908 – I love this car. I have seen it in coupe and Sypder form as well as the purpose built 908/03 built for the ’70 and ’71 Targa Florio. Brain Redman won that race, it must have been amazing seeing him fling the 908 around the wicked roads hugging the Sicilian mountains. Funny thing, it is actually very small, tiny even. I had the chance to interview him a couple of months ago and he told me the car was scary. The pedals and drivers feet were in front of the front wheels, a wreck would have shattered feet and ankles…or worse. What the 908 did for Porsche was to help the marque win it’s first World Makes Championship in 1969. Amazing racer, and one that helped announce to the world that Porsche was not playing in the big time.

2. GT2 RS (2011 version) – Another street car, but so close to something you could actually race, it is almost criminal.  Six hunnert and twenty horses (620 HP)! In a street legal Porsche…from the factory. Zero to 60? 3.4 seconds. Top speed? 205!! IN A STREET LEGAL PORSCHE...FROM THE FACTORY. There are carbon fiber bits all over it, and they are not even painted. I think you have to pay extra to get them painted. I am good with taking them the way they are in all their carbon fiber-ness. Point is, for the lucky (and well heeled) few that could afford to buy one, they got an instant classic. Wow, I’ll take one in what ever color you have laying around please!

1. 917 LMK – Well duh! This race car is on my computer screen, hat, tee shirt, you get the point. What it did for Porsche cannot be measured, it is most likely the most famous race car ever. Now don’t get huffy – Ford GT40’s, various Ferrari’s, Lola’s, BMW’s may take a poke at the top spot. But they all come up short, not able to get up to the top of that very tall mountain. Drivers were afraid of it (the 917’s handling was described as “darty”), but they did like the winning part. Imagine piloting this beast at 236+ down the Mulsanne straight. It liked to wonder over the surface of the track. I am telling you, those guys were crazy, crazy fast and crazy brave. 917’s do not come up for sale often, but when they do, expect there will be lots of commas and zeros attached. Still want one? The folks at Vintage Racing Legends in Florida can build you a replica for about the same price as a new 911 Turbo. With it, you can go historic racing. Imagine that!

Well there you have it. My Top 10 Porsches of all time. You may have others you think are worthy…so let the debate begin. Stay tuned, there will be another list in a week or so.

And on that exhaust note, see you all next time. 

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