Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed

This video clip assembled for the North Carolina Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed hits all the right notes for me. It’s my favorite era in Porsche’s racing car development and it’s a treat to see some of my personal favorites in great historic shots from the ‘Ring, La Sarthe, Targa Florio, and Carrera Panamericana. The exhibit opens in October and looks well worth the trip to see some marvelous rarities from the Porsche archives.

Via Magnus.

Motorhead’s Porsche Museum

Japan’s Motorhead Magazine visited the Porsche museum and they’ve let us tag along.

Now I know you’re going to be tempted to read these subtitles. I understand how difficult it is to try overcome the urge. It just compels the viewer to glance down at that text; wrestling with your brain and your eyes.

It’s ok. Don’t fight it. Go ahead and read along. Then start the video over and lose yourself in those slow, luxurious pans over these breathtaking machines.

Porsche Powered Lotus 23

Lotus 23-Porsche

A Lotus Chassis. A Porsche 4-cam. Is it the best of both worlds?

George Follmer probably thought so.

George spent a good bit of the early 60’s lapping Southern California tracks in a variety of Porsches before he got the itch to move into sports prototypes. Naturally, a Lotus 23 fits the bill nicely. He set about modding the chassis to accept a Porsche 550 motor, before ultimately swapping it for the newer 904 powerplant. With the help of former Shelby American team-member, Bruce Burness, George knocked together one hell of a combination.

The 1,966 cc motor just eeks under 2-liters, and soon proved to be highly competitive in the class; taking 3rd in her debut race. The real beauty of the car though, was it’s consistency. Several weeks later, after a string of podiums and after their first class-win, the team realized that their point totals put them not only at the top of the class, but in the outright points lead for the the USRRC series. After an additional string of class wins at Bridgehampton, the Glen, and others; one maneater of a race was all that remained to determine if this little scrapper of a 2-liter car would steal the outright championship away from the big-bore boys. The Road America 500 Miles race.

Road America remains a giant of a track by American standards. For a low-powered (comparatively) car, 500 miles of it would be quite a task. But George finished 3rd behind Jim Hall’s mighty Chaparrals, clinching both the class and overall championships. George Follmer, of course, went on to a very successful career through the 70’s; racing everything from Formula 1 and Can-Am, to Nascar and Trans-Am. I’m guessing this little Lotus-Porsche remained a favorite of his despite the impressive array of machinery he would later compete in.

Today, Gooding & Co. offers the ex-George Follmer Lotus 23 through their private sales department. Wearing it’s original Trans Ocean Motors team livery, she’s a remarkably beautiful car. I particularly like the hand painted team logo and engine-turned gold leaf number 16. Gorgeous!

You can read the complete results of the Road America 500 Miles 1965 at the encyclopedic Racing Sports Cars results database.

Ex-Matsuda Porsche 904 For Sale

The Porsche 904 once owned by renowned collector/museum curator/tycoon/lucky bastard Yoshibo Matsuda is currently among the cars for sale by German dealer Jan Lühn. Ordinarily the non-racing owner of a car doesn’t improve it’s provenance terribly, but Mr. Matsuda is no ordinary car collector. In the 1970s and 80s, Matsuda started pickup up exotic Porsches: the first Porsche to win outright at LeMans (a 917), a 910 Spyder, a 550 Spyder, an RSK Spyder, a 906, 908. The guy’s collection was no joke. So fantastic was it, that he opened a historic Porsche museum in Tokyo. After several years, Mr. Matsuda decided to shake things up and sold off the bulk of his collection and replaced them with historically significant Ferraris and hung a new sign on the door of his museum. I understand that he’s now sold off the Ferraris as well.

But getting back to Porsche 904-092. The car was originally delivered in 1964 to gentleman F1 driver, Count Carel de Beaufort. This 904 was his third—he also owned 904-019 (which he raced at Sebring), and 904-072 (which was crashed by his friend Gerard van Lennep).

The Count only owned 904-092 for a short time before selling it to England, where it was raced by Patrick Godfrey and Alain DeCadenet. After a short time in the states, Matsuda picked up the car in the late 70’s.

Such was Mr. Matsuda’s love for the 904, that he wrote an absolutely marvelous book on the history, development, and current whereabouts of the remaining 904s. I spent several years trying to track down a copy of “Porsche 904 GTS Great Cars of Great Collections Volume 3”, with little luck. I finally tracked down a copy at online bookseller T.E. Warth Autobooks, but $180 seemed a bit steep. Ultimately I was able to order a copy from the publisher at cover price. Go order a copy right now, it’s an amazing book – and the price is fantastic when compared to the odd prices it’s fetching in the secondary market.

Mr. Matsuda sold the car at RM’s Monterrey Auction in 2000—for the now astonishingly low price of $264,000. (Is it wrong for me to hope that the current financial market causes classic car prices to tank and once again become attainable?). After that sale, however, the story becomes even more interesting. The Floridian buyer repainted the car to its original Silver color and shortly thereafter sold the car to a man in Germany. Incredibly, the German tracked down the car’s original twin-cam 4 cylinder Koenigswellen engine, which had been spending some time as a decorative piece in a retired Porsche engineer’s home. Now that is an art piece I’d love to have in my living room.

So now, impeccably maintained and newly reunited with her original engine after 25 years apart, Porsche 904-092 is available. Jan Lühn doesn’t list a price, but I’m sure they’ll be receptive to an offer of the $264,000 that this car fetched in 2000.
Sure they will.