This Class 11 Beetle is gorgeous and I’d love to see more people racing their Bugs. I still wholeheartedly believe that the VW Type 1 engine is the best engine ever made. There are very few engines that you could tear down and rebuild on the side of the road with hand tools. It’ll run on anything—You could probably pour a bottle of Whiskey in the tank if you were desperate. Just a perfect embodiment of my appreciation for simplicity.
If there’s anything I’m terrible at hiding, it’s my love for Porsche, Formula V, and racing transporters. Rarely though, do I have an opportunity to wrap all of that volcanic enthusiasm in a single image. That changes today. Would you just look at that.
I’ve seen a Porsche-powered Formula V car before. On that occasion, it was evident how much faster the Formula V platform could be pushed with just that bump in power that even a period Porsche powerplant could provide. In that introduction to the concept I believe it was a 356 engine doing the heavy work (or was it 912?). When I first saw this example, I assumed it would also have the higher powered 356 engine back there. This one, however, is powered, like all vintage vees, by a 1200 cc Volkswagen type 1 engine. Why then, are we referring to this as a “Porsche Formula V”, when it’s not much different than any other Formcar? What is that Porsche sticker doing on the engine cover? Is this just someone’s wishful thinking?
No. This one was built by Porsche in Werk 1 and campaigned by Hans Herrmann, Gerhard Mitter and Ben Pon with support from the Porsche factory during their period promoting Formula Vee as a new feeder series. It may have a Formcar frame and a VW engine, but in a very real sense this is an authentic team Porsche open-wheel racing car. There’s mighty few cars that can fit that description. Even with the included (914 powered) custom—and amazing—transporter, this one is sure to be oceans cheaper than any other car that can fit that description. Except perhaps the single other surviving Porsche factory Formcar.
Can you imagine pulling into the paddock at the wheel of this red beauty with that seemingly ordinary Formcar perched so delicately on her haunches? Can you imagine pulling into the false grid at the wheel of a car once piloted by Hermann? Can you imagine doing it in one of the best vintage racing series? Whew.
More information on Jan Luehn’s detail page.
You’ve heard me extoll the virtues of the Formula Vee racing class. I adore it for it’s simplicity: A stock VW Beetle front beam; a 1200 cc Beetle engine; and a stockish tranny. How could that not be a good time? On top of that, the grids for the vintage Vees tends to be a good spot for tight racing with skilled drafts and dramatic overtakes.
Compared to this image from the support race for the 1967 Monaco GP, though, today’s Formula Vee races are positively tame. Apparently the rough and tumble formula vee racers weren’t a great cultural match with the champagne sipping Auto Club Monaco crowd and went on to prove it by opening their event with the bumping and pushing that you might expect of the unwashed.
This shot of Nick Brittan’s rather unconventional overtake near the yacht harbor chicane really probably didn’t do much to improve their reputation in the principality as evidenced by this bit from the Motoring News GP Report: “The Formula Vee race opened proceedings and proved only that such unstable cars should not be allowed near a race track. The only British driver involved, Nick Brittan, arrived at the chicane on his first lap to find a French-driven car sideways on in front of him; he hit it and rolled, falling back on his wheels, fortunately with no personal damage.”
More history of Formula Vee at Volkswagen Motorsport.