This Thursday, a sparking example of a late-model 962 goes up for auction. At the RM Sotheby’s auction in Olympia Kingdom, Kensington, model 962-159 will make itself available to a lucky new owner—one who can probably recite the major players in Group C without much effort.
Perhaps better than any other version of he 962, this long-tail, high-downforce example demonstrates just how competitive the 962 was late into its career. This example raced only twice in its life—albeit both at Le Mans—which means 962-159 remains one of the most original and correct of all 962s. This car, sold to the Japanese Trust Racing team, added to the sizable 962 field at Le Mans during its debut—one of ten that year—and the quickest of the privateer 962s.
Impressively, this car qualified 11th—and the two 962s which out-qualified it were works-entered cars with more powerful 3.2-liter mills. Considering this car came with the customer-spec 3.0-liter engine, it demonstrated just how capable the 962 chassis was.
After a frantic race marred my mechanical attrition, the Trust car finished a commendable 13th. More importantly, it finished ahead of the second works Brun car—a car driven by superstars Jacques Laffitte and Henri Pescarolo. Considering that result from a privateer car with a less-than-punchy powerplant speaks to the level of competition in the midfield that year. Unfortunately, those impressive battles among the turbocharged entrants would be a thing of the past the following year.
Its return to Le Mans in 1991 wasn’t a massive success. After qualifying a promising 16th, it was relegated to start 21st due to the newly imposed rules against turbocharged cars. While it ran strongly throughout the race, its gearbox failed with a mere fifty minutes remaining. These new rules were the death knell for the turbocharged Group C entrants and the beginning of the end of the 962’s decade-long reign.
After its professional career came to a close, 962-159 was sold off to Bruce Canepa, former IMSA racer and renowned Porsche restorer. In the four years he owned it, Canepa subjected this car to an exacting restoration, which included a complete strip down to the bare tub and rebuilds of the engine, gearbox, brakes, and turbos. He installed new fuel, brake, and oil lines, and crack-tested all major load-bearing components. Without a doubt, it is ready for vintage racing.
In 2012, this beauty was sold off to a Swiss consignor, who used it at several track days and kept it in his own private museum. A stunning car both inside and out, it would doubtless be welcomed in Historic Group C series, as well as at prestigious stand-alone events such as Le Mans Classic, Le Mans Legends, and the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona.
For more on this gem, you can see its complete listing here.