Porsche has always been a racing company that happens to build cars for the street. It has earned its reputation as a reliable and dynamic sports car from decades winning sports car competition. Perhaps no car is more connected to Porsche’s reputation than the iconic 962, which along with its 956 cousins won hundreds of races in the 1980s and 1990s. The majority of those cars were driven by privateer effort customer programs, but this #17 Shell/Dunlop car is one of the original 16 chassis campaigned by the factory in international motorsport. And now it has been lovingly and properly restored to its original state.
1987 was a long time ago. I should know, it was the year I was born. Come to think of it, I could use a painstakingly exact restoration, too. In any case, the Porsche Heritage and Museum department has spent the last 18 months working to bring this car back to its original condition in order to present it to the world. During the unveiling, Porsche had the original driver of the car from 35 years ago on hand, Hans-Joachim Stuck, to reunite with his long-gone race winning chassis.
“It feels like coming home,” smiles Stuck. “I’m a big fan of the Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission and proud that I was allowed to test it in the 962 back then. Being able to keep my hands on the steering wheel when changing gears at full throttle felt great right from the start,” he says. “For me, the time with Porsche was the most successful of my entire career. The 962 C was one of the few cars I was allowed to drive on my own, without team-mates and with exactly the setup I wanted. You never forget a car like that.”
Back in 1987 Stuck and the red/yellow 962C paired to win the German ADAC Würth Supercup. This was the original test car for Porsche’s then-quite-advanced doppelkupplungsgetriebe dual clutch gearbox now known as PDK. Shell was onboard as sponsor for the car by the second round of the Supercup in 1987 and stayed with Stuck and his car through the 1988 season where the pair successfully defended their title. In its second life, the 962C became an aerodynamics test car within Porsche at Weissach. Finally, the car was retired to the corporate collection.
For the last year and a half, the car has been under the watchful eye of Armin Bruger and Traugott Brecht from the Historic Motorsport department.
“We kept passing this car in the warehouse. Then, about a year and a half ago, we decided to get it out of there, transfer it to Weissach and start working on it,” said Burger. “The cooperation with the other departments from Porsche was great. We found almost everything we needed within a radius of just 30 meters. When you hear the right people talking by the vehicle, everything immediately becomes clear. We learned an incredible amount from two witnesses who were right there when it all happened,” he added.
If you watched Porsche’s digital Sound Nacht a few weeks ago, you saw this car at its first public appearance. Don’t worry, though, you’ll get an opportunity to see it a lot in the next 16 months or so. Porsche wanted this car done in time for the 40th anniversary of Group C racing, which comes up in 2022. It’s nice to see one of the most successful Porsches of all time back out on track and getting the proper attention it deserves. Here’s hoping it comes stateside in 2022 so we get an opportunity to see it run in anger once again.