One of the most amazing parts of the Rennsport Reunion V festivities was the Chopard Heritage Display. This was perhaps the center piece of the entire weekend, both in that it was directly in the center of the action at the track, as well as being the part of the event that draws in the crowds like flies to a cookout. This was where some of the best of the best Porsche racers were located, and there was a little bit of everything from every era and discipline of Porsche motorsport history.
As part of the display, Chopard was showing off a few of their timepieces at the front of the tent, with the centerpiece being their brand new Superfast watch series. Just look at it, isn’t it gorgeous? Alright, onto the cars!
One of the most fun parts of this display is how you can see the progression of Porsche’s motorsport history and how everything is inter-related. The slow progression from 550 Spyder to 917, the Group 4/5/6 era, the production-based cars, a foray into rallying and Indianapolis, and watercooled GT3s. If you know the history of the company, you can follow the story line from car to car. It was ultimately interesting.
The Small-Bore Road-Car Race-Cars
For just a little over a decade of Porsche’s racing history, much of what they did was production-based semi-prototypes. For much of that time, as well, Porsche’s racing relied primarily on the Fuhrmann Four-Cam engine for propulsion. Over the years, 550s evolved into RS60s and RSKs. 356 Carreras evolved into Abarth GTLs and the 904. The 904 then evolved into the 906, which helped bring about the 1968 911R through a shared engine. The 906 was the final road-legal racing car from Porsche prototype. This era included a lot of progression for Porsche, and saw top speeds increase exponentially.
The Prototype Era
After cutting their teeth in the small-bore cars, Porsche gradually stepped up their game and moved from 906 Carrera 6s into the wilder and more aero-focussed 906/907/908/910 era of the late 1960s. That prototype experience eventually moved them into the top-of-the-world categories when they developed a larger displacement 12-cylinder engine for the 917. In the early 1970s, Porsche had created in itself a motorsport giant. The 917 was a veritable juggernaut in multiple classes of competition on both sides of the Atlantic. Add in some turbochargers, and the 917/10 and 917/30 were dominant machines. Things were advancing so quickly in these days that it was difficult to keep up with it all. The 917s life as a racing car really only lasted from 1968 to 1973.
The Group 4/5/6 Era
After the end of the 917 era, Porsche moved all of their efforts into 911-based racing cars with the RSR in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged guise. The RSR Turbo eventually morphed into the 934 eligible for Group 4, before tacking on a whole lot of aero bits to make the 935 (for Group 5, naturally). The 936 was created for Group 6, and was essentially a return to prototype racing for Porsche after a couple of years removed. These cars dominated the mid 1970s to the early 1980s, and the 935 continued life through well into the 1980s. All of these Porsches were essentially the same base engine just wrapped in a different body.
Throughout the weekend, Jeff Zwart was running the Chase Car Panamera and taking video of a lot of these amazing Porsche sports cars. The tent had a small section that was some of the more oddball stuff, including a trio of 924-based racers, three exParis-Dakar Porsche rally cars, an Indycar, two of Jeff Zwart’s Pikes Peak racers, and a few other prototypes of various eras. The Porsche Indycar was my personal favorite car in the exhibit. It was well worth poring over the details for a few minutes. I wish I’d spent more time in this tent, and taken more photos, but there was just so much else to see outside of the tent.
Thanks for joining us on this little walk-through, and thanks to our newest sponsor, Chopard, for facilitating such an amazing display of vintage Porsche racing cars.