Just five years after the war ended, Porsche started importing small batches of cars into New York City to plant its feet for the first time on American soil. News traveled quickly on a westward wind and the Californians, free from harsh weather, soon after demanded their own style of Porsche.
Now, ostensibly this video was created as a way for Porsche to celebrate American Independence Day, but there’s never a bad time to check out these totally radical race and road cars with Porsche’s incredibly quick factory racer, Patrick Long. Give it a watch!
356A 1600 S Speedster
We associate the 356A Speedster with those gruff, squinty-eyed men from yesteryear who embodied independence and individuality. Steve McQueen and James Dean, two actors who actually raced Porsches, are forever linked to this gorgeous piece of rolling artistry from half a century ago. Even though it only had ~75 horsepower, its pared-down frame made it quick and relatively cheap. Considering the prices they fetch now, it’s hard to believe that this was once one of the more affordable Porsches around.
964 America Roadster
Fast forward thirty years, and the wide haunches of a Turbo model made its way onto an open-top Carrera for those balmy Los Angeles evenings. With serious performance and a relaxed character, what better car to suit a blitz along Mulholland Drive?
964 RS America
For those who wanted more for their trips to Willow Springs, Porsche built the 964 RS America. Since us yanks couldn’t get the 964 RS, Porsche answered our track junkies’ calls with the RS America. Stripped and spartan, this 2,975-lb machine offered no frills but plenty of thrills.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this gem. A conservative estimate of 800 horsepower, a ferocious power delivery, and less than one ton of weight made this one of the most successful cars ever, and the only car to win Can-Am that wasn’t powered by a Chevrolet engine. Even the driver’s feet were positioned ahead of the front wheels! They were certainly brave back then.
Rounding out this list of greats is the 934.5—the car which ushered turbocharging into American GT racing. Though the 600-hp 934.5 was designed to run in IMSA Group 4, it was banned and instead used in SCCA Trans-Am, where it won 6 of 8 races it competed in. Following in the 917’s footsteps, this beauty changed the direction of American road racing in the 1970s and 1980s. What a wonderful path these cars paved.