Who better to tell the history of Porsche competition cars than Derek Bell? Of his five Le Mans wins, four were in Porsches. Of his ten podium finishes at Le Mans, eight were in Porsches. He’s competed in countless classes, and shared cars with everyone from Jacky Ickx and James Hunt to his son, Justin. Critically, Bell’s career spanned from Porsche’s first endurance racing successes, through its period of invincibility in the 1980s. In competition he’s driven 917s, 962s, the 936, and he’s helmed historic Porsches off-track. Few people know more about wringing the neck of a Porsche racecar.
Amusingly, this Top 5 seems to have been picked more by Porsche than Derek himself. In his words, the 962c is his real number one, though for the purposes of the video the mighty 962 ranks #2. Pretty surprising for a car that won Porsche no fewer than 21 Constructor’s Championships in various series around the world.
The other Porsches in the ranking should come as no surprise, though the particular chassis chosen for the video are interesting on their own. The Porsche 904 GTS featured in the video, for example, was Ferdinand Alexander Porsche’s personal car. This particular 904 is one of the first 904/6 variants, which is powered by a 911 flat-six rather than the quad-cam 718 RSK flat-four.
The 917 shown is also an interesting piece. Though it is painted as the 1970 Le Mans winner, 917-003, it is actually the first 917 built. 917-001 resides in the Porsche collection in this livery, as the actual 1970 winner has been in private collections since the 1980s.
Thanks to Derek’s narration, this video lacks the odd syntax that occasionally plagues the Porsche Top 5 series. Hopefully Porsche sticks to this direction in the future, as these videos are much more interesting when colored by the opinions of respected experts [not to mention the period costumes for both Derek and the Grid Girls].