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PORSCHE'S F1 HANGOVER CURE
After Porsche pulled the plug on its short-lived Formula 1 World Championship programme at the end of 1962, having secured a solitary Grand Prix victory with the 804 at Rouen that season with Dan Gurney, the company would refocus its efforts on sportscar racing. And the car that the German marque created to fly the flag in the international endurance arena for GT cars was the fabulous 904 Carrera GTS.
Having harnessed plenty of technical know-how with the 550 and 718 RSK sports-racers, Porsche persevered with the mid-engine layout and equipped the 904 with the 2-litre four-cam flat-four 'Fuhrmann' engine from the RSK. GT racing regulations at the time decreed that a minimum of 100 production models be built to satisfy homologation, which allowed Porsche to sell examples to customer racers. That, of course, would be something at which the company became highly adept as the years wore on.
With the economics of the customer-led programme firmly in mind, Porsche opted not to use a traditional space-frame chassis and aluminium bodywork for the 904. Instead, a steel ladder chassis was chosen, with a fibreglass body created by aircraft manufacturer Heinkel - and incorporating more than 50 individual pieces - bonded to it. For Porsche, this meant that manufacturing costs were kept down, while for its customers repair bills were reduced, there was no danger of the car rotting and there was a noticeable weight saving. On top of this, the slippery shape of the 904, styled by Ferry Porsche's son Ferdinand Alexander, produced a superb drag coefficient.
The 904 first appeared on the international scene at the Sebring 12 Hours in 1964, where a number of privately entered cars took on the challenge of the bumpy Florida airfield. The Briggs Cunningham car, driven by Briggs himself and Lake Underwood took ninth overall and won the up-to-3-litre prototype class. Later that year, Italian Antonio Pucci and Briton Colin Davis led a factory Porsche 904 one-two in the gruelling Targa Florio road race in Sicily - finishing more than 12 minutes ahead of Italo-German duo Gianni Balzarini and Herbert Linge.
Cars were routinely campaigned in races, rallies and hillclimbs during the second half of the 1906s, proving their versatility and adaptability - just as Porsche had intended.
The Porsche 904 really was a competition sportscar gamechanger; its design philosophy and on-track performance was widely believed to be a motivating factor in Porsche's creation, shortly after, of its iconic range of prototypes, the 2.2-litre 907, the 3-litre 908 and the ultimate long-distance weapon, the 5-litre 917.
CHASSIS 083 - A BRIEF HISTORY OF A PRIZE PORSCHE
First supplied to Paris-based Porsche distributor Sonauto in April 1964, chassis 083 spent six years in France under the ownership of three amateur racers, Claude Barbier, Valentin Aldy and Cyr Febbrairo. It competed in many notable events in period including, The 12 Hours of Rheims, Coupes des Alpes, Rally Flandres, Rally Ardennes, Course de Cote Ceyreste, Chamrousse, Routes du Nord, Mont Ventoux and the Tour de Course.
Very early in its tenure with Barbier 083 had been crashed. At that time it was sent back to the Porsche Factory for repair, it was fitted with a new chassis and body unit, while retaining the identity, original engine, gearbox and running gear. As production was still in process at that time the supplied chassis was in fact that of the very late 904s and 6 cylinder 904s, or a series 2 as they are commonly referred to. This meant that the shell from that point onwards and for the majority of its period racing career featured the rare upgrades of those later stronger shells including, but not limited to, a reinforced chassis, central fuel filler, a kamm tail, wind up windows and "short doors". Of all the cars built only approximately ten received this superior upgrade in period. It was then campaigned for the remainder of the decade, later by Aldy and Febbrairo in races, rallies and hillclimbs.
In 1971 chassis 083 went to Germany under the wing of renowned Porsche specialist Manfred Freisinger, who would campaign racing Porsches into the 1990s. The car remained in Germany for 35 years, first with Franz Bubetz, and then Jürgen Schemel. In the late-1990s Schemel revealed the car in "barn find" condition and had the car very sympathetically restored by a fibreglass specialist and under the watchful eye of some of the world's greatest 904 experts. As a result of the time at which it was restored (thus surviving the often poor restorations carried out in the 70's and 80's) the car remained in very original and unmolested condition as the process was equally sensitive and carried out correctly.
After more than three decades in Germany, during which time the car appears to have had very little use, it was brought to the UK by James Lindsay in 2007. Lindsay used the car in a number of historic events, returning it to its rightful vocation including competing at the Goodwood Revival and successfully completing the Tour Auto. In 2010 DK Engineering assisted in the sale of the car and it was exported to the USA by Danny McKenna in Los Angeles before being sold to Texas-based Randall Johnson in 2012. During the car's Stateside sojourn, plenty of work was done to maintain its excellent and original condition, including to the brakes, gearbox and suspension, as well as some cosmetic improvements. Again, it appears chassis 083 was not used in competition.
BACK ON BRITISH SOIL AND READY TO RACE
Chassis 083 returned to the UK in 2014 when DK Engineering acquired it on behalf of a client. Having recently parted with an outstanding 250 GT SWB, that client's brief was simple; to supply the very best 904 one could find and in addition it HAD to be matching-numbers. Today 083 is one of only very few examples that retains not only its matching-numbers gearbox but engine also. After an extensive report was compiled by renowned Porsche expert Andy Prill, one of the world's most well-respected marque specialists, he reconfirmed the car's provenance comparing his findings with those of 2009 when he inspected it ahead of its move to the United States.
The car has subsequently been fitted with a six-cylinder engine (by Prill), making it similar to the limited run of 904/6s built in period and ensuring greater versatility for races and rallies or even for road use. To preserve the original matching-numbers status of the car, the original four-cylinder unit of course accompanies the car in a display stand.
Porsche 904 chassis 083 is one of the finest examples of this stunning mid-1960s GT car that remains equally at home on race track, rally stage or road. Its series 2 specification, continuous history and matching-numbers authenticity adds huge provenance and is complemented by an exhaustive file of period images, historical documentation, invoices, race history and details of its previous HTP (Historic Technical Passport) papers for competition.
The car is ready to be campaigned in historic events around the world, thereby guaranteeing that its important contribution to Porsche motorsport history continues.
Period images courtesy of Maurice Louche - Contemporary photography by Fluid ImagesDownload PDF Spec Sheet