Porsche is one of the most successful manufacturers in racing. The German carmaker has enjoyed many victories and championships from which the sixteen overall victories at Le Mans are arguably the most important.
At Schloss Bensberg Classics 2012, Porsche presented five of its legendary racing cars in a special exhibition called “Porsche – the racing successes of the 1960s”. In the gardens behind the former palace Porsche showed the 906 Carrera 6, 908 Long Tail Coupé, 909 Bergspyder, 917 KH and the insane 917 PA Spyder.
The Porsche 906 Carrera 6 made its debut in 1966. Its 1.9 liter six-cylinder boxer engine with 210 horsepower enabled the 675kg weighing sports car to hit a top speed of 280km/h. The 906 entered the stage in the days of the mighty Ford GT40, but the German sports car was quite successful in its class.
The 909 Bergspyder is a sports car designed and built in 1968 specifically for competing in hillclimbing competitions. This short-lived model is powered by a 1.9 liter eight-cylinder boxer engine with an output of 275 horsepower. With a staggering low weight of only 384kg the car dubbed the “plastic Porsche” is able to sprint from standstill to 100km/h in two seconds while its top speed is 250km/h.
The 908 Langheck-Coupé was designed to enter in the Group 6 racing class for prototype-sports cars. Powered by a 3.0 liter flat-eight which provides 350 horsepower, this model won Porsche’s first World Championship in 1969 with five victories in a row. All in all, the 908 was very successful but almost forgotten because it was overshadowed by the famous 917.
The 917 Kurzheck on display at Schloss Bensberg is actually the car which gave Porsche its first overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970. After a further six international victories, the 917 also earned Porsche the World Constructors’ Championship in 1970. The Porsche 917 pictured here is powered by a 4.5 liter flat-twelve engine with an output of 630 horsepower, which is good enough for a top speed of 360km/h.
Less known is the Porsche 917 PA Spyder developed for the Can-Am Challenge, which was known for its “anything goes” philosophy. For that series, larger and more powerful engines were needed. The 917 PA on display was used for testing and features an experimental 6.6 liter sixteen-cylinder engine with a whopping 800 horsepower. Interestingly, the car only weighs 800kg. Eventually Porsche opted for a turbocharged twelve-cylinder engine to be used in racing, so this 917 version never made it beyond the test track.