See also : Cars 1954-55 Cars 1956-57 Cars 1958-59 Cars 1960-61 Cars 1970s 1980s Supercars Cars in movies
Chronology : 1970 1979 1985 1998
2016 SOLD for $ 5.3M by Gooding
Amidst the bolides by Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Maserati, Porsche has the merit of finding innovative solutions by promoting small cars with low displacement volumes in a brilliant technology that reaches the extreme limit of feasibility.
The 356 had opened to Porsche the market of the sports cars. The 550 Spyder is their first experience of a car designed for the race. From its first competition in 1953, this model with a 1.5 liter engine built its reputation as a killer of giants.
The 550 is a victim of its own success and many units were damaged. One of them, made in 1955, is in an exceptional condition close to a time capsule.
Its early history is not known. Discovered by an amateur in Massachusetts in the early 1960s within a lot of second hand cars, it has preserved up to now its original paint and upholstery, and of course kept also its matching number equipment. It is one of very few examples by which an amateur can still retrieve the pleasure of driving an authentic Porsche Spyder of the 1950s.
This wonder was only 16,000 km from new when it was acquired in 2007 by Jerry Seinfeld. The comedian, also known for his great enthusiast in driving old Porsche cars, respected and maintained its perfect condition, adding only 800 Km to its odometer. Now he chooses to part ways from it. This car was sold for $ 5.3M by Gooding on March 11, 2016, lot 034.
1956 550 RS
2016 SOLD for £ 4.6M by Bonhams
This small speedy car does not intimidate the wealthy individuals and perfectly meets the desires of the young 'rebel' Americans after the war. It is no coincidence that James Dean trades in 1955 his Porsche 356 speedster for a 550 spyder. Shortly afterward Chinetti will force Ferrari to create the California Spider targeting a similar clientele.
These small Porsche cars were pushed up to their limits by their owners eager for new sensations and new glamorous conquests. Such vehicles kept in their original condition are scarce and precious.
According to these criteria the 550 RS offered by Bonhams on September 10, 2016 is considered as perfect in the press release issued by the auction house. Not enjoying the miracle of a time capsule, it was used by its owners but careful services have prevented any restoration.
This car made in 1956 is one of the last 550 before this model was replaced by the 550A. It was coachworked by Wendler as a two seater spyder. It was sold for £ 4.6M, lot 140.
The competition remained essential to promote such a product line. Another 550 also made in 1956 and coachworked in single seater was sold for $ 3.75M before fees by Mecum on August 17, 2013.
1958 550A Spyder
2018 SOLD for $ 5.2M by Bonhams
Since the 1950s Porsche achieved success in competition with cars which are decidedly different from their competitors, provoking from some drivers a great loyalty to the brand. From 1957 to his death in 1964, Carel De Beaufort almost only used Porsche cars.
Released in 1953, the Porsche 550 Spyder is efficient and agile with its flat four 1.5 liter engine. Porsche had made a good choice because this category of small volumes is undisturbed by the changes in the rules that follow the 1955 disaster at Le Mans.
Continuous improvement is a must for competition. In 1956 the 550A Spyder gets a lighter and more rigid frame, with a weight distribution carefully redesigned to improve the stability. It has a reputation of being very pleasant to drive.
Forty 550A are built. The last but one is sold in April 1958 to De Beaufort who uses it in competition in that year. In May De Beaufort dares to engage his little spyder in the Dutch Grand Prix of Formula One at Zandvoort. He finishes in last position six laps behind the winner. Meanwhile Porsche had developed the 718 that De Beaufort will now more logically use in Formula One.
1960 718 RS 60
2015 SOLD for $ 5.4M by Gooding
For endurance, the 718 is much modified in 1960. The spyder 718 RS 60 is built in 18 units of which 4 are attributed for the factory team. Porsche want their cars to win with their own team. The RS 60 works cars receive exclusive aerodynamic improvements. They are driven by champions including Graham Hill, Stirling Moss and Jo Bonnier.
The 718 and its evolutions RS 60 and RS 61 are light and handy to drive, well adapted to difficult roads. It is really competitive against more powerful competitors but the accumulation of mechanical issues penalizes its achievements. It nevertheless wins the Targa Florio in 1959, 1960 and 1963.
For Le Mans 1960 two RS 60 works cars are equipped with 1,606 cc engines. In 1961 one of them receives a 1,678 cc engine for Sebring and for the Nürburgring. Meanwhile it amazingly performed at the Targa Florio with a 2-liter engine : driven by Stirling Moss, it was leading at the entrance of the last lap but had to stop a few kilometers before the finish line. This car is unique in its kind : it was the only RS 60 that could accommodate a 2-liter engine, thanks to a stiffening of the chassis.
It was sold for $ 5.4M by Gooding on August 16, 2015. After being restored, it was sold for $ 5.1M by RM Sotheby's on August 17, 2019, lot 348.
1970 Porsche 917K
for sale by RM Sotheby's on August 13-14
to be narrated
Porsche 917K (est $ 16M)
#VOLUMEUP: RM Sotheby's is thrilled to announce that this truly iconic 1970 #Porsche 917K Gulf Racing Coupe will go under the hammer in our flagship Monterey sale on 13-14 August.— rmsothebys (@rmsothebys) May 21, 2021
Estimated at $16 - $18.5m, you can learn more on our website: https://t.co/iqnh9U7MgC #RMSothebys pic.twitter.com/4U4Yfvpycx
Fifty years ago today — Steve McQueen’s film debuted at box offices worldwide and the 1970 Porsche 917 K gained its true iconic status.— rmsothebys (@rmsothebys) June 23, 2021
Witness the next chapter of this thrilling example’s story, 13-14 August in Monterey.
For more information visit https://t.co/iqnh9U7MgC pic.twitter.com/m9HvVsfjsU
2017 SOLD for $ 14M by Gooding
The rule for the 5 liter homologation requires that the model is produced in 25 identical units. Porsche's motivation is so intense that they line up their twenty-five 917 in the yard of the factory as early as April 1969. Success is still questionable because the 917 is very difficult to drive. None of them finished the 24 hours of Le Mans 1969 and a driver died during that race.
Porsche immediately conceived the necessary improvements, resulting in two variants of the chassis for each of the two models : K for Kurz Heck and LH for Lang Heck. The short variant is faster in top speed but less stable. Many drivers will prefer the LH.
On August 18, 2017, Gooding sold for $ 14M a historically important 917K, lot 44. Please watch the video shared by Gooding.
This car assembled in 1970 was immediately entered in the training and test sessions at Le Mans, Nürburgring and Ehra-Lessien in April and May, demonstrating the exceptional speed achieved by the 917K model.
It is purchased in June 1970 by Jo Siffert who does not use it in competition but leases it for the preparation of the film Le Mans. It is one of three 917K starring in this movie for which they also served as camera cars for shooting at full speed. This 917K was Siffert's favorite car and led his funeral procession in October 1971.
The car was found 30 years later in a Parisian suburb, covered with dust but untouched except for the absence of the engine. The next owner bought an original engine from the same series. The complete restoration was supervised by a former Porsche engineer who still had access to the factory archives of the 917 program.
2012 SOLD for $ 5.8M by Mecum
The 917/10-003 has the best track record of the 917 model. It was sold for $ 5.8M by Mecum on August 18, 2012. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
In 1972, Porsche subcontracted to Penske Racing the participation in the competitions. Their goal to dominate the prestigious series of events known as the Can-Am (Canadian American Challenge Cup) met a total success.
Driven alternately by the two Penske drivers, George Follmer and Mark Donohue, this serial number 917/10-003 actually won in 1972 no fewer than five of nine races counted for the Can-Am.
Porsche engineers could do better, and they did. Prepared in 1973, the Porsche 917/30 Spyder was later elected by a committee of experts as the greatest racing car of all time. One of the four cars of this model was sold $ 4.4M by Gooding on March 9, 2012.
The overwhelming success of the Porsche 917 had killed the suspense in the Can-Am events. This is not the only reason for the ephemeral reign of the 917 : the oil crisis also forced the organizers of car racings to cut the costs.
2016 SOLD for $ 4.8M by Gooding
This achievement rewards the effort made by Porsche to meet the complicated rules of the FIA requiring that competition cars of Groups 1 to 5 are based on production models with a minimum quantity. The Porsche 934 matches the Group 4 (special grand touring), the 935 is for Group 5 (sports) and the 936 for Group 6 (prototype). Each year brings further variations to these models.
In heavy rain, Le Mans 1979 is not spectacular in a sporting point of view. Prototypes gradually disappear from race lead after the first hours. The final winner is a Porsche 935 improved by Kremer Racing.
Fortunately, Paul Newman draws the crowd. The actor aged 54 participates for the first time at Le Mans. The Porsche 935 Type 77A driven by Stommelen, Newman and Barbour finishes in the second position.
This is a feat for Newman but also for that new car in its competition debut. Until 1987, it will be extensively raced. It went first overall at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1981 and at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1983.
This Porsche 935 with a prestigious history was sold for $ 4.8M by Gooding on August 20, 2016, lot 060. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
2015 SOLD for $ 10.1M by Gooding
The creation of the Group C, scheduled in 1981 and released in 1982, marks a return of prototype racing to its highest prestige. Porsche is very enthusiastic.
The effort of the engineers focuses on innovations of chassis and bodywork. Despite a similar engine to that of the 936, the Porsche 956 perfectly meets the intent of the FIA to promote a modernized range of vehicles.
The model 956 along with its further evolution as the 962 is so far ahead of its competitors that Porsche completely dominates the World Endurance Championship for five consecutive years.
Porsche designed the 956 for their own prestige. Ten cars are prepared for the official drivers of the brand and are sponsored by the Rothmans cigarette company. Twelve other units are made for private teams.
First races, first triumphs: in May 1982, the 956-001 wins the 6 hours of Silverstone. A month later, the model 956 takes the first three places at Le Mans.
Second at Le Mans in 1982, the 956-003 won its last four races of that year. Its victory at Le Mans in 1983 will be the greatest feat of its prestigious career. Appreciating a few minutes before the end of the 24 hours that the engine is going to expire, Al Holbert manages to keep a short lead ahead of another 956 driven by Derek Bell. It is interesting to note that the 956 cars got the top eight positions in that race.
956-003 was sold for $ 10.1M by Gooding on August 15, 2015, lot 050. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
2018 SOLD for $ 6M by RM Sotheby's
Jacky Ickx, who had won the previous edition with a Mercedes-Benz, is also a regular driver for Porsche, including the 956, a model for endurance well suited for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Under his influence Porsche realizes a new development for the Paris-Dakar.
Three prototypes were built in 1985 and three more in 1986. A seventh car was reclassified as Porsche 961 prototype for Le Mans. These cars are an improvement of the 953 with an electronic control of the four-wheel drive. They do not constitute a new reference but benefit from the modernization efforts of the 959 and enter that range.
In 1984 the three entered 953 had finished the Paris-Dakar. 1985 is less glorious when none of the three 959 finish. In 1986 the three new Porsche 959 are 1st, 2nd and 6th overall.
Two of the six 959 Paris-Dakar remain in private hands with only one of them in working condition. This car was one of the three Porsche entered in the 1985 rally where it was driven by Metge and Lemoyne. Retired afterward from competition, it remains highly original. It was sold for $ 6M from a lower estimate of $ 3M by RM Sotheby's on October 27, 2018, lot 196.
1998 911 GT1 Strassenversion
2017 SOLD for $ 5.7M by Gooding
Anticipating some flexibility in the approval rules of the GT competition cars including the demonstration that their models are based on commercial vehicles, Porsche designs directly the 911 GT1 for racing.
The technology restarts in a fast development generating very small series of vehicles with similar designations but increasing performances. The Porsche 911 GT1-98 won the first two places at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1998.
Porsche does not forget however that some customers expect high-performance cars. Such a project is useful to the prestige of the brand even if the profitability is lost in advance. After two prototypes required in 1996 for road homologation, Porsche realizes the 911 GT1 Strassenversion in 20 units which are sold to customers selected in advance by the brand.
This road legal model created high desires by its limited series, by its very high performance worthy of a winner of Le Mans and by the fact that it has never been offered new on the open market. A Strassenversion made in 1998 with less than 5,000 miles from new was sold for $ 5.7M on March 10, 2017 by Gooding, lot 042. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
A 1997 911 GT1 Evo competition car was sold for € 2,8M by RM Sotheby's on May 14, 2016.