Chassis #: 908-03-013
The intensity with which Porsche pursued the world championship in 1970 and 1971 is indicated by the 908/3. It was produced to win but two races: the Targa Florio and Nurburgring, twisty, difficult tracks where the 917's size and power were a handicap.
Predecessor 908s had been built as coupes or spyders, the latter evolving into a smooth flat shape that earned the fishy nickname 'Flounder.' The 908/3 was produced only as a spyder, and would be dubbed the 'miracle Porsche' by the Italians.
Only the engine remained the same, and it gave away at least 65 hp to the rival three-liter 312PB Ferrari. Relying on their mastery of featherweight design, Piech's engineers produced a car virtually supernatural in its weight saving, coming to the grid at a mere 540kg. Though the 908/2 had been easily the lightest car in its class, the 3 was lighter yet by a full 100 pounds through the extensive use of titanium. Its space frame weighed but 48 pounds; its plastic and foam body another 26.5.
Just 13 908/3s were produced: eleven in 1969-1970, two in 1971. Because of their extraordinary lightness, racing pundits predicted widespread structural failures. The pundits were wrong. A one-two finish in both the Targa and Nurburgring in 1970 saw to that; although the 1971 Targa was a driver error fraught crash out, a three car sweep of the 'Ring put the final event back on the track.
The only 908/3 breakages occurred in the two cars built in 1971 and only because their frames had not been built to specification. This example was one of them. Still, at the 1971 Nurburgring, Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver joined in the three-car Porsche sweep, nursing this car across the finish line to second place despite a broken chassis.
The 908/3's win rate was an astounding 75%. Even more astounding is how long the car's basic design remained competitive. With the 908/3, Piech and company moved far from the 910 design-of-the-month days. Like the 1927 Delage Grand Prix car, this Porsche was so brilliantly effective that it remained competitive for more than a decade.