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1961 Porsche RS 61

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Beginning in the early 1950s, Porsche unleashed a series of four-cylinder, four-cam sports racing cars that were extremely quick and ruled the small-bore International Racing circuit for an entire decade. The car had a powerful engine but the car's true advantages were the use of 'free horsepower' - meaning in its lightweight chassis and running gear comprised of streamlined alloy bodies which offered great braking, fuel efficiency, handling, and acceleration.

The Porsche 550s won their class at Monaco in the early 1950s, along with similar wins at the Mille Miglia, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the Nurburgring 1000. They would repeat these victories in hill climbs, international road races, and rallies. At the 1955 24 Hours of LeMans, their 550s finished in an astonishing 4th, 5th, and 6th.

At the 1956 Targa Florio race, a Porsche driven by Umberto Maglioli earned Porsche their 'Greatest Victory' by coming in first overall. This was done by beating much more powerful vehicles such as the Ferrari Monza and the Maserati 300S.

Another victory was had at the 1959 Targa Florio and at the 1960 Sebring 12 Hour Endurance Race, the Type 718 Porsche RS 60 Factory entry captured the checkered flag.

There were over 100 examples of the 550 Spyder produced beginning in 1954 and it was easily the company's most successful 'customer' sports racing car to date. Modifications were continuously made, resulting in the 550A, 1500RS, RSK, the RS60, and the RS61 Series.

The early Porsche 550s produced 105 bhp while the final evolution of this successful Porsche Sports Racer, the RS61, produced 174 bhp from the 1600cc engine. By this point in history, the car had been subjected to hours of wind tunnel aero studies along with many races and continuous fine-tuning. When the RS61 was introduced, it was a very polished machine. It had a low coefficient of drag and, along with the RS60, was the ultimate development of the four-cylinder boxer Spyder series.

The RS60 and the RS61 (known as the Type 718) were a new marketing concept for the company. For the first time in the company's history, the customers were able to buy and race identical cars to the one's races by the Factory. Similar to the RSK, the Type 718 had a tubular space frame chassis but with an additional four inches in the wheelbase and a wider cockpit. This was done to comply with the new 43-inch minimum imposed by the FIA. The front suspension was similar to the RSK but now incorporated a hydraulic steering damper. The rear suspension, however, was new - now fitted with a double-wishbone system with Koni shocks and coil springs.

There was space for an F.I.A. suitcase under the rear deck. Each car had a top, though it was designed to comply with regulations rather than be effective against the elements. Perhaps one of the largest disadvantages to the RS61 was the new curved safety glass windshield which was higher and wider than in the past. This, along with bigger doors, the convertible top, wider cockpit, and several other changes were done to comply with racing regulations. The extra size of the windshield did little to help with its aerodynamics and the engine had to work harder to keep pace with the more powerful competition. The engine, a Type 547/7 1587cc unit had a 9.8:1 compression ratio and was capable of producing 178 bhp.

Even with these new 'Road Car' regulations, the Porsche Spyders continued to perform extremely well in international endurance competition.

There were only 14 examples of the RS 61 models produced.


by Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009

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1961 Vehicle Profiles

1961 Porsche RS 61 vehicle information

Chassis Num: 718-066
Engine Num: P90316

1961 Porsche RS 61 vehicle information
Sports Racing Spyder
Coachwork: Wendler

Chassis Num: 718-070
Engine Num: P90505

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