1961 Porsche RS 61

Sports Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 718-066
Engine Num: P90316
Sold for $2,750,000 at 2014 RM Sothebys.
By the mid-1950s, Porsche began punching above its weight class with its model 550. However, the company would up the ante even further when the Stuttgart company followed the successful 550 just a couple of years later with the 718.

The new 718 would be immediately successful finishing first in its class at Le Mans in 1958. What would be more remarkable about the performance would be the fact the car finished the 24 hour race 3rd overall.

One year later, a 718, driven by Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel would take on the challenging Targa Florio and would end up coming out the other end as overall victors. Though not fitting in the larger classes, the car certainly didn't fit in the one it had been designed for either.

As a result of the many victories, especially against cars in the upper classes, Porsche's international reputation would grow rapidly. Everyone wanted an example of the 'giant killer'. Suddenly, Porsches started to make appearances everywhere. Because of the success on the track, the car would attract the attention of Hollywood actors and gentleman racers the world over.

Porsche's main trick for success would be the development of lightweight chassis and highly-streamlined bodies to overcome the need to rely upon bigger, more complicated and highly-tuned engines. Such engines were thoroughbreds. They offered great power and performance but they were also highly-strung and prone to reliability issues. Porsche's approach would be in the other direction.

By designing a lightweight chassis and powertrain, Porsche could rely upon a proven, smaller powerplant. It would not have the power and performance as the bigger cars, but it wouldn't be as complicated and prone to failure as the others. Porsche would rely upon the advances with aerodynamic design and lightweight construction to make up the difference. The result would be dramatic as Porsche would practically dominate its class for the better part of a decade and would often supplant those belonging to the higher classes.

The RS60 and RS61 would develop from the RSK. New regulations would mandate changes in design. An enlarged windscreen and a larger interior would force Porsche to come up with a new model. However, the RSK had been successful, and therefore, didn't deserve to be just cast aside.

The Spyder version of the 550 would be widely popular, as would the Spyder version of the RSK. This popular style would remain with the new RS60/61 but the interior would be enlarged to the mandatory 43 inch minimum. The full-size windscreen affected the aerodynamics of the car. However, Porsche would help to overcome this and other issues by making a wheelbase enlarged by about 4 inches. The lengthening of the wheelbase enabled the car to be lowered slightly, flat elongated coupe.

Engine size would be enlarged, but only slightly. Instead of the 1.5-liter engine that powered the initial Spyder design, a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder Boxer engine developing 160 bhp engine would be used. This would be increased through the use of dual Weber carburetors. Power then would increase to nearly 180bhp. When combined with four-wheel independent suspension and front and rear disc brakes, the RS60/61 versions of the 718 would become potent challengers at any kind of race track.

The more attractive feature of the RS60 and RS61 would be the fact that Porsche would make examples of the car available for purchase by privateer racers. Having the very same car, with all of the details, the factory team had suddenly the privateer would be transformed from tail-end runner to race favorite.

Put very simply, the car worked. Therefore, Porsche would continue production of the 718 RS into 1961 and would call it the 718 RS61. One of those that would come to enjoy the fact Porsche made the same car and performance available to the privateer as that which the factory team enjoyed would be Bob Donner.

This Donner preferred to travel amongst much faster company and would be one of the best-known privateers in the United States. Bob Donner knew Porsche quite well. His racing career would really begin in 1955 when he used a 356 Coupe. He would then move on to a 550 and the difference would be like night and day. In 1957, Donner would go on a run winning four races in a row.

The winning ways would continue in 1959 when he took delivery of an RSK. At the wheel of the Spyder, Donner would go on another run winning six races in a row, four of which would be overall victories. Two more victories would come in 1960.

Therefore, Donner knew what Porsche had in its 718. As a result, Donner would purchase a new 718 RS61 for the 1961 season. He would take delivery of chassis 066 and would look forward to the start of the season. Over the next couple of seasons, Donner would go on to score more than a handful of overall and class victories. He would absolutely love the car, but, in 1964, he would sell the car to Eldon Beagle who would continue to campaign the car throughout that year in California.

After Beagle's period of ownership, 066 would pass through a number of hands. Its current owner would come by the car in the 1990s and would set about having the car fully restored. Every step possible to return the car to its original state would be taken and what resulted is certainly a tribute Donner and all of the overreaching Porsche 718s of the period of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Offered at the 2014 RM Auctions Scottsdale event, the 1961 Porsche 718 RS 61 Spyder, chassis 718-066, would be garnering estimates ranging from between $2,800,000 and $3,200,000.

'1960 Porsche 718/RS60 News, Pictures, Specifications and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z9972/Porsche-718/RS60.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z9972/Porsche-718/RS60.aspx. Retrieved 8 January 2014.

'Complete Archive of Bob Donner', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/driver/archive/Bob-Donner-USA.html?page=2). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/driver/archive/Bob-Donner-USA.html?page=2. Retrieved 8 January 2014.

'Lot No. 51: 1961 Porsche 718 RS 61 Spyder', (http://www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1063980). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1063980. Retrieved 8 January 2014.

Wikipedia contributors, 'Porsche 718', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 December 2013, 20:14 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Porsche_718&oldid=587418975 accessed 8 January 2014

By Jeremy McMullen
Sports Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 718-068
This 1960 Porsche RS-61 is one of thirteen Porsche Sports Racers built for the 1961 FIA season. In the 1961 racing season, FIA requirements included windscreen, two seats, trunk, et al -- essentially all the equipment for a 'street' car; thus the reason for this car being fitted with these amenities. This car, chassis number 718-068, was built for the 1961 racing season but was never raced and ended up in a museum in Japan, where it was purchased by its current owner and brought to the US in 2002. It is, perhaps, the most original RS61 left.

The car is powered by a four-cylinder engine capable of producing 150 horsepower and 130 foot-pounds of torque. It has a Porsche gearbox and an independent suspension in both the front and rear.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009
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 cars 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 hillclimbs, 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 ones 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 on 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
Sports Racing Spyder
Coachwork: Wendler
Chassis Num: 718-070
Engine Num: P90505
Sold for $1,705,000 at 2010 Gooding & Company.
Sold for $2,976,391 (£1,905,500) at 2015 Bonhams.
This RS61 Spyder was one of the last four-cam Spyders produced. It has an extensive racing pedigree and an impressive list of previous owners. The car was constructed by Porsche in the winter of 1960 and first appeared in the hands of Bob Holbert of Pennsylvania. His business, Holbert's Garage, became one of the first authorized Porsche dealerships in the country and his racing career with the company, which began in 1957, saw him capture four SCCA National Championships and a podium finish at Le Mans. Holbert's racing efforts, along with the financial support of Bernie Weil, helped establish the Porsche mystique in North America.

The first recorded race for 718-070 was the Daytona SCCA National that took place in February. Holbert drove the car to a 1st in class in the 2000cc category. The next race for the car was the Governor's Cup that April. It would finish First in Class, repeating its success at Daytona. The result at the President's Cup three-hour race was impressive, with Holbert finishing First in Class and 4th overall.

By May of 1961, Holbert was driving 718-044, the factory-prepared RS61 that Stirling Moss had raced at the Targa Florio in Sicily earlier that year. This led him to sell 718-070 to East Coast driver, 'Gentleman Tom' Payne. Payne continued to race the car in many East Coast events like the Wisconsin Grand Prix, Thompson Nationals, 500 Sprints in Atlanta, and the Cumberland Nationals.

At the close of the 1961 season, the car was sold to Millard Ripley who won 1st overall at Watkins Glen in June of that year.

The car would have a tremendous racing career, earning 13 wins and 20 podium finishes in SCCA National Competition.

After the conclusion of the 1963 season, the car was retired for just a few years. Near the close of the 1960s, the car was given a restoration and prepared for vintage racing.

In 2010, this Porsche RS61 was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Auction held in Amelia Island, Florida. The car was expected to sell for $1,200,000 - $1,500,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $1,705,000, inclusive of buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010
Sports Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 718 048
This was the last of the cars that Bob Holbert drove to his SCCA E Sports Racing Championship in 1961 and 1962 as well as the newly created U.S. Road Racing Championship in 1963. Holbert's success was no big surprise. He was America's top Porsche driver. But this Porsche surprised Bob. Holbert had ordered the chassis/body you see here after crashing his first RS-61 at Mosport. Upon delivery he discovered his new car was four inches longer in the engine bay area to accommodate Porsche's latest race engine. The flat eight's debut took place at the Targa Florio in 1961. Two 8-cylinder cars were entered where one crashed and the other finished 3rd. Since the lighter-weight Fuhrmann four-cam engine was serving Holbert so well, and in his mind caused his long wheelbase car to handle better, he never raced with the 8-cylinder engine. Nevertheless, the car is now fitted with the engine for which this chassis was designed although it can easily be converted back to the Holbert configuration. A flat-eight-powered coupe enjoyed its first big victory in the Targa Florio of 1963 and the 8-clyinder W-RS carried Edgar Barth to the European Hill Climb Championships in both 1963 and 1964. Too expensive and complex to be sold to customers the flat eight remained a factory prototype.
Debuting in 1958, the Porsche 718 was a racing vehicle that continued in production until 1962. Riding on the coattails of success from the Porsche 550, the 718 was very similar in concept with its lightweight body, mid-engined, perfectly designed and very simple to maintain. The Porsche 718 was also responsible for bringing Porsche's first win at Sebring, also at the 1960 12 Hours race and a variety of successes in the Targa Florio, and countless national hillclimb, along with endurance and sports car championships throughout the world.

The Type 718 utilized many of the same mechanics that had been successful with the 550, even before the Type 547 engine had with its 1.5 liter displacement with over-head camshafts. This engine is considered to be the signature, first truly developed engine FOR Porsche, for use strictly in their automobiles. The 718 featured a small capacity that allowed it to enter into the ‘small sports car' class, as is defined by the FIA, the European motorsports governing body.

As before, Erwin Komenda was commission to design the Porsche 718. The end result, a streamlined and compact shape that was prime to elicit the fame and reputation the vehicle received throughout its lifetime. The exterior of the 718 was all aluminum placed on top of a tubular space-frame chassis which held the engine. Featuring a brand new five-speed manual gearbox, the drive went to the rear wheels.

It wasn't until 1960 when the Porsche 718 received modifications that included enlarging the engine to 1600 cc, and this was the birth of the 718 RS60. Updates to the Porsche 718 included a larger windshield, a regulation trunk in the tail, a ‘functional' top, and a four-cam engine that now produced 160 hp.

The RS60 wowed fans and was extremely successful and the factory entry driven by Olivier Gendebien and Hans Herrman, who won outright at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1960. Their team-mated finished second. Meanwhile the RS60 won the 44th running of the Sicilian epic, the Targa Florio under the direction of Jo Bonnier and Hans Herrman.

In 1961, the RS61 was once again updated, and annual updates continued continuously until the end of the vehicles production span.

Though initially the Porsche 718 was intended to be mainly a road-legal sportscar with its two seats and steering wheel placed on the left, Porsche also created a single seat version of the 718; the 718/2 by moving the steering wheel to the center of the cockpit, and eventually into a real open-wheeler Formula 2 car. The first single seater 718 was entered into a Formula 2 championship following a special order by Grand Prix driver Jean Behra. Based on the 718RSK, the 718/2 utilized its engine along with a variety of its mechanical components. Behra still considered the vehicle to be too slow, and created another. Despite all of this, he still went on to win the 1958 Formula 2 race at Reims, in France.

This vehicle kept the 718's engine, but joined it to a brand-new tubular spaceframe chassis. The majority of the work on this vehicle was done by ex-Maserati engineer, Valerio Colotti, in Modena. The vehicle was raced for the first time at the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, against the much faster Formula 1 cars. Horribly though, this vehicle was involved in a collision with another competitor, and was forced to retire. Hans Herrman, grabbed the wheel at Reims and happened to finish a close second to Stirling Moss in the Cooper. Behra took the wheel of his Porsche at the next race that occurred at Germany's Avus track, but unfortunately the day before the race, he was killed tragically driving a 718 in a Sportscar race, and the vehicle didn't turn another wheel. Eventually, American driver Vic Meinhardt purchased the car and raced it at amateur level in the USA.

In 1961 the Formula One's rules changed and Porsche realized that it could finally enter the earlier single seater into the championship. With mixed results, Porsche entered the car in several Grand Prix races of the 1961 Formula One season. At the 1961 Dutch Grand Prix, four Porsches competed and finished despite complications, making this race the only GP in decades in which all of the starters finished. The results were varied and 718/2 was replaced by the 804 for Porsche's F1 efforts. Fortunately the demand for the race prepared RSK718 was so intense, that Porsche decided to sell a version for road use and was dubbed the RS60 and RS61.

Unfortunately the Porsche 718 was considered by many to be too large, too heavy and down on power when compared side by side with newer designs of the competition that appeared in late 1961. This was a season that was dominated by Ferrari's V6 156 Dino. Until 1964, privateers such as Carel Godin de Beaufort entered the 718 in F1.

By Jessica Donaldson

1959/60 Porsche 718 RS 60 Spyder

Automobile sport was part of the picture for the fledgling Porsche sports car firm from the first. The 356 quickly became popular around the world, in the hands of private drivers wîth sporting ambitions. New racesports cars were developed in Zuffenhausen at the beginning of the fifties: the1.5 liter 550 Spyder proved a shark in the goldfish bowl against larger-displacement competitors in major races. This Spyder used the first engine developed by Porsche for Porsche: the Type 547 wîth 1.5 liter displacement and four, shaft-driven, overhead camshafts.

Porsche had made the change from a floor pan to tubular space frame for racesport construction, established the five-speed gearbox, continued to increase performance and fitted larger drum brakes. These improvements, along wîth countless other modifications, kept the Spyder at the head of the ' small sports car class ' (up to 1500 cc) throughout the fifties.

But 1960 brought new regulations for racesports cars, leading to the Spyder RS 60 wîth displacement increased to 1600 cc, larger windshield, a 'functional' top and a regulation trunk in the tail, behind a four-cam engine which now produced 160 HP. This RS 60 brought Porsche its finest results up to that time, particularly in long-distance events. While an overall victory in the 44th Targa Florio in 1960 by Bonnier/Herrmann, wîth a lead of more than 6 minutes over a 3 liter Ferrari, was within the range of previous achievements - sports cars from Zuffenhausen had already captured overall Targa Florio victories in l956 and 1959 - a new Porsche chapter opened wîth the first appearance of the RS 60 at the 12 hours of Sebring in the ÚSA. Olivier Gendebien and Hans Herrmann won outright while Holbert/Scheckter/Fowler drove a second factory RS 60 into second, ahead of Nethercutt/Lovely in a 3 liter Ferrari Dino. Swiss driver Heini Walter, at the wheel of an RS 60, secured Porsche's third and fourth European Hillclimb Championships in 1960 and 1961, following those from 1958 by Count Berghe von Trips and 1959 by Edgar Barth.

Source - Porsche
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