1994 Kremer K8 SpyderSOLD

Ex Derek Bell, 6th '94 Le Mans

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The car is in excellent running order - last serviced by Le Mans expert Dave Lampit and used by Robin Donovan and his bride to drive along the streets of St Albans following the Le Mans driver's April 2005 nuptials.

The car is sold complete with its original ADAC homologation visa and a 'substantial' spares package, including full spare bodywork, gearbox, numerous sets of wheels (including the original white enamel Le Mans race set) and large quantities of brakes and other useful engine, gearbox and other running spares. The entire history of the project is available via Project 100's archives, including numerous period photos, press clippings and correspondence, signed race programmes, RAC Competition License in the name of 'Gulf Oil Racing' and even Gulf's corporate paint guide. Amongst the many books documenting K8 Chassis no. 1, an entire chapter in Michael Cotton's 2005 'Blue and Orange - The History of Gulf in Motorsport' features the 1994 Le Mans project and tells the entire story from Gulf's perspective.

Reference Number 5390

as of 12/12/2006

Overview
Car 1994 Kremer K8 Spyder
VIN K8 01JSP 
Exterior / Interior Color      Blue 
Configuration Right Hand Drive (RHD) 
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Known History

When Derek Bell stepped out of Le Mans garage no. 4 on Sunday afternoon to wave to the crowd after his final stint in the Gulf Kremer Porsche Spyder K8, the atmosphere was electric - and the roar enormous. One legend had announced his retirement - another was back.

 

Harkening to the glory days of the John Wyer-run Gulf Porsche 917's and Steve McQueen's iconic 'Le Mans' film, K8 Chassis no. 1 was both a race and a PR success for Gulf - and marked the beginning of the new 'open-top' era in international Sportscar racing. The 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours saw the re-emergence of open-top sports prototypes after a dormant period of over a decade. The car that led the way (literally) was Project 100's 'Gulf Racing' Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder chassis no. 1, launched at Le Mans in the historic colours of Gulf Oil.

 

With open cars being encouraged by the new rules, Erwin and Manfred Kremer were ready to act. Indeed, after great success in the wide open 'Interseries' Sportscar championship with their dramatic Kremer K7 spyder (a Porsche 962-based, 900 bhp 'offset single-seater' with full tunnel underbody), the Kremer brothers and their Cologne based team moved quickly during the winter of 1993-94 to create the Porsche 962-based spyder that was the K8, complete with Le Mans-required full-width open cockpit, flat floor and swallowtail rear bodywork. UK based Project 100 Motorsport had a strong working relationship with Kremer at the time, having run Le Mans prototypes through the German team in both 1992 (Donovan, Coppelli, Rickett) and 1993 (Donovan, Coppelli, Fossett).

 

 

It was in December 1993, when Project 100 Managing Director Stuart Radnofsky and Robin Donovan approached Gulf Oil UK's marketing team with the compelling proposition: "Why not help us run a Gulf Porsche spyder at Le Mans 1994 - and Derek Bell will drive!" The timing was excellent - Gulf Oil was in the middle of a re-launch in the UK and the combined strength of their own history and over 60,000 Brits flocking to Le Mans made the promotional opportunity compelling. The entire deal came together in a matter of weeks and with further backing from Autosport and Classic & Sportscar magazines, the car and team were unveiled as 'The Return of a Legend' amidst smoke and dry ice at London's Dorchester Hotel on 20th April 1994.

 

K8 chassis no. 1 was constructed on a Thompson-built 962 aluminium honeycomb and carbon-fibre monocoque (as was sister car Chassis no 2, the two final K8's both being based on full carbon tubs) with bodywork designed by Erwin Kremer and longtime collaborators Sepp and Roy Korytko who fabricated all the panels in Kevlar-reinforced carbon-fibre. The engine was, of course, Porsche's water-cooled 935-series 4 cam boxer 6 with twin KKK turbochargers, all mated to a sturdy Porsche 5-speed (with synchromesh) gearbox. All-up weight was a svelte 950kg. With the Kremer brothers and their team exclusively contracted to run the Honda NSX GT programme, an ad hoc, but highly professional, team was assembled by entrant Project 100 Motorsport (licensed for the event as 'Gulf Oil Racing'), with ex-Vern Schuppen collaborator and sometime historic rally driver Graham Lorimer in charge, and featured well-known endurance personalities like Markus Hotz, Rudi Walch and Jo Fischer amongst the crew - top team managers to a man turning wrenches for a one-off. First runs at Le Mans in open testing in May 1994 exposed a problem with the flat underbody. An urgent consultation with Porsche's Norbert Singer solved the issue: the floor needed to be much thicker, with additional attachment points. A rapid correction back in Cologne and a successful 2 day test at Most (Cz) at the end of May left the car fast - and the team cautiously optimistic for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

 

Two weeks later at Le Mans, 5-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell (GB) turned back the clock in final qualifying and put the virtually brand-new car firmly on the front row. A twist to the boost knob across the start line and the dark blue spyder led the field past the press and TV cameras into the first turn - and onto the front pages of innumerable newspapers and magazines across the world. The Legend was back.

 

This was the 52-year old Bell's 24th (and supposed final) start in the 24 Hours race. Derek, along with experienced co-drivers Robin Donovan (GB) and Juergen Laessig (D) never put a foot wrong. Various niggling new car maladies, including a stuck throttle and one total illumination failure, deprived the team of the chance for a podium; however, the strong run yielded a sturdy 6th overall to the crowd favourite - as the first private entry home to roars of delight from the grandstands. Post-Le Mans: The car was re-sold to Kremer by Project 100 shortly after Le Mans. Later in 1994 Chassis no. 1 passed into the hands of Franz Konrad who ran it in short-tail form at Daytona in 1995 (Konrad, Euser, Hermann, Needell) as Kremer themselves won the Rolex 24 Hours that year with K 8 Chassis no.2 (Laessig, Bouchut, Werner, Lavaggi). Konrad campaigned the car over the next several seasons before selling Chassis no. 1 on to Dutch GT racer Bert Ploeg who ran it in the Sports Racing World Cup (predecessor to the FIA Sportscar Championship) through 1999.

 

The car was then purchased privately by Project 100's Chairman who had it faithfully returned to its 1994 specification and colour scheme by specialists Lansbury- Haywood. The work included the removal of the aerodynamic fairing on the rollover bar and the rebuilding of the original long tail body work at the Korytko workshop - using the original moulds and the very tail piece sawn off before delivery to Franz Konrad as a short-tail in 1995.