1961 Porsche 718 RS 61 Sports Racing SpyderSOLD

One of only Fourteen Built, the ex-Herrmann Müller European Hill Climb Championship Car

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ESTIMATE: $700,000 - $900,000

$880,000 Sold

One of only Fourteen Built, the ex-Herrmann Müller European Hill Climb Championship Car

178 bhp at 8,000 rpm four overhead camshaft 1600 cc “ Boxer ” four-cylinder engine with two Weber downdraught carburetors, five-speed Porsche gearbox with synchromesh on ratios 2-5, triangulated tubular steel “ spaceframe ” chassis, four-wheel independent suspension with torsion bar, coil springs and tubular shock absorbers, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 86.6"

THE RENNSPORT YEARS AND THE EARLY PORSCHE SPYDERS

Porsche ’ s giant killer Spyder Series of four cylinder, four cam sports racing cars ruled small bore International Racing for a full decade beginning in the early 1950s. Since a powerful multi-cylinder engine was not available, Porsche ’ s racing car designers concentrated on “ free horsepower ” in the form of lightweight chassis and running gear fitted with streamlined alloy bodies, which in turn provided excellent acceleration, handling, braking, fuel efficiency and tire wear.

As early as 1953, the small but highly efficient air cooled Sports 550s scored class wins at Monaco, in the Mille Miglia, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the Nürburgring 1000. Class wins became commonplace in all of the important international road races, hillclimbs and rallies during the next two years, but Porsche surprised the world of motor racing at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans when their silver 550s finished 4th, 5th and 6th overall behind two D-Type Jaguars and an Aston Martin DB3 S.

Umberto Maglioli ’ s magnificent 1st overall in the punishing Targa Florio Road race of 1956 in his little 1500 cc 550 Spyder was, at the time, rightly hailed as “ Porsche ’ s greatest victory ” , especially in view of the fact that in order to accomplish this, he had to defeat Castellotti ’ s 3.5 liter Ferrari Monza and Taruffi ’ s 300 S Maserati. For a time in the late 1950 ’ s, the Porsche Factory ’ s reliable Spyders became the marque to beat in the long and really tough “ car breaker ” races like the Mille, Targa Florio, Le Mans and Sebring.

Proving that the 1956 Targa victory was not a fluke, Jurgen Barth and Wolfgang Seidel led a sweep of four Spyders to victory in the 1959 Targa Florio race. The 1960 Sebring 12 Hour Endurance Race fell to the Type 718 RS 60 Factory entry of Gendebien/Hermann and Bonnier partnered Herrmann to another Targa triumph in the same year.

EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION – THE 550, RSK AND RS SERIES

The 550 Spyder debuted in 1954 and with more than 100 built and sold in 1955 and 1956, it was to be Porsche ’ s most successful “ customer ” sports racing car to date. Sadly, one of those customers was actor and budding racer, James Dean who ended his career and life and that of his mechanic on September 30, 1955, crashing his brand new 550 Spyder into a station wagon at a California highway intersection.

By 1956 the early and somewhat flexible ladder-type chassis of the Factory cars gave way to the 550 A ’ s stiff and light tubular space frame designed to be stressed in tension and compression depending on the location of its members. Colin Chapman ’ s Lotus MK 6 and Mercedes ’ 300 SL Series had also recently pioneered this type of chassis, a concept which was to become de rigueur for racing cars until monocoque construction took over in the late 1960s. This sports racing car theme – a highly developed air-cooled four cam alloy engine, mid-rear mounted in a lightweight tubular chassis with four-wheel independent suspension (at first with torsion bars, later with coil springs), streamlined aluminum body paneling, five-speed in-house made gearboxes and huge alloy finned drum brakes, was to serve Porsche well through the 550 A, 1500 RS, the 1957 RSK and on to the RS 60 and RS 61 Series.

Again, evolution of a successful design brought Porsche much recognition in international sports car racing. To be sure, power rose from the early 550 ’ s 105 bhp to our RS 61 ’ s 174 bhp from 1600 cc ’ s; wind tunnel aero studies improved the car ’ s coefficient of drag and air penetration and disc brakes finally replaced the reliable RSK ’ s drum brakes on the RS 61. But squint a little and our RS 61 Spyder looks remarkably like the 1954 550 Spyder.

THE RS CHALLENGE

The RS 60 and RS 61 models, the ultimate development of the four cylinder boxer Spyder series, were quite different in many respects from their 550 and RSK predecessors – in no small way thanks to the new rules by the Federation International de l ’ Automobile. In late 1959, in their usual unpredictable fashion, the F.I.A. mandated major changes for their Appendix “ C ” Sports Car Regulations in order to bring racing car specifications closer in line to those of normal road cars. The new requirements included build number minimums, wider cockpits, higher and wider windshields, bigger doors, convertible tops with a specific rear window size and strangely, since few racing drivers took their suitcases for a drive at Le Mans, the space for an “ F.I.A. suitcase ” , measuring 26 ” x16 ” x8 ” !

Porsche ’ s legendary racing manager Baron Huschke von Hanstein was not amused, telling influential visiting journalist Jesse Alexander, “ Our customers spend 30,000 marks on an RSK and six months later, it does not comply with the regulations anymore – the F.I.A. needs to give us more time, warning us long ahead that they require a wider frame or a larger windscreen ” . Of all these new rules, the higher windscreen hit Porsche the hardest as its smaller engines could not afford to lose the extra power to push a huge screen through the air. Nevertheless, Porsche ’ s 1960 RS 60 Spyders eventually complied with the new rules.

The RS 60 and the following year ’ s RS 61 was a unique marketing concept for the company – for the first time, they offered a select group of private owners a racing car identical to the ones raced by the Factory. Still known as the Type 718, these cars had a tubular space frame similar to the 1959 RSK but with an extra four inches in the wheelbase and wider in the cockpit in order to comply with the 110 cm (43in) F.I.A. minimum. The RSK ’ s trailing arm front suspension was carried over but fitted with a hydraulic steering damper. The rear received a new double wishbone system with Koni shocks and coil springs. The eleven-inch drum brakes had cast magnesium backing plates and wheel diameter was reduced to fifteen inches and usually fitted with 5.50 front and 6.00 rear Dunlop “ L ” racing tires.

Space for the F.I.A. suitcase was found under the rear deck and delivered with each car was a rudimentary top, not much more substantial than an umbrella, as well as a curved safety glass windshield in an aluminum frame. The type 547/4 1587 cc engine had a 9.8:1 compression ratio and developed 178 bhp on the two Weber 46 IDM 1 carburetors.

Despite the new larger windscreens and the other disfigurements mandated by the F.I.A. ’ s “ Road Car ” rules, Porsche Spyders continued their giant killer ways in international endurance racing. Gendebien and Herrmann won the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring and Bonnier and Herrmann achieved the same amazing result at the Targa Florio. Class wins in the 1960-1961 season are too numerous to mention but include Sebring, Riverside, Targa Florio, Nürburgring, Rouen, Le Mans, Spa, Watkins Glen, Hockenheim, the International Hillclimb Championship as well as the SCCA “ E ” and “ F ” Sports Racing Championships in North America.

THE HISTORY OF PORSCHE RS 61 # 718-076

Only 14 RS 61s were produced and they all have quite interesting histories – that is certainly the case with splendid example that RM Auctions is privileged to offer here.

A Factory letter dated April 15, 1987 from Jürgen Barth confirms that # 718-076 was built in February 1961 and delivered to Herrmann Müller of Sweizimmern, Austria. Müller was a hillclimb expert and won the 1963 European Hillclimb Championship in this RS 61 Spyder. Attached to the Barth letter is a nine-page dossier listing “ the car ’ s successful entries in the Hillclimb World Championship ” .
Results are listed for many 1961-1963 hillclimbs including:
• Mitholz-Kaudersteg, Switzerland
• Faucille, Switzerland
• Parma-Monte Cassino, Italy
• Mont Ventoux, France
• Trento-Bondone, Italy
• Freiburg-Schauinstand, Germany
• Ollon-Villars, Switzerland
• Timmeljoch-Bergrennen, Austria

Various major circuit races often dovetailed with the hillclimb schedule including a fine fifth place in the May 28, 1961 1000 Kilometers of Nürburgring in which Herrmann co-drove with Heini Walter.

By 1964 the RS 61 was no longer competitive in Europe so Herrmann Müller sold it to South African driver Dr. Dawie Gous who won the 1964 S/A Sports Car Championship with RS 61 #718-076, now with the engine bored out to 1800 cc. Amazingly, the old Spyder remained competitive as Clive van Buuren and Steve Mallet finished 3rd overall in the 9 Hours of Kyalami in 1966 and 6th in 1967 as well as winning outright twice in the Pietermaritzburg Six Hour Race.

Still racing in 1972, now in Historics, Stan Wesselink, a Transvaal Quantity Surveyor won the Kyalami Vintage event and also a Sports Car Club of South Africa Hillclimb in Krugersdorp. Sometime during its South African career our RS 61 was painted in that country ’ s national racing color of black as well as receiving the typical late ‘ 60s/early ‘ 70s aero tweaks of a chin spoiler, a “ kamm-tail ” and small spoiler to the rear.

By the early 1980s, # 718-076 was in North America and raced in the 1982 Porsche feature marque races at the Monterey Historics and again in 1983. Owners in this period include Florida Porsche aficionado and vintage racer Jeffrey Keiner of Spyder Motor Works. At this time the updated bodywork, although quite attractive, was returned to the original Herrmann Müller Factory configuration but re-sprayed again in black. Now in the famous Brumos Porsche Collection of Jacksonville, Florida, the car was properly maintained by the Brumos Racing Team mechanics and sparingly demonstrated in major events such as the 1998 Monterey Historics (another Porsche featured marque year) and as recently as the July 2001 Lime Rock Park Rennsport Reunion presented by Porsche Cars North America and Brian Redman Intercontinental Events.

In 2005, after over a decade in the Brumos Collection, # 718-076 was sold to the current owner who had the body stripped to bare aluminum and repainted in the original German racing silver and shipped it to Bill Doyle ’ s Rennwagon Motor Company in Wyoming for a complete mechanical check-over. Subsequent rectifications by Doyle include a new clutch assembly and a complete service of the ATE disc brakes. An engine leakdown was also performed and the powerplant was found to have excellent compression. In a recent interview, Bill Doyle stated, “ This is a great old Spyder, looks to be in very correct condition – not Pebble Beach over-restored but it would certainly make a great event car for vintage races and long distance rallies ” .

Porsche RS series cars are seldom offered for sale; in fact, RM Auctions has never featured a RS 61 at auction since its inception a decade ago, providing here a great opportunity to acquire an excellent, fully documented example of one of these rare Porsche Spyders.

Addendum

Please note that this car is offered on a Bill of Sale.

Reference Number 5814

as of 1/10/2007

Overview
Car 1961 Porsche 718 RS 61 Sports Racing Spyder
VIN 718-076  
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