1981 Porsche 935/78 group IV "Moby Dick"SOLD

RM Auction - Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island - March 10, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $400,000 - $500,000

$440,000 Sold

700bhp, twin turbocharged 3.2 liter flat six-cylinder, four-speed and reverse manual in unit with engine, four-wheel independent suspension with Macpherson strut with lower wishbones at the front and trailing arms with torsion bars in rear and four-wheel competition brakes.

In 1976, new FIA regulations for the World Manufacturers Championship saw the introduction of a “Silhouette” formula, which benefited Porsche enormously as their new Porsche 930 Turbo was used as a base upon which to build their formidable flame-breathing, slope-nosed, all-conquering 935. So successful were the “ordinary” bodyshell equipped factory and customer racing teams in 1976 and 1977 that the factory designed and built three “ultimate” 935s in 1978. They would come to be known within the factory-racing department simply as the “Moby Dick” cars for their similarity to that great white whale.

Norbert Singer, the factory’s racing director, had read the FIA’s rules very carefully and the resulting “Silhouette” 935/78 drove a coach and horses through the intentions of the sanctioning body’s rulebook in order to make the fastest 935 ever. For Moby Dick, Singer used an aluminum tube frame chassis for lightness and then used the big brakes of the 1978 production 935s. The engine was the “standard” 935 flat-six of three liters, twin turbocharged and intercooled to deliver around 700 horsepower, all driving through an “upside down” gearbox (to aid gear ratio changes and allow the titanium drive shafts to run more nearly parallel to the ground).

As Moby Dick was primarily designed to win the Le Mans 24 Hours race, it had incredibly elongated nose and tail bodywork fitted. When the FIA inspectors saw Moby Dick, they were stunned that Singer could have been so inventive and ingenious with their rules. They did force him to remove the outer covers to the doors that made the whole side of the car one complete line, but that was as far as their protests went. Moby Dick went to the Silverstone 6 Hours in May 1978 as a warm up for Le Mans and simply blew away the opposition, finishing seven laps ahead of the second placed “customer” 935. At Le Mans, it all went wrong, the car suffering from an oil leak which forced Singer and his team to instruct the drivers, Manfred Schurti and Rolf Stommelen, to slow down, which they did, and finished in 8th place.

In practice, Moby Dick had recorded 222mph down the Mulsanne straight! Back at the factory, an engine strip down showed the oil leak to have been minor and that the 935/78 could have been driven flat out to win. Despite this, Moby made no further appearances, being relegated to the Porsche museum.

That was until Reinhold Joest, who headed one of Porsche’s best customer race teams, asked Porsche to lend him the drawings so he could manufacture two 935/78s in his shop, with the goal of contesting the German National Championship. This, the first Joest-built “Moby Dick” race car of the two made, (the other was bought by the John Fitzpatrick team), was raced by Jochen Mass for the Joest Racing Team in 1981, placing, successively, 3rd, 2nd and then 1st in its first three races, before being leased and then sold to Joest’s customer, Dr. Gianpiero Moretti.

Moretti raced the car in IMSA events in 1981, placing second at Mid-Ohio and Portland and then, with Mauro Baldi, he undertook some World and German National Championship races in 1982 with good results. In 1983, Moretti raced the car again in U.S. IMSA races and then retired it, having taken delivery of a March 82G. During these races, Moby was co-driven by Bob Wollek, Al Holbert, Sarel van der Merwe and Bobby Rahal, amongst others. Gianpiero Moretti kept Moby for several years and she was then sold in 1993 to well known Swiss Porsche racer and restorer Angelo Pallavicini (via Rick Cole), who kept her for several years before selling her, still unrestored, to America.

Once stateside, Moby was the subject of a comprehensive restoration back to the specification in which she first appeared when racing for Joest in the DRM, Deutsche Rennmeisterschaft, (German National Championship). There can be few Porsche 935s as fast as this 3.2 liter twin turbocharged 935.

The former enthusiast owner of Moby Dick had the specialists of Hudson Historics regularly maintain and keep the Porsche in race ready condition. It has benefited from a cosmetic restoration as well as received an extensive mechanical service, all of which are documented with a full dossier of receipts. Extremely light, with great power from its twin-turbocharged engine, and with bodywork allowing extraordinary top speeds, Moby is an awesome example of a true thoroughbred, with a great provenance in both Europe and America to boot. Indeed, it is eligible as a vintage racer in both the HSR series on the East coast and at Monterey in the new Group 4 category.

Reference Number 6335

as of 1/21/2007

Car 1981 Porsche 935/78 group IV "Moby Dick"
VIN 93581.J.R.001 
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