Legendary Race Cars, Rare Production Cars, and a Lego 911
Nowhere else will you see a better collection of Porsche race cars and rare production cars than the Rennsport Reunion. This year’s gathering, the fifth since 2001, brought together some of the Stuttgart-based brand’s most iconic creations. Here are 15 of our favorites.
1969 Porsche 917K
One of many 917s present at the event, this is one of the original 25 built to satisfy the FIA’s 1969 homologation rules. This car was also one of the first to wear the famous Gulf livery and also the first 917 to complete a full race. Like all early 917 race cars, this example is built around a lightweight space frame chassis and powered by a naturally aspirated flat-12 engine. These cars were capable of reaching more than 220 mph (354 km/h) on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans, and today it looks fast just parked under a tent.
1968 Porsche 908 Long Tail
The 908 was the predecessor to the 917, but it continued to race alongside the newer car throughout the 1970s. To reduce weight and make them more suitable for slower, windier tracks, all Porsche factory 908s were converted to Spyders. This car has been restored back to its original coupe form, complete with high-speed “long tail” bodywork. According to Porsche, this is the highest-quality restoration of a 908 out there. Just 12 factory Werks cars were built, and only four have been returned to coupes.
1973 Porsche 917/30
The Porsche 917/30 represents the pinnacle of performance in Can-Am racing. Nicknamed the “Turbopanzer,” this evolution of the Le Mans-winning 917 broke records for speed and power. That power came from a turbocharged, 5.0-liter flat-12 that could make in excess of 1,500 hp. Mark Donohue drove the 917/30 to a dominating championship win in the 1973 season. The car was so quick that Can-Am had to alter the engine rules for the 1974 season. In the years following, the series would never be the same.
1964 Porsche 904 GTS
This car boasts a racing pedigree and impressive performance for its day, but the 904 GTS is also notable for its beautiful design. Its long nose and sleek roofline give it more curb appeal than you might expect from a car designed for racing. The 904 was the first Porsche to use a fiberglass body, which contributed to a curb weight as low as 1,410 pounds (640 kg) in racing trim. An air-cooled 2.0-liter flat-four with two sparkplugs per cylinder made 180 hp.
1981 Porsche 924 GTS
Some purists might not recognize a car that has its engine in the front as a real Porsche, but the rare 924 GTS deserves respect regardless. A turbocharged, 2.0-liter I-4 made up to 275 hp in Clubsport spec. That combined with a curb weight of about 2,470 pounds (1,120 kg) helped the GTS accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just more than 5 seconds. This particular example is the first GTS built and the only one painted white. It spent its entire life testing at Porsche’s Weissach R & D center.
1984 Porsche 911 Rothmans SC RS
Porsche’s competition record extends beyond the track. In the 1960s through the 1980s, Porsche contested professional rally events in the World Rally Championship. This Rothmans-Porsche 911 SC RS is one of six factory rally cars and won back-to-back FIA Middle East championships in 1984 and 1985. The 911 SC RS was powered by a 250-hp, 3.0-liter flat-six engine. But it’s the lifted suspension, Rothmans livery, and hood-mounted rally lights that make this 911 so distinctive.
1998 Porsche 911 GT1
The mid-’90s through the early 2000s was an interesting time for sports car racing. A loophole in the regulations effectively made GT1 the top class at Le Mans. Before 1998, the Porsche 911 GT1 sort of resembled a 911. But further exploitation of the loophole led to a more prototypelike body and even greater performance. The 911 GT1 did battle with the Toyota GT-One, Mercedes CLK-LM, and BMW V12 LM at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans and took home the win thanks to its greater reliability.
2007 Porsche Penske Racing RS Spyder
If you like the Porsche 918 Spyder, you have the RS Spyder LMP2 racer to thank. The 918 Spyder’s delicious-sounding V-8 is derived from the engine used in the RS Spyder. In addition to giving birth to Porsche’s current halo car, the RS Spyder boasts an exceptional competition history. The car won three LMP2-class constructors championships in ALMS and won the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring outright, ahead of more powerful LMP1 cars like the Audi R10.
There were so many fine 962s at Rennsport Reunion V that it’s difficult to pick just one. The 962 was Porsche’s prototype race car from the mid-’80s through the early ’90s. It was derived from the earlier but similar-looking 956 and developed for competition in the IMSA GTP and FIA Group C racing categories. The 962 dominated sports car racing for years, claiming two Le Mans victories, two World Sportscar Championships, and four IMSA GT Championships.
Lego Porsche 911 RSR
This 991-generation 911 RSR employs some radical ideas regarding race car construction. Half of its body is made from Lego bricks, down to the windshield and rear wing. The half that’s made up of plastic interlocking bricks uses roughly 380,000 pieces and took four people 633 hours to build. Most productive use of time ever? We think so.
If you were a child of the 1980s, you had either this, a Ferrari F40, or a Lamborghini Countach hanging on your wall. The 959 was among the first genuine supercars, boasting a twin-turbo flat-six and a complex all-wheel-drive system. The 959 also competed in Group B rally races, winning its class in the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally. The modern all-wheel-drive 911 owes its road-gripping capabilities to the 959, as the first production all-wheel-drive 911 featured a system derived from the one in the Porsche supercar.
1951 Porsche 356 SL Gmnd Coupe
In Porsche’s early racing career, the automaker didn’t have a dedicated race car. Instead, it modified its 356, which shared many parts with the Volkswagen Beetle, for racing duty. Despite having just 48 hp from a 1.1-liter flat-four, this 356 SL coupe won its class at the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans, beating larger-displacement cars and finishing 20th overall. It helped pave the way for more racing-focused machines like the 550 Spyder and RSK.
1953 Porsche 550 Coupe
By the early ’50s, Porsche began developing purpose-built race cars. This was the very first fruit bore from those efforts—the first-ever 550. Chassis 001 was originally a roadster when it won its first race at the Nrburgring but was converted to a coupe for Le Mans. There, it finished second in class behind another 550. Thanks to its alloy body, the 550 weighed just 1,200 pounds (544 kg).
1979 Porsche 935 K3
With its ultra-wide fender flares and huge rear wing, the 935 just barely resembles the 911 it’s based on. Still, under all that bodywork is a production 911. That fact makes this Kremer Racing 935 K3 even more special, as it won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans—beating out purpose-built prototypes of the day. Porsche 935s swept the podium that year, and it would be another 16 years before a production-based car won overall at Le Mans again.
2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid
Porsche changed the dates for Rennsport Reunion V specifically so that it could bring out the 2015 Le Mans winner, the 919 Hybrid. The LMP1-class car ended Audi’s reign at Le Mans, finishing 1-2 this year. As its name implies, the 919 is a hybrid that uses an energy recuperation system to drive an electric motor on the front axle, giving it temporary all-wheel drive. At the rear is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter V-4 gas engine, and although that may sound like a small engine for the big leagues, it sounds anything but little in person.