Porsches in extremis - the 935 specials

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As is often the case in Porsche lore, the 935 spawned numerous iterations, some ushered in by the factory, the bulk of them by privateer teams after Weissach lost interest. Of the former, perhaps the most bizarre was the one-off ‘Baby’ built by Porsche simply because it could. In 1977 the 935 steamroller ensured a clean sweep in the World Championship of Makes, the same being true of the German National Championship. A lack of credible rivals tarnished Porsche’s success to some degree with the only real inter-marque competition being in the up-to-2-litre class. On learning that a round at the Norisring in early June of that year was to be televised, but only for the lower category, Porsche boss Dr Ernst Fuhrmann requested a 935 with a much smaller bore and stroke be built. In just eight weeks. With 370bhp 1.42-litre turbo power, it made the grid but didn’t win. Intolerable cockpit heat caused Jacky Ickx to retire the car before he collapsed. At the following round at Hockenheim, Baby won by more than half a lap and never raced again. Job done.

Rather more extreme was the fabulous 935/78. better known as Moby Dick due to its whale-like proportions. With a lowered roof line (by 75mm), spaceframing of the chassis/roll cage and aero tweaks, this remarkable device was supposedly capable of 227mph. Even so, it would only race four times. First time out at the Silverstone 6 Hours in May ’78, lckx and Jochen Mass won by seven laps, but the car retired at Vallelunga and the Norisring, and could manage only eighth overall at Le Mans after numerous problems. That wasn’t altogether the end of the project, as blueprints were given to Joest and Kremer from which to build replicas. The former built two cars, one being driven by John Fitzpatrick and David Hobbs to fourth overall and IMSA GTX class honours at Le Mans in ’82 with a 2.6-litre engine, the other raced in Germany by Mass and subsequently sold to Gianpiero Moretti for use in IMSA events.

And it was IMSA that led to some of the most radical variations, many of which had never been anywhere near Germany. Tube-framed variations from Andial and Bob Akin’s monocoque pushed the envelope, but of the many 935-based ‘specials’ the most bizarre were those run by the infamous John Paul and superfast son Paul Jr, who notched up the ’82 Camel GT title and Camel GT Endurance Championship (with a few races in a Lola T600). Most extreme was the ground-effect JLP-4 designed by Lee Dykstra and built by Fabcar, the only body parts borrowed from the donor Porsche being the windscreen pillars, door frames and part of the roof. It won first time out at Brainerd in August ’82 and followed with another win in Portland a month later, only to be crashed during its fourth race. After two post-rebuild runs, it became a museum exhibit.

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