Losing weight was the motto of the day in 1951. With the 356, which was given the add-on "SL (super light)", Porsche laid the foundation for its tradition in lightweight construction. At just 640 kg, the aluminum body of the 356 was a real flyweight.
A man called Axel Linther was at the start in 1956 together with Richard von Frankenberg in a 550 A coupe – the racer was no-one less than Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maximilian Graf Berghe von Trips who was supposed to become a racing legend later under his real name. During his first years, however, he wanted to make sure that his parents didn’t worry too much.
If you love your bike, you don’t mind pushing, right? A 550 A Spyder is certainly worth being pushed, too. Across the finish line, for instance. That’s exactly what happened in 1957 when Claude Storez was out of fuel after 23 hours and, without hesitation, pushed his vehicle past the finishing flag. His strength of will earned him rank 7. But not for long. He was subsequently disqualified.
Anything Storez can do, Edgar Barth can do better. Thanks to pushing that is legal this time, Herbert Linge and Edgar Barth win the 2-liter class in 1963 in a 718 W-RS Spyder. Only 200 meters away from the pitstop, Barth had a damaged tire and had to get out. He was forced to push his 718 W-RS Spyder over to his team. Alone. Only in the pit were the mechanics allowed to help him.
In 1964, a Porsche with the renowned type number 9 rolled to the starting line for the very first time. That was the 904 Carrera GTS, which started off its Le Mans career with a fourfold victory in the class of vehicles with a displacement of up to two liters.
Revolution in lightweight design: In1964, Porsche tests and implements a metal-plastics compound construction, which is glued to the steel body frame of the 904 Carrera GTS, creating a very torsion-resistant unit. The car instantly wins in the class of GT vehicles with a displacement of uptotwoliters. Courage pays off.
The second part of the series is coming up next monday.
First published in "rampclassics", issue 4
Photos: Studio Orel