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Lot 48

2016   |   Amelia Island Auctions 2016

1959 Porsche 718 RSK

SOLD $2,860,000

Estimate

$3,800,000 - $4,200,000

Chassis

718-019

Engine

90322

Car Highlights

One of Only 34 Type 718 RSK Spyders Built
Extensive Decade-Long North American Racing History
Driven in Period by Motorsport Legends Roger Penske and Lake Underwood
Restored by Noted Porsche Spyder Specialist Joe Cavaglieri
Eligible for Important Events from Le Mans Classic to the Colorado Grand

Technical Specs

1,587 CC Type 547/4 DOHC Flat 4-Cylinder Engine
Twin Weber 46 IDM Carburetors
Estimated 160 BHP at 7,600 RPM
5-Speed Manual Transaxle
4-Wheel Finned Alloy Drum Brakes
Independent Trailing Arm Front Suspension with Coil-Over Shock Absorbers
Independent Double Wishbone Rear Suspension with Coil-Over Shock Absorbers
Register to Bid

From the Jerry Seinfeld CollectionHarry Blanchard, Greenwich, Connecticut (acquired in 1959)Roger Penske, Pennsylvania (acquired in 1960)Lake Underwood, Maplewood, New Jersey (acquired circa 1963)Bob Jones, California (acquired circa 1967)John Beam, California (acquired from the above circa 1970)Rudy Klein, Gardena, California (acquired from the above circa 1971)Harry Haggard, Palos Verdes Estates, California (acquired from the above in 1974)Dirk Layer, Newport Beach, California (acquired from the above circa 1986)Thomas Trabue, Columbia, Missouri (acquired from the above in 1987)Otis Chandler, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 2000)Jerry Seinfeld (acquired from the above in 2001)

SCCA National VIR, May 1959, Blanchard, no. 49 (12th Overall, 3rd in Class)SCCA National Bridgehampton, May 1959, Blanchard, no. 149 (11th Overall, 4th in Class)USAC Lime Rock, June 1959, Blanchard, no. 61 (3rd Overall, 2nd in Class)SCCA Road America June Sprints, June 1959, Penske, no. 6 (4th Overall, 3rd in Class)SCCA National Lime Rock Park, July 1959, Penske, no. 6 (4th Overall, 2nd in Class)SCCA Regional Lime Rock Park, July 1959, Penske, no. 6 (1st Overall)SCCA Regional Marlboro, July 1959, Penske (1st Overall)Harewood Acres GP, July 1959, Penske/Blanchard, no. 61 (1st Overall)Giants’ Despair Hill Climb Main Race, August 1959, Penske, no. 6 (1st Overall)Giants’ Despair Hill Climb Open, August 1959, Penske, no. 6 (1st Overall)Wilkes-Barre Road Race, August 1959, Penske (1st Overall)Elkhart Lake Road America, August 1959, Penske/Cunningham, no. 6 (1st in Class)SCCA Road America 500 Miles, September 1959, Penske/Blanchard, no. 6 (3rd Overall, 1st in Class)Harewood Acres Autumn Cup Race, September 1959, Blanchard (1st Overall)Harewood Acres International Challenge, September 1959, Blanchard (1st Overall)Harewood Acres Sports/Stockcar, September 1959, Blanchard (1st Overall)SCCA GP Watkins Glen, September 1959, Blanchard, no. 6 (3rd Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA Regional Vineland, October 1959, Penske (1st Overall)SCCA Pensacola National, April 1960, Penske (2nd Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA National Marlboro, April 1960, Penske, no. 6 (1st Overall)SCCA VIR Danville Street Race, May 1960, Penske, no. 6 (7th Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA National Cumberland, May 1960, Penske, no. 6 (3rd Overall, 1st in Class)Harewood Acres Formula Libre, May 1960, Penske, no. 6 (1st Overall)SCCA Regional Vineland, June 1960, Penske (1st Overall)SCCA National Road America, June 1960, Penske, no. 6 (4th Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA National Lime Rock Park, July 1960, Penske, no. 6 (3rd Overall, 2nd in Class)SCCA Regional Marlboro, July 1960, Penske (1st Overall)SCCA National Meadowdale, July 1960, Penske, no. 6 (2nd Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA Regional Meadowdale GP, July 1960, Penske, no. 6 (2nd Overall, 1st in Class)USAC Road America 200 Mile GP, July 1960, Penske, no. 6 (DNF)SCCA Regional Meadowdale, August 1960, Penske, no. 6 (2nd Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA National Montgomery, August 1960, Penske, no. 6 (13th Overall, 4th in Class)SCCA National Louisville, August 1960, Penske, no. 6 (3rd Overall, 2nd in Class)SCCA National Thompson, September 1960, Penske, no. 6 (5th Overall, 1st in Class)SCCA Regional Vineland, June 1963, Underwood (1st Overall)USRRC Laguna Seca, May 1967, Jones, no. 7 (DNF)

Monterey Historic Races, Laguna Seca, August 1998Colorado Grand, September 2003Concours on the Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, August 2014

Following the enormous success of the Type 550 program, Porsche unveiled the latest evolution of its lightweight, four-cam Spyder during the 1957 racing season. Internally designated as Type 718, the RSK replaced the 550A, a car that dominated its class and furthered Porsche’s reputation as a manufacturer of innovative sports racing cars.

Visually, the RSK was more modern than its predecessor, with streamlined Wendler coachwork, faired-in headlamps, and lower aerodynamic drag. Beneath the alloy skin, the RSK benefited from thorough development and offered more power, efficient braking, and improved suspension.

The Ernst Fuhrmann-designed four-cam engine was an advanced version of the Type 547 unit that gained power and durability through adjustments to the roller bearing crankshaft, cam timing, and compression. Delivering its power through a magnesium-cased five-speed transaxle, the RSK was easily adapted to a variety of applications, from hill climbs to high-speed circuit races.

With a dry weight of just 1,168 lbs. and more than 140 hp, the new 718 Spyder made its debut at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans and underwent further development during the remainder of the year.

In 1958, the 718 RSK took the racing world by storm. The new Spyder continued to maintain a strong lead in the small-displacement category, winning its class and placing on the podium at Sebring, Le Mans, and the Targa Florio. Perhaps the most remarkable result for the RSK took place at the Targa Florio in 1959, where a works-entered car took the overall win, leading Porsche’s 1-2-3 finish at the legendary Italian event.

With the RSK, Porsche had a true giant-killer and an ideal foundation for future success. Although Porsche built just 34 examples of its original Type 718 RSK, this important model set the tone for decades of dominance at the height of international sports car racing.

The RSK presented here, chassis 718-019, is an excellent example of Porsche’s original Type 718 Spyder, possessing an exceptional North American racing record and a meticulous restoration executed by the acclaimed Joe Cavaglieri.

Constructed at Werk I, Porsche’s dedicated racing department, in March 1959, 718-019 was built to the specifications of a privateer RSK and equipped with the improved Type 547/3 engine. Originally supplied with engine no. 90211 and transaxle no. 718-012, the RSK was finished in silver and outfitted with polished alloy-rim wheels and Continental RS racing tires. According to Porsche factory records, 718-019 was slated to be sent to the US; based on the car’s early competition record, it may have been sold new to Harry Blanchard of Greenwich, Connecticut, who successfully raced a 550A Spyder during 1958.

As with many Porsche Spyders delivered to the US, establishing a definitive racing record for an individual chassis remains a challenge, and many inconsistencies appear in published literature on the model. Collective research has resulted in a relatively consistent record for 718-019, and much of the racing history specified here was sourced from Porsche Carrera, a book whose authors consulted with the Porsche Archives and many other respected sources.

In 1959 alone, it is believed that 718-019 took part in 18 races throughout the US and Canada, competing at important venues such as Bridgehampton, Marlboro, Watkins Glen, and Road America. During the 1959 season, Harry Blanchard and Roger Penske, a talented 22-year-old driver who captured his first race win that year at Lime Rock, were the primary drivers of the RSK.

In January 1960, Harry Blanchard was killed in an accident at Buenos Aires, while driving another Porsche Spyder, and ownership of 718-019 transferred to Roger Penske. The 1960 SCCA season proved to be a tremendous success for Penske as he won that year’s F-Modified Championship, thanks in large part to his victories behind the wheel of 718-019. In 1960 alone, Penske and his RSK captured class or overall wins in more than 10 race outings.

Sometime after the 1960 season, Roger Penske sold 718-019, and it ended up in the hands of fellow Lehigh University graduate Lake Underwood. A car dealer and active SCCA driver, Underwood is widely regarded as one of the most influential Porsche racers in the US, having campaigned a variety of models throughout the 1950s and 1960s. During his ownership of 718-019, Underwood captured an overall win at Vineland in the modified race. Following a several-year absence from racing, the RSK reappeared in California, where Bob Jones of Jones Racing Enterprises entered the Spyder throughout the late 1960s in races at Laguna Seca, Vacaville, Cotati, and Sears Point.

In 1970, John Beam, an amateur racer in the San Francisco Bay Area, purchased and then modified the RSK, installing fiberglass fender flares, wide wheels, a full-width roll bar, and an 1,800 cc pushrod engine in place of the more complicated four-cam unit. Refinished in green with bright orange trim, the 11-year-old Porsche Spyder was entered in an SCCA race at Riverside, where it was seen competing against 906s and 910s.

Later that year, 718-019 caught fire in Beam’s garage, damaging the aluminum bodywork and ending its decade-long racing career. From there, the RSK passed to Rudy Klein, who then sold it in 1974 to Harry Haggard of Palos Verdes Estates, California. Mr. Haggard, who also owned an RS60 and a 904, decided to restore the RSK as a road car, enlisting Dave Kent’s Creative Car Craft and Don Borth to repair the bodywork. By 1986, Haggard’s dream of making 718-019 street legal had petered out; the car was sold to California Porsche enthusiast Dirk Layer, who in turn sold the car to collector and vintage racer Tom Trabue of Columbia, Missouri.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Trabue decided to turn his attention to the RSK project and commissioned noted restorer and fabricator Joe Cavaglieri, whom he had previously hired to restore 550-04, the famed Fletcher Aviation 550 Spyder, which now resides in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

An article published in the December 1997 issue of Excellence magazine details the comprehensive restoration of 718-019 started by Mr. Cavaglieri in 1993. Though the restoration was a challenge, necessitating the fabrication of new aluminum bodywork and extensive frame repairs, the process was aided by the use of factory blueprints and access to a very original 718 Spyder. After several years, Mr. Cavaglieri’s efforts resulted in one of the finest and most accurate restorations ever carried out on an RSK. Once completed, Mr. Trabue campaigned 718-019 in historic events – including the Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca – and it remained a fixture in his stable for many years before being sold to famed Los Angeles collector Otis Chandler in 2000.

Since joining The Jerry Seinfeld Collection in 2001, 718-019 has enjoyed regular use during private track events and weekend excursions. In fall 2003, Mr. Seinfeld entered the RSK in the Colorado Grand, the grueling 1,000-mile high elevation blast through the Rocky Mountains. In 2014, the Spyder was loaned to Porsche Cars North America for a media event held at Laguna Seca, and later was exhibited at the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Most recently, 718-019 was featured in an episode of Mr. Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee featuring Kevin Hart. Showcasing its versatile character, the RSK can be seen navigating stop-and-go traffic on the streets of Los Angeles with two passengers on board – a remarkable feat for a purpose-built sports racing car.

As presented today, 718-019 is equipped with a 1.6-liter version of the Type 547/3 engine – referred to as the Type 547/4. According to Porsche Carrera, this engine, numbered 90322, was originally built for an RS61. The transaxle, also a proper Spyder component, is stamped 718-071.

Widely regarded by Porsche enthusiasts as the most attractive of all the four-cam Spyder variants, the RSK is a magnificent vision of the ideal small-displacement sports racing car. Its mid-engine layout, purposeful coachwork, and adaptable character made it an innovative automobile in its day, while its spectacular performance, ease of use, and reliability made it a popular choice with drivers, from the most celebrated professional racers to well-heeled amateurs. Raced with success against much larger sports cars from Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, and Maserati, Porsche’s RSK was certainly beloved by its drivers and feared by its rivals.

No. 718-019 presents as a stunning example of a period-correct four-cam Spyder and is well known and respected among knowledgeable marque specialists. Driven in period by the legendary Roger Penske, as well as leading Porsche drivers Harry Blanchard and Lake Underwood, this RSK went on to compile an enviable competition record, racing at major North American venues for over a decade. Its impressive racing pedigree, outstanding restoration by Joe Cavaglieri, and eligibility for leading historic events around the world make this a particularly attractive Porsche competition car.