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Coachwork by Wendler
*Please note this vehicle is sold on a Bill of Sale. Please also note that the engine currently installed in 718-044 is a Type 587/3 unit numbered P90505.
From a Prominent Private CollectionPorsche AG (retained for works team 1960 through 1961)Bernhard Vihl, Clifton, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 1961)Hans Ziries (acquired from the above circa 1962)Clarence Catallo, Dearborn, Michigan (acquired from the above circa 1965)Warren Eads, Rolling Hills Estates, California (acquired from the above in 1978)Terry Jones, Newport Beach, California (acquired from the above circa 1998)Philip Ma, Wanchai, Hong Kong, China (acquired from the above in 1998)Cal Turner III, Parker, Tennessee (acquired circa 2005)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
24 Hours of Le Mans, June 1960, Jo Bonnier/Graham Hill, No. 33 (DNF)12 Hours of Sebring, March 1961, Hans Herrmann/Edgar Barth/Jo Bonnier/Dan Gurney, No. 50 (DNF)Targa Florio, May 1961, Stirling Moss/Graham Hill, No. 136 (DNF)1000 Km of Nürburgring, May 1961, Edgar Barth/Hans Herrmann, No. 23 (DNF)Player’s 200 at Mosport, June 1961, Jo Bonnier, No. 23 (2nd Overall, 1st in Class)Governor’s Trophy, Nassau, Bahamas, December 1961, Bob Holbert, No. 14 (1st Overall)Porsche Classic, Nassau, Bahamas, December 1961, Bob Holbert, No. 14 (1st Overall)Nassau Trophy, Nassau, Bahamas, December 1961, Bob Holbert, No. 14 (7th Overall, 1st in Class)
Porsche Club of America Parade, Monterey California, 1990Monterey Historics, Laguna Seca, August 1998Le Mans Vintage Races at La Sarthe, June 200150th Porsche Parade Historic Exhibition, Hershey, Pennsylvania, August 2005Rennsport Reunion III, Daytona International Speedway, November 2007Goodwood Revival, September 2009
Officially unveiled in January 1960, the RS60 represented the final evolution of Porsche’s competition Spyder, a legendary series of sports cars that can be traced back to the original Type 550 of 1953.
The RS60 was a refined version of the highly successful RSK works cars built for the 1959 season. While the RS60 retained the Type 718 designation, the much-improved Spyder featured a tubular-steel space frame with a wider cockpit, unequal-length wishbone rear suspension, improved brakes, and smaller 15" wheels. While the front and rear track remained unchanged, the wheelbase was stretched 4", providing greater engine-bay clearance and additional legroom for both driver and passenger. The longer wheelbase, advanced suspension, and smaller diameter wheels also had a profound effect on handling, making the RS60 much more predictable than its predecessor. In keeping with the chassis improvements, the Wendler-built aluminum bodywork also received subtle revisions. The most obvious external change was an FIA-mandated framed windscreen and suitcase platform, along with other minor variations to the nose, doors, and head fairing.
Equipped with a range of potent Type 547 four-cam engines, the RS60 was a sophisticated and highly efficient sports car, ideally suited for technical circuits and open road races. With a dry weight of just 1,210 lbs., the latest Porsche Spyder offered exceptional road holding, braking, and acceleration. Few contemporary sports cars presented such a well-rounded package.
Whereas the 550 and RSK Spyders were perennial favorites in the Under-2,000 cc category, the RS60 was the first Porsche sports racer that posed a legitimate threat to the large-capacity sports cars, and it often competed for outright wins.
Porsche sold 14 of the 18 RS60s to private customers and retained four special cars for the factory works team. The works Spyders were numbered 718-041 through 718-044, easily distinguishing them from the customer cars, which began with chassis no. 718-051.
Not only did these cars have a different chassis number sequence, they were specially prepared for the Porsche factory racing team and bore many subtle differences when compared to customer cars. For example, all four works RS60s were constructed with separate left and right torsion bars in the front suspension (like the 718/2 Formula 2 car), integrated driving lights, a flat-black dashboard, and an exposed dash-mounted fusebox for quick access.
This car, 718-044, was the last of the four works RS60s constructed, and it made its competition debut at the most famous race of all, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the 1960 race, Porsche entered a team of four specially prepared cars, consisting of three works RS60s (718-042, 718-043, 718-044) and a Carrera Abarth GTL (1001), with the aim of defeating Scuderia Ferrari’s 250 Testa Rossas.
All three RS60s were powered by the Type 547 engine; however, two cars, 718-043 and 718-044, were equipped with larger 1,606 cc versions – a ploy by Porsche to move into the two-liter class – which allowed a larger 100-liter fuel tank. The most notable feature of the works RS60s, however, was their bodywork, which featured a high rear-deck lid and tall Plexiglas side windows faired into the new FIA-mandated windshield, giving the Spyders the appearance of a low, roofless coupe. This more aerodynamic configuration, combined with the larger-displacement engine, gave the works RS60s a significant advantage over the customer cars; and they were clocked as fast as 145 mph, whereas the fastest standard RS60 could barely reach 138 mph.
For the 24-hour epic, 718-044 served as Porsche’s lead car and was entrusted to Jo Bonnier and Graham Hill. Wearing race no. 33, the RS60 was delayed in the race’s opening laps. But by 6 am, the talented drivers managed to work their way back up to the lead in the two-liter class before a blown gasket caused the engine to fail. As in the 1959 race, the works Porsches were plagued by engine trouble, and both 718-043 and 718-044 failed to finish the race.
The next outing for 718-044 took place at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1961, where Porsche’s two works RS60s, 718-043 and 718-044, were joined by six customer cars. For this race, Porsche installed an even larger 1,678 cc engine in 718-044 and entrusted it to Hans Herrmann and Edgar Barth. When the other works RS60, driven by Bonnier and Dan Gurney, retired around the seventh hour, team manager Fritz “Huschke” von Hanstein called in 718-044 and put the faster duo in the car. Unfortunately, Bonnier and Gurney were a bit too fast, and the RS60 retired an hour and a half later with a broken camshaft.
The most memorable race for 718-044 took place at the legendary Targa Florio on April 30, 1961. For this race, the Porsche team fielded three Spyders, all equipped with different engines: 718-043 ran a 1,700 cc engine; 718-044 was equipped with a two-liter Type 587 unit; and 718-047, a works RS61, ran a two-liter, eight-cylinder engine. Interestingly, 718-044 was technically entered by American Lloyd “Lucky” Casner’s Camoradi team, but was prepared and maintained by the Porsche works team.
For the grueling Sicilian race, 718-044 was entrusted to two of the best English drivers, Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. In his book My Cars, My Career, Moss recalled the outstanding nature of the works RS60, stating that it was, “a super car, beautifully well balanced and simply tailor-made for the Targa Florio… That was one morning I woke up and could say to myself, ‘For today’s race you have got the ideal car…’ ”
Moss started the race and, by the time he handed the RS60 over to Hill at the end of his four laps, 718-044 was about a minute and a half ahead of 2nd Place Bonnier in another works Porsche and nearly two minutes ahead of the 3rd Place Ferrari 246 SP driven by Wolfgang von Trips and Olivier Gendebien.
When Hill returned the RS60 to Moss, the Porsche was trailing the Ferrari by more than a minute. Charging over the circuit, Moss managed to take the lead back from the Ferrari and held a 65-second advantage going into the final lap. During the last lap, Moss was on pace to set a course record, and yet, just 5 km from the finish, the Porsche’s differential seized – surely as a result of the two-liter engine’s increased torque. Moss and 718-044 skidded to a stop, giving Ferrari the victory.
The final race for 718-044 as a works entry was at the 1000 Km of Nürburgring in May 1961, where it was equipped with a 1,678 cc engine and driven by Barth and Herrmann. Sadly, the Porsche had to retire after suffering a burned piston early in the race.
After serving the works team for a year, 718-044 was shipped to North America, where Porsche Cars entered it in the Player’s 200 at Mosport. Wearing the same no. 23 as it had at Nürburgring, the RS60 was driven by Bonnier to a 2nd Place finish behind Moss in a 2.5-liter Lotus 19.
Following this strong result at Mosport, 718-044 was sold to Bernhard Vihl of Clifton, New Jersey. Vihl, a successful industrialist, began racing sports cars in the mid-1950s and owned a succession of Porsche Spyders. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Vihl was also the main financial backer of Bob Holbert, whose talent as a driver and enthusiasm for Porsches was instrumental in establishing the marque in the US.
As Holbert raced a number of RSKs, RS60s, and RS61s between 1960 and 1962, many have confused 718-044 with Holbert’s other Spyders, creating discrepancies in its published racing history. As a former works car, 718-044 was the only Holbert car with a dash-mounted fusebox and, early in Vihl’s ownership, the car’s nose was modified into a distinctive “anteater” style, making this car unique and easily identifiable. As such, the only definitive record of Holbert driving 718-044 took place at the Bahamas Speed Week in late 1961, where he captured two overall wins and a 1st in Class in the Nassau Trophy race.
Around 1962, the RS60 was sold to a mechanic named Hans Ziries, and its next recorded owner was Clarence Catallo from Dearborn, Michigan. A famous name in hot rod circles, Catallo is best known for owning a 1932 Ford Coupe known as “Silver Sapphire,” which was featured on the cover of the famous Beach Boys album, Little Deuce Coupe. It was this famous hot rod that Catallo sold in 1965 to buy the RS60.
In 1978, respected Porsche collector Warren Eads was searching for an important RS60/61 and flew to Detroit to inspect 718-044. When he arrived, he noticed the car’s two front torsion-bar adjustments, immediately identifying the Spyder as a genuine factory racer. After negotiating a purchase, he entrusted legendary four-cam expert Al Cadrobbi to do the mechanical restoration and enlisted expert body men Don Borth and Jack Hagemann to restore the aluminum coachwork. Completed in 1982, the RS60 was vintage raced through the mid-1990s, when it was sent to noted Spyder specialist Urs Gretener for further attention and freshening.
Since this work was completed in 1998, 718-044 has been the centerpiece of several important private collections and exhibited at the Monterey Historics, the first running of the Le Mans vintage races, Rennsport Reunion III, the 50th Anniversary Porsche Parade, and the Goodwood Revival. In addition to being featured in countless books on the Porsche marque, it was twice featured in the Salon section of Road & Track magazine, most recently in May 2000, when it was driven by Phil Hill in a comparison test with its period rival, the Ferrari 246 S Dino. Hill, who raced Ferraris for much of his career, certainly appreciated the finer qualities of the works Porsche, stating, “While the Dino shape and its red paint may appeal to your heart and soul, the finished RS60 is probably a more thoughtful design that satisfies the intellect.”
Faithfully presented today in its 1961 Sebring livery, 718-044 is being offered for public sale for the first time. Well-known and highly regarded among marque experts, this car is among the most important Porsche Spyders in existence, as one of only four works RS60s built and a veteran of the most important FIA races: Le Mans, Sebring, Targa Florio, and Nürburgring. During its active racing career, 718-044 was driven by the best drivers of the era, including Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney, Edgar Barth, Hans Herrmann, and Bob Holbert.
Considering that the other works RS60s are held in three of the most important Porsche collections – those of the Porsche Museum, Miles Collier, and Dr. Julio Palmaz – the appearance of 718-044 represents what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire the ultimate evolution of Porsche’s legendary four-cam Spyder.