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Les courses automobiles francaises et voitures classiques

Friday, 10 February 2017

Salon RétroMobile Paris 2017

1952 Mercedes 300SL W194 Carrera PanAmericana Mexico. 

In Paris the cold, miserable month of February is always brightened by RetroMobile.  Whether your passion is veteran cars, vintage cars, pre-war cars, cars of the fifties, sixties, seventies or more recent there is always something for you at the Salon RetroMobile.  The same is true whether you prefer grand prix cars, sports racing cars, GT cars or touring cars.  The theme of this year’s event included celebrating the 70 years of Ferrari, the 4WD and six wheel F1 cars and Group B rally cars amongst many other attractions.  As usual, as well as the cars, there were famous personalities, motoring art, model vehicles and bookstalls to keep us entertained.   If you couldn’t make it this year, or want to be reminded of what you saw, here are some highlights of this year’s exhibition at the Porte de Versailles in Paris.
1977 Tyrrell P34, 6 wheeler F1car, with 1969 McLaren M9A and Cosworth 4WD F1 cars behind.
Kremer constructed Porsche 917K/81 that competed at Le Mans in 1981 ten years after Porsche had won Le Mans with a 917.  Magnificent in its Yellow Mallardeau colours.
The 1958 Maserati Eldorado 420 Special driven by Stirling Moss in the Race of the Two Worlds at Monza.  A picture of famous Maserati World Champion Juan-Manuel Fangio behind the car.
Fiat Abarth 1000

Talbot sports car in the Artcurial auction.

Between Hall 1 and 2 were lined up examples of the powerful Group B rally cars of the eighties.
Lancia Group B 037 Group B rally car.
Peugeot 205 T16 Group B Rally Car.

Mercedes CLK GTR Coupé

Ferrari F1 cars.  In the foreground the 1972 Ferrari 312B2 driven by Clay Regazzoni amongst others.
3 litre FerrariV12  F1 engine of the late sixties.
The 1977 March 2-4-0 F1 car that never raced.  Behind is the Lotus 63 4WD car.
1978 Ferrari 312 T-3 F1 car.
Twenties GN constructed by Godfrey and Archibald Frazer-Nash.  It normal resides in the National Motor Musum at Beaulieu, UK.
An artist and his dog.
It really made my day when the vintage GN cars went outside with some of the other even older cars and did some demo runs on the fire access road on Saturday afternoon.
The GN from Beaulieu does a demo run in the car park.
Another GN, the Thunderbug,  from Beaulieu doing a demo run

A 1901 Stirling Light car built under license from Clément-Panhard.
A 1901 Gladiator Type 4 light car doing a demo run outside of Retromobile.
A 1900 Renault Type C having a drive along the fire access road.

Another veteran makes it pass.

Another highlight of the exhibition was the celebration 70 years of Ferrari.  So many Ferraris this year.
Ferrari 166LM, the winner of the 1949 Le Mans 24 hours.
Ferrari 250 GT SWB
1964 Ferrari 250/275 LM.  This is apparently the most original example of the 32 that were made and has only been driven 2,000 kilometres.
Ex-Border Reivers Team Aston Martin DB3.   
Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing.

See more great cars from RetroMobile and their histories on our sister blog.  Click here for Auto Vitesse. 

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John Etherton asserts his copyright to all of the photos on this blogpost.  However, you may post the photos elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the photographer, John Etherton, and this blog post, and provide a link to this page.

John Etherton affirme son droit d'auteur à l'ensemble des photos sur ce billet de blog. Cependant, vous pouvez poster des photos ailleurs sur le web aussi longtemps que vous créditez le photographe, John Etherton, et ce blog, et fournissez un lien vers cette page.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Ten Porsche sports racing cars that helped build and maintain the brand.

The modified Porsche that won its class at the 1951 Le Mans stands next to the Porsche that won the Le Mans 24 hours in 1970 and the 919 Hybrid that won in 2015.
If you had to decide which were the top ten Porsche sports racing cars of all time, what would they be?  A tough choice as Porsche has been a successful sports racing car manufacturer over seven decades.  They were at the Le Mans 24 hours in 1951 with a 356, scored their first Targa Florio victory in 1956 with a 550, won the World Championship of Makes in 1969 mainly with the 908, won Le Mans for the first time in 1970 with the 917, dominated Group C racing and Le Mans for a number of years with the 956 and continue today winning with the 919 Hybrid.  Maybe you are a Can-Am fan and remember George Follmer and Mark Donohue winning the series in the 917/10 and 917/30.  Maybe you prefer your sports racing cars to look like road cars and remember the Carrera RSR and the 934 or 935 or even the 911 itself.  Of course we mustn't forget the giant killing efforts of cars like the 718 that won the Targa Florio and the LMP2 RS Spider that won outright at Sebring in 2008.  If you first discovered racing in the sixties then the 904 might be on your list or perhaps the Carrera 6. Many other cars spring to mind as well, but which to choose.

My choices will undoubtedly be very personal and perhaps controversial with a few.  I didn't want to miss any of my favourites so took the option of grouping some cars together if I regarded one as an evolution of another.  So here goes, my Top Ten Sports Racing Porsches, in chronological order and with one of my photos and some personal memories accompanying each entry.

No.1   Porsche 550 / 718

Produced from 1953, the 550 was the first real racing car that Porsche produced, previously they had competed with modified 356s.   Two things brought fame to the Porsche 550. First was the death of Hollywood icon James Dean in one he nicknamed "Little Bastard" in September 1955.  The second was victory in the Targa Florio in 1956 by a Porsche RS Spyder driven by Umberto Maglioli and Huschke von Hanstein.  It was not a round of the World Championship that year as it had been dropped following the 1955 Le Mans accident, but it was still a major race.  The 550 also had many class victories including in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana which gave the Carrera name to many future Porsches.  In 1957 the works team introduced the 718 which had improved suspension and a sleeker body compared to the 550.   The 718 gave many more class victories to Porsche and also three overall Targa Florio victories, these being in 1959, 1960 and 1963.  The 718 was often referred to as a RSK because of it short wheelbase.  Like the 550 it had a 1.5 litre engine, except for the W-RS that had a 2 litre engine.  Most 718s were spyders but the GTR was a coupé.  Definitely the first Porsches to really capture the imagination.
1959 Porsche 718 RSK, Laguna Seca 2015
No.2   Porsche 904 Carrera GTS
This is such a beautiful car that I could not let it escape my ten. It initially had a flat 4 engine but evolutions included the 904/6 and the 904/8 which had flat 6 and flat 8 engines respectively.  All were two litre cars and thus mainly competed for class victories rather than overall wins.   However, it did win outright at the 1964 Targa Florio driven by Colin Davis and Antonio Pucci.  It had an enviable finishing record at Le Mans in the 24 hours dominating the 2 litre class in 1964 and 1965.  To top it all, it even scored wins in rallies and won its class and finished second overall in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally.  I fell in love with this car when Scalextric released a 1/32nd version in 1966/67 and still love seeing the real car on the Tour Auto each year.
A Porsche 904 GTS on the first stage of the 2016 Tour Auto.
No.3   Porsche Carrera 6 / 906 / 910
The successor to the 904 was the lighter and more sleek 906 which was normally known as the Carrera 6 and eventually evolved into the 910.  It normally had a flat 6 two litre engine but the works sometime raced with 8 cylinder versions.  Like the 904, it scored an outright victory on the Targa Florio, winning in 1966 with Willy Mairesse and Herbert Mullar.  In 1967 Paul Hawkins and Rolf Stommelen repeated this victory in a 910, which was shorter and lighter than the 906.  The 910 also won the Nurburgring 100kms in 1967, the first Porsche victory in their home endurance event.  I remember seeing privateers race these cars in 1968 so they form some of my early motor racing memories.
The Porsche Carrera 6 was designed to be street legal as well as a racing car and thus could compete in rallies such as the Tour Auto.  This is a Carrera 6 on the 2014 Tour Auto.
No.4  Porsche 907 / 908
The 907 and 908 are probably my real favourite amongst Porsches but were not as successful or as iconic as most of the other cars in the top ten.  The 907 was the first racing Porsche to have a chance to win major races other than the Targa Florio.  It was introduced in 1967 at the Le Mans 24 hours where it finished fifth and beat this with a fourth place at Brands Hatch later in the year.  In 1968 however, it took the top three places in the Daytona 24 hours, took a 1-2 at the Sebring 12 hours and a win in the Targa Florio but Ford took Le Mans and the World Championship with the venerable Ford GT40.  The 908 coupé with full 3 litre engine was introduced mid-season 1968 and won at the Nurburgring 1000kms and Zeltweg but failed elsewhere.  For 1969 the 908/2 was introduced and it went on to win the World Championship with wins at Brands Hatch, Targa Florio, Nurburgring and Watkins Glen. However, again Le Mans fell to an old Ford GT40.  For 1970 and 1971 Porsche used a 908/3 to win twice at the Nurburgring and once at the Targa Florio as these circuits did not suit the 917.  It should also be noted that a 908/2 took Porsche's first Can-Am win with Tony Dean winning at Road Atlanta in 1970.
Porsche 908 LH, Laguna Seca 2015
No.5  Porsche 917
The 917 was introduced in 1969 but initially proved a real handful. It's debut was at the Spa 1,000kms but it did not take a win until the last race of the year at the Osterreichring.  During the winter the JW team improved the aerodynamics and with a short tail it became the 917K and a very successful endurance racer.  In 1970 and 1971 it took the Porsche's first two Le Mans 24 hour wins plus the World Championship in each year beating off the Ferrari challenge and scoring 14 victories driven by drivers such as Jo Siffert, Pedro Rodriguez and Vic Elford.  In 1972 the car became obsolete for endurance racing but became dominant in Can Am with an open version of the car with a more powerful engine.  The 917 is definitely one of the most iconic racing Porsche's ever.
Porsche 917, Le Mans Classic 2016
No.6   Porsche 911 based race cars such as the Carrera RSR and 935
The Porsche 911 was introduced in 1963 and spawned many successful race and rally cars.  The Carrera RSR and the 935 were particularly successful in major endurance races in the mid seventies to the early eighties.  The RSR won the last World Championship Targa Florio in 1973 and also took three Sebring 12 hour victories and three Daytona 24 hour victories.  The 935 K3 won the Le Mans 24 hours outright in 1979 driven by Klaus Ludwig and the Whittingtons.  Various versions of the 935 won the Daytona 24 hours five years in succession from 1978 to 1983. At Sebring the 935 was even more successful winning from 1978 to 1984.  For me the 935 with flames coming out of its exhaust on the over-run is one of my favourite motor racing memories.  I was at Brands Hatch at the very wet 1977 endurance race when Jacky Ickx was masterful in the appalling conditions.
1982 Porsche 935, Laguna Seca 2015
No.7   Porsche 936
The 936 was designed to win the 1976 World Championship of Makes and Le Mans.  A 2.1 litre turbocharged group 6 prototype using parts from the 917  it was successful in doing both.  As well as winning at Le Mans in took 5 other victories. It won the 24 hours again in 1977.   It failed to win at Le Mans in both 1978 and 1979 but came back in 1981 with another victory.  The first two Le Mans victories were in the iconic Martini livery and the last one in Jules livery.  I never saw these car in period but enjoyed seeing one win at the Le Mans Classic in 2016.
Porsche 936, Laguna Seca 2015
No.8  Porsche 956 / 962 / 962C
The most successful sports racing Porsches are perhaps the eighties Group C cars.  The 956 first raced in 1982 and won at Le Mans in its first year and took the World Championship.  The 956 was to repeat this, winning Le Mans four times in a row 1982 to 1985 and taking the manufacturers title from 1982 to 1984 and the team title in 1985 .  In 1986 and 1987, the replacement 962C was to take a further two wins.   Meanwhile in America the IMSA variant 962 and 962C won the Daytona 24 hours five times and the Sebring 12 hours 4 times.   An amazingly successful car in the mid eighties winning many championships and races in the hands of the works and privateer teams.  I saw them at Brands Hatch in the eighties and really enjoyed seeing them again at Laguna Seca in 2015.
Rothmans liveried Porsche 962, Laguna Seca 2015
No.9   Porsche Spyder RS LMP2
This was a car developed by Porsche and raced by Penske and others from 2005 to 2010.  It raced in the LMP2 class.  Rather like the early Porsches, it mainly competed for class victories but followed tradition by grabbing a famous overall victory.  For the RS Spyder its moment of glory was the 2008 Sebring 12 hours where it won driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and  Emmanuel Collard. In the American Le Mans series the car took many class and overall victories and won the championship from 2006 to 2008 and the Le Mans series in 2008.  I saw a number of these cars race at Laguna Seca in 2015 and was very impressed with their speed.  It was the last beautiful open cockpit Porsche before safety measures made all Le Mans prototypes ugly.
Jeroen Bleekemolen,Porsche RS Spyder, Laguna Seca 2015
No.10  Porsche 919 Hybrid
2014 marked Porsche's return to the big time with the 919, having not had a car win at Le Mans since 1998.  To date the 919 has had two Le Mans 24 hour victories and two World Championships.  This in an era where there has been tough competition from Audi and Toyota but with eleven wins in 21 races it has been the top car.  It was great to be at Le Mans in 2015 to see Porsche win Le Mans after so many years of Audi domination.  Definitely a car still contributing to the brand.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid winning Le Mans in 2016
What is your favourite Porsche?   Please leave a comment to share your views.

John Etherton asserts his copyright to all of the photos on this blogpost.  However, you may post the photos elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the photographer, John Etherton, and this blog post, and provide a link to this page.

John Etherton affirme son droit d'auteur à l'ensemble des photos sur ce billet de blog. Cependant, vous pouvez poster des photos ailleurs sur le web aussi longtemps que vous créditez le photographe, John Etherton, et ce blog, et fournissez un lien vers cette page.