Group C Legend Heads to Auction
Gooding and Company have made the thrilling announcement that they will be auctioning one the most prolific Group C racing cars at their Pebble Beach Auction – the 1982 Porsche 956. Born through regulation changes, the 956 dominated Group C racing and is considered one of the most successful prototype racers of all time.
Throughout the latter half of the 70’s, Porsche dominated International Sportscar racing and by the end of the 1981 season, their 935 and 936 were considered untouchable. Complete and over-ruling regulation changes in 1982, however, threatened their reign when the FIA rendered the originally dominant cars unusable by bringing in new race classifications.
What used to be an unbeatable car in Group 5 and 6 was now no longer eligible for the new Group A,B and C classifications – Group A and B required a limited production run whereas Group C was for prototypes and was governed by rules regarding dimensions and fuel usage. The new rules could have spelt disaster for Porsche; instead their Weissach based motorsport facility saw it as an opportunity to create something completely new. What rolled out of the motorsport factory at the end of the process was the Porsche 956, a racing car with a lot to prove and a heavy weight on its shoulders.
After a troubled first race at the Six Hours of Silverstone, the Porsche 956 was quick to step up to the plate and began to once again dominate the sport. Much of this success can undoubtedly be put down to Porsche’s almost unmatchable attention to detail when it came to aerodynamics. In the late 80’s using ‘ground effect’ had become a massive part of Formula One (using under car aerodynamics) and had been allowed to an extent under the new Group C rules. The regulations stipulated that all cars must be completely flat between the front and rear axles but didn’t mention what went on in front or behind this section.
Porsche used this to their advantage and added large air tunnels that started just behind the rear axle and travelled at an angle past the engine and gearbox and then through the large rear spoiler. The result of this was Porsche’s first ‘ground effect’ car, producing 8500nm of downforce; three times more downforce than the 917. They twinned the ground effect with a 620bhp, 2649cc, flat-six engine that utilised small turbos to increase efficiency and worked to make the 956 more than capable to fill the shoes of its predecessors.
The Porsche 956 went on to be one of the fastest Group C cars ever produced and is still the Nurburgring lap record holder with a time of 6:11.13. In the hands of drivers like Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx the 956 took a total of four Le Mans wins; in one of which the 956 led the entirety of the 24 hour race before reaching the chequered flag.
Since its success in the world of motorsport this particular 956 (956-003) has belonged to several collectors and is one of the most successful 956’s in existence. Going to auction on 15-16th August, the 956 is expected to make in the region of 4-6 million pounds.
[All images copyright and courtesy of DPPI.]