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HomeEventsEarly Porsche racers, sports cars shown at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

Early Porsche racers, sports cars shown at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Preserved examples and racing veterans were parked on the grass

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While the spectacular class of Porsche 917 race cars stole the thunder, there were a few other special Porsches on the Pebble Beach Concours show field Sunday. 

They were mainly performance and race cars from the early days of the Stuttgart brand, and they were all worth seeing in that rarefied atmosphere. 

Some of the Porsches became class-award winners, a 1964 904 GTS coupe that won the Post-War Racing class and a 1956 356A Carrera coupe that won second place in the Post-War Preservation class. 

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The concours judges discuss the merits of the patinaed Porsche 356A Carrera

A 1969 917PA Spyder that was not part of the separate 917 class won first place in the Post-War Preservation class. That 917 was a regular American Can-Am series contender in its day.

While the 904 was a stunning piece of restored racing artistry, and one of the most beautiful and capable competition machines of its era, the Carrera was exceedingly special for other reasons.

The Carrera is a rare example of a Holy Grail of early Porsches, one of the first 356 road cars equipped with the race-bred 4-cam Spyder engine, a complex flat-4 designed by Ernst Furhman to boost power from the air-cooled boxer.  After a brief racing career, the car with just over 16,000 original miles was placed into storage on the wealthy owner’s estate, where it languished until being retrieved in 2004. 

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The air-cooled 4-cam boxer engine is original to the 356 Carrera

The Carrera appeared at Pebble Beach in a patinaed condition with scratches, dents and faded paint, looking pretty much as it did when rescued from its long-term slumber.   The Porsche has been thoroughly cleaned and mechanically refreshed, however, and it was driven on the 75-mile Pebble Beach Tour that preceded the concours.

The 904 is also equipped with a 4-cam, a mighty 2.0-liter unit that produces 180 horsepower to propel the lightweight, fiberglass endurance racer.

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The 1959 RSK race car has a body by Wendler

Another Porsche fitted with a 4-cam was the 1959 Porsche RSK Spyder bodied by Wendler, a Le Mans racer that appeared in the Post-War Racing class. 

In the class of race cars that had competed in the grueling La Carrera Americana was a 1954 356 Pre-A 1500 in immaculate condition. The coupe was raced just once, after which it was sold to a Virginia man who drove it to work every day. 

porsche, Early Porsche racers, sports cars shown at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, ClassicCars.com Journal
The 1954 356 Pre-A has been restored to its racing glory

After several other owners, the Porsche 356 was restored in 2018 in full La Carrera regalia by the Porsche Club of Mexico, which showed the car in sparkling condition, looking as it did when raced 70 years ago.  

porsche, Early Porsche racers, sports cars shown at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, ClassicCars.com Journal
The 1954 356 was restored and shown by the Porsche Club of Mexico
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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