Motorsports Monday: 1968 BMW 2002 IMSA RS

The end of Summer has many traditions; the days wane as children head back to school. Temperatures fall as families head towards apple orchards and plan for haunted hay rides. Pumpkin spice is everywhere. But there’s one tradition I’ve particularly enjoyed for the last few years; the live stream from West Sussex, England of the Goodwood Revival.

For me, a lover of vintage cars and especially vintage race cars, it’s a special treat. Both of the events put on by Lord March are impressive in their own right, and if you want to see a little bit of everything the season opener Festival of Speed is probably the venue you should consider. But if you want to see cars and motorcycles from periods you weren’t even alive for race flat-out, the Revival is the one to tune in to. Heavily modified Jaguars, Ferraris, Aston-Martins, and just about everything in between head to the track as combinations of professional and amateur drivers (at least, those with quite deep pockets) take their prized possessions to the limit and sometimes beyond. You might be lucky enough once in your life to witness an original GT40 in person; head to the Revival, and you’ll run across a dozen or so of the model, many of which are driven nearly as quickly as they were originally. This is coupled with period livery and dress on one of the fastest circuits in England, filmed with some of the best cameras out there. The result, as a car lover, is one of the most evocative spectacles conceivable.

Each time I witness a Goodwood event, my love of these race-prepared vintage cars is re-inspired. And though this particular BMW 2002 is just a few years too new to be eligible for competition at the Goodwood circuit, it caught my attention because of the claimed IMSA link.…

Motorsports Monday: Mecum Racing Porsches Roundup

As Rob mentioned in his Jade Green Targa piece the other day, we’re entering in quickly to auction season. Mecum, typically the purveyors of more muscle cars than European rides, nonetheless had quite an impressive lineup of signification Porsche race models that cover a few decades and many changes in the company’s history, so I thought it would be pretty neat to take a look at them. It’s very interesting to see over a relatively short period of time the many changes that Porsche’s motorsports programs have gone through.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 934.5/935 at Mecum Auctions

Theseus’ Flat-six: 1974 Porsche 911S

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

The best part of 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plutarch questioned at what point an object began to lose its “originality”. You’ve heard the story many times, probably as the hyperbolic ‘Washington’s Axe’ parable. But though it’s been two millennia since Athenian thought led the world, the question remains applicable today.

Take this Porsche 911S, for example.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 Porsche 911S on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1986 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

Motorsports Monday has become a bit predictable. First, I am apparently the only one interested in it. Second, it probably involves a Porsche or BMW. And lastly, that means that it boils down to generally two models – the 911 or M3. Yet every week I still type “Race Car” into the search function of eBay, resilient in the belief that eventually something new will pop up. Every once in a while I’m rewarded with a GTi or very rarely an Audi that has been set up for track duty, but today’s feature is a pretty unique beast. Apparently raced since new, this Volkswagen Scirocco 16V was constructed to compete in IMSA. Normally the domain of Group C/GTP prototypes in the 1980s, IMSA had support series such as International Sedan (IS) and Radial Sedan (RS) race series, later to become the popular Showroom Stock class populated by more domesticated beasts you generally would see on the road:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1987 Porsche 962C

When pondering this Porsche 962, I couldn’t help but try to analyze why I romanticize about the Group C era so much. For the best part of a decade, if you wanted to win in Group C, there was really only one car to drive – the Porsche 956/962. Sure, there were inter-team and extra-team battles between full factory and privateer efforts, but let’s just say that the diversity at the end of the race was not particularly staggering. Then there was attrition; both with cars and drivers, as this seriously dangerous time period moving heavily into aerodynamics revealed the fragility of not only the engineering, but the humans that attempted to control it. Yet, combining some great liveries, a swoopy, low-slung body, some gold BBS magnesium wheels (or better yet, the BBS Turbofans!) is still the most iconic period in endurance racing in my mind. This is somewhat ironic, since with the WEC today we’re witnessing what is arguably the best racing the series has ever seen with the fastest endurance cars ever produced; often in the 1980s, it was who made it to the end without breaking, crashing or running out of gas. But today, it’s an all-out 6-24 hour sprint as Porsche, Audi and Toyota take three different ethos of building and designing a “hybrid” car and bring them to fans attention. Spectacular? You sure bet it is, and there’s no guarantee of who will win. Yet, when my eyes flash across a 962, I get a flutter in my heart that I just don’t feel looking at the new generation of cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 962C on eBay

1981 Porsche 924 Carrera GTR

The late 1970s and early 1980s were a trans-formative time for Porsche. After a long string of successes with the Porsche 911 and 917 on the race track, they were moving into new territory with a series of front engined cars. Not only were these cars appearing on the race track, though; Porsche intended the 928 and 924 to be the replacements for its aging 911/912 lineup. The result was a special time for water-cooled fans, as Porsche spent a considerable amount of time and resources in between the end of the 917 project and the beginning of the new 956 project on the front engined 924. In order to tie the model to performance and wins on the track, Porsche undertook an ambitious racing schedule, entering the 924 in everything from showroom production-based “D-Production” in SCCA to the World Rally Championship and Le Mans. The resulting lineup of impressive turbocharged 924s have become legendary, but ultimately they’re much more rare to come across than their 911/934/935 counterparts. Still, in the early 1980s they were cutting edge – 2,000 lbs, 400+ horsepower and massive flares hiding 935-spec BBS center-lock magnesium wheels. Sound awesome? You better believe it:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Porsche 924 Carrera GTR on eBay

Motorsport Mondays: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Firehawk

In a recent discussion regarding why values of the E30 M3 had taken off while the Porsche 924/944/968 had remained affordable, one of the comments suggested that the reason was because the Porsches did not enjoy the race pedigree than the M3 did. While one can’t deny the success of the E30 M3 on track and even in rally venues, that answer belies the many races and different series that the 924 and 944 competed in. Indeed, the development of the 944 and 944 Turbo motors came about in part because specifically of the race programs. In everything from local SCCA races straight up to the big dogs at Le Mans, the Porsches were racing right beside some of their more famous 911, 935, 936, 956 and 962 brethren. On top of that, the factory also fronted 924 Carrera GTS cars in the World Rally Championship, many of those that were involved later to move to Audi’s program. Then there were the one-make 944 and 944 Turbo Cup races around the world. But into the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of the hottest contested, affordable race series in the U.S. was the “Firehawk” series put on by IMSA and the SCCA. One of the more competitive cars in those race series were the late 944S2 and 968 models, offering serious reliability, surprising speed and excellent balance to make a fantastic race car. One of the original 944S2 Firehawk cars is up for sale today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Firehawk on eBay

Motorsport Monday: 1975 Miller & Norburn Alpina IMSA RS 320

The E21 might have been the first BMW badged as a 3 series, but it is one of those rare instances where its successor became wildly more popular than the original. But, given that E30 prices are on the move, perhaps the E21 will become the new affordable BMW classic. This particular 320 is an early one, as production commenced in 1975. The E21 wasn’t the most visible BMW in motorsport, but it did make appearances in both the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DTM) and Group 5 racing, where it would succeed the 3.0CSL. The E21 was also active in IMSA, and this particular 1975 320 was the first of its kind to win a race in that series.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1975 Miller & Norburn Alpina IMSA RS 320 on BMWCCA Classifieds

Motorsport Monday: 1986 March 86G

For German car fans, Porsche so defined endurance motorsports that BMWs serious efforts in the late 1970s and early 1980s often go overlooked. But if you really wanted to go racing with the big boys in the 1980s and the premium rides from Zuffenhausen were out of your reach, you might just have looked towards March engineering for the solution. March was cutting edge then, a staple in the 1970s F1 scene with some unorthodox designs. With the new prototype categories in the 1980s, March produced a series of prototypes that were developed out of a customer BMW M1 that March modified. After some development, the March 83G and later 86G proved not particularly competitive to the much more highly developed 956/962s, but did win the 1984 Daytona 24hrs with Andial Porsche power. BMW also signed up with March for a run at IMSA GTP with a development of the 320i Turbo Group 5 and Formula 1 engine producing up to a reported 800 horsepower. In qualifying trim for Formula 1, these M12/13 motors could twist around 1,400 horsepower out of that small displacement. With Formula 1 and sports car racing legends David Hobbs and John Watson amongst the ranks of drivers, it looked like a sure bet for some wins. It was for naught, though, as Porsche and later Nissan and Toyota dominated IMSA into the 1990s. BMWs efforts are nearly forgotten, and that spells value in the used prototype market today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 March 86G on Race-Cars.com

1986 Porsche 944 GTR

Let me get this out of the way first – the asking price of this 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo is $120,000. There, I said it. If you’re still reading, you’re either intrigued or horrified. In either case, the next set of numbers is equally staggering – 650 hp and 2300 lbs. Still reading? How about this – they only made seven of them. You thought the 962 was rare? Nope, they made over 90 of those. The 917? Wrong again, with somewhere around 65 of those made. Allow me to introduce what many consider to be the ultimate front engine Porsche – the 944 GTR.

A little background history – the 944 evolved through the racing program of the 924 – and specifically, the 924 Carrera GT, GTS, and GTR. In the early 1980s, these cars dominated their classes in IMSA racing. In 1981, Porsche Motorsports built a highly evolved version of the 924 GTR called the 924GTP or 944GTP Le Mans, which finished 7th overall at Le Mans sporting a newly developed 2.5 liter motor which would be, in part, the basis for the road going 944. At the same time, the U.S. based Fabcar run by Dave Klym had modified some winning Porsches for Paul Miller and Bob Akin. Al Holbert, who was head of Porsche Motorsports North America, contracted Klym to make a new evolution of the 944 which would be called the 944 GTR. Below is a development photo from Fabcar and not the actual car listed:

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Unlike its predecessors, the 944 GTR was a tube frame race car, meaning it had no connection to the road car. Brakes and wheels from a 962 were fitted, and the 944 GTR received a specially developed all aluminum 2.5 liter turbo under its silhouette body. The early 2.0 and 2.5 liter turbos had developed between 250 and 450 horsepower; the new unit in the GTR developed between 525 to 650 hp.…