The Porsche Carrera GTS Type 904 was introduced

Tuesday 26th November 1963

The Porsche Carrera GTS Type 904 was introduced. The Type 904, born from Porsche’s disappointing foray into Formula One in the early 1960s, was created to bring the company back to its racing sports car roots. In 1962, the immensely talented Ferdinand A. “Butzi” Porsche, the grandson of the company’s founder, was tasked with designing a new two-seat competition coupe that could also be driven on the street; this car was to utilize the mid-engine chassis configuration that had proven so successful with the racing department’s lightweight spyders. A run of 100 cars was approved to homologate the design for the FIA’s Group 3 GT category. In short order, Butzi had laid out a boxed steel ladder tubing frame on a 90.5-inch wheelbase, which would be clothed in a sleek and very light body shell of fiberglass. This design is still widely considered one of the company’s most beautiful designs. The body material was Porsche’s first venture into plastic composites. The panels, produced by Heinkel, were glued and bonded to the steel frame, creating a semi-monocoque structure. The seats were solidly mounted, but the car offered an adjustable steering column and pedals. Porsche had hoped to have its new six-cylinder Type 901 engine ready for the new mid-engined coupe to run at Le Mans, but it was not convinced that the new engine could go the distance. Thus, most 904s were fitted with the Type 547 (1.6 litre) and the Type 587/3 (2.0 litre) DOHC Carrera four-cylinder motors, and it was only towards the end of production that the 2.0-litre 901 flat six was used. The beautifully balanced 904 GTS, which was introduced in early 1964, would enjoy a brilliant inaugural season, scoring victories at Sebring, the Targa Florio, Spa, the Nürburgring 1000 KM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (a 1-4 class sweep), the 12 Hours of Reims, the Coppa Inter-Europa, the Tour de France, the Bridgehampton 500 KM, and the 1000 KM of Paris. In U.S. amateur racing, the 904 was considered potent enough to be classed with the much more powerful big block Corvettes and Cobras, and it still acquitted itself admirably. Over a two-year period, Porsche produced just over 100 of these exquisite little coupes, but time and technology would not wait, and Porsche’s new space-framed 906 was deemed a superior vehicle. GTS production ended before a second 100-car run could commence.

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