Ex-Works, Gerhard Mitter/Lucien Bianchi Nurburgring 1000Kms-leading
1967 2-liter Porsche Typ 910 Endurance Racing Works Coupe
Chassis no. 910-026
Engine no. 910-023
For all enthusiasts the rarity of works team Porsches endows them with a very special extra cachet. We understand that this particular Porsche 910 Coupe began life as a factory team car fitted with the fabulous 2.2-liter 8-cylinder air-cooled engine, before the present 2-liter 6-cylinder unit was installed for customer sale. After its deployment as a flat-8 factory team car in 1967 it was converted into open-cockpit Spyder configuration, in which form it survived in service for many years before being returned to present Coupe form at great expense in the 1980s.
Amongst all the works-cum-customer model competition Porsches, the Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen factory's superb Typ 910 of 1967-68 is perhaps the design most fondly remembered by all its past works drivers and private entrants. This splendid example of the type presented here fitted with the same 1991cc, 220bhp flat-six engine with which it was fitted ex-works in the late 1960s - is in fact a former factory team car campaigned when new by Porsche System Engineering's highly regarded and effective number one driver of the period, Gerhard Mitter. A Porsche company letter dated January 9, 1978, dictated by factory racing specialist Jurgen Barth, is included in the documentation file accompanying this Lot. It states: "...that the 910 026 was driven by Mitter/Bianchi on the 1,000Km-race of Nürburgring, 1967".
Gerhard Mitter and Lucien Bianchi drove this Works Porsche 910 to lead until the very last lap of that classic World Championship-qualifying road race on the world's most famous and challenging circuit, the 14.2-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife. But on the last race lap their 2.2-liter flat-8 engined car was sidelined by the battery running flat due to previous alternator failure; this after having led for many miles and looking poised for an historic victory upon Porsche's home ground. As the car faltered, so it was passed by three of its team-mates, the Nürburgring 1,000Km classic running out with four of these works Porsche 910s finishing first, second, third and fourth.
The winning 6-cylinder 2-litre car's co-drivers were the giant German Udo Schutz/New Yorker GI Joe Buzzetta, besting the second place pairing of Australian Paul Hawkins/Gerhard Koch, with Jochen Neerpasch/British rally star Vic Elford in third, all competing in similarly-configured 910s.
The influential British journal 'Autosport' reported: "Gerhard Mitter seemed to be unassailable in the 8-cylinder car, but on the very last lap the battery failed and the car came to a halt just before the Wippermann (corners), having stopped initially at The Karussel. It would seem likely that this trouble stemmed from the fact that to pass the many slower cars on the circuit the leader needed his headlights on for most of the race. The hardest luck of all fell to Lucien Bianchi. He had left Indianapolis to run in the race, having been assured that his practice lap times for the '500' would qualify him. Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt had then borrowed other faster cars, and Bianchi found himself ousted from the '500' grid by a fraction of a second. Then he lost the 1,000Kms on the last lap...".
Nurburgring race winner Joe Buzzetta recalled: "The Porsche 910 was very different from a Carrera 6...a lot lighter and a lot more responsive much more of a sports-racing type of car than the 906 was". Legendary driver/journalist Paul Frère an authority upon the racing Porsches and their development wrote: "The 906 has a pretty high cornering power, but when it goes, it does it very abruptly and is not an easy car to check. I expected the 910 to behave in the same way, if not even more sharply, due to its even wider Dunlop tires, but it was just the opposite. In fact the 910 is a very easy car to drive. It can be driven with real abandon, power sliding what is really a beautifully balanced and neutral steering car and keeping the tail under complete control by means of the precise and high-geared steering...".
The 2.2-litre flat-8-powered variant of the 910 design made its debut in the 1967 Targa Florio road race around the Madonie mountains in north-western Sicily. According to papers accompanying this Lot, the engine originally installed in chassis '910 026' offered here was a Typ 901/21 eight-cylinder. We understand that this was the motor used for the 1967 Nürburgring 1000Kms race which '026' so very nearly won when driven by Mitter/Bianchi. When this car was sold ex-works into private hands, the flat-8 engine was replaced by the 2-litre flat-6 engine '023', which the car retains to this day.
The works team's original fuel-injected Typ 771 engine was derived from the 1½-litre design which had won the 1962 French Grand Prix at Rouen, driven by American superstar Dan Gurney. The new engine offered 12 per cent greater torque than the standard flat-6 power unit which it replaced, and developed in period 270 horsepower at 8,600rpm.
The original ONS Wagenpass for the car survives, recording its ex-works career, and it shows that when issued the car was road registered '6/490/68'. Private owner/drivers Umberto Francini and Kurt Hild are listed in entries dated April 22, 1968 and October 14, 1970, followed by Franz Esser from March 16, 1973. The Wagenpass photographs show the car cut down into stark open-cockpit Spyder form, and significantly records its all-up weight as just 550 kilogrammes, only 1,212lbs. By June 27, 1977, ownership had been transferred to Robert Gelber of New York, USA. Nineteen race entries are recorded in the Wagenpass up to a mountain-climb outing by Franz Esser in 1974, while the final entry is dated October 10-12, 1986, and lists an appearance by the late owner Mike Amalfitano in the Targa Florio Storica event in Sicily.
Prior to acquiring '026', Kurt Hild had previously campaigned a Porsche 906 in German national events. He drove his newly-acquired Porsche 910 in the ADAC-Bavaria event at the Salzburgring, Austria, as early as June 1971, and also appeared at the Wunstorf FlugplatzRennen that August, followed by a second place finish at the Geilenkirchen aerodrome races of September 12. He then drove the car to win the 2-liter category of the Hockenheim Saison Finale meeting on November 28.
During that season he had entered his Porsche 910 Spyder for the InterSerie Championship round at the Norisring, Nuremberg, on July 11. Tragically, he became involved there in an initially minor collision which resulted in world-class star driver Pedro Rodriguez crashing his Ferrari 512M into a trackside barrier, to sustain fatal injuries.
Kurt Hild continued to race his Porsche 910 and in September 1972 he placed second in his class with it at Mainz-Finthen. In the 1972 Nürburgring 1,000Kms, he also co-drove it with the respected Porsche exponent Sepp Greger to finish seventh in this classic event's 2-liter class, and Hild - driving solo then finished 15th in that year's Nürburgring 500Kms event. A German-language letter from Porsche addressed to Kurt Hild and dated 10 March 1972 states basic technical specifications of motor No. '910 023', confiming its 1991cc capacity.
However, it remains enormously significant that in its initial works-entered competition in 1967 this car had been equipped with the 2.2-liter version of Porsche's Formula 1-based, air-cooled, flat-8 cylinder quad-cam engine. Externally the 8-cylinder cars differed from their 6-cylinder powered standard sisters only in having one large exhaust tailpipe instead of two, plus a large circular air-intake orifice on the body's midship deck, feeding the horizontally-disposed cooling fan on top of the flat-8 engine. From the drivers' viewpoint, however, while the flat-8 was relatively quiet within the cabin, the flat-six produced a shattering cabin note which was described as going "straight through the driver's head whether earplugs were worn or not, and resulted in all the drivers talking very loudly for some while after emergence from the car..."!
According to Mr Amalfitano's own account, also included in the documentation file with this Lot, it was during the Targa Florio Storica that he suffered a suspension failure which put '026' off the road at Collesano village, when running in third place, causing some significant damage. Mr Amalfitano then had the car completely repaired, rebuilt and restored to its original 1967 Coupe factory team form via the Porsche company, the work being carried out by German-based specialists Bill Bradley Racing. Mr Amalfitano recorded that with the car in its Kurt Hild open Spyder form it had previously been "...raced by yours truly very successfully winning the historical event at Freeport, the Bahamas, and several events in the United States".
Reviewing available documentation with '026' it appears that the ownership provenance is Porsche System Engineering 1967, to Umberto Francini 1968-1970, to Kurt Hild 1970-1973, to Franz Esser apparently for national-level mountain-climb events 1974-c.1977, then to Bob Gelber (New York, USA) from 1977. The car was registered (with license plate!) in New York state by 1979 and from that year until 1986 its Massachusetts title resided with SSK Leasing, Sham L. Sahni (President). Mr Amalfitano acquired '026' on April 23, 1986, paying $95,000. During its Amalfi Racing tenure, '026' has further benefited from additional chassis work performed by renowned specialists Kevin Jeannette/Gunnar Racing during 2006-2007.
What absolutely sets this delightfully well-presented 910 Coupe apart from the vast majority of similar Porsches is its highly distinctive works racing team history as a chassis which used the Zuffenhausen company's magnificent flat-8 engine. With an example of this engine installed chassis '026' offered here would surely be elevated even higher as an ex-works 910 truly to be treasured.
With its existing 6-cylinder engine, configured in the form embodied by the majority of its contemporary 1967 works team sisters, '026' is already an historic competition car that could be guaranteed to attract invitations to so many of today's most renowned Retro-type historic events.
In May of this year the 910 was taken to Palm Beach International Raceway for a final shakedown prior to the sale. Klaus Fischer of Amalfi Racing, who has looked after all of Mike's competition Porsches, keeping them in race-ready order, executed the final checks before the car was driven and evaluated by Mike's good friend and Porsche racing legend Brian Redman. We are delighted to report that the car performed flawlessly and a brief film of the test can be viewed online by going to http://www.bonhams.com/quail.
Whichever way one examines it, this is undoubtedly a most important ex-works Porsche.