1964 PORSCHE 904 GTS
Chassis no. 904-098
Engine no. 99090
1,966cc DOHC Flat 4-Cylinder Engine
Dual Weber Carburetors
180bhp at 7,200rpm
5-Speed Manual Transaxle
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Disc Brakes
*Highly original and minimally used example of a Porsche racing legend
*Raced sparingly yet successfully during 1964 and 1965 and then tugged away and preserved
*Current 27-year period of ownership and just two low-mileage caretakers totaling 48 years
*Retaining original matching-numbers 4-cam Carrera engine
*Documented with factory Kardex and listed in several marquee books
THE PORSCHE 904 GTS
'The final sports racing expression of the Porsche four-cylinder line came in 1964 with the arrival of the 904 GTS Coupe. It not only took the first two places in that year's Targa Florio event but was also second in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally and scored a host of class wins, in addition to numerous other competition successes.' Jonathan Wood, Porsche: The Legend.
Having axed its expensive Formula 1 program at the end of 1962, a commitment that placed a heavy burden on the German manufacturer's limited technical resources, Porsche turned once more to sports car racing as a means of improving and marketing its road car range. The Type 356-based Abarth-Carreras had flown the Porsche flag in international GT racing during the early 1960s, but an entirely new design was now deemed necessary to meet the strengthening opposition.
A minimum of 100 road-usable cars had to be made to meet the FIA's homologation requirements, a stipulation that made a complex spaceframe design like the Type 718 RSK a non-starter, so Porsche's Technical Director, Dr. Hans Tomala started with a clean sheet. Colin Chapman's revolutionary Lotus Elite, with its fiberglass body/chassis, had demonstrated the potential of composite materials for structural use in cars, and this technology was embraced in the design of Porsche's new mid-engined GT racer, the Type 904. Tomala though, opted for a chassis comprising a pair of steel, cross-braced, box sections, to which the fiberglass bodyshell was bonded.
The engine and suspension were bolted directly to the steel structure, thereby reducing the transmission of noise and vibration to the passenger compartment, problems that had afflicted the all-composite Elite. Designed by Ferry Porsche's eldest son, 'Butzi', the body was manufactured by the Heinkel aircraft company and is widely recognized as one of Porsche's most elegant, while the Zuffenhausen firm's recent Formula 1 experience was reflected in the 904's state-of-the-art suspension, which featured double wishbones all round.
Although developed at the same time as Porsche's new Type 901 six-cylinder road car, which would enter production in 1964 as the 911, the 904 used the 356 Carrera 2's tried and tested Type 587 2.0-liter four-cam, four-cylinder engine. The new six would not be ready in time in any case, but with an eye on future developments, the 904's engine bay was made big enough to accommodate it, as well as the 2-liter version of the F1 flat eight. In road trim, the 587/2 produced 155bhp, with 180 horsepower available when fitted with the full racing exhaust system. The five-speed transaxle incorporated internals developed for the 911's transmission, but used a different casing that reflected the 904's mid-engined layout.
The 904 made its competition debut in the USA in February 1964 when an example entered in the prototype class at Daytona failed to finish. At Sebring in March, the 904 scored its first international success, the Cunningham/Underwood car winning its class and finishing 9th overall behind a multitude of Ferraris. While the small-capacity Porsches had always struggled to match the pace of the larger-engined opposition on fast tracks, at the punishing Sicilian Targa Florio, which was run along the lines of a tarmac rally, the nimble 2-liter cars were at much less of a disadvantage. Indeed, the German manufacturer had won the Sicilian classic on three occasions since the race first formed part of the World Sportscar Championship in 1958, and the 904 underlined its pedigree by scoring a debut win in the hands of Colin Davis and Antonio Pucci. In May, Ben Pon and Gunther Koch took 3rd place at the Nürburgring 1,000kms in a production 904, while at Le Mans all five 904s entered finished, the highest in 7th place overall. The 904's attraction as a competitive customer car was further underlined at the Reims 12 Hours where eight finished in the top 20, the highest in 5th place.
Its exceptional versatility was demonstrated at the start of the 1965 season when the Böhringer/Wütherich 904 finished 2nd overall in the Monte Carlo Rally. There would be no classic endurance racing victories for the Porsche 904 in '65 however, although the car secured numerous podium finishes and continued to dominate its class. Lightweight, spyder-bodied versions were developed for the European Hill-Climb Championship, but even here the compromises enforced by the regulations prevailing at the time of the 904's design told against it. It had been intended to build a second series of 100 904s powered by the 911's six-cylinder engine for 1965, but a change in the homologation requirements made Porsche realize that such a car would not be competitive and the plan was abandoned. The 904's successor would be an all-new 2-litre sports car the Carrera 6. Of the 120 model 904s produced, 104 were completed with the four-cylinder engine while ten were fitted with the 911's six and a further half-dozen used the F1-type flat eight. The 904's star may have burned only briefly, but it was both bright and glorious.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
This remarkably original 904 GTS benefits from several long-term owners, as well as very minimal use over the last 48 years. According to a copy on file of the factory Kardex built sheet, 904-098 was equipped new with engine no. 99090, a Type 587/3 Carrera motor. Shod with Dunlop tires, the 904 GTS was dispatched on June 5, 1964, finished in hellelfenbein (light ivory) paint and upholstered with a blue cloth interior. According to marque authority Jerry Pantis, it is the only 904 to leave the factory painted ivory.
Distributed to the famed Brumos Porsche of Jacksonville, Florida, this 904-098 was initially acquired by local resident J.L. Brundage before quickly passing to Ted Tidwell, also of Jacksonville. Mr. Tidwell embarked on a brief but successful racing campaign, placing second in the E-modified class at the SCCA event at Bainbridge, Georgia, in September 1964. Around the same time, the car came in first at the Chimney Rock Hillclimb, where it reportedly set a new record. At the season's conclusion, Tidwell had finished 6th in points in the E Modified class.
In April 1965, 904-098 finished 9th overall and second in the 2-liter GT Class at the Pensacola USRRC event, while at Savannah Effingham later that year the car finished first in the A Production class. These strong results combined to propel Tidwell to a 4th-place finish in season points.
Tidwell reportedly switched to another 904 around this time, and in November 1965 he offered 904-098 for sale. The rare 904 GTS soon passed to two different dealership principals who exhibited it as a display piece on their respective showroom floors. The first of these was Rip Ridley of Ithaca, New York, who sold the original engine to a buyer in Ohio. The second dealer, Skip Callahan of GT Motorcars in Norwalk, Connecticut, installed a Type 547/4 Carrera motor originally used in a 550 Spyder, and it is believed that he also applied the current paint finish in dark blue with a single white racing stripe and numbering circles.
In November 1968, the relatively unused 904 GTS was acquired by Bruce Herrington of Virginia (later of El Toro, California), who noted that the odometer displayed only 1,900 miles when he conducted a pre-purchase test drive. Because the car had been exclusively raced and exhibited it was never registered for road use, and Herrington finally convinced the Virginia DMV to issue a registration in April 1969. Two months later he married a woman with four children, and having little time to seriously drive (and fearing for the Porsche's outcome!), he domiciled the racing machine for nearly twenty years. Of course the 904 begged for use on occasion, so Herrington would enjoy it for brief drives through rural Virginia, and once took it to a PCA event at the Marlboro Raceway where he happily remembers the car cornering like a go-kart.
In 1989 the rare GTS was offered for sale for the first time in over two decades, and it was then acquired by broker Werner Schoch (a Swiss national living in Southern California) in conjunction with 904 expert Heinz Heinrichs. At the time, the consignor, a Porsche collector from Denmark, had determined to locate an original unrestored 904, and to this end he had reached out to marque collector Jim Barrington of San Francisco. Two weeks later, he received notice from Barrington that 904-098 was available, and a vacation to Hawaii was re-routed to Southern California, where a purchase was arranged.
Since being imported to Denmark, the Porsche has been dutifully maintained. Most importantly, in 1992 the owner acquired and re-installed the original 4-cam motor, engine no. 99090, which had come into the possession of period racing driver Warren Eads (ex-Type 718 RSK Spider, chassis no. 718-033) and was rebuilt by his mechanic, the respected Carrera expert and onetime driver Al Cadrobi.
Since then, this 904 GTS was only occasionally enjoyed for gentle cruises in the Danish countryside. Though the reset odometer currently displays 2,249 miles, it is estimated that the car has accumulated approximately 7,750 actual miles. 904-098 remains in highly original and un-molested condition throughout, and has been spared from crashes or neglect. The cars original interior remains in situ, and the original fiberglass body and chassis construction intact. Very few sports racing cars of any kind, can boast such qualities. Now inviting consideration by serious Porsche connoisseurs whom are missing the legendary 904 in their collection, this pristine low-mileage sports racing icon would crown most collections, and is sure to be welcomed at PCA corrals, major concours d'elegance, and vintage racing events.