ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021

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Lot 326
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,, 1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé
Chassis no. 021

Sold for £ 485,500 (US$ 586,003) inc. premium
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,
1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé
Chassis no. 021
‘The final sports racing expression of the Porsche four-cylinder line came in 1964 with the arrival of the 904 GTS coupé. 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 programme 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 glassfibre 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 glassfibre 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 recognised 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-litre 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-litre 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 gearbox 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-litre 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 realise 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.

Delivered new by French Porsche importer SONAUTO in February 1964 to Robert Buchet, well known privateer racer and French Porsche distributor in the ‘60s, chassis no. 021 participated in period in: 1964 Tour de Corse , 1965 Le Mans with Ben Pon, 1965 Reims 12 hours (where Buchet shared the Porsche with Guy Ligier), 1965 Routes du Nord and 1965 Coupe des Alpes where the car was however damaged by Buchet. Chassis no. 021 was immediately returned to Porsche for repair where at the same time it was deemed wise to ‘upgrade’ the car to later series two 904/6 specification, with central fuel filler, higher door sills and different engine mountings to the chassis. Subsequently the car participated in numerous other French rallies with success and in style until it was sold in 1968. It should be noted that this 904 has continuous history from new and is fitted since the 1970s with a later 6 cylinder 2.8 litre RSR block with a Kugelfischer injection Pump and twin ignition producing an estimated 300bhp. This combination is obviously a guaranteed recipy for exhilarating performance in the spirit of what may have been had Porsche further developed the 904 model in period. Bernard Consten has owned the now fully restored car since 1994 and it was featured in an extensive article and road test in the June/July 2005 issue of ‘Automobile Historique’ in the hands of renowned former racing driver and motoring journalist José Rosinski. The car won an award at the 2002 edition of the Saint Raphaël ‘Golf de Valescure’ concours d’élégance, which is a testimony to its condition having completed less than 3.000km since a fully documented restoration and today still in ‘concours’ condition and on the button ready to participate in the most prestigious track or lawn events. It is offered with a comprehensive file which includes 1965 Le Mans 24H inscription documents, photographs of the work carried out more recently and a full mileage record since the rebuild.
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
ex-Robert Buchet-Ben Pon,,1964 Porsche 904 GTS Coupé  Chassis no. 021
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