Prismacolor pencils on gray archival stock, 12"x 9" © Paul Chenard 2008
Philip Powell Collection
Porsche AG entered into racing in 1951 with a modified 356 Coupé but their first fully purpose-built racing car came in 1953 in the form of the 550 Spyder.
The first major win for the updated 550A came at the 1956 Targa Florio, driven by Umberto Maglioli. The 550A was further developed into the 718 RSK, another successful winning racer.
These wins by the light small-displacement Porsche race cars against large-displacement 12-cylinder racers such as Ferraris gave them the reputation as “Giant-killers”.
For 1960, Porsche introduced the RS60, a further development of the RSK. Like the RSK, it sported sleek light-weight aluminum bodywork, a low center of gravity and a mid-engine layout. The 4-cylinder, 4-cam engines used were either 1.5 litres (150bhp) or 1.6 litres (160bhp). With a weight of less than 1,300 lbs, the RS60 was very nibble indeed!
For the 1960 season, the FIA stipulated that sports racing cars match more closely the specifications of production sports cars. The racers had to sport a full-width windshield with a minimum height of 25 cm, a luggage compartment and a streamline fairing behind the driver’s head.
The RS60 was very successful out of the box, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in the hands of Olivier Gendebien and Hans Hermann, followed by Porsche’s third Targa Florio win in the hands of Jo Bonnier, Hans Hermann and Graham Hill. It also won the European Hill Climb Championship.
These wins helped solidify Porsche’s position in North America, with Porsche going from class winners to overall winners.
In 2007, Porsche introduced the special edition Boxster RS60 in homage to the great racer.