2007 RM Auction, Scottsdale: 1982 Porsche 956 Unsold at $2 MIL

1982 Porsche 956 Group C Endurance Racing Coupe – Lot 261 Unsold at $2,000,000

Holy crap, this is awesome. The Porsche 956 and slightly altered 962 were some of the greatest racecars of all time. Some people will even tell you THE best. Endurance racers built as a follow-up to the hugely successful 935, Porsche went in with a clean slate and came away a multiple champion. These Porsches managed to rack up 120+ wons over their 13-year lifespan. The cars are still revered in the racing world, and this one is especially well regarded. It's the ex-factory car that finished second at Le Mans in 1982. And then it won outright in 1983. It has the 620hp, 2,649cc intercooled twin-turbo, dual overhead camshaft, four-valve per cylinder boxer six, with air cooled cylinders and water-cooled heads. Altogether 124 of these 956/962 series racers were built by Porsche and somewhere around 56 others were built by privateers. Only about 20 of them served on the official Porsche AG factory racing team over the years. It managed a high bid of $2,000,000 but didn't meet its reserve and went unsold. More thorough rundown of this car from the RM catalog after the jump.

[Source: RM Auctions]

RM Auction description:

1982 Porsche 956 Group C Endurance Racing Coupe 956-003 – Lot 261

Arguably the single most successful of the Porsche 956/962 series was 956-003, which raced to second place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1982 by Vern Jochen Mass and Jackie Ickx, winner of the Porsche 956's next four races (driven by Ickx/Mass in three and Ickx/Bell in the other).

This second place finish was the only race in which 956-003 failed to claim victory! The remaining four races for 956-003 resulted in wins at Spa, Fuji, Brands Hatch, and a breathtaking victory at LeMans in 1983. Driven by Schuppan, Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood the car covered a the then-record distance of 3,136 miles.

After sweeping every class at Le Mans in 1982, Porsche and the 956 swept nine of the top ten finishing positions in the 1983 Sarthe classic. 956-003 also won the "Index of Energy Efficiency". Its three victories in World Endurance Championship races following Le Mans in 1982 secured the Driver's Championship for Jacky Ickx, an unexpected success for Porsche in the first season of the 956 and a season which had really opened in earnest only at Le Mans. Of even greater importance, its three WEC wins combined with a single Porsche 930 Turbo finish at the Nürburgring round back in May (driven by Georg Memminger and entrant Fritz Mueller) to capture the World Endurance Championship for Porsche in the 956's first season.

On March 5, 1986 956-003 was sold to Vern Schuppan in whose hands it had twice raced at Le Mans, winning in 1983. Many have said that the 1983 Le Mans race was perhaps one of the most exciting in its long and storied history with chassis no. 003 winning in most dramatic fashion. The following exert from the pinnacle racing anthology, Time and Two Seats, by Janos L. Wimpffen vividly describes the race's exciting conclusion:

"15 minutes from the end, the no. 1 car unlapped it (the Derek Bell driven 956) for the last time. He routinely glanced across the gauges as he had done so many times before at this one "relaxing" spot on the course. The water-cooled head temperature seized his attention – the needle had pegged. As he flicked through the Porsche Curves and the Ford Chicane, a steady trail of vapor came from under the wheel arch. Bell was a little over two minutes behind, and Holbert didn't have time to take on a splash. Holbert had no choice but to bring it around the last 13 kilometers, while Bell kept up the pressure. The gap shrank to 63 seconds, but the American nursed the nearly seized engine across".

It remained in his collection for the next fourteen years and has had only four owners since then, all recognized collectors who have carefully maintained and preserved this singularly important piece of racing history.

The Porsche 956/962 series is without doubt the most important endurance racing series in history. The record of the first cars from the Weissach racing department is unparalleled and a tribute to the team's meticulous preparation: World Endurance Champion 1982-1985; World Endurance Driver's Championship 1982-1985; World Sports Prototype Champion and Driver's Championship 1986-1987; IMSA GTP Manufacturers Champion 1985-1988; IMSP GTP Driver's Champion 1985-1987, along with numerous other important event victories and series championships.

Porsche 956-003 has the best record of all the factory 956 and 962 chassis; responsible for more points than any other 956 in Porsche's 1982 World Endurance Championship and Jacky Ickx's Driver's championship; and – most significant of all – it is the overall winner of the 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans. 956-003 is an essential part of the bedrock foundation of the Porsche endurance racing legend.

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