2007 RM Auction, Scottsdale: Porsche RS 61 Spyder Sold at $800,000

1961 Porsche RS 61 Sports Racing Spyder -- LOT 248 Sold at $800,000 gavel price

This gorgeous Porsche Spyder is one of 14 RS 61 racers developed for the 1961 season. It was an evolution of Porsche's Spyder series of road racers that included the 550, RSK and RS 60. This model has a long and interesting history that we'll let the RM Catalog explain for us. Follow the jump for the complete rundown and as always, click any image to go to the high-res gallery of live shots from the RM Auction on Friday.

[Source: RM Auctions]
RM Catalog Description:

LOT 248

Porsche's giant killer Spyder Series of four cylinder,
four cam sports racing cars ruled small bore
International Racing for a full decade beginning in
the early 1950s. Since a powerful multi-cylinder
engine was not available, Porsche's racing car
designers concentrated on "free horsepower" in
the form of lightweight chassis and running gear
fitted with streamlined alloy bodies, which in turn
provided excellent acceleration, handling, braking,
fuel efficiency and tire wear.

As early as 1953, the small but highly efficient air
cooled Sports 550s scored class wins at Monaco, in
the Mille Miglia, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in
the Nürburgring 1000. Class wins became
commonplace in all of the important international
road races, hillclimbs and rallies during the next
two years, but Porsche surprised the world of
motor racing at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans
when their silver 550s finished 4th, 5th and 6th
overall behind two D-Type Jaguars and an Aston
Martin DB3 S.

Umberto Maglioli's magnificent 1st overall in the
punishing Targa Florio Road race of 1956 in his
little 1500 cc 550 Spyder was, at the time, rightly
hailed as "Porsche's greatest victory", especially in
view of the fact that in order to accomplish this, he
had to defeat Castellotti's 3.5 liter Ferrari Monza
and Taruffi's 300 S Maserati. For a time in the late
1950's, the Porsche Factory's reliable Spyders
became the marque to beat in the long and really
tough "car breaker" races like the Mille, Targa
Florio, Le Mans and Sebring.

Proving that the 1956 Targa victory was not a
fluke, Jurgen Barth and Wolfgang Seidel led a
sweep of four Spyders to victory in the 1959
Targa Florio race. The 1960 Sebring 12 Hour
Endurance Race fell to the Type 718 RS 60
Factory entry of Gendebien/Hermann and
Bonnier partnered Herrmann to another Targa
triumph in the same year.

178 bhp at 8,000 rpm four
overhead camshaft 1600 cc
"Boxer" four-cylinder engine with
two Weber downdraught
carburetors, five-speed Porsche
gearbox with synchromesh on
ratios 2-5, triangulated tubular
steel "spaceframe" chassis, four-
wheel independent suspension
with torsion bar, coil springs and
tubular shock absorbers,
four-wheel disc brakes.
Wheelbase: 86.6"

$700,000 - $900,000

1600 cc's; wind tunnel aero studies improved the car's coefficient
of drag and air penetration and disc brakes finally replaced the
reliable RSK's drum brakes on the RS 61. But squint a little and our
RS 61 Spyder looks remarkably like the 1954 550 Spyder.

The RS 60 and RS 61 models, the ultimate development of the four
cylinder boxer Spyder series, were quite different in many respects
from their 550 and RSK predecessors – in no small way thanks to
the new rules by the Federation International de l'Automobile. In
late 1959, in their usual unpredictable fashion, the F.I.A. mandated
major changes for their Appendix "C" Sports Car Regulations in
order to bring racing car specifications closer in line to those of
normal road cars. The new requirements included build number
minimums, wider cockpits, higher and wider windshields, bigger
doors, convertible tops with a specific rear window size and
strangely, since few racing drivers took their suitcases for a drive at
Le Mans, the space for an "F.I.A. suitcase", measuring 26"x16"x8"!
Porsche's legendary racing manager Baron Huschke von Hanstein
was not amused, telling influential visiting journalist Jesse
Alexander, "Our customers spend 30,000 marks on an RSK and
six months later, it does not comply with the regulations anymore
– the F.I.A. needs to give us more time, warning us long ahead
that they require a wider frame or a larger windscreen". Of all
these new rules, the higher windscreen hit Porsche the hardest as
its smaller engines could not afford to lose the extra power to
push a huge screen through the air. Nevertheless, Porsche's 1960
RS 60 Spyders eventually complied with the new rules.

The 550 Spyder debuted in 1954 and with more than 100 built
and sold in 1955 and 1956, it was to be Porsche's most successful
"customer" sports racing car to date. Sadly, one of those
customers was actor and budding racer, James Dean who ended
his career and life and that of his mechanic on September 30,
1955, crashing his brand new 550 Spyder into a station wagon at
a California highway intersection.

By 1956 the early and somewhat flexible ladder-type chassis of
the Factory cars gave way to the 550 A's stiff and light tubular
space frame designed to be stressed in tension and compression
depending on the location of its members. Colin Chapman's
Lotus MK 6 and Mercedes' 300 SL Series had also recently
pioneered this type of chassis, a concept which was to become de
rigueur for racing cars until monocoque construction took over
in the late 1960s. This sports racing car theme – a highly
developed air-cooled four cam alloy engine, mid-rear mounted
in a lightweight tubular chassis with four-wheel independent
suspension (at first with torsion bars, later with coil springs),
streamlined aluminum body paneling, five-speed in-house made
gearboxes and huge alloy finned drum brakes, was to serve
Porsche well through the 550 A, 1500 RS, the 1957 RSK and on
to the RS 60 and RS 61 Series.

Again, evolution of a successful design brought Porsche much
recognition in international sports car racing. To be sure, power
rose from the early 550's 105 bhp to our RS 61's 174 bhp from
The RS 60 and the following year's RS 61 was a unique marketing
concept for the company – for the first time, they offered a select
group of private owners a racing car identical to the ones raced by
the Factory. Still known as the Type 718, these cars had a tubular
space frame similar to the 1959 RSK but with an extra four inches
in the wheelbase and wider in the cockpit in order to comply with
the 110 cm (43in) F.I.A. minimum. The RSK's trailing arm front
suspension was carried over but fitted with a hydraulic steering
damper. The rear received a new double wishbone system with
Koni shocks and coil springs. The eleven-inch drum brakes had
cast magnesium backing plates and wheel diameter was reduced
to fifteen inches and usually fitted with 5.50 front and 6.00 rear
Dunlop "L" racing tires.

Space for the F.I.A. suitcase was found under the rear deck and
delivered with each car was a rudimentary top, not much more
substantial than an umbrella, as well as a curved safety glass
windshield in an aluminum frame. The type 547/4 1587 cc
engine had a 9.8:1 compression ratio and developed 178 bhp on
the two Weber 46 IDM 1 carburetors.

Despite the new larger windscreens and the other disfigurements
mandated by the F.I.A.'s "Road Car" rules, Porsche Spyders
continued their giant killer ways in international endurance racing.
Gendebien and Herrmann won the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring and
Bonnier and Herrmann achieved the same amazing result at the
Targa Florio. Class wins in the 1960-1961 season are too numerous
to mention but include Sebring, Riverside, Targa Florio,
Nürburgring, Rouen, Le Mans, Spa, Watkins Glen, Hockenheim,
the International Hillclimb Championship as well as the SCCA "E"
and "F" Sports Racing Championships in North America.

Only 14 RS 61s were produced and they all have quite interesting
histories – that is certainly the case with splendid example that
RM Auctions is privileged to offer here.

A Factory letter dated April 15, 1987 from Jürgen Barth confirms
that # 718-076 was built in February 1961 and delivered to
Herrmann Müller of Sweizimmern, Austria. Müller was a
hillclimb expert and won the 1963 European Hillclimb
Championship in this RS 61 Spyder. Attached to the Barth letter
is a nine-page dossier listing "the car's successful entries in the
Hillclimb World Championship". Results are listed for many
1961-1963 hillclimbs including:

• Mitholz-Kaudersteg, Switzerland
• Faucille, Switzerland
• Parma-Monte Cassino, Italy
• Mont Ventoux, France
• Trento-Bondone, Italy
• Freiburg-Schauinstand, Germany
• Ollon-Villars, Switzerland
• Timmeljoch-Bergrennen, Austria

Various major circuit races often dovetailed with the hillclimb
schedule including a fine fifth place in the May 28, 1961 1000
Kilometers of Nürburgring in which Herrmann co-drove with
Heini Walter.

By 1964 the RS 61 was no longer competitive in Europe so
Herrmann Müller sold it to South African driver Dr. Dawie Gous
who won the 1964 S/A Sports Car Championship with RS 61
#718-076, now with the engine bored out to 1800 cc. Amazingly,
the old Spyder remained competitive as Clive van Buuren and
Steve Mallet finished 3rd overall in the 9 Hours of Kyalami in
1966 and 6th in 1967 as well as winning outright twice in the
Pietermaritzburg Six Hour Race.

Still racing in 1972, now in Historics, Stan Wesselink, a Transvaal
Quantity Surveyor won the Kyalami Vintage event and also a
Sports Car Club of South Africa Hillclimb in Krugersdorp.

Sometime during its South African career our RS 61 was painted
in that country's national racing color of black as well as receiving
the typical late '60s/early '70s aero tweaks of a chin spoiler, a
"kamm-tail" and small spoiler to the rear.

By the early 1980s, # 718-076 was in North America and raced in
the 1982 Porsche feature marque races at the Monterey Historics
and again in 1983. Owners in this period include Florida Porsche
aficionado and vintage racer Jeffrey Keiner of Spyder Motor
Works. At this time the updated bodywork, although quite
attractive, was returned to the original Herrmann Müller Factory
configuration but re-sprayed again in black. Now in the famous
Brumos Porsche Collection of Jacksonville, Florida, the car was
properly maintained by the Brumos Racing Team mechanics and
sparingly demonstrated in major events such as the 1998
Monterey Historics (another Porsche featured marque year) and
as recently as the July 2001 Lime Rock Park Rennsport Reunion
presented by Porsche Cars North America and Brian Redman
Intercontinental Events.

In 2005, after over a decade in the Brumos Collection, # 718-076
was sold to the current owner who had the body stripped to bare
aluminum and repainted in the original German racing silver and
shipped it to Bill Doyle's Rennwagon Motor Company in
Wyoming for a complete mechanical check-over. Subsequent
rectifications by Doyle include a new clutch assembly and a
complete service of the ATE disc brakes. An engine leakdown was
also performed and the powerplant was found to have excellent
compression. In a recent interview, Bill Doyle stated, "This is a
great old Spyder, looks to be in very correct condition – not
Pebble Beach over-restored but it would certainly make a great
event car for vintage races and long distance rallies".
Porsche RS series cars are seldom offered for sale; in fact, RM
Auctions has never featured a RS 61 at auction since its
inception a decade ago, providing here a great opportunity to
acquire an excellent, fully documented example of one of these
rare Porsche Spyders.

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