One of the finest examples of the Group C era, this 1982 Porsche 956 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1983 – the eighth time the German marque won the legendary French endurance race, en route to the record seventeenth win it racked up at La Sarthe this year.
This 956 was the third of only ten examples made, complete with Rothmans livery and unimpeachable history. It debuted at Le Mans in 1982, where it placed second behind another Rothmans-liveried 956, and went on to win the next four races it entered. The following year, the two Porsches switched places in the winner's circle at Le Mans, securing this car's place in the annals of racing history.
Now set to cross the auction block at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Gooding projects this most historically significant Porsche to fetch between $7,000,000 and $9,000,000 once the gavel drops. According to the Sports Car Market database, that would make this the most valuable Porsche ever sold at auction, eclipsing the 1972 Porsche 917/10 Can-Am racer that Mecum sold for $5.83 million in Monterey three years ago.
It would also far exceed the €2.35 million ($3.15m) paid at RM's auction in Paris last year for another Rothmans-liveried 956 that completed the 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans in '82. That is, assuming 956 #003 sells this time: the last time it crossed the auction block, it failed to sell after a high bid of $2 million.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (June 19, 2015) – Gooding & Company, the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance®, is thrilled to announce the addition of one of the most important and desirable competition cars of all time to its Pebble Beach Auctions. The 1982 Porsche 956, chassis 003, was the outright winner of the 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans and the most successful example of this revolutionary and dominating series of Group C cars. The sale of this factory Porsche racing machine presents an incredible opportunity to own a significant piece of motorsport history and it is sure to be a highlight of Gooding & Company's internationally renowned auction, taking place on August 15 and 16, 2015 in Pebble Beach, California.
1982 Porsche 956
One of only ten works 956s, this Porsche is among the most historic endurance racing cars and the single most successful Porsche 956. Successfully using a unique aerodynamic principle known as ground effects to create large amounts of downforce, the 956 model changed the landscape of prototype sports cars.
The 956 was developed for the new Group C regulations by engineer Norbert Singer and developed by Porsche in-house at their motorsport facility in Weissach. The 956 and its successor, the 962, are regarded as the most successful line of racing prototypes ever produced, with 120 victories over a 13-year span. Porsche's incredible success in international endurance racing, particularly at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was won by the marque for a record 17th time this year, has never been equaled.
The illustrious racing career of 956-003 started at the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans when driven by Jochen Mass and Vern Schuppan, it placed second overall as part of a Porsche sweep of the top three positions. After that fantastic initial result, this 956 went on to win the next four races in which it was entered and was piloted by the best drivers of the era including Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass and Derek Bell.
In 1983, 956-003 was again pressed into duty as one of three cars entered by the Porsche factory team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For this all-important race, Vern Schuppan was paired with Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood, American drivers with lifelong connections to the Porsche marque and winners of multiple championships. After 24 hours of grueling competition, 956-003, with Al Holbert aboard, crossed the line in first place, 63 seconds ahead of the 956 of Bell and Ickx in one of the most thrilling finishes in Le Mans history.
When Porsche finally retired 956-003 from active duty, the car was sold to Vern Schuppan and it remained in his hands for over a decade. Since leaving Schuppan's collection in the 1990s, this legendary 956 has been meticulously restored to its 1983 Le Mans specification and has had only four private owners. Each of its subsequent owners is a recognized collector who has carefully maintained and preserved this singularly important piece of racing history. In recent years, 956-003 has been a crowd favorite at historic events and has been honored with numerous accolades, including the Porsche Trophy at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
With Porsche's recent 1-2 victory at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, all eyes will be on 956-003 – one of the most significant racing Porsches. It is sure to be a coveted lot when offered at the Pebble Beach Auctions this August.
The Pebble Beach Auctions
Dates: Saturday, August 15 at 5:00pm and Sunday, August 16 at 6:00pm
Location: Equestrian Center, corner of Stevenson Drive and Portola Road, Pebble Beach, CA Public preview: Wednesday, August 12 – Sunday, August 16
Auction catalogues: $100, includes admission for two to the viewing and the auctions
General admission: $40, includes admission for one to the viewing and the auctions
Live auction broadcast: www.goodingco.com