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Porsche 935 - the history of the most famous 911 race cars

by

Antonio Eiras

The 935 was a competition vehicle produced by Porsche, based on the standard 930 Turbo, intended to participate in the World Championship for Manufacturers of 1976, aside from that year to the Group 5 vehicles, of limited production. This class was also called the "Silhouette" as the technical regulations allowed a wide margin changes, provided they maintain the basic silhouette of the production car when viewed from the front.

 

The engine used was a 2.85 liter, flat-6 cylinders, air cooled, who delivered 590 PS at 7,900 rpm, with the KKK turbo pressure range from 1.35 to 1.55 bar, for a minimum weight limit of 970 kg. The front of the chassis, similar to the car series, housed in the gasoline reservoir and was enhanced with aluminum tubes. The torsion bars of the standard suspensions were replaced by titanium springs concentric to the dampers. The brakes derived from the Porsche 917 and resorted to ventilated and perforated discs (except for Le Mans) of 300 mm diameter.

 

The initial version of the car had headlights in its traditional position, on the limit of each side of the plan and sleek hood, so characteristic of the 911. Later and taking advantage of a loophole in the regulations, the Porsche engineers went down to the headlights on front spoiler and so gave rise to the characteristic flat front of the 935, with obvious gains in aerodynamic efficiency.

 

I was 15 when the 935 came and I well remember the surprise I had when I saw the first images of the new face of the official Porsche, with the colors of Martini Racing. I was accustomed to the traditional image of the 911, that the brand always known to preserve in their race cars, and I could not help feel strange with that radical change and, at the same time, think that its competitors would have reason to worry.

 

Indeed, the new Porsche 935 driven by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass and, in their absence, by Rolf Stommelen and Manfred Schurti, won the BMW opponent with its 3.2 CSL, more powerful than the 935, drived by Ronnie Peterson and Gunnar Nilsson, in a championship disputed until the last race. 

 

These were times of change, with the confirmation of competitive turbo engines face for higher capacity ones, in a "democratization" process that began in endurance and that Renault would take for Formula 1, where it would be beaten by BMW and its engine derived from the 1.4 liter that the mark of Munich introduced in Group 5 in 1977.

 

From the end of 1976 Porsche began selling the 935 and kept the participation in the championship with only one car, which developed and tested in competition before making it available to private teams. These helped the factory team in the task of defending the titles that they won, which resulted in three more titles of Manufacturers until 1979.

Alongside the development of the 935 official car, Porsche has used this model to develop specific projects.

 

In 1977 the official team, the Martini Racing, competed with the 935/77 that presented significant aerodynamic and front suspension geometry changes as well as changes in the engine, with the replacement of the single turbo by two small KKK turbos, with the power delivered to rise to 630CV at 8000 rpm.

 

That year, the technicians from Weissach also developed the 935 Baby, intended to compete in the class up to two liters of the German championship, equipped with a six-cylinder boxer engine, air-cooled, in the tradition of Porsche, with a capacity reduced to 1425cc and that delivered 370 PS at 8,000 rpm. With the weight reduced to the 725 kg minimum imposed by technical regulations, the 935/77 2.0 convincingly won the race held on weekend GP Formula 1 in Hockenheim, Germany, demonstrating the supremacy of the machine, driven in adverse weather conditions by the experienced Jacky Ickx. 

 

For the next year the Stuttgart brand has prepared a 935 to dispute the victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Resorted to a tubular chassis, in aluminum and an innovative 3.2 liter engine, flat-6 cylinders, but with four valves per cylinder and water-cooled, that delivered 750 at 8,200 rpm. Taking advantage of a gap in the technical regulation, the floor of the car, between the axles, was lowered by 10 cm. The gearbox was mounted in an inverted position, to reduce the angle of the shafts and the driving position was moved to the right.

 

The car went on to have a minimum weight of 1030 kg, but that didn’t not stop him from revealing the fastest car in that year's edition of Le Mans, where he finished a lowly 8th place due to technical problems that delayed it in the early hours of the race.

 

The victory in the inaugural race of the 6 Hours of Silverstone, was thus a meager consolation for the Weissach engineers who created a fabulous machine of competition with this 935/78, also nicknamed "Moby Dick", by the generous dimensions of its aerodynamic appendices.

 

This vehicle would be, however, the precursor of a technical change in the German mark and led to so remarkable models in the history of Porsche, like the 959/961 of the 80s and the 911 GT2 in the 90s.

 

A significant part of the 935 saga was due, as noted, by the invaluable contribution of the private teams. Among these stood out in America the team Brumos Racing and in Europe, the Kremer Racing who created since 1976, and successively with the placid good of the Stuttgart brand, its own versions of the 935, which he termed K1, K2, K3 and K4. Was with his 935 K3 model that the Cologne team got the victory so desired by the Porsche leaders, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979, a race marked by unrelenting rain and who consecrated the virtuosity of Klaus Ludwig. 

 

This success added up six victories of the 935 at the 24 Hours of Daytona and another six in the 12 Hours of Sebring. In eight years of participation, in races disputed on the five continents, the 935 model achieved over 150 victories for the History of the German carmaker, in an unusual longevity which ended in 1984, with its replacement, in the American races, by the 962 model.

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