Air Race: Porsche Sports Cars Play a Role in UK History at RM Sotheby’s London Fall Auction

Maneuverable, fast, and weather-resistant —the best car for autumn in Britain is an air-cooled Porsche.

Forest Casey |

With the days growing inevitably shorter as autumn approaches, the time for enjoying your favourite roads is slowly escaping. At this point in the year, cool weather becomes much more of a certainty, and the possibilities of inclement weather grow with each passing day. Amidst this cloudy backdrop, one would think that automotive enthusiasm itself would shrivel, making for a cruel winter indeed. And yet, the spark of passionate driving and everyday thrills, as unlikely as it may seem, is still alive and well on the British Isles.

Whether it is the ongoing admiration between the current star of the BBC’s Top Gear, Chris Harris, and the Porsche brand, or the previous co-stars, James May and Richard Hammond, it is safe to say that Stuttgart’s finest sports cars have found a following with top-tier British television presenters. The same is true with more hardcore UK-based motoring critics, including Henry Catchpole and Dickie Meaden. Of course, this list of prestigious British journalists would not be complete without the founder of evo Magazine, Harry Metcalfe: all clearly appreciate the rear-engined setup and playful abilities exhibited by classic Porsche examples.

When you are driving a Porsche sports car, inclement weather is an opportunity to test one’s skill. Air-cooled cars as a category are perfectly happy when the temperatures dip. Perhaps today’s cover car, the iconic 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort, is the pinnacle embodiment of this all-weather confidence. Equally suited for rainy commutes and backroad sprints, the four-wheel-drive system on this classic Porsche was extremely advanced for its era. The air-cooled examples shown here today are all bound for RM Sotheby’s London Fall Auction, set to unfold on 6 November 2021, the evening before the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. And while none of these Porsche examples are eligible to participate, they would surely all accomplish the run in comfort:

1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 Super by Reutter offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 Super by Reutter

 

Estimate: £150,000 - £180,000

 

The connection between air-cooled Porsche power and the United Kingdom is solidified even further with this classic 356 A 1600 Super coupe by Reutter from 1959. With proven pedigree stretching back to its first owner, Donald Campbell CBE, and single-family ownership since 1965, this sporting two-door Porsche has all the ingredients necessary to embody a true heirloom example. A devotee of speed, Donald Campbell, was the true heir to his father Sir Malcolm Campbell’s pursuits, and thus was the perfect customer to purchase this post-war Porsche. A genuine sportsman, Mr. Campbell also chose to put this Porsche to use, as can be seen in this fascinating period film reel, whose title has inspired our post for today. In July of 1959, not two months after collecting this example, Mr. Campbell used it to compete in a quintessentially British challenge, trying to score the speediest time from London to Paris and back. Though Mr. Campbell’s attempt was bested by a British Airman using a combination of jet airplanes and helicopters, this period-correct, numbers-matching Porsche certainly held its own. An undeniable air-cooled artifact from the great tradition of British sportsmanship.

 

 

1960 Porsche 356 Carrera Zagato Speedster Sanction Lost offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1960 Porsche 356 Carrera Zagato Speedster Sanction Lost

 

Estimate: £400,000 - £450,000 

 

Crafted by hand with aerodynamics in mind, these coachbuilt examples show the unlimited possibilities when Carrera power combines with Italian styling by Zagato. The story behind this rarely seen shape starts in the mid-1950s, when French racing driver Claude Storez commissioned Zagato to maximize the aerodynamic efficiency of a Porsche 356 Carrera Speedster. Created at Zagato’s Milanese workshop, the end result was a bespoke Porsche as potent in period rally racing as it was unique on the road. Storez piloted the Speedster to an impressive second place finish at the Tour de France Automobile in 1958 behind a formidable Ferrari 250 GT TdF. Sadly, tragedy struck the following year. Storez was killed during a routine rally in France in 1959; his wrecked Porsche-Zagato was cleared from the track and never seen again. But that is not the end of the story. The original design of this one-of-a-kind Carrera has been painstakingly recreated by Zagato using traditional methods and designated ‘Sanction Lost’ as a nod to Storez’s original; the first and only example made in Speedster style.

 

 

1961 Porsche 356 Carrera Zagato Coupé Sanction Lost offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1961 Porsche 356 Carrera Zagato Coupé Sanction Lost

 

Estimate: £400,000 - £450,000

 

The prospect of saving a lost example is expanded upon even further with this Carrera-powered, Zagato-built coupé. While the open-top Speedster we covered earlier was created and subsequently lost in-period, this tantalizing Coupé is even more of a “what might have been.” Pulled from Zagato’s own archives, the design sketches for this two-door, closed Coupé was originally created at the same time as when Porsche racing driver Claude Storez commissioned his aerodynamic Speedster, but never made into metal. The detailed concept drawings were scanned using modern photometric technology, then formed for real by Zagato’s talented technicians using traditional methods on the chassis of a genuine 1961 Porsche 356 B Coupe. As an appropriate pièce de résistance, this ‘Sanction Lost’ example is one of only two made by Zagato with the legendary Ernst Fuhrman-designed four-cam Carrera engine which makes the finished product a real-life dream car come true.

 

 

1964 Porsche 356 C Carrera 2 2000 GS Coupé offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1964 Porsche 356 C Carrera 2 2000 GS Coupé

 

Estimate: £450,000 - £550,000

 

For those UK-based Porschephiles who value period-correct originality over all else, London Fall also offers a car which will tempt even the most well-stocked collectors. The Carrera engine, star of the previous two ‘Sanction Lost’ Zagato examples we covered, is certainly the highlight of this late-production 356 C Coupé, which is believed to be one of only 101 built to a similar specification between 1963 and 1965. Even more critical to residents of the British Isles, this handsome Bali Blue example is one of a mere six built in right-hand-drive. Carries a known history of devoted Porsche enthusiasts since new, and most importantly of all, thorough documentation of regular servicing on its complex, compelling Carrera motor, including Essex-based Porsche specialists PR Services and Maxted-Page & Prill as well as former owner and renowned restorer German-based Manfred Knebel of Empfingen, near Stuttgart. A Porsche which proves that prior ownership matters.

 

1976 Porsche 911 S Targa offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1976 Porsche 911 S Targa

 

Estimate: £40,000 - £60,000 | Offered Without Reserve

 

Not all Porsche sports cars need to top six figures to prove their worth. Offered without reserve, this US market, mid-1970s Targa benefits from a no-expense-spared restoration designed to support its healthy 2.7-litre engine, a hallmark of the 911 S model. With work on this example beginning shortly after it was imported to the UK in 2013, the fully documented restoration encompassed a full engine-out service, including replacement of the main and intermediate shaft bearings, and a thorough cleaning. A Dansk exhaust and triple Weber 40mm carburetors aid in air flow, while the addition of scavenger oil pump from a 3.2-litre Carrera helps the powerplant on this Porsche maintain constant oil through its cylinder head. A most tasteful Targa.  

 

 

1976 Porsche 934 offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1976 Porsche 934

 

Estimate: £875,000 - £975,000

 

For many devotees of the Porsche brand, motorsport is more than a mere suggestion, but rather a way of life. Acquiring a sports-racer which has participated in period competition is a lifelong goal for many, with the second-hardest choice becoming which era and model one prefers. The hardest part of sourcing a race-proven Porsche is, naturally, how few were built in-period. This 934 is the brand’s first production-based turbocharged competition car and is one of a mere 31 built by the Porsche factory for privateer-based Group 4 racing. As one would expect, this German-delivered example is accompanied by a long list of race entries from 1976 to 1982, including several first-place finishes, and even some impressive second-place results towards the end of its formal competition life. Built with a reinforced chassis, with Bilstein coil-over springs, and a braking system borrowed from the fearsome Porsche 917, this example provides entry into a truly exclusive motorsports club.

 

 

1987 Porsche 959 Komfort offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

1987 Porsche 959 Komfort

 

Estimate: £800,000 - £1,000,000

 

Our cover car will immediately be familiar to anyone who came of age in the 1980s. An all-time favourite poster car from a truly radical time, the nostalgic elements of this highly advanced Porsche have become a theme for this fantastic new short-format film featuring this example. Today acknowledged as a full supercar, the Porsche 959 featured the ultimate accompaniment to any fall drive, an all-new system called Porsche-Steuer Kupplung or PSK, for short. The breakthrough technology pushed the halo Porsche into the rarefied field occupied by the best in the world at that time. Ferrari, for instance, did not include four driven wheels on their F40; neither did Jaguar on their XJ220 or McLaren in their F1, all standout examples of the era. Only the Bugatti EB 110 could claim four-wheel-drive. In the real world, and especially when driving in poor weather conditions, the novel Porsche system allowed for faster sprints between corners. Unlike other all-wheel-drive systems, PSK was tuned to maximize performance. The advanced system allowed the front and rear torque split ratio to vary between the 959’s wheels, not simply because of a loss of traction, but also in tune with hard acceleration situations, perfectly balancing the driven wheels in conjunction with the twin KKK turbochargers. These days, the pairing of twin-turbocharged powerplants and all-wheel-drive is nearly universal among modern supercars. Benefitting from 29 years spent in single-family ownership, this example is certain to draw the attention of U.K.-based Porsche enthusiasts when it crosses the block at RM Sotheby’s London Fall 2021 auction. An event not to be missed.

 

Rear of 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort offered at RM Sotheby's London live Auction 2021

 


Share