Porsche made a serious move to dominate the 2-litre class of international Grand Touring car competition in 1964 with introduction of its advanced Typ 904 GTS Coupe. The new car combined a very durable and robust fabricated steel-sheet chassis platform with a moulded-glassfiber bodyshell and flat-4 cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled engine mounted behind the two-seat cabin. Not only was the mid-mounted engine layout innovative, so was the fiberglass body, realized by the Heinkel Fleugzeugbau aircraft company who had spare capacity having just finished a major job making Lockheed Starfighter components. Ferry Porsche’s eldest son Butzi, head of the company new Styling Department, was the father of the 904 project (also known as the Carrera GTS) and is quoted as saying: “It was my favorite because I did it alone.”
The 904 GTS was launched for the 1964 competition season as a successor to the 1957-introduced 718 model which had been campaigned by both the factory and by privateers worldwide essentially as an open-cockpit sports-racing Spyder, but also as a works team-entered Coupe. Both 4- and 8-cylinder engines had been deployed in the 718 chassis, but now the definitive new 904 GTS Coupe was created as a potentially street-legal model, complying with GT-class homologation regulations which also dictated that 100 be built. The 904 was the last racing car built by Porsche which clients could still collect at the factory and drive home if they wished.
In the end some 110 examples of the Porsche 904 were built, mostly powered by a 180bhp (134kW) version of the four-cam engine originally designed by Ernst Fuhrmann for the purebred racing 550 Spyder of the 1950s. To satisfy demand, a small batch of 904s were built featuring 6-cylinder, 911-derived power units. The race-prepared regular 904 GTS scaled just 1,443 pounds (655kg), and through 1964-65 they achieved considerable competition success at everything up to FIA World Endurance Championship level, effectively throughout the motor sporting world. One works car even shone through deep snow and sheet ice in the Monte Carlo Rally, driven heroically by the veteran Eugen Bohringer – emphasizing the model’s split-personality usability on the public highway as much as on the dedicated race circuits of the world.
1964 Porsche 904 GTS Carrera For Sale
Details: Seller Kidston SA is asking €800,000. Car is located in Switzerland.
Seller Comments: “This unusually well-presented and documented 904 GTS was supplied new in April 1964 to Italian gentleman driver Gianni Bulgari, scion of the eponymous jewelry empire. He entered his new Porsche with fellow racer and co-driver Maurizio Grana in the 1964 Targa Florio classic round-the-mountains race in Sicily, and was leading the entire field before being forced to retire after six of the punishing 44-mile laps of the Piccolo Madonie circuit.”
“Gianni Bulgari only campaigned the 904 once in 1965 before selling it to Sam Posey via mutual friend Harry Theodoracopoulos for $3,000. Sam Posey co-drove the ex-Bulgari 904 ‘080’ with Harry Theodoracopoulos and Jim Haynes in the 1966 Daytona 24-Hours, finishing 11th overall. He also appeared in the car that year at Virginia International Raceway, Bridgehampton and – co-driving with Ray Caldwell – in the Watkins Glen 6-Hours.
“Sam Posey subsequently sold the 904 to well-known Porsche and Mercedes-Benz enthusiast Alex Dearborn of Marblehead, Massachusetts who removed the 4-cam engine and replaced it with a 2-litre Typ 911 6-cylinder unit. He re-equipped with car for street use, even adding a ski rack and ran it extensively on the public road before setting it aside in favor of more modern conveyances.”
“The car was then acquired, around 1970, by Gil Meyer, of Boston, Massachusetts. After a comprehensive 30-month restoration process Porsche 904 GTS ‘080’ then won the Judge’s Choice award at the 1974 Porsche Parade event at Pocono, Pennsylvania. Subsequently the 904 was returned to Europe, the present long-term owner.”
“A six-cylinder, 2.7-litre Carrera RS engine was supplied by Porsche, and rebuilt by veteran performance specialist Alois Ruf, developing 210bhp. The 4-cam, 2-litre Typ 587/3 904 unit (s/n 99.002, from chassis ‘904 016’) was removed and rebuilt by Dr Pohl of Hanover (the renowned 4-cam specialist) and sits unused on a stand as a spare (included with ‘080’ today). The car has covered barely 800kms since restoration and has been regularly maintained and started by a qualified Porsche mechanic.”
“It is now offered here as an outstanding example of the 904 GTS, complete with two alternative power units, Juergen Barth report (including copy factory Kardex), history file, period photos, restoration bills and Austrian (EU) road registration. It is finished in the original racing silver with a blue centre stripe and beige leather trim, and its fascinating history, excellent condition and clear provenance make it one of the best surviving 904s.”
Sports Car Digest Comments: The 2008 Sports Car Market price guide suggests a $600,000 – $800,000 range for the Porsche 904 GTS. This special 904 GTS comes complete with Gianni Bulgari/Sam Posey ownership, wins at Mugello and Vallenlunga, plus Targa Florio and Daytona experience. While the asking price is certainly top-dollar, with that comes a rewarding car welcomed by the world’s most select vintage car events.
Bulgari/Grana Porsche 904 GTS ‘080’ as it wins the 1964 Mugello Road Race
[Source: Kidston SA]