A 1961 Porsche RS-61 currently owned by Sir Stirling Moss OBE will be offered for sale at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed 2015 sale, to be held June 26th at Goodwood House in Chichester, UK.
Sir Stirling Moss OBE famously bought this Porsche RS-61 (chassis 718-070) for $1,705,000 USD at the 2010 Gooding Amelia Island auction, less than one week after breaking both his ankles after falling three stories down an open elevator shaft. He subsequently campaigned it at historic level in the Le Mans Classic on the 24-Hour race circuit in France, and in the USA at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, his last competitive motor race.
The Porsche company’s agile RennSport (‘RS’) cars, with powerful 4-cylinder air-cooled engine mounted behind the open two-seat cockpit, won the Targa Florio in 1956, 1959 and 1960. In 1961, Sir Stirling shared a 2-liter Porsche RS-60 there with Graham Hill.
Sir Stirling recalled, “Our racing car was just perfect for the course, we could hardly have wished for nicer, and I led for the first four 44-mile laps, by 1 1/2 minutes before handing over to Graham for his two laps. He handed the car back to me 76 seconds behind a Ferrari, and I managed to change that into a 65-second lead with one lap to go. We looked on course for a lap record last time round and a great win until – only 8 kms from the finish – the transmission failed, put us out, and the Ferrari won instead. We have since been described as moral winners of that race, which is unfortunate, because moral first places don’t pay first-place prize money”
Moss and Hill then drove the latest, almost identical, Porsche RS-61, fitted with a 1605cc engine, in the subsequent Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers race in Germany’s Eifel Mountains. On a track slick with drizzle, Sir Stirling took the lead on the second lap but, as the course dried, he was overwhelmed by far larger and more powerful factory Ferraris.
Sir Stirling continued, “After 12 laps I handed over to Graham who rejoined fifth. Then it began to snow! Graham handed back to me and I found the little Porsche ideal for the Nurburgring in such conditions. We climbed into third, then second. I was set to take the lead when the little car broke – but it had been exciting while it lasted.”
The Porsche RS-61 (chassis 718-070) offered for sale at Bonhams’ 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed sale was originally delivered to first owner Bob Holbert of Pennsylvania early in 1961. He was the leading American Porsche specialist of his era, and he competed in the car in his busy program of Sports Car Club of America East Coast events, including the Daytona National. He then sold the car to gentleman driver Tom Payne, who always raced wearing an impeccably valeted business suit and tie.
Tom Payne and Porsche RS-61 ‘070’ featured in such further East Coast races as the Cumberland Nationals, Wisconsin Grand Prix, Thompson Nationals and the Atlanta ‘500’ Sprints. Third owner Millard Ripley subsequently won in the car at the Watkins Glen circuit in New York. Overall, 718-070 is credited with having achieved 13 victories and 20 podium placings in SCCA National competitions.
The car was finally retired from active competition in 1963, but survived complete and unmolested before being restored for vintage racing as early as 1969. More recently top historic Porsche specialist Andy Prill completed a thorough rebuild which saw the car re-finished both mechanically and aesthetically to its current race-ready form.
Bonhams Motor Car Department head James Knight said, “We are hugely honored to have been commissioned to sell Sir Stirling’s cherished Porsche RS61 following his retirement from competitive motor sport. It is particularly appropriate that we should offer the car at the forthcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed – where Sir Stirling is the founder patron and where he achieved so much throughout his unmatchable career.”
This 1961 Porsche RS-61 ‘070’ will be offered at the Bonhams Festival of Speed Auction on June 26th, 2015, to be held at Goodwood House in Chichester, UK (Estimate £1,700,000 to £2,000,000; $2,500,000 – $3,000,000). For more information, visit Bonhams Festival of Speed.