The 24 Hours of Le Mans race is the world’s most prestigious racing event. Since its inception in 1923 Le Mans has established itself as the pinnacle of the endurance car racing world. On the other hand lays Porsche, the German company having won 18 times at Le Mans makes it the most successful manufacturer in the event’s history. These 18 victories include the epic 2016 race which saw Porsche clinch victory from Toyota’s hands in the final lap. Porsche’s history at Le Mans started way back in 1951, where two 936 cars participated in the race and one of these aluminium bodied 1.1-litre racers got home Porsche a 20th place finish in 1951. Now to celebrate 40 years of its Transaxle cars, Porsche has restored one of their greatest Le Mans race cars, the Porsche 924 GTP that raced in 1980.
In 1980, Porsche entered three cars at Le Mans which were driven by teams from Germany, USA and Great Britain. The Porsche 924 started life as a Volkswagen, and was only four years old when Porsche decided to race the car at Le Mans. These three cars were entered in the highly competitive ‘Prototype Class’ and wore national colours of their teams at the event. In 1980 season, these cars were called by the name 924 Carrera GTR and finished the race in 6th, 12th and 13th positions overall. These cars were powered by in-line four cylinder engines that produced around 375bhp.
In 1981 the cars returned to Le Mans and this time around they were called as Porsche 924 GTP. For 1981, the Porsche GTP cars had bigger 16 valve engines that are said to produce around 420bhp; this helped the cars to finish 7th overall, third in class while the cars hardly stopped for fuel. One of those 924-based race cars that raced at Le Man was the 924 GTP Chassis 002. And till date, it is the only Porsche that has been fielded by a British team. The 924 GTP Chassis 002 which has been restored sat out the 1981 season and was retired in 1982 after years as a test mule. This is the same car you see in these pictures undergoing restoration under Porsche Great Britain and was a project undertaken by other classic Porsche partner centres. During the project, Porsche Centre Glasgow handled suspension and brakes while Porsche Centre Swindon restored the engine. Furthermore, Hatfield restored the gearbox and finally all plumbing and electricals were restored by Porsche Centre Leeds.
Porsche had given the responsibility of the body work and trim to Road & Race Restorations, one of the Porsche recommended Body Repairers with extensive experience in the restoration of specialist race cars. Finally, the restored car was unveiled at this year’s Silverstone Classic show, forty years after the 924’s debut. The original drives of the car Jurgen Barth, Derek Bell and Tony Dron were also present to share their memories of the 1980 Le Mans. Bout the car Bell said that it was the best handling car that he ever drove while for Dron looking at the car in its restored form invoked memories of the times when he was on the driving seat of this beautiful car.
The great minds at Porsche had also made a video of the cars restoration process and needless to say it is worth more than a thousand words. Watch and let us know what you think about it in the comments section below.