1961 Porsche RS 61 Sports Racing Spyder

The factory figured on 120 man-hours to create one of these engines. Setting the cam timing took between eight and 15 hours.

Porsche’s giant-killer Spyder series of four-cylinder, four-cam sports racing cars ruled small bore international racing for a full decade, beginning in the early 1950s. Since a powerful multi-cylinder engine was not available, Porsche’s racing car designers concentrated on “free horsepower” in the form of lightweight chassis and running gear fitted with streamlined alloy bodies. These provided excellent acceleration, handling, braking, fuel efficiency, and tire wear.

This sports racing car theme-a highly developed air-cooled four-cam alloy engine, mid-rear mounted in a lightweight tubular chassis, with four-wheel independent suspension (at first with torsion bars, later with coil springs), streamlined aluminum body paneling, five-speed gearboxes, and huge alloy-finned drum brakes, was to serve Porsche well through the 550A, 1500 RS, the 1957 RSK, and on to the RS 60 and RS 61 series.

The RS 60 and the following year’s RS 61 was a unique marketing concept for the company-for the first time, they offered a select group of private owners a racing car identical to the ones raced by the factory. Still known as the Type 718, these cars had a tubular space frame similar to the 1959 RSK, but with an extra four inches in the wheelbase and a wider cockpit.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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