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.