Cymon Taylor ©2015, courtesy of RM Auctions
In 1963, the imminent threat of Abarth's Simca 2000, which was to be raced in the European 2-liter championship, was the impetus for Porsche's creation of the Carrera GTS. Porsche chassis designer Hans Tomala decided the required production run of 100 cars could not be quickly and cost-effectively produced in the traditional welded-tube frame format. He therefore specified chassis construction combining tubular and flat-sheet steel construction, bonded to a fiberglass body structure. Design of the body was entrusted to company stylist Ferdinand Porsche III, known affectionately as Butzi. Butzi's attractive 904 lines and efficient chassis sported independent wishbone suspension with coil-overs, four-wheel disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering. Weight distribution was excellent since, unlike the 356 and 911 road cars, the engine was installed ahead of the rear axle with the five-speed gearbox behind it. Most 904s were fitted with an upgraded version of Porsche's tried-and-true four-cylinder, 2-liter, four-cam, plain-bearing racing engine that developed a healthy 180 hp in street trim. Results came quickly for the new GTS in 1964, with perhaps the most significant being the overall win for Colin Davis and Antonio Pucci in the Targa Florio. They managed to beat all the Cobras, Farraris and Abarth Simcas in this classic open road race, in spite of the much smaller displacement of the Porsche engine. Further victories in 1964 and 1965 included class wins at 12 Hours of Sebring, Nürburgring 1000, the Daytona Continental, Le Mans 24 hours, Rheims 12 hours, Spa 500 km, Watkins Glen 500 and SCCA production championships in the US. The fine balance of speed, handling and braking combined with decent fuel economy and superb reliability meant long-distance and rally competition suited the 904 perfectly. This particular 904 was sold new at Brumos Porsche in Jacksonville, FL, and delivered to George Barber of Birmingham, AL. Its history was lost until 1971, when a Porsche dealer in Vermont, Al Alden, bought the car off a used car lot in Bridgeport, CT. The car was repainted the wrong silver and fitted with a 2.2-liter 911S mechanically injected motor, as well as a competition 906 transmission. When Alden died, the 904 was purchased from his estate by his brother Ray, who set out to restore and preserve the car. Last year, the current owner turned the 904 over to the respected Porsche specialist Gunnar Racing of West Palm Beach, FL, for a "no expense spared" refurbishment, including a total strip of all old paint and respray in the original "Sebring" silver. During this process it was discovered that the car retained all of its original body components that showed no signs of damage. The body fit and panel gaps are therefore reported to be as delivered from the factory, as is all chrome and Plexiglas. In addition, the car sports original correct outside mirrors, lights, turn signals, lenses, headlamp covers, instruments, gas tank, oil tank and gas cap. The 911S six-cylinder engine and 906 gearbox are fresh and the braking system has been rebuilt, including new calipers, flex-lines and cylinders. The five alloy wheels are date-coded and fitted with new Michelin AS tires and original-style alloy hub caps. Carrera GTS cars rarely appear on the open market, making the purchase of 904/067 not only an excellent investment but a fun experience as you explore its dual-purpose character at Laguna Seca, in the New England 1000 or on the Tour de France.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 Porsche 904 GTS
Years Produced:1964
Number Produced:120
Original List Price:$7,425 (factory)
SCM Valuation:$375,000-$450,000
Tune Up Cost:$1,500
Distributor Caps:$400
Chassis Number Location:On riveted tag on front bulkhead and a welded tag on the rear crossmember
Engine Number Location:Front of case between distributors
Club Info:Porsche Club of America (PCA)
Alternatives:1963–64 Alfa Romeo TZ-1, 1963 Abarth Simca 2000
Investment Grade:A

This enticing 904 sold for $253,000, including buyer’s premium, at the RM Phoenix auction, January 17, 2003. I judge this to be a fair price to both buyer and seller, and an especially superb bargain for a buyer more interested in using his car on the road than having a numbers-matching piece of furniture.

904s have quietly grown to be one of the great collectible Porsches, at least partly because they are wonderful cars to drive. However, 904s have two serious issues. First, the fussiness of the stock four-cam engines tend to limit the ability to get in the car and in a carefree manner roll up the miles. Although this was the ultimate version of the four-cylinder Porsche Spyder engine, with plain bearings and all the updates possible, it is difficult to achieve serious durability with what was always a race car engine.

All four-cylinder four-cams are service-intensive and cost a small fortune to rebuild, while the six-cylinder 911 engine, with a few simple updates, is both more powerful and far more durable. So the real solution to using and enjoying a 904 is to rid yourself of the worrisome four-cam and get a great early 911 engine, as has been done here. In my view, the 1970-71 2.2-liter S with mechanical fuel injection is the absolute top choice. These 2.2 S engines are short-stroke, high-compression powerhouses without substantial emissions-control clutter, and they have a powerband with gobs of high-rpm torque. With their mechanical fuel injection still intact, they make a spine-tingling shriek as they shoot to redline.

The second great headache with the stock 904 is chassis rust in the flat metal panels bonded to the fiberglass pieces. This rust can be partially hidden, is catastrophic and is wildly expensive to restore. A chassis evaluation by an experienced restorer is a must prior to purchase.

Given that this car is freshly and completely restored, and assuming that the structural integrity of the steel chassis components is without question, it represents a wonderful way to have a piece of Porsche history that you can drive anywhere. I try to be detached and objective in my analysis of collectible Porsches, but with this 904, I can say only positive things. In my opinion, the new owner has a good example of a historically significant mid-engine Porsche model that can be driven on the street. And even with its incorrect engine, due to its increased drivability, this particular car will appreciate at the head of the market.

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