If the new owner knew that 906.016 was a weird but very real chassis number, and that it had both factory development and extensive race history, then he had the unfair advantage
When introduced in 1966 the Porsche 906-marketed generally as the "Carrera 6"-combined a multi-tubular space-frame chassis with strikingly low and curvaceous lightweight fiberglass body paneling aimed at minimum aerodynamic drag. It marked Porsche's response to new FIA governing body regulations introduced for the 1966 season, which specified a minimum production requirement of 50 identical units before a model could qualify for homologation within the new Group 4 Sports class. According to a fax from factory customer racing director and former works driver Jürgen Barth, Porsche 906 chassis 016 was originally a works test car and participated in the 1966 Le Mans test weekend, registered "S-XE37." Barth goes on to list the first private owner as a "W. Bock" in Italy, who purchased the Porsche 906 on May 12, 1967. Invoices with the car document its restoration and subsequent maintenance, and a report carried out on behalf of the current owner in 1998 by respected Porsche authority Dale Miller is available. To summarize, Mr. Miller believes the chassis to be genuine and the engine and transaxle to be of the correct type, but not necessarily original. The coachwork was, in common with many 906s, replaced during restoration. Mr. Miller notes in passing that chassis 016 was one of two early development cars, the other being 017. Sold strictly "as seen" but offering exceptional value, this competition coupe is "on the button," ready to compete in a variety of events and even road registered. It offers the successful purchaser the chance to acquire a classic sports-prototype at a level usually associated with production road cars, leaving ample room to improve upon details of the restoration when and if it suits the owner.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Porsche 906

This 1966 Porsche 906 sold for $156,500 at Bonhams’ Nrburgring auction on August 9, 2003, at the low end of an estimate of $150,000-$225,000.

I wasn’t at the auction, but it would have been interesting to have watched the crowd when this 906 came up. Everything was wrong: It was a late entry, the estimate was about half the generally accepted value range for good 906s ($350,000-$450,000), and the catalog was obviously careful about what it did and did not say, with no race history stated.

There is also the issue with the chassis number. Any Porsche buyer worthy of his bidding paddle knows that 906 chassis numbers start with 100 (101, 102, etc.). Porsche did build a few 904s and 904-based Berg Spyders with six-cylinder engines, and those cars were given the chassis numbers 906.001 through 012, but they were 904s, a completely different car.

I can imagine a whole lot of people sitting on their hands looking to see who would take the chance with this Porsche 906 and the expert who “believes the chassis to be genuine.” (Let’s hope so-it was clearly stated that the car had a new body, and with the engine and transaxle represented only as the correct type, there’s not much else left.) If ever an auction car had “caveat emptor” written across it, this was it.

On the other hand, with Jürgen Barth stating that 016 was one of two factory development cars, and the original private owner and purchase date known. Well, this could be quite the deal if it’s a “real enough” 906 to get the essential FIA papers to enter the car into vintage events.

What’s needed in this situation is real information, and the bidder who has it is miles and dollars ahead. He’ll be able to answer the $150,000 question: What is the chance that this development chassis indeed made it out into the world instead of being junked? And how does one go about proving it?

The nice thing about racing cars, particularly the ones that run serious international events, is that they leave tracks. Somewhere buried in the old race records is proof of what cars ran, where they competed, who drove them, etc. The problem comes in digging it up many decades after the fact. Fortunately Dr. Janos Wimpffen (author of Time & Two Seats) has a searchable database of exactly this information, which tells us that 016 ran five major Italian FIA events in 1967-1968, including the Targa Florio twice! Suddenly the picture looks a lot different.

It’s still necessary to tread carefully though, as tube-frame race cars are always easy to reproduce, whether they come from Porsche, Alfa Romeo, or Lotus. And of course, there is a grand tradition of “discovering” cars with lost chassis numbers in barns around the world. (See “The Fake And The Fall Guy,” December 2003.) Virtually all of the 906-specific parts are available either as factory spares or as reproductions so there are no guarantees, particularly in this situation.

I’m told the buyer was a shrewd and knowledgeable German (also an SCM’er), and sitting next to him was another SCM’er who has a ton of experience with sports racers like this, along with running a 300S regularly in vintage events. In other words, these were two savvy guys who came ready to make the steal of the auction season.

If the new owner knew that 906.016 was a weird but very real chassis number, that it had both factory development and extensive race history, and had reason to believe that some or all of the parts were original, he had the unfair advantage. I can imagine his delight in watching the others afraid to challenge his bid, and his even further delight when he took his half-priced booty home on his trailer.-Thor Thorson

(Photo, historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

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