1968 Porsche 907 LH “Longtail”

Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Company
Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Company

Today, Porsche remains the uncontested champion of more endurance races than any other manufacturer, having amassed the most outright wins at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. Yet in the early 1960s, Porsche remained an unconventional, small-displacement manufacturer only capable of winning class victories. At the onset of the prototype era, however, Porsche’s strategy on motorsports development was beginning to pay great dividends. Their immediate focus was to build a Porsche Le Mans winner for 1967.

That year’s event guaranteed competition between Ford and Ferrari, with the ever-increasing displacement of the GT40 and P-car alike. To contend, Porsche needed more than a reliable powerplant. Ferdinand Piëch determined that the key to success was efficiency. Given Porsche’s activities in Formula One and fantastic success in the hillclimb championships with the 904 and 906 derivatives, Piëch and his experimental department had much experience to draw from. Chassis refinement of the 910 coincided with further work on Porsche’s flat 8-cylinder engine, which showed promise but was not yet capable of prolonged use.

The development of the new 907 was well under way, yet the success of its design would come from its form. While the 910 chassis offered exceptional handling, Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight challenged Porsche to achieve new speeds. Drawing from streamlined designs, Porsche’s wind-tunnel testing produced a form reminiscent of the 550 coupe, a precursor to legendary Porsches to follow. With a low, short nose; dipped fender line; small, aerodynamic greenhouse in fighter-jet fashion; and a long, smooth tail, the 907 was unlike anything Porsche had ever designed.

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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