|1976 Porsche 934
|1976, 31 plus one prototype; 1977, 10 934/5s
|Original List Price:
|$43,000 (DM 97,000)
|Tune Up Cost:
|$5,000 with valve adjustment and belts; turbo rebuild $4,000
|Chassis Number Location:
|On boss above gas tank under hood; aluminum plate on inside fender left front. No production number under dash — section cut out on a 934
|Engine Number Location:
|On boss on top of engine
|Porsche Club of America
|1976–81 Porsche 935, 1971–75 BMW CSL 3.0/3.5, 1967–69 Corvette L88
This car, Lot 67, sold for $1,380,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island, FL, auction on March 6, 2020.
We recently overviewed the development of the Porsche 930 Turbo (German Profile, October 2019, p. 94).
Briefly recapping, Ernst Fuhrmann, legendary Porsche engineer and company chairman as of 1972, had long had an interest in turbocharging. The Porsche firm had been in that arena since Professor Porsche designed the supercharged Auto Union Silver Arrows Grand Prix race cars in the 1930s.
The turbo skill set peaked with the Can-Am and Interserie 917/10s and 917/30s of 1972–73. Simultaneously, on the street-car side, after two aborted 2.0-liter examples in 1970, Fuhrmann had a 2.7-liter turbocharged 911 built for his personal use in 1972. That led directly to a hand-made prototype 930 shown at the October 1973 Frankfurt show — and then a fully operational prototype shown at the Paris show in October 1974.
Production and sales began in 1975, with the first examples sold in the United States in 1976.
Porsche takes to “profile” 911 racing
The company was under financial duress, so Porsche forsook the high-spending Ferdinand Piech fiberglass/tube-frame prototypes — 906, 910, 907, 908, 909, 917K and LH, 917/10, and 917/30 — and moved to production-based race cars.
The 1973 RSR 2.8-liter and 1974–75 RSR 3.0-liter brought to the fore “profile” race cars, with numerous victories and championships. But those normally aspirated Porsches were under pressure as soon as engineers demonstrated that a turbocharged engine could fit in the rear engine bay of a 911.
In 1974, Porsche built four Group 5 “Baby Turbos,” with 2,142-cc engines to qualify under the FIA’s 1.4 formula for turbos — i.e. 2,142 cc times 1.4 was just under the 3,000-cc engine limit.
Those cars were factory-team, Martini-sponsored prototypes, radically designed to come in at 1,810 pounds and stressed to the max. They were difficult to drive quickly — and thus never sold to privateers. Porsche achieved some success with the “babies,” including a 2nd at Le Mans, but had no interest in continuing that herculean effort into 1975 — leaving the field to other marques and Porsche RSRs.
That changed for 1976, after the 930 sold in sufficient quantities to homologate derivative race cars.
Enter the 934 (nee 930/4) for Group 4, the 935 for Group 5, and the 936 Spyder for Group 6. For Group 4, the car had to be close to the production model. Group 5 cars could be pretty radical, and all rules were off for Group 6, except for the engine-displacement limits of 3,000 cc for normally aspirated and 2,143 cc for turbocharged engines.
Built off a production 930 Turbo
The 934 was based on the 930 because the homologated weight was a hefty 2,470 pounds — just 45 pounds below the production weight of a Euro 930 (without a/c). Thus, 934s had galvanized tubs, full door panels with electric windows and armrests, and heavyweight bumpers. The primary items eliminated were sound deadening, rear seats and carpets. An aluminum roll cage was fitted, and the car had one lightweight driver’s seat. That accomplished, the car weighed in at 2,380 pounds, allowing 90 pounds of tactical ballasting.
The 934’s base suspension also was from a 930. Torsion bars were kept but with adjustable Bilstein coil-overs added. Ball joints and Delrin bushings were swapped in. Sway bars were adjustable. Wheel bearings were stock, but with five-pin, center-lock wheels — now supplied by BBS.
The brakes were moved forward from the RSR 3.0-liter, born as 908/917 units. The 16-inch wheels were 10.5 inches wide in front and 12.5 inches wide in the rear. Stock bodywork used bolt-on fiberglass flares that gave the 934 a unique, racy look. The tub was stock 930 with some added reinforcements to known stress points, such as shock towers and torsion-bar attachments. Porsche also added an X-brace to the front trunk to supplement the shock-tower strut.
The real news was a turbocharged engine
Porsche rated the turbocharged 934 engine at 485 horsepower, but it always produced in excess of 500 on the dynamometer. It utilized a flat fan on top of the motor, which was adapted from the later prototype race cars and the Baby Turbos. The cars got the new Bosch K-Jetronic (CIS) fuel injection. Some 934s later moved back to mechanical fuel injection, especially in IMSA.
A bigger advance was the water-fed intercooler because of the intense heat generated in the tight rear compartment. A sufficiently large air-to-air intercooler could not be made to fit. Rules required predominantly stock 930 engine bits (making rebuilds pretty simple), with only special pistons, camshafts and enlarged ports (not valves) in the heads.
Rules also required single ignition. The compressor was a much larger-than-stock KKK unit, and, of course, there was just one — no twin turbos yet.
The gearbox was a stock 930 4-speed, by rules limited to two optional gear sets. Porsche added an oil pump/sprayer to the end plate, connected to a small cooler in the 934’s tail. The car also got a ZF 80% locking limited-slip differential.
The 934 was challenging to drive quickly
With the water intercooler, the 934 engine weighed in at about 500 pounds. Given the high homologation weight, that was not a rules problem, but the weight distribution front to rear was a troublesome 30:70, before ballasting. The large single KKK turbocharger spooled up with a very significant lag, which made the car tough to drive at speed.
To put it bluntly, drivers hated racing the 934. They talked incessantly about planning to accelerate well in advance of their normal point in a corner, waiting for the power to come on, and hoping they were straight by then. Too late and they bogged down coming out of the corner. Too early and they lifted, totally giving away track position, or they spun, with a worse result.
Drivers also complained that they’d concentrate so hard on when to apply the power that they’d fail at other aspects of race awareness, sometimes to their embarrassment.
Europa GT and Trans-Am Championships
Those problems aside, in January 1976, Manfred Schurti recorded a Nürburgring lap time 15 seconds better than the best by an RSR 3.0-liter. That sealed it, and orders rolled in from the teams that wanted to race in Group 4, Trans-Am, or later, IMSA.
Ultimately, 31 cars were built, plus one prototype. The cars had many successes on the track. Led by Georg Loos’ Gelo Racing and the Kremer Brothers, 934s secured the Europa GT Championship. In the Trans-Am championship, George Follmer barely bested Hurley Haywood, both in Vasek Polak 934s. At Le Mans in June 1976, Gelo Racing’s 934 dominated GT (Group 4) before a very long stop for a broken gearbox sent it down to 2nd place. The Kremer brothers took 4th in GT, and an uprated 934 took 5th in Group 5 against 935s and modified RSRs.
Overshadowed by the 935
Privateer-only 934s were the Group 4 little brother to the factory-team, Martini-sponsored radical 935s that famously dominated Group 5. Most of the press coverage and most of Porsche’s racing victory posters featured the winning 935s. Racer and collector interest followed. In almost all of today’s big-time vintage-race events, the 934s, 934/5s (934s with 935 bodywork and uprated engine) and 935s raced together with the predictable result that the 935s run up front. Some 934s were updated in period to 935 Group 5 specs and run as 935s today.
Valuing Porsche race cars is complicated
Buying a Porsche race car is a complicated undertaking. Starting in the 1970s, a European race team would sell their used race car to an unsuspecting foreigner. They’d keep the Wagenpass — the German title. Then they’d build a replica and use the Wagenpass to sell it to a European. Bob Akin was one American buyer who always demanded the Wagenpass. A famous German team owner told Bob that he hated to sell him a race car because he lost the second sale.
There is still a vibrant business in making replicas of “lost” old Porsche race cars — and then selling them as “restored.” The courts have yet to jail anyone for it because they see a blurry line between an often-wrecked and repaired race car versus a replica, unless there are two cars with the same serial number and the more original car can be unquestionably determined.
As buyers, we must carefully analyze Porsche race cars for all the original details, such as steering wheels, seats and rails, instruments, fuel-injection pumps, engine piece casting numbers, and such. We analyze weld patterns, especially in places where spot welds can only be faked on the top sides. We also look for factory-applied reinforcements on shock towers, on torsion-bar reinforcements and in other places. In-the-know buyers also look for instrument dates, paint-color overspray in small places where repaints typically don’t go, magnetic-resonance tests of stamped serial numbers and chassis build numbers (they are different), engine-number stampings — and more.
During the past five years, our team has analyzed more than 20 1968 911Rs, 1973–74 RSs and RSRs, 934s, and 935s — and found more fakes than real cars. Sometimes, all we require is a real tub, from front shock towers to rear shock towers — and we’ll restore the rest. One RSR we wanted had a full front clip, a full rear clip, and a roof clip. A 1973 RSR and two 1974 RS 3.0s were recently built, cleverly replicated on street-car tubs.
The point is that you should not buy a Porsche race car without a thorough inspection.
At Amelia Island
Our subject auction car was the first production 934.
After serving as the factory press demonstration car, it soon was sold to Juergen Kannacher, a Porsche parts dealer from Krefeld, Germany. Kannacher drove and rented out seats in his 934, so it was on the track a lot, running 16 races between March and October of 1976. It recorded five podiums in Group 4. The second half of the ’76 season saw Hartwig Bertrams, the 1975 Europa Cup Champion in a RSR, almost exclusively in the car.
For the 1977 season, the car was sold to Louis Krages, a very successful Bremen wood importer, who raced as “John Winter” to protect his business and family interests.
In eight races, Krages garnered three 2nds and four 3rds in class, earning his way into drives with Joest and Kremer. The car’s last race was the 1979 Le Mans, where after a 3.5-hour gearbox change, the car placed 3rd in Group 4 and 19th overall. That result is important now, as it qualifies the car for entry into almost any prestigious vintage race, including the biennial July Le Mans Classic.
Thereafter 934 #0151 had a sedentary life — passing through an owner in South Africa, then to a Brit in Scotland, on to Skip Gunnell in Florida in 1982, and finally in 2003 to Lloyd Hawkins in New Orleans. Hawkins also had his capable shop fully restore the car. At auction, it presented very well.
The car had the benefit of a known provenance and a desirable race history. Although it was missing its original engine and gearbox, these are not value dings on a car with a long race history.
Many 934 engines and gearboxes failed. The car also did not have its Wagenpass, but none of our race-car resources in the U.S. or Europe know of another car claiming to be 0151, so we’ll assume that the title was legitimately lost decades ago. Without careful inspection, we assume that the tub was deemed to be original, and that the important details were largely present and correct.
Prior public sales included chassis #0162, the light yellow Meccarillos car, ex-Jim Torres and ex-Lloyd Hawkins, that Gooding sold at Amelia in March 2018 for $1,320,000. A private sale last year of an excellent restored and famous 934 brought $1,500,000.
All that said, the final price for 0151 of $1,380,000 was a good result in today’s softening market, after adding a small bump for 0151 being the first production example, and a larger bump for the Le Mans podium in class. ♦