“The 1959 Sebring 12-Hours provided the Americans Sesslar/Holbert and their RSK with victory in the 1,500 cc class from the works RSK driven by Barth/John Fitch.and fourth overall behind two three-liter Ferraris and the larger works RSK of Trips/Bonnier.” – Richard von Frankenberg, “Porsche: The Man and His Cars.”
Of all Porsche competition sports cars of the 1950s, the incredibly fast and agile Typ 718 RSK is probably the best known. It was developed for the 1958 season to replace the successful 550A Spyder, based upon a lightened spaceframe chassis, and only some 34 were built.
The car pictured here is a particularly little-used example that was apparently acquired by Ray Heppenstall from Don Pedro “Papa” Rodriquez – famous father of those two great Mexican racing drivers Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez – circa 1959 who passed it to Bernie Viel and Bob Holbert, contemporary American SCCA Champion with his stable of three Porsches.
Holbert sold the car to George Wintersteen who in turn, we understand, sold it to Jim Bollman circa 1961. He then stored the car until 1972 when it passed to its current owner who has again preserved it in careful storage since then. Its current 1,750 cc SCCA-type flat-four air-cooled motor came from another well-known SCCA racer Bruce Jennings who had used it as his hack-up engine. “It had one half-hour race on it” as bought, and has since completed only a further three hours or so. As a 1,750 cc unit it is described as being “very strong!”
The distinctive Typ 718 RSK’s petite and functionally lovely body was generally lower than the preceding 550A model’s and more efficient aerodynamically. Its standard 1,500 cc Typ 718 engine developed 142 bhp at 7,500 rpm rising to 148 bhp at 8,000 rpm with development, and this raucous little unit drove via a lightening-last five-speed transaxle.
RSK body features in original form included a regulation full-width windscreen extending into side-screens along each side of the cockpit to reduce drag. While the engine was rear-mounted in traditional Porsche style, the car’s nose contained an 80-liter, 17.6-Imp-gallon fuel tank preceded by a spare wheel. The RSK is a most important competition Porsche model and commands a premium whenever introduced to the market.