Porsche has marked its 70th anniversary by launching a new limited-run, 690bhp track car called the 935, which harks back to the similarly named 24 Hours of Le Mans challenger from the 1970s. The firm says it is a “birthday present from Porsche Motorsport to fans all over the world”.
Like the original 935, the new machine is based on a heavily reworked 911 - in this case the 911 GT2 RS. The body of the new machine, which was launched at the Rennsport Reunion event at Laguna Seca in California, has been extensively reworked, with a long tail and large rear wins that echoes the 935/78 which competed at Le Mans in 1978. That car earned the nickname Moby Dick due to its elongated ‘whale tail’ rear end.
The new 935 will be produced in a limited run of 77 units, but won’t be homologated for competition. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche’s vice-president for motorsport, said: “Because the car isn’t homologated [for competition], engineers and designers didn’t have to follow the usual rules and thus had freedom in the development.”
The extended rear makes the new car 4.87 metres long, and it is also 2.03 metres wide. It also features aerodynamically capped wheel rims inspired by the 935/78. Other design features pay tribute to other Porsche racers: the rear wing end play lights are styled on the 919 Hybrid LMP1 car, the side mirrors come from the current 911 RSR racer, and the titanium tailpipes echo the 1968 Porsche 908.
The 935 is powered by the 3.8-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo from the current 911 GT2 RS road car, with 690bhp transferred to the wheels through a seven-speed gearbox. It has a limited slip differential features driver assistance systems from the road car including traction control and anti-lock braking, which can be turned off if required.
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The legend of Porsche's Moby Dick
The original 935 was introduced in 1976, to meet the Group 5 sports car regulations. Those rules allowed for ‘silhouette’ cars, although there was limited definition of what that meant, allowing manufacturers to run bespoke racers that looked like road cars.
The first version of the 935 was relatively refined, but it was continually developed by project engineer Norbert Singer, and by the following year featured several aerodynamic revamps. By the following year Porsche had taken that to extremes, with the 935/78’s elongated ‘whale tail’ to maximise airflow at the back of the car on Le Mans’s long Mulsanne straight.
Despite its fame, the ‘Moby Dick’ 935/78 only took a single race win, in the 1978 Silverstone Six Hours, and struggled at Le Mans with high fuel consumption and a number of technical issues.
In total, the various versions of the 935 won more than 100 sports car races. While a works Porsche 935 didn’t claim an outright Le Mans win, the customer Kremer team won the event in 1979, driving a customer 935 K3.