1962 Porsche 356B Carrera GTL Abarth #34 Pilots: E. Barth, H. Hermann Team: Porsche System Engineering Race: 7th overall (1st in GT 1.6) at Le Mans in 1962 Spark - S1876 (resin)
By 1959, Porsche’s aging 356 Carrera was losing ground to smaller Alfa Romeo and Lotus models. Despite the 356’s boxer-4 Fuhrmann engine being powerful and pretty robust, the car was too heavy. That being so, a competitive 356 had to be lighter. Therefore, the first order of business was to get a lighter body. Porsche contacted the Italian coach-builders Abarth, where Franco Scaglione penned a sleek and aerodynamic body with an adjustable air scoop on the rear. Compared to the traditional 356 body, the new body was smaller and with a reduced drag coefficient. Moreover, Abarth used aluminum, so it was lighter than the traditional steel body. Porsche ordered 20 of the new bodies, and sent to Abarth a reinforced 356 chassis. The first 356B Carrera GTL Abarth arrived at Stuttgart in February of 1960, and being hand-built, there were minor variations between them.
Porsche did not only rely on Abarth’s new body to improve the 356 Carrera; they also introduced a new engine. Up until 1959, the 356A Carrera used the 692/2 engine. For the new 1960 356B Carrera, a new engine (692/3A) replaced the 692/2. It was the same 1582 cm³ boxer-4 with 8 valves and DOHC, but with a Solex 44 PII-4 carburetor and more aggressive intake camshafts. Powered by the 165 hp of the 692/3A, the GTL Abarth could reach 232 km/h, and go from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds. Those numbers may not sound impressive, but the car came first in class in the Targa Florio of 1960 and 1961. And to further solidify its reputation, it also won its class at La Sarthe in 1960 and 1961.
Chassis #356-1018 was one of the last GTL Abarth delivered from Turin to Porsche. On May 27th that year it debuted at the ADAC 1000 Km of Nürburgring. In the hands of Edgard Barth and Herbert Linge it came in sixth place overall, and first in class. Just one month later, it was part of Porsche’s Le Mans attempt. At La Sarthe that year Porsche cars were particularly rare, and only three cars lined up for the race. All three of them were GTL Abarth, and Porsche’s works team had two, cars #34 (#356-1018) and #30 (#356-1010). The third Abarth GTL was from a privateer, which came in 12th overall and second in class. Car #34, piloted by Barth and legendary Hans Hermann came in seventh place overall and first in the GT 1.6 class.
With only 20 cars built, the 356B Carrera GTL Abarth is a rare beast. And a VERY successful one – four (!) class wins at the Targa Florio and three at Le Mans. Rare are the cars that can topple a record like that. And just like the real thing, in 1:43 it’s also rare. Well, maybe not rare, but this one is the first I ever found up for grabs. As expected, Spark did a bang up job on the model, and it really looks the part. When I found it on sale (and locally!) I didn’t hesitate and here it is. For the Porsche fan (like me) or Le Mans nut (me again) it is a very nice addition to the collection.