Porsche 908 LH #64 – Spark

1969 Porsche 908 LH
Pilots: G. Larrousse, H. Hermann
Team: Porsche System Engineering
Race: 2th overall (1st in Proto 3.0 class) at Le Mans in 1969
Spark - S4748 (resin) 

Published 09/18/19

In 1967 Porsche lost the World Championship of Makes by just one point. Their flagship racing car, the 275 hp 2.2 liter 907, was under-powered against the competition. But for 1968, FIA created the Group 6 class, for three liter prototypes. Thus, Ferdinand Piech immediately started working on a replacement, the 908. The new car was a coupe, in long or short tail configurations, depending on the circuit. Hanz Mezger developed a brand new flat-8 engine, much simpler than the previous 2.2 engine. With DOHC, fuel-injection and displacing 2997 cm³, it delivered 350 hp.

908 LH #23
A good racer in general, but unstable at high speeds.

Though not exactly fully-developed, Porsche enrolled the new 908 for the 1968 season. And it was a very bumpy season for the new car. Metzger’s new engine was still rough, as was the transmission. Throughout the season the car suffered a plethora of reliability issues, and therefore only won at Nürburgring and Austria. At La Sarthe, Porsche had four 908s in the race, and three abandoned. However, car #24 managed third place, ironically finishing behind a 907.

908 LH #23
To improve weight distribution in clockwise races, the 908 was right-hand drive.

By 1969 most of the reliability issues were resolved, but then FIA abolished the 650 kg minimum weight limit. With that, the final 908 LH only weighed 614 kg and became truly competitive. However, though mechanically sound, the 908 still had flawed aerodynamics. At very high speeds, the car had a tendency to weave around the track. Brian Redman famously said that the 908 “Scared me stupid”, though he still managed a lap record at Spa. In spite of that, most factory pilots preferred the 908 to the new (and dangerous) 917. For the 24 Heures du Mans of 1969, Porsche’s works team had four 908 LHs and two 917s in the race. In spite of that, upper management didn’t have high hopes for the race. While the 917 was truly a bad car, the 908 still had issues. And adding to that, John Weyer’s GT40s were very stiff competition.

908 LH #23
Very easy to see where the 917 came frome.

Nevertheless, the Porsche cars started out well, and were controlling the lead all into Saturday night. Yet, Stuttgart’s cars started dropping out of the race, to the point that by 11am on Sunday Ickx’ GT40 inherited the lead. But behind him was the 908 LH #64, that with the drop-offs and the second place Wyer Ford pitting, got up to second. In the last hour, with Jacky Ickx in the GT40 #6 and Hans Hermann in the 908 LH #64, happened maybe the most epic battle ever at La Sarthe. Both drove superbly, and repeatedly overtook each other. In the end however, it was a Ford day, and Ickx finished ahead of Hermann by only 120 m!

908 LH #23
120 m – that’s the closest (non-staged) finish ever at La Sarthe.

The 908 is not exactly one of my favorite Porsches. At the same time, this 908 LH #64 is undoubtedly a grail model for me, just because of its history. Stories like the battle between Hermann × Ickx in 1969 is what makes Le Mans so appealing to me. This is the second time I buy it. The first time was about two years ago, but the Ebbro version, that went missing en route to me. Right now I’m kind of glad that the Ebbro didn’t arrive, because if it had, I don’t think I would have upgraded to the Spark version. I’m 100% sure that the Ebbro is a very nice model, but this one is just exquisite. So, a gem of a model, with a fantastic story behind it? A terrific buy in my book.

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