1976 Porsche 936 test car Minichamps - 400766600 (diecast)
In 1970, the legendary 917K brought Porsche its first overall Le Mans win, repeating the feat in 1971. However, rule changes in 1972 outlawed the 917. With that, Stuttgart decided to focus on the promising Can-Am series. Meanwhile, privateers in Europe fielded the 908 against the high-revving Matras and Ferraris with little success. Though brief, the Porsche campaign in Can-Am gave them a huge experience with turbocharging. So in 1974 Porsche debuted a turbocharged 2142 cm³ boxer-6 engine. The big turbo produced too much heat, so to cool things they installed an intercooler. That was the first time an intercooler appeared in a car. Up until then, only airplane engines used intercoolers. This new engine was the basis for the upcoming Group 4 (934) and Group 5 (935) cars. Yet, even with a firm grip in Groups 4 and 5 racing, for 1976 Porsche wanted a Group 6 car.
This new Group 6 car was the 936. In essence, it was an amalgamation of the 917/30, 908/3 and 917K. And of course, powered by the 2.1 liters turbo boxer-6 engine. The body was a smaller version of the fiberglass (GRFP, in fact) skin of the 917/30, constructed in three pieces. From the 908/3 came the chassis, an aluminum tubular space frame affair. To complete the package, the 917K contributed its 5-speed manual gearbox and brake system. The engine, called Typ 935/73, with a single KKK turbo, delivered a hefty 540 hp and 471 Nm of torque. Most interesting, from design phase to functional prototype, Porsche took less than 6 months. That being so, Porsche had the first 936 test car ready in February of 1976. A team of engineers took it for testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet, France.
The car behaved well, and on April 4 it debuted at the Nürburgring 300 km race. Still in its flat black paint though with Martini livery, it received the “Black Widow” nickname. Unfortunately, afterwards Martini switched to their traditional white livery, so the Black Widow only raced at Nürburgring. This here is the exact first prototype, chassis #936-001, as it was at Paul Ricard. The 936 test car would race again in June at La Sarthe, where it DNF. The sister car, #936-002, came in first overall. In 1977 Porsche upgraded the chassis and body (936/77), and #936-001 came in first place. In total Porsche produced two units of the 936 in 1976, and a third one in 1981 (936/81). Remarkably, each one of them won once at Le Mans. Not bad for a sports prototype produced in six months with mostly off-the-shelf parts!
I have a BIG soft spot for the 936. I think that is mainly because of its history. To produce a Le Mans-winning prototype in less than 6 months from scratch is no small potatoes. I already had the three winning versions of the car, and now to complete the list, I got the 936 test car version. Being from Minichamps, it’s a pretty nice model. Of course it’s not as good as my 936/77 from Spark, however it is on par with my 936 #20 from Ixo. Of the four, possibly the 936/81 from Minichamps, is the less refined. Though the 936 test car is also from Minichamps, it looks a tad crispier in terms of details. Even so, I don’t think this one will float many collector’s boats. For me, however, an awesome model to have.