1981 Porsche 956K / “Weissach rollout test car”
Minichamps - 400826799 (diecast)
In early 1981, FIA had announced new racing classes for the next season. For 1982, there would be Group A (cars based on 4-seater mass-produced models, with at least 5000 produced), Group B (highly modified rally cars) and Group C (prototype sports cars). Porsche wanted a new prototype for Group C, and according to the new rules, the car had to have a minimum weight of 800 kg, a race average fuel consumption of up to 60 l/100 km and a stipulated proportion of overall length to the wheelbase (to avoid long tails).
With those constrictions in mind, Porsche’s chief engineer Norbert Singer started to work on the new car at the Weissach development center in June 1981. Because of the body constrictions, Singer and his team used for the first time a ground-effect design, that at the time was in vogue for F1 cars. The 956 was also the first Porsche to have an aluminum monocoque chassis, that afforded an 80% stiffer frame than what was used in the previous 936.
For La Sarthe, there was always a fuel consumption limit. At the time, the fuel tank could only carry 100 l and there were only 25 fuel stops. Hence, the power of the Group C cars would have to be in the 600 hp region. So as a power plant Porsche used the tried & true Typ-935 engine. That was the same engine from the successful Le Mans-winning 936/81. The Typ-935 was an air-cooled, single-turbocharged flat-6 with 2650 cm³ that delivered approximately 635 hp.
In March, 27, 1982, chassis #956-001 rolled out of the factory and went for it’s first run at the Weissach test track. Regulations prohibited the use of lateral skirts like the ones used (at the time) on F1 cars, so even though there was air flowing in from the sides, the 956 was still able to make corners at speeds previously thought impossible for racing sports cars. Porsche had created a masterpiece, and less than 3 months later, the 956 dominated Le Mans. You can see here a short film (1’52”) about the development of the car.
Minichamps produces two versions of this 956K in 1:43. Mine is the “Weissach roll out test car”, but there’s also the “Paul Ricard test version”. This second one (#400826700) represents the car as it was tested at Paul Ricard. It differs from mine because it has mirrors and it doesn’t have the hubcaps. I don’t think these models are for everybody, too specialized. But if you do have a soft spot for the 956 it’s an interesting piece to have. The bad part is that now I have a test car in the Garage…