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Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

Simon Charlesworth July 21, 2022 No Comments on Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

One of the most successful ex-Werks Porsche Spyders, a 718RSK, is up for sale with RM Sotheby’s. Once dubbed ‘The Shining Spyder’, 718-006 epitomises Porsche’s late 1950s engineering expertise. A direct evolution of the famed giant-killer 550 Spyder series, the 718 RSK, and later the RS 60 and 61, marked the steady improvement of Porsche racing chassis and body design.

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

Between 1957 and 1959, just 34 examples of the 718 would be built, the first 10 of which were prototypes used for development and racing with factory drivers.

All 718s used a tubular space frame chassis similar to the one employed in the model’s predecessor, the pinnacle-development 550A, which afforded the 718 incredible rigidity while keeping weight to a minimum. Always intent on creating faster, more stable racing cars capable of winning overall at top-level events like Le Mans, Porsche evolved the 718 throughout its production run and constantly improved individual chassis.

Importantly, after experimenting with control arms resembling the letter ‘K’, 718-006 was the first Porsche chassis to be fitted with double wishbones and coil-overs at the rear, which proved to be tremendously effective and forever changed the development of racing cars.

All 718s were powered by the potent Type 547 ‘’ four-cam engine, with displacements of both 1.5 and 1.6 litres, allowing Porsche to choose the racing category it wished to enter. With large Weber twin-choke carburetors, these engines produced between 150 and 170 horsepower, and proved extremely reliable. Power was fed through a five-speed ZF gearbox with limited slip, and gave top speeds approaching 160 mph. Brakes were large finned drums, and the 16 x 3.5-inch bolt-on wheels comprised steel centers riveted to aluminum outer rims. The alloy bodywork was a bit longer and much more streamlined than the 550’s, with a taller windscreen to meet the FIA’s Appendix C rules.

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

718-006 LIGHTS UP THE COMPETITION

The Porsche 718 RSK broke onto the racing scene victoriously, proving itself at the 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans and earning a huge first in class win (and third overall) at the hands of Jean Behra and Hans Herrmann. The model was instantly recognized as a force to be reckoned with on the big stage, but clearly needed improvement to take on the motorsport world’s toughest challenges. In particular, Sebring and the Nürburgring—two of the most notoriously brutal tracks that FIA had to offer, each punishing in its own distinctive way—would prove the ultimate test for the 718.

Sebring, a converted WWII airfield and bomber training base, was known to be especially harsh. Rough and unpredictable, it offered sketchy terrain and constant weather changes, with veteran racers noting that you might well “start in the dry” and “finish in the wet;” attrition rates for Sebring race entrants often exceeded 50%. Formula One champion Phil Hill, commenting to Sports Illustrated on Sebring several years prior, said that “It’s monstrous. I’ve never seen anything like it before, at Le Mans or anywhere else.” The Nürburgring offered an equal challenge; one of the world’s deadliest courses, the lives of many sportsmen were tragically taken by the ’Ring’s fast declines and deceiving corners with quick elevation changes.

Porsche’s answer to these challenges was this car, Werks prototype chassis 718-006. Its double-wishbone suspension and rear coil-overs were the perfect complement to the Spyder’s sprightly 82-inch wheelbase chassis and light weight (just 1240lb or 562kg). These developmental upgrades improved high-speed handling and stability, allowing the car to tackle both rough terrain and dynamic road courses with confidence and composure — turning a promising racer into and all-around weapon that became nothing short of unstoppable.

Ultimately, chassis 718-006 had podium finishes in more than half of all events entered throughout its Werks career, including two 1st in class finishes at prestigious international endurance races.

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

       
       
       
RSK 718-006 WORKS

COMPETITION RECORD

     
       
RACE DATE DRIVER RESULT
12 Hours of Sebring 21 March 1959 Bonnier/von Trips 1st in class, 3rd OA
Targa Florio 24 May 1959 Herrmann/Maglioli DNF (transmission)
Nürburgring ADAC 1000 KM 7 June 1959 Herrmann/Maglioli 1st in class, 4th OA
24 Hours of Le Mans 20-21 June 1959 Barth/Seidel DNF
Mont Ventoux Hillclimb 28 June 1959 Barth 1st OA
Berlin GP AVUS supporting race 1 August 1959 Bonnier 2nd place
Karlskoga Autodrome 8 August 1959 Bonnier 4th place
Klosters-Davos Hillclimb 30 August 1959 Herrmann 1st OA
Nassau Porsche-only 12 December 1959 McAfee 4th in class (5 laps)
Nassau Trophy 12 December 1959 McAfee 17th OA, 3rd in Class E (49 laps)

 

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

THE PRIVATEER YEARS AND BEYOND

The Spyder was then purchased by Chuck Cassel, a Florida Porsche dealer and racer. During 1960, Cassel raced the car extensively in Florida and Georgia, and once in El Salvador before selling it to Felipe Gutierrez, a wealthy Cuban who raced it twice in 1961. Then the Spyder retired from racing competitively for the next 15 years.

It re-surfaced in 1975 at Ben Pon Racing in Holland, from which it was acquired by German orthodontist Dr. Klaus-Otto Räker. Unfortunately, its original engine was reportedly damaged beyond repair in a competition outing; Dr. Räker turned to well-known four-cam supplier Jim Wellington for a new 547/2 case, which was built up by renowned expert Karl Hloch, Sr. using an 80-millimeter crankshaft and 1.6-liter pistons. Dr. Räker commissioned a five-year restoration by Edmund Klinke at Oldtimerrestauration in Verl, Germany; using the original panels and factory blueprints, Klinke fabricated new outer body panels to replace the undamaged, but fatigued, original skin which at the time was determined to be beyond saving.

Rather than having the new body painted, Dr. Räker instructed that the skin be meticulously polished to a mirror finish. A centerpiece of his museum, when the gleaming 718 appeared at the 1985 Old-Timers Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, it was instantly dubbed ‘The Shining Spyder.’ Among the spectators was a young American designer named Grant Larson, who was beginning a brilliant career at Porsche. When Larson was tasked to design the exterior of the new Boxster, the highly polished RSK epitomized what he viewed as the “total it car”, the most “influential and inspirational” Porsche design.

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

In 2012, an American four-cam collector requested Colorado restoration shop owner Dick Koenig to find a good 718 RSK. That year, Koenig met Dr. Räker at Gaisberg; two years later a sale was consummated. The RSK was shipped to Koenig’s shop near Denver where another full restoration began, consuming four years. The goal was to bring 718-006 back to its original condition to the greatest possible extent. In pursuit of this, Koenig travelled to California, Florida, and the Netherlands to study details of other prototype 718s.

It was ultimately determined that much of the car’s inner body panels needed replacement. The work was carried out by The Metal Surgeon’s Jon Bingham, after which the body shell was refinished and painted by Dave DeMaria at Vintage Car Works, both located in Englewood, Colorado. DeMaria took great pains to authentically replicate the finishes as they looked in period, from the dull silver bodywork to the unique appearance of the hood—which was originally cadmium-plated in an attempt at dispersing the heat from the aforementioned experimental oil radiator system.

The drivetrain had already been serviced by German four-cam expert Karl Hloch, Jr., but Koenig and Pat Moyle overhauled the brakes, suspension, and steering and installed a new wiring harness. New fuel and oil tanks were fabricated using a hard-to-find original material called “Terneplate.” These tanks are secured with metal straps and factory-correct jute insulating material. Though this material is said to be nearly impossible to find, Koenig located a small supply in Europe, just enough to give 718-006 its proper factory-correct appearance.

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

The original upholstery consisted of a textured material called Acela Bast; Koenig found an un-faded scrap beneath the auxiliary gas tank in the cockpit of a highly original Porsche 550A used as a reference car, managing to locate enough to cover the seats and headrest. The experimental front lid with its integral oil radiator has been perfectly restored, but the tubes have been disconnected; the normal radiators in the rocker panels suffice to keep the little four-cam within an acceptable temperature range. Further, a set of correctly dated 16-inch wheels were sourced.

Since its restoration, this 718 RSK has appeared at Amelia Island and Rennsport VI, and in November 2020 was featured in Excellence magazine.

Among the most successful examples of its kind, chassis 718-006 is now presented having benefitted from its recent multi-year restoration. It is accompanied by a mirror-polished alloy hood panel autographed by Hans Herrmann, the car’s original dashboard, and other inner body panels replaced by Dick Koenig during its restoration.

A benchmark in Porsche racing history, 718 RSK Werks Spyders are very rarely offered for sale. This Werks car, 718-006, boasts an incredible racing record in the hands of some of the era’s great drivers. It is unquestionably ready to become the crown jewel of any prestigious collection of historic racing cars.

Please note that this Spyder is sold on a Bill of Sale.

Ex-Werks Porsche 718RSK For Sale

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