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This Porsche 908/02 Flunder is Significant and Absolutely Magic

Submitted by on November 19, 2014

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

Images: Bonhams

This 1969-70 Porsche 908/02 ‘Flunder’ Langheck Group 6 stunned us when we first saw it. It’s a beautiful artifact from sportscar racing’s history, and it wears its story on its sleeve in a way that’s utterly enchanting.

It’s set to head to auction on the 30th of November at Bonhams’ November Bond Street Sale.

Porsche’s 908s are well known as the marque’s breakthrough car into outright sportscar racing contention, if not domination.

The 908/02 stripped the 908 down to its bare essentials, converting it to an open-cockpit Spyder configuration that would barely register on the scales. The Langheck is a long-tailed version designed to slip through the air while still providing stability at the high speeds seen at Le Mans, Spa and Monza.

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

While the combination of endurance-developed air-cooled, 3-litre flat-8 in a super light weight chassis seemed destined for glory, it didn’t set the world on fire in its opening outings. The 908/02s floundered at Daytona and Sebring in 1969.

When they got to the Brands Hatch 1000 Kilometers, however, they nailed it. 908/02s locked out the entire podium ahead of the newest and best from Ferrari and Ford.

They then went on to win the Targa Florio, the 1000 Kilometres of Spa-Francorchamps and, after braving 1000 kilometers of The Green Hell, they filled the top five places in the results sheet at the Nurburgring. It was a portent of what was to come over the next few decades.

At the end of the 1969 season, the World Championship of Makes belonged to Porsche.

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

From these 908/02s came the ‘Flunder’, which redefined the car’s aerodynamics with a body made of thin-as-possible fibreglass. A special Langheck version of this was developed for Le Mans and it was this car that Jo Siffert and Brian Redman wanted for the 24-Hour race. The two tail fins which give the car its distinctive profile were designed to deal with cross winds.

This particular car, chassis 908/02-005 made its debut in the 1969 Sebring 12-Hours as a works team Spyder with Vic Elford and Richard Attwood at the wheel. They made a strong first impression, finishing seventh overall. Elford and the team then took it to Sicily for use as as a training car at the Targa Florio, before the car had a little rest.

It reappeared at the 1000 Kilometers Zeltweg at the hands of Hans-Dieter Dechent and Gerhard Koch for the Blau und Geld team where it was ultimately unsuccessful, but made enough of a splash to get noticed.

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

In 1970 the car was rebodied as a 908/02 Flunder and raced as the lead car with Martini International Racing Team sponsorship.

It claimed seventh at the Sebring 12-Hours, now driven by Gerhard Koch, Richard Attwood and Gerard Larrousse and went one better at Brands Hatch to finish sixth. For Monza Rudi Lins joined Larrousse and the pair took fourteenth.

Returning to the Targa Florio in 1970 the car would finally get to stretch its legs in the main event, and Larrousse and Lins finished lucky thirteenth.

Things were looking good by the time they made it to Belgium and they finished ninth in the 1000 Kilometers of Spa-Francorchamps. Germany was better still and they claimed sixth at the Nurburgring in 1970.

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

Then it was off to the 24 Hours of Le Mans where the 908/02-005 enjoyed one of its finest moments. Rudi Lins was joined by one Dr. Helmut Marko and the team claimed third overall, winning the 3-litre sports-prototype class and completing Porsche’s podium lockout that year.

From that strong result the car was off to the States to compete in the Watkins Glen 6-Hour, where they finished seventh, before its globetrotting career returned it to Austria. 1970 at the Osterreichring saw a much stronger performance and the Larrousse/Lins pairing climbed the podium once more to third.

After two years of World Championship competition the car still had plenty of work ahead of it. It became part of Hans-Dieter Weigel’s Team Auto Usdau, with Eduardo Jose Capello joining Weigel in the 1971 Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometers. Sadly this race was not to be, and the trio retired with engine troubles.

10th place at Brands Hatch would follow, but Monza, the Nurburgring and Le Mans were unkind to the car.

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

In 1971 908/02-005 was sold to Jo Siffert, who hired it to Solar Productions for the filming of Le Mans. It appears in several scenes in the Martini International Racing Team livery that it wears today.

When Jo Siffert passed away during the Rothmans World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch at the end of 1971 the car moved to Hans Grell and was put on exhibit in his private museum. From there it went to Peter Monteverdi, who sold it to Ernst Schuster.

It was Schuster who began its historic motorsport career, taking it to Goodwood and the Monterey Historics. He sold it to Julio Palmaz, who eventually moved it on to its most recent owner.

Just by nature of being a Porsche 908 this sits amongst the greatest and most significant racing cars Porsche has made. It also has the period racing history to suit, playing a role in some of the marque’s defining moments as both a works car and customer car. It has recently been displayed within the Le Mans exhibition at the Porsche Museum.

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

Recently the car has received a full restoration from Porsche specialists Willison Werkstatt in Florida and is now presented in its 1970 Le Mans Flunder Langheck specification with its Martini International Racing Team livery. Its nose section, floor, doors and more are all original from the period and only the Langheck tail is a replacement.

Its heart is beating strong, with the motor enjoying a recent full rebuild by ex-works specialist Gustav Nietsche.

A magic motorcar like this doesn’t come along very often, and we’re very interested to see where it goes and what it gets up to going forward. It’ll be auctioned at Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale in London on the 30th of November, 2014. Hit this link to Bonhams’ official site for more information on the car and sale.

Images via Bonhams

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

Porsche 908.02 Flunder

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