Home  »  Car Racing  »  Design  »  Features

Legends at the Porsche Museum: The Controversial Porsche 935/78 Moby Dick

Submitted by on March 28, 2022

Chassis 935-007 captured in Eau Rouge at the inaugural Peter Auto Spa Classic in 2011.

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

During my visit to the Porsche museum, I came face to face with the unique Porsche 935/78 – the marque’s ultimate expression of what started as a racing 911. With the arrival of Group 5 in the late 1970s, Porsche set its sights on winning the world’s most important endurance race, and the unique Porsche 935/78 nicknamed ‘Moby Dick’ was the machine built to do it.

Pictured above and below is chassis 935-006 that raced in Silverstone, Le Mans, Vallelunga and finally at the Noris Ring in Germany. After that race, the car was transferred to the Porsche museum and never raced again.

Norbert Singer acted once again as Porsche’s chief engineer and designed a radical evolution of the Porsche 935 for its third and final iteration, featuring a larger size and huge overhangs. The car was nicknamed ‘Moby Dick’ as it resembled a whale.

Porsche decided to part with their long tradition of air cooled engines and introduced water cooled cylinder heads in the 935/78 engine. A brand new 3200 cc six-cylinder boxer engine was used, featuring four valves per cylinder and two small KKK turbo chargers, generating 845 hp at 1.7 bar of turbo boost. Using the standard 1.5 bar, 750 hp was generated.

Singer replaced the floor and lowered the car by 75 mm. Both front and rear panels were redesigned allowing the car to reach a maximum speed of 366 km/h on the long Le Mans straights despite an increase of weight to 1030 kilograms.

Just two Porsche 935/78 were built and only a single car was entered in Le Mans. Chassis 935-006 would be the only car that actually raced. At Le Mans Moby Dick set the fastest lap time by Rolf Stommelen and Manfred Schurti. Suffering from engine troubles 935-006 finished in 8th place overall.

Porsche focused on the 24 Hours of Le Mans and therefore sat out most of the World Championship rounds, but they did enter chassis 935-006 at the British round at  Silverstone. There the car was driven by Jochen Mass and Jackie Ickx, who won the race with a seven-lap margin over the Kremer-Porsche 935/77A of Bob Wollek and Henri Pescarolo.

Before Porsche retired Moby Dick, Schurti and Ickx raced 935-006 at the Vallelunga 6 Hours and at the ADAC Norisring Trophy. Although claiming pole position and setting the fastest lap time in Vallelunga, a fuel injection belt snapped just 15 minutes before the chequered flag resulting in a DNF. In Germany 935-006 suffered from braking problems. After just 14 laps the car was withdrawn out of the race.

935-007 was the last factory 935 to ever be constructed. Between 2008 and 2011 this chassis was restored by Freisinger Motorsport and appeared at the Spa Classic in the Classic Endurance Racing championship driven by Stephane Ortelli.

Don't miss out! Our best stories, direct to your inbox!

[dfp name="home_tile11_300x250"]

Sign up now - it's free, weekly, and spam-free.