Page 1 of 2 Next >> With the 956, introduced in 1982, Porsche had cornered the market in the World Championship, which included the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although the Group C regulations, to which the 956 was built, were very similar to the IMSA GTP regulations used in the important North American market, the 956 did not comply. The principle reasons were the location of the pedal box (ahead of the front axle) and the use of a purpose built racing engine. To serve the needs of the many and loyal customers in North America, Porsche finally readied a GTP version of the popular 956.
Dubbed the 962, the new Porsche GTP racer featured the same sheet aluminium monocoque chassis as the 956 with the exception of the extended front half to move the pedal box behind the front axle. This location provided much more protection to the driver's feet in case of an accident. The front and rear suspension remained virtually unchanged with double wishbones at the front. The rear end featured lower wishbones in-board, rocker actuated springs and dampers to ensure the air running through the ground-effect tunnels was undisturbed. While the wheelbase had increased, the overall length remained the same by using a shorter nose.
Whereas the 956 featured a highly developed flat 6 with twin overhead camshafts and twin KKK turbos, the IMSA GTP regulations stipulated that the engine had be based on a production unit. Accordingly Porsche engineers based the 962 engine on the single camshaft and single turbo flat six that powered the contemporary 911 Turbo. The displacement was set at just over 2.8 litres, which meant, taking the 1.4x turbo equivalency into account, that the 962 fell in the under 4-litre category and could run at a 750 kg minimum weight. In this guise, the all-aluminium unit produced around 680 bhp. Mated to a five-speed gearbox, it was mounted in the chassis at an angle to further increase the space available for the vital underbody aerodynamics.
Ahead of a run of customer cars, Porsche built a single works 962 for testing and development purposes. It was entered for father and son Mario and Michael Andretti in the 1984 Daytona 24 Hours. As a sign of things to come, they easily qualified the car on pole with a margin of nearly two seconds over the next fastest car. Sadly, the race ended early due to a transmission problem. Porsche had gathered all the information they needed and the 962 prototype did not race again and the works team would make no more GTP appearances. Back in Weissach, the first production cars were built for the likes of Al Hobert, Preston Henn and Bob Akin, who started taking delivery of their 962s from April of 1984. Page 1 of 2 Next >>