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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:32 (long and short tail)
Internal name:908
Successor:Porsche 908/02 Spyder
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 11, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionPorsche's racing program progressed slowly, but steadily throughout the 1950s, resulting in numerous class victories in all major sportscar races. After a brief spell in Formula 1, the German manufacturer really upped the ante and started on a prototype racing program, with an overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race as the ultimate target. Porsche's racing cars traditionally utilized a lot of elements from the road cars and with things being as they were in the mid 1960s there was no engine available that was big enough to take on the big boys.

At the end of the 1967 season a number of rule changes were carried through that enabled Porsche's nimble racers to possibly race for victory at Le Mans. Prototypes were limited to 3 litre engine displacement and a new class for limited production sports cars was introduced with a maximum of five litres. The prototype class engine limits came relatively close to Porsche's largest engine; the 2.2 litre flat eight. This gap could not be bridged by simply modifying an existing engine, so a new unit would have to be produced if Porsche was to compete in this class.

Eventually the construction of the new engine was approved of, but under the condition that it was simple enough to be potentially used in an upcoming production model. Lessons learned from the experimental twin-cam flat six first used in a 910 in 1967 were used to create the new 3 litre. Two cylinders were added and the bore was increased to bring the displacement up to prescribed maximum. Despite its close relationship with the road car derived six cylinder engine, the dry sump, fuel injected unit would eventually produce 350 bhp at 8500 rpm.

The development was somewhat of a side project of the manufacturer's racing department, which had their focus on the new 2.2 litre eight cylinder engined 907 coupe. This ambitious racer featured a tubular spaceframe and was to be Porsche's works racer for the 1968 season. For the new three litre '908' a chassis very similar to that of the successful 907 was used. After the first few cars were constructed the steel used for the spaceframe was replaced by aluminium, which further decreased the car's weight. The only real difference between the early 908s and the 907 coupes was the use of larger brakes to cope with the new racer's increased speed and weight.

Halfway through the 1968 season, the 908 was ready to take over from the eight cylinder 907s, which already had scored a one-two-three victory in the Daytona 24 Hours race. Expectations were high as the 908 was rightfully considered a 907 with a boost in power. At is debut in the Le Mans test weekend, the 908 showed more problems than promise. Especially the new six-speed gearbox proved to be very fragile. Further problems were caused by fierce engine vibrations that were caused by the crankshaft design. At the 908's first race on Monza it literally terrified the works drivers who found the longtail coupe a dog to drive and refused to race it in upcoming races where a short tailed coupe was campaigned.

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  Article Image gallery (59) Chassis (4) Specifications