In 1976, entries for the Sports Car World Championship were extended to include just about anything with four wheels that was at least moderately suited for long distances. Porsche participated with two different concepts – and was twice rewarded.
The 935, derived from the 911 Turbo, won the Group 5 World Championship. The 936 was a two-seat prototype developed by the Porsche racing department at Weissach for the Group 6 World Championship – and consequently added a second World Championship in 1976.
“For the 936, we basically used the chassis of the 917, but the body and tubular frame were new, of course,” recalls Norbert Singer, top Porsche race engineer for many years. The 936 was never tested in the wind tunnel. Instead, Singer relied upon his engineering experience, and comments ironically; “the result wasn’t too bad!”
The 1976 Le Mans race was a fine example. After just 20 minutes, the Porsche 936 of Jacky Ickx went to the head of the field, but after building up a lead of 17 laps, a hectic situation arose: a leak in the exhaust system! In the pits, the mechanics removed the turbocharger as quickly as possible. The defective pipe was taken out, a new one installed and the turbocharger put back into place. Despite extremely quick work, 32 minutes were lost.
The lead decreased to nine laps, but still sufficient for Ickx and his co-driver Gijs van Lennep to win the race in supreme style.
A year later, two Porsche 936 entries had to compete against a phalanx of six turbocharged Renaults. The Ickx/Pescaralo Porsche retired after a few hours, but the second car driven by Jurgen Barth/Hurley Haywood, took up the chase. Jacky Ickx helped his team colleagues, setting up one record lap time after another.
The Renaults slowly came under increasing pressure, causing them to raise their speed and resulting in a series of breakdowns. After 24 hours of intense racing, Barth crossed the finishing line as a deserving winner, despite a damaged piston in the engine.
This car then went on display in the Porsche Museum, but only stayed there until 1981. After a thorough overhaul, it won Le Mans again!
Engine: 2,142 cc, turbocharged flat six
Output: 540 hp at 8,000 rpm
Performance: Top speed 217 mph (350 km/h)