CARS YOU SHOULD KNOW: The Porsche 936/76

New Releases Porsche Racing

The late 1960s were a golden age for international prototype racing, with large-displacement titans slugging it out on legendary circuits like Sebring, Spa, and the granddaddy of them all, Le Mans. But, as in most other aspects of life, everything changed in the 1970s. In 1972, the FIA merged Group 6 prototypes and Group 5 sports cars into a single new-look Group 5, now with a maximum engine displacement of three liters. In a flash, big-bore, high-horsepower monsters like the Ferrari 512, Lola T70, and most notably the all-conquering Porsche 917 were rendered obsolete. Some manufacturers adapted to the change in formula and thrived, with Ferrari, Matra and Alfa Romeo finding success in the newly constituted World Championship for Makes.

Porsche, on the other hand, turned its attention to the North American Can-Am series, where technological innovation was allowed to flourish under the series' extremely liberal rules. Immediately, Porsche would come to dominate the sport thanks to a not-so-secret weapon: turbocharging. By adding forced-induction to the 917's already potent flat-12, Porsche set standards of speed and power that have yet to be equaled over forty years later, and in the process so thoroughly overwhelmed their Can-Am competition that the series became very fast but very predictable parade, and folded within two years of their arrival. In Can-Am's wake, Porsche turned to production-based sports car racing; by stuffing a turbocharged 2.1-liter engine into the back of the ubiquitous 911, they created an overnight legend in the 935, a car which would itself utterly dominate GT racing throughout the 1970s. However, when it came to claiming the biggest prize in international sports car racing - overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche chose to wait in the wings.

Then in 1976, the winds of change in sports car racing blew in Porsche's direction. Largely to appease the demands of specialist race car fabricators like Lola and Alpine, the FIA resumed prototype competition with the rebirth of Group 6, run under the banner of a new World Sportscar Championship. Engine displacement was once again limited to three liters, though turbocharged engines up to 2.1 liters would be permitted. Sensing an opportunity in the turbo allowance (and perhaps looking to exact a measure of revenge on the FIA for having forced their brilliant and expensively developed 917 into mothballs) Porsche pounced. Quickly, a prototype was developed based on the 917's aluminum space frame but bearing the 935's proven 2.1-liter turbo motor and fiberglass spyder coachwork. Dubbed the 936, Porsche's new prototype spyder was given a prime directive to win Le Mans outright, but first, there was the little matter of the 1976 World Sportscar Championship.

As with most other prototype race cars, the 936's initial outing demonstrated some teething problems; at the season-opening 300-kilometer race at Nurburgring, a stuck throttle cable relegated the first 936 (#001) to a fifth-place finish. However, from that point forward, the 1976 World Sportscar Championship belonged to the Porsche 936. The second car produced (#002) would win round 2, the Monza 1000km, with Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass sharing driving duties. This same chassis would claim three more series victories in the seven-round season, along with scoring the all-important overall win at Le Mans. Chassis #001 would add two more wins to the 936's total, helping to secure the 1976 championship by a landslide.

 

Typically, scale model replicas of the Porsche 936 have focused on depicting the car in Le Mans-winning configuration, so TSM's decision to release a 1:18-scale resin-cast model of 936-002 as it first appeared at the 1976 Monza 1000km is a bit of an act of bravery. Thankfully, the execution of this model is of such a high standard that Porsche enthusiasts who might otherwise consider only buying winners of the "Big One" will be more than satisfied with this historically important car. Though it has no opening parts, the level of exterior and cockpit detail on TSM's model is incredible, especially its flawless Martini livery.

Production of the TSM 1:18-scale Porsche 936 Monza 1000km winner will be limited to 1,200 pieces. To secure a copy of this milestone car in Porsche history, please visit www.modelcitizendiecast.com.

 

 


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