Beginning with the outstanding Porsche 956, IMSA regulations required that the driver’s feet be behind the front axle for safety reasons. Porsche extended the wheelbase and moved the pedal box behind the front wheels, allowing the 962 to be approved for racing. These IMSA-spec 962s began with Porsche’s Type 962/70 2.8-liter flat six engines with air-cooling only and a single turbo, as twin-turbo systems were not allowed in the IMSA GTP class at the time. The 962-102 was campaigned by legendary driver Bob Akin in 1984. [credit:
The Petersen Museum/Ted7 ]
Trying to crown the world’s greatest race car is a futile endeavor, as everyone has a different definition of “greatest.” But if you were making a shortlist for such an award, Porsche’s 956 and 962 would have to make the cut.
When the 956 first debuted with the introduction of Group C racing in 1982, it was a departure from Porsche’s previous Le Mans-winning prototypes. From the 917 (which gave Porsche its first overall win in 1970) to the 936 (which won in 1976, 1977, and 1981), all of Porsche’s cars used a relatively fragile tubeframe chassis clad in fiberglass bodywork.
But the 956 exchanged this old way of doing things for a much more up-to-date approach. The chassis this time was an aluminum monocoque with much greater stiffness—and much better driver safety.
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