SPORTS CAR RACING HISTORY . com          Porsche 906 # 128
Home Books Events & Photos History Contact Us Orders

Porsche 908 Kurz, Langheck, and Spyder (LINK TO CHASSIS NUMBER LIST)

The 908's motor made it a vastly different car than the 907.  Though both the 907 and the 908 shared eight-cylinder motors, the 907's Type 771 2.2-liter motor was far more complex than the 908's 3.0-liter unit (the Type 908).  The 908's motor was intended, to some extent, to be a production motor.  As a result, it was much simpler than the Type 771, which was, essentially, a Grand Prix motor.  Whereas the 907 unit, with its gear-driven accessories, would take close to 300 hours to rebuild, the 908's (with chain-driven camshafts and belt-driven accessories) could be rebuilt in about 25 hours.  Early in its development, the 908 motor would produce 320 hp and, by the end of 1968, partly because of an increase of 1 mm in the bore, it would produce 350 hp.

To handle the power of the Type 908 motor, a new six-speed gearbox (the Type 916) was designed later in 1968. This gearbox would also be fitted to 907s in 1968.

The early 908 chassis was almost identical to the 907 chassis (and both shared the same 90.6" wheelbase).  Only the rear bulkhead on the right side was moved a few centimeters forward to accomodate the right side of the Type 908 motor. The first 12, "000" to "011," along with "017" to "021" (that I believe were earlier chassis renumbered by Porsche), had a chassis made of steel.  "012" to "016" and "022" to "031," had aluminum chassis.  Early on, two additional tubes were added at the rear of the frame, triangulating an area above the gearbox.  

As far as bodies go, the early 908s were nearly identical to the 907.  Both had the same suspension and steering, and ran on 13" wheels.  After Monza in 1968, 908s would run on 15" wheels.  To accomodate the bigger wheels, the 908's body was then widened by 4.3" and the fenders were higher (and bigger) than the 907's.

Documenting the early 908s (and the 907s for that matter) has been difficult for historians.  I believe that the essence of the problem lies in the increasingly developmental and disposable nature of Porsche's racecar program.  It simply was not economically feasible to build a single run of 25 or more 908s (or 907s).  There weren't enough serious privateers to absorb such a quantity of competition cars. Though several 907s would be sold to privateers, very few early 908s were ever sold.  I believe that, for the first series of the 908, Porsche entered into a recycling program where a few cars would be built, then be used for tests and/or a race or two, and then, finally, be disassembled.  The usable parts, including some chassis I believe, would be reassembled into a new car, with a new chassis number.  Therefore, though first series 908 chassis numbers run from "000" to "031," I highly doubt that significantly more than a dozen existed as complete cars beyond 1968.  Very few (only seven or so, I believe) were sold to privateers to race in period.  Notably, it does not appear as though any 908K Coupes were sold to privateers.  

Furthermore, I believe that almost all of the first 16 908 chassis (numbered "000" to "015") were either scrapped or renumbered.  Therefore, if I am correct, it would mean that, beyond 1968, with perhaps a few exceptions, mainly 908 chassis with numbers "016" to "031" would exist ("003" and "007," now in the Porsche Museum, being obvious exceptions).  "017" to "021" were short ("Kurz"), steel chassis, that, I believe, originally had numbers between "005" and "011" and were renumbered by Porsche in 1968.  A Factory document shows "017" to "021" as Porsche's inventory of 908Ks in 1968.  I believe that only nine 908Ks were built (eight with a steel chassis and one, "012," with an aluminum chassis, weighing about 45 pounds less than the steel chassis).  

"016" and "022" to "031" were Langheck, aluminum chassis.  Among these, "016," "022," "024," "026," "027," and "031" are known to have been Langheck cars that were converted to Spyders with a short ("K") tail and then sold to privateers who raced them.  "025" appears to have survived as a Langheck.  

Among the Kurz Coupes, "018" and "019" are known to have be sold by Porsche, along with Type 908 motors and Type 916 gearboxes, to Alan Hamilton in Australia in 1974.  I believe that these two cars originally carried numbers "009" and "011," respectively.  Other than "007" that is in the Porsche Museum, "018" and "019" appear to be the only surviving 908Ks with a continuous, documented history.  Others have appeared recently but I suspect that they have little to do with the respective 908Ks that were built by Porsche.  Again, though the following thirteen numbers have been listed as steel-framed Kurz Coupes: "001," "005" through "011," and "017" through "021," I believe that "017" to "021" actually find their origins in numbers "005" to "011" and that, as a result, only eight in all were built.  See CHASSIS NUMBER LIST.