Two Porsche 718 RSKs at Nürburgring
|Category||Sportscar, F1, F2|
|Designer(s)||Wilhelm Hild: 221|
|Suspension (front)||torsion bars, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Suspension (rear)||Watt-linkage, coil springs over telescopic shock absorbers|
|Engine||Type 547 1,498 cc (91.4 cu in) DOHC F4 boxer engine normally aspirated Mid-engined|
|Weight||570 kg (1,256.6 lb)|
|Notable entrants||Porsche System Engineering,|
|Notable drivers||Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Wolfgang von Trips, Edgar Barth, Carel Godin de Beaufort, Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney, Hans Herrmann, Nino Vaccarella, Gerhard Mitter|
|Debut||1957 Le Mans – Sportcars|
1960 Italian Grand Prix – F1
|Drivers' Championships||5 (European Hill Climb)|
The Porsche 718 is a series of one- or two-seat sports-racing cars built by Porsche from 1957 to 1962. An open-wheel single-seat model was developed for Formula racing.
The 718 was a development of the successful Porsche 550A with improvements made to the body work and suspension. The car's full name is 718 RSK, where "RS" stands for RennSport (sports-racing) and the "K" reflects the shape of the car's revised torsion-bar suspension. It had a mid-engined layout and used the 142 horsepower (106 kW) 1.5-litre Type 547/3 quad-cam engine introduced in the 550A.
In 1957 the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) changed their rules to allow cars with enveloping bodywork to compete in Formula races.: 27 That year Porsche entered three 550/1500RS Spyders in the German Grand Prix Formula Two (F2) event. Changes to the cars were minimal, being limited to removing the passenger seats and spare tires.
For 1958 Porsche fielded a modified 718, called the RSK Mittellenker (centre-steer), for F2 events. The bodywork for this car was only slightly different from the sportscar model, but the single seat was now in the centre of the cockpit, with the steering wheel, pedals, and shift lever relocated to accommodate the change and a fairing enclosing more of the cockpit opening.: 65 Jean Behra drove the car to a win at the F2 event at Reims that year. At the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, driver Edgar Barth placed sixth overall and second in his class. At the Berlin Grand Prix at AVUS the car won both its heat and the F2 class in the hands of driver Masten Gregory.
In 1959 Porsche unveiled the prototype of a narrow, open-wheeled car called the Porsche 718/2 that married the 718's mechanicals with a more traditional single-seat Formula body. The unpainted car was entered in the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, where driver Wolfgang von Trips qualified twelfth, but crashed on the second lap of the race. At Reims driver Joakim Bonnier finished third. For 1960 the production 718/2, starting with chassis number 718201, received revised bodywork, a 6-speed transaxle, and a wheelbase extended by 100 mm (3.9 in).: 278–281 A total of five cars were built. Some of these four-cylinder cars were later raced in F1 under the 1962 1½ litre formula.
In October 1958 the FIA had announced another change to the regulations for Formula One (F1).: 12 Beginning in the 1961 season, engine capacity would be limited to the same 1.5 litres as in Formula Two. This meant that Porsche could use their 718/2s almost unchanged in F1.
For the 1960 season the FIA made changes to the regulation regarding the windscreen and cockpit size. These rules changes together with a larger (1.6-litre) Type 547/3 engine, developing 160 horsepower (120 kW) and a new double wishbone rear suspension brought about the RS 60 model. The RS 60 brought Porsche victory at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring with a car driven by Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien. 1960 also saw Porsche win the Targa Florio with Hans Herrmann being joined on the winner podium by Jo Bonnier and Graham Hill. The RS 60 also ensured that Porsche successfully defended their European Hill Climb Championship for the third year in a row.
For 1961 the model name was changed to "RS 61" although it was almost identical to the RS 60. An RS 61 won the European Hill Climb Championship.
The W-RS version was developed in 1961. Initially fitted with a 4-cylinder engine, the car was later fitted with Porsche's air-cooled Type 771 2.0 L flat-eight engine which produced 240 horsepower (180 kW). A W-RS finished 8th at Le Mans in 1963. The W-RS continued Porsche's success in the European Hill Climb Championship with Edgar Barth claiming the title in 1963. Porsche would go on to win a European Hill Climb Championship every year until 1982, a total of 42 titles.
The W-RS continued racing until 1964 when it was replaced by the 904.
A Coupé version was developed from the RS 61. Initially fitted with a 4-cylinder engine, this car was also upgraded to an 8-cylinder F1 derived engine which produced 210 horsepower (160 kW). The car was also fitted with disc brakes. A GTR Coupé driven Jo Bonnier and Carlo Maria Abate won the 1963 Targa Florio making it three wins at the event for a 718 car.
The 718 made its racing debut at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Umberto Maglioli and Edgar Barth. The car failed to finish the race due to an accident.
In 1958, the car finished first in class and third overall at Le Mans guided by Jean Behra and Hans Herrmann. Jean Behra also brought one of the cars home second at the Targa Florio. In 1959, the car, driven by Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel, claimed overall victory at the Targa Florio. A 718 also won the European Hill Climb Championship in both 1958 and 1959.
In 1961 Masten Gregory and Bob Holbert piloted a 718/4 RS Spyder to a class win at Le Mans.
Porsche made their F2 debut with victories at Reims and AVUS in 1958. In 1959 other RSK's were converted for single seater racing and at the XV B.A.R.C. '200' at Aintree in 1960 Porsche scored a 1–2–3 victory with Stirling Moss, Jo Bonnier and Graham Hill all in 718s. The feat was repeated again later in the year at the race at Zeltweg, Austria.
Formula One switched to a 1.5-litre formula in 1961 and Porsche entered three 718s for Dan Gurney, Hans Herrmann and Jo Bonnier. Gurney scored three 2nd places (France, Italy and United States) taking him to 4th place in the Drivers' Championship. For 1962, Porsche entered a new car, the Porsche 804 in Formula One.
Carel Godin de Beaufort, a privateer, entered a 718 in F1 between 1961 and 1964. He was killed driving his 718 during practice for the 1964 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.