PORSCHE 962C PROWLS THE STREETS
UDino Dalle Carbonare
PNovember 9, 2012
Ever hear the saying “only in Japan?” Well if that doesn’t apply to this particular car, well I really don’t know what does! I’m just going to go ahead and assume that everyone reading this has seen the film that MotorHead magazine produced of this crazy street-registered Porsche 962C and move swiftly along to that unforgettable day when I tagged along with the team and proceeded to be amazed.
I have had the opportunity to shoot some pretty incredible cars this year, and the Liberty Walk Ferrari F40 was one that stood in top spot for quite a few months…until that moment when I leaned out the back window of a moving car to snap images of something that had no right making sense. But then again, this is Japan, and anything can happen.
I sometimes think that this country is located in a parallel universe. When it comes to cars, amazing things happen on a daily basis here, so much so that you stop attributing an element of surprise to certain occurrences. But at times you just can’t help but stop in your tracks and stand there, blown away but what you have just seen. And as with most rarities, there is always an interesting story behind them so let me tell you the one behind this particular car.
First off this is not an actual Rothmans Group C 962,
…but rather one of only six (or is it five, hard finding concrete info on this) Vern Schuppan 962s The second prototype to be precise. Unlike the 956s and 962s that Porsche built for racing, the six $1.5 million cars that Australian racing legend Vern Schuppan built had a carbon fiber monocoque chassis. Furthermore this car is even more unique as all of the racing parts from the 956 and 962 were swapped over including the 956′s mid-mounted, 2.65L, twin-turbocharged, flat-six engine. This being the second ever created, it sports the same carbon-Kevlar body as the race cars, something that as production of the other four cars picked up was replaced with a very different, curvier shell featuring two round headlights. Those cars were actually referred to as the 962CRs.
We will get to the oily bits further down, as we take a little more detailed look at what makes this particular car a one of a kind piece.
The owner has cut no corners in guaranteeing that his Group C street racer is as authentic as possible, down to the spare set of center lock BBS wheels which we had to tighten with the biggest torque wrench I have ever seen before the car was taken for its drive.
With the majority of the day organized around a very tight filming schedule I did the best I could at setting up impromptu shoots where ever I had the chance to keep the car in one spot for more than ten minutes.
It was during these quick bursts of shots that I was able to take in the car in all its detail, including the interior, which has been left in its “road going guise.” For being one of the most expensive new cars ever sold, equipment levels are somewhat lacking, but then again what on earth do you expect on a car like this. You get 2 very tight seats, a sill mounted shifter with visible linkage…
…a carbon fiber dash on which the “Team Schuppan” Stack tacho and speedo are mounted, and would you believe it air conditioning which according to the owner has never really worked!
Seeing the car is often driven on tracks like Fuji Speedway a Lap Shot P-Lap III lap time as been added as well as an auxiliary boost gauge, just to keep an eye on what those remotely mounted KKK blowers are up to at full rpm.
Being confronted with such a legendary car…
…sporting equally legendary livery is nothing short of mind boggling, but of course not as much as what we were all about to do next!
The idea was to drive the car onto the highway and let Luke Huxham, who put the film together, film the car in its own element. However, while Group C engines are good at cranking out well over 600 HP at the race track, what they aren’t built to do is cruse around painfully slow Japanese roads…in first gear…right in the middle of one of the hottest summers Japan has been through. So after a few short minutes of driving…
…the coolant in the radiators had boiled and to avoid overheating the rare engine, the owner pulled over.
The utter craziness of what we were doing that day really became evident once we saw the car parked up on the side of your regular, Japanese country road.
The engineers that look after the car, as well as a the rest of the owner’s vast car collection, were on hand with a modern transporter and in no time the 962C was pushed onto the truck’s platform…
…and safely strapped down inside. The idea was to let the car cool and unload it at the first highway stop we would come across, so that when the engine was turned back into life…
…it could be driven at speed within a matter of minutes so that the radiators would be able to do their thing.
Seeing the highway rest stop we chose had a gas station, the owner decided to fill up with some hi-oku…
…better safe than sorry as they say. The gas station attendants couldn’t really believe what their were seeing, and were probably too shy to ask what on earth we were all doing!
With everything set it was off onto the highway where Luke and I got our much needed rolling shots. We just managed to get what we needed before the heavens opened up with a mean summer thunderstorm, but the owner didn’t see too bothered by it all. I though we would have to pull over and load the car into the transporter just in case the rain created problems…
…but we just kept going, the 962C blasting over standing water that at times would splash onto the piping-hot external wastegates and side exit exhausts, creating puffs of vapor.
One of the main scenes of the film was the 962C pulling into a Family Mart, where the owner would get out, go inside the conbini and purchase a can of RedBull. We were there for quite a while and it was hard to resist…
…taking tons of shots! You can’t get a more bizarre image than this. The funniest thing was that regular people that obviously didn’t have the slightest interest in cars just pulled up, parked, and went in and out of the shop without even giving a second glance to the Group C race car that was parked right in front of them! Of course the majority of people were amazed, and stopped to ask question and grab quick pictures with their cell phones.
But before the day was over it was back to the warehouse…
…where the rest of the owner’s collection is safely tucked away in.
This is where I got a bit of time to drool over the oily bits…
…as the rear cowl was carefully removed…
…exposing the complex rear layout of the 962. With the car having been designed and developed in the early 1980′s things are quite simple if we are to compare it to modern day race cars like the ones we recently way in Fuji at the WEC event. But we can’t forget that this was quite an important car in its day, one of the first prototype cars to really take full advantage of ground effects. With the rear off you can also see how far back the undercover “tunnels” extend, making full use of all the air passing underneath.
At the heart of this unique Vern Shuppan 962C is the 935/82 2.65L flat-six from a 956 race car, the first generation of the mid-mounted motors. By pure chance I saw this engine in the final stages of a complete rebuilt back in 2010 when I visited the supercar exhaust maker Kreissieg in Yokohama. Little did I know back then, that I would have the chance to one day shoot the completed car!
From the side you can see where the engine sits.
For a motor close to 30 years old, I was very impressed by the quality of the aluminum intake manifolds, as I have seen some terrible creations from race cars of the same era.
The flat-six has dry-sump lubrication and the large oil tank is within easy reach right behind the engine.
The two K26 KKK turbochargers are located on the extremities of the car so that the air-to-air intercoolers could make full use of the airflow coming in through the large side intakes.
A Porsche external wastegate is used for boost control and once they have done their job the spent exhaust gasses are dumped out from the side of the car, one pipe from the turbo, one from the wastegate.
Along with the engine a lot of the suspension components have been swapped over from the 956 race car. Here is a closer look at the short-stroke dampers…
…and the adjustable anti-roll bar.
It is truly a fabulous and unique car in every way and the fact that it has ended up in the hands of this particular owner, who thoroughly enjoys it both on and off the track, is the perfect end to an already amazing little story.
As they say, only in Japan.
-Dino Dalle Carbonare
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