Spotlight On The Winningest 935: The JLP-3

The Moby Dick Porsche 935/78 had pushed the boundaries of what could be done with the Porsche 935 as far as aerodynamics and power were concerned, but it didn’t set the bar for winning. That plaudit is owned by this car, the JLP-3. Out of a total of 27 races entered, this 935-based special recorded a total of nine wins and took 16 podiums, meaning victory in every three races it entered and a remarkable 60 percent rate of finishing on the podium.

The stats include seven consecutive race victories, from Pocono in 1981 through to Charlotte in May of 1982 – and more importantly – wins in both the 1982 24 Hours of Daytona and overall victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring, making it the only car to achieve the feat of winning those two classic enduros in the same year. To cap off the 1982 season, the JLP-3 also carried its drivers to the IMSA Camel GT Championship.


The most interesting thing is that this period of domination came at the effective end of life for the 935 and the class it ran in, which I suppose is the perfect way for a car like this to bow out. It was up against new ground-effect GTPs at a time when Porsche had stopped supporting the base car, but there seemed to be a minor arms race amongst the privateers before the new prototypes took over.


The lead-up to the JLP-3 was down to John L Paul Sr, who had been carving out a successful career in IMSA sportscars alongside his son, Jr, under the JLP team banner. Their first car, JLP1, was based on a customer 1978-spec 935 from the factory, and their second, JLP2, was built to Kremer K3 spec. But for 1981 they decided to go full tilt at creating their own tube-frame Porsche, with the result looking like the bastard cross of mating a Moby Dick with a K3. They weren’t alone in this of course, as many privateer teams had made their own variants of the 935, and in fact JLP paired it with another hardcore 935-alike – the radical JLP-4 – for sprint races in 1982.


Graham ‘Rabbit’ Bartrills at Chuck Gaa’s GAACO team started with a poor old donor 1972 911T, which was emasculated as the base for the new car: the cowl, windshield pillars, roof and door frames were the only things left, as per the letter of the rules. A lightweight fibreglass body was draped over the chassis and the floor sills raised: the underbody was optimised, with development of the aerodynamics carried out in the Lockheed wind tunnel in nearby Marietta, Georgia.


The car was normally powered by an IMSA-spec 3.2-litre flat six with Bosch mechanical fuel injection: the twin turbochargers pushed power up above 750hp. It used a four-speed transaxle and four-wheel disc brakes. Derek Bell and Rolf Stommelen were some of the famous drivers who occasionally joined the Pauls, and the result was the most successful of all the Porsche 935 race cars. The history of the car since it stopped competing is far less colourful than that of John Paul Sr, but it’s recently been restored and gone up for auction. Some very lucky (and likely wealthy) driver is about to become the owner of the definitive Porsche 935.



Comments are closed.

1 comment

by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Apologies for being OCD about Porsche naming conventions, but I'm not sure this is technically a 935. I understand that this is a Porsche, as it had an original factory road-car VIN, but can this technically be defined as a 935 if it didn't get a factory Porsche 935 chassis number? Wouldn't this car then become an IMSA/Group 5 legal Porsche JLP-3?