Anglo-German Relations: A Le Mans Legend Returns

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a race that should need no introduction.

This gruelling endurance event has been testing drivers and teams since 1923, and simultaneously, challenging manufacturers to improve on race car technology in the name of gaining competitive superiority.

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In 1980, Porsche entered three 924 GTPs into the fiercely competitive Prototype class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, each piloted by teams from Germany, the UK and America, and each wrapped in corresponding liveries to represent the nationalities of their drivers.

Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters-6754

Following the race, the car piloted by Tony Dron and Andy Rouse, and known as 924 GTP 002, was returned to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart and placed into storage, not to be touched for some 35 years. To this day, it’s still the only Porsche-owned race car to compete under British colours.

Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters-6792

In 2015, Porsche commissioned a full restoration of the car by Porsche Classic Partners in the UK, to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the 924. The restoration focused on returning the car to the condition and specification as it would have been when it first arrived at Le Mans in 1980. When the car arrived in the UK, the restoration team uncovered some interesting developments: for example, the car was fitted with a later engine from 1982. It seems someone at Stuttgart had been tinkering and testing with 924 GTP 002 while it was in storage.

Check out the video above to take a look at how the car looked prior to its restoration.

Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters-6794

Getting to see and experience such an important part of Porsche motorsport history in person, and in this condition, is something truly special. Spotting the car at the recent Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble event, the first major draw of the GTP – and it happened from afar believe me – is the liveried wide bodywork. I can smell a wide turbocharged Porsche race car on turbofans a mile away.

Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters--20
Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters--19

Based on a production Carrera GT bodyshell, designated Type 937, the chassis was stiffened with a rollcage and lightened with wider composite panels. The front end was made more aerodynamic, while an effort was made to keep the shape recognisable as a 924.

Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters-6800

Titanium components were used throughout the GTP’s chassis and suspension, adding rigidity and shaving vital kilograms off.

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Under each front fender sits a 16×11-inch BBS wheel, while the rears are 16×12-inch, and all are complete with functional turbofans, and shod in wide slick tyres.

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Under the bonnet, which was carefully placed to one side for passers-by to enjoy the GTP’s mechanical workings, lives a redesigned water-cooled four cylinder 2.0-litre KKK-turbocharged powerplant capable of outputting 320hp at 7,000rpm. Part of the restoration, and it seems by a healthy dollop of luck, involved reuniting the car with its original 1980 Le Mans engine – the very same engine – which had somehow ended up with a collector in Czechoslovakia.

Sunday Scramble Spring 18 by Jordan Butters Speedhunters-6747

Lots of innovative technology went into propelling the 924 GTP around Le Mans, including a charge-air intercooler, mechanical Bosch/Kugelfischer fuel injection, and dry sump lubrication. These components, along with a large fuel cell under the boot floor, ensured that the car spent as little time as possible in the pits during race conditions.

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The success of the 924 GTP in Le Mans inspired Porsche to create the desirable 924 GTS and über-rare GTR editions, cementing the manufacturer’s commitment to closely link its race and road car productions.

Win on Sunday, sell on Monday – it’s an approach that I, for one, hope never fades away.

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
jordan@speedhunters.com

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1

Hey Jordan, a little puzzled by the engine here. I thought Porsche GB managed to find the original 2.0L engine when they were restoring 924 GTP-002. The engine pictured certainly looks like the Audi based iron-block four, not the 2.5L engine later used in the 944. Take a look at Paul's 924 Turbo you featured in March- this engine looks substantially more like that one than it does the 1981 2.5L race engine or the production 944 engines. Porsche's site still describes the engine in this car as a 2.0L, see below:

https://www.porsche.com/uk/accessoriesandservice/classic/924-gtp-restoration/

The aluminum inline-four used in '81 is a pretty different(and physically larger) powerplant. You can loosely call it the prototype for the 944 engine, but the head is radically different to both the 2.5L 8v in the regular 944 and the 2.5L/3.0L 16v engine in the 944S, S2 and 968. A link to a picture of that engine is below:

http://lh6.ggpht.com/__pqkhEfdq8I/SFKwXGobPJI/AAAAAAAAAVU/a2ZHbLswW3E/s800/IMG_2069.jpg

The 16v GTP engine uses the timing belt to drive both the intake and exhaust cams, while the production 16v engines just drive the exhaust cam, and use a small timing chain under the cam cover to drive the intake cam. The race engine is a wild thing!

Author2

Interesting – the spec sheet on the car spoke of the 2.5-litre engine being fitted.



However, some further digging has revealed the confusion with the spec sheet, so I've updated the story to represent this. When the car was retrieved from the archives in Stuttgart it did indeed have the later engine in it, but no-one seems to know why. The restoration reunited it with its original 2.0-litre unit. Good spot Chris – and it makes the story of 924 GTP 002 even more interesting!

3

Thanks for following up! Yeah, I think they found the original engine in Eastern Europe.

That is sort of the nature of old racecars, they weren't precious artifacts right away. For a long time they were just old racecars!

4

That's fairly interesting, in the video Porsche produced about this car coming out for resto, the footage shows the 2-litre multiple times!

Author5

Yeah there's some continuity issues with the story I think. One thing's for sure is that it didn't go into storage and remain 'untouched'.

6

There's always one person that's ultra pedantic, I love it!

7

Speaking of pedantic, please never use the 'word' outputting ever again!

Interesting article though on an overlooked corner of racing history

Author8

Present participle of output my G. It's here to stay.

9

I'm a 944 fan! The engines share virtually nothing, as the 2.5L aluminum engine is derived from the 928's V8, while the earlier engine is closely related to the Audi 100's engine. The Porsche 924 Turbos had a unique cylinder head though.

10

Wow thats awesome. Kinda looks like an fc rx-7. Maybe this inspired that design?

11

If I am not mistaken Mazda took inspiration from Porsche.

12

924 1976-1988
fc3s 1985-1991

the fc rx7 is sort of a rotary copy of the 924. even the interiour looks kind of like a copy. still means it is a great car. the fd3s is kind of the best rotary car mazda did build. sadly they came at the wrong time and it is next to impossible to find one with climate control and left hand drive.

13

The FC copied the 924/944's looks, but it did get way more modern and sophisticated suspension than the Super Beetle-derived trailing arm rear suspension the Porsche used.

FCs rock!

14
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

One of the only front-engined Porsche coupes that I like, besides the Carrera GT, GTS and GTR, thanks to those box flares.

15

I love it when period-correct safety equipment is left as is.
You wouldn't see an ALUMINIUM-ALLOY rollcage in any historic-class racecar.

16

Great to see these shots, this resto has been on my radar for a little while. Good reminded Porsche hasn't forgetten the transaxle history, no matter how derided by the purists.

17

im a bit sad to see it go from having its scars and scuffs, to a museum peice.
they should have built replica and kept the original preserved as it finished the race.

18

I got a porsche's book written by Dron. He told put cement bags on the trunk of a race 924 (no this) to get oversteer

beautiful car!

19
Robert Shisler

Love those turbine hubcaps on BBSes.

20

You're writing better than 99% of the people on this site. Might be time for a career change. Keep in touch buddy...

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