The Porsche 904: A Combination of Beauty and Speed

The Porsche 904 was one of the best looking and successful racing cars that Porsche ever made.  The car was made in the years 1964 and 1965.  Porsche designed the GTS variant to compete in the FIA-GT class at various international racing events. The street-legal version of the Porsche 904 debuted in 1964 in order to comply with Group 3 homologation regulations requiring that a certain number of road-going variants be sold.  In the end, Porsche produced about 106 904s with a list price of US$7245 (FOB Stuttgart).


 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS

 I was somewhat surprised to find that Road & Track had even done a road test off a Porsche 904!

 Road & Track Porsche 904 Road Test

The Porsche 904’s mid-engine layout was based on the earlier Porsche RSK, which had been the factory’s leading race car. The Porsche 904 was powered by the 1,966 cc (120 cu in), four-cam flat four-cylinder engine producing 198 hp.  It drove a five-speed transmission with a standard 4.428:1 final drive, with available 4.605, 4.260, 3.636, and 3.362 ratios.

 The Porsche 904 Looks Good Both Coming and Going 

 The 904 was the first Porsche to use a ladder chassis and body, appearing more like specialist racing cars than the modified sports cars typical at the time. The Porsche 904 fiberglass body was fastened to the steel chassis for extra rigidity.

 The Horizontal Seam Divides The Fiberglass Body From the Steel Chassis

Race-prepared four-cylinder Porsche 904s weighed in at approximately 1,440 pounds and the low weight gave the Porsche 904 the ability to accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in less than six seconds and to reach a top speed of 160 mph with the right gearing.  The drag coefficient for the shape of the Porsche 904 is 0.34, which helps the top speed capability.

The Porsche 904 Could be Driven to the Track, Win, and Be Driven Home

The Porsche 904 rode on coil springs, with unequal-length A-arms in front.  The wheelbase of the Porsche 904 was 90.5 inches, the front and rear track was 51.7 inch, was 42 inches high, and had a ground clearance of 4.7 inches.

A Porsche 904 Catching Some Air at the Nurburgring

In 1964, Porsche 904s finished 1-2 at the Targa Florio and had class wins at Spa, Sebring, the Nürburgring, Le Mans, Watkins Glen, Zandvoort, in Canada, and the Paris 1000 Kilometer.  In the USA, a Porsche 904 won SCCA’s C-Production and E-Sports championship titles. 

A Porsche 904 Won the Targa Florio in 1964

In addition, a Porsche 904 won rally events including the Tulip, Munich-Vienna-Budapest, Geneva, and the Alpine Rally.  For 1965, a Porsche 904 scored a class win in the Monte Carlo Rally.   In addition during 1965, Porsche 904s won their class at the Monza 1000 Kilometer, Targa, Spa, Daytona Continental, Le Mans, and Zandvoort.  A Porsche 904 again won the SCCA E-Sports championship and won the SCCA E-Production championship.

Porsche 904s at Le Mans in 1965

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2 Responses to The Porsche 904: A Combination of Beauty and Speed

  1. paul Cully says:

    What a great collection of photos and information. It’s very cool that the Road & Track article was done on this car. The performance of this car 51 years ago is just amazing.

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