One hundred years ago, a small town in France saw the first occurrence of an a twenty-four hour motor car endurance race. Initially held on public roads, with dedicated track sections built for the event in later years, driver’s would put everything on the line to push their cars to the limit day and night, through all possible conditions. The same roads used by the locals for everyday tasks saw motor racing greats accomplish heroic feats of endurance, etching their names into the history books.
Since that first race in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has grown from its humble beginnings into the most significant sports car racing event on the motorsport calendar. To many, the allure of the event has been its road-based roots, and the fact that some of the event today still takes place on closed public roads.
However, as time went on and the automobiles racing at Le Mans became increasingly fast and complex, the idea of being able to drive such race cars at speed on public roads became less viable. The concept of driving a car from its factory to Le Mans, race, and drive home (ideally after winning outright), one which was once fact, became fantasy. This would have been possible with almost any car from the pre-war and cars up until the 1960s and even 1970s, but by the 1980s, this would have been nearly impossible to comprehend.
For the very lucky owner of this Porsche 962, chassis number CK6-88, that dream is now possible.
As one would expect, lots of work was required to make CK6-88 not only legal but feasible to use on U.K. roads. A world-class race preparer of prototype and GT cars was commissioned to complete the work, as one of the leading restorers and race preparers of prototype race cars. This included fitting things like a handbrake, cooling fans for the engine, installation of an ECU, steering wheel mounted mini dash, and rear view camera. Headsets and intercoms were installed for passenger and driver communication, as Porsche did not originally consider casual conversation with two people within the cabin of a 962! Luckily, the car’s turning circle was not deemed a problem so the original steering rack set up was kept.
The 962 was not kept sitting idle and shortly after the conversion was completed, the car was driven on an extensive road trip from the U.K. to Germany so the owner and some of his friends could watch the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Driving it from the U.K. to Germany, they also made detours to see Kremer Racing and the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. In addition to the car’s history file, it is accompanied by a handful of spares, including two noses (one damaged and one undamaged), a short tail, and a number of wheels and tyres. A complete list of these spares can be found in the history file.
Prior to its road conversion, it is widely acknowledged that CK6-88’s racing history involved events in the FIA World Sports Prototype Championship, the FIA Coupe d’Europe Interserie, and the FIA World Challenge. Driven by Kris Nissen in the Interseries Coupe d’Europe, Nissen took the checkered flag for a win at the first race at the Hungaroring, but finished in 9th place in the second race of the weekend. Three weeks later at the next round at Hockenheim, his results would improve with a clean sweep, winning both races outright, and a further win at Wunstorf in July completed Nissen and the car’s hattrick in the series that season.
For perhaps its most memorable event, the 962 would journey to that fabled town in France where both Porsche and the 962 had been so successful. At the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jaguar and the XJR-9 took the chequered flag outright, but Porsche and the 962 with both factory entries and privateers took up eight of the other nine places within the top ten, ceding only 4th place to another XJR-9. This car, campaigned by Kremer in Kenwood livery with Kunimitsu Takahashi, Hideki Okada, and Bruno Giocomelli, took 9th overall.
Chassis number CK6-88 would take part in two further FIA World Sports Prototype Championship events at the Nürburgring and Fuji, placing 10th in Germany and unfortunately failing to finish in Japan. The 962’s last event in its competitive career would be at the IMSA World Challenge race in Tampa, Florida. Piloted by the father-sun duo of Michael and Mario Andretti, the 962 finished in 6th place.
Following the conclusion of its racing career, the 962 was sold by Kremer to John Wengler in 1990 (in exchange for a Ferrari Testarossa, Dino, and F40) and it is believed that the car remained with him until 2001, being used by him for the occasional historic racing event. In 2009, the car was acquired by well-known UK-based collector Martin Overington of Surrey and with him the car has appeared at various of events, including Le Mans Classic on a number of occasions, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Most famously, the car was driven by Derek Bell at both the Le Mans Classic in 2012 and Goodwood Member’s Meeting in 2015. Bell’s outing at Le Mans Classic in 2012 was the first time that’d he’d been behind the wheel of a 962 in twenty years. Following the race, he commented “I’m staggered at how well the car went in the race…It was great to drive a Group C again and, yes, I really enjoyed it”. The 962 was acquired by the current owner a few years ago and shortly thereafter, its journey from the racetrack to the road began.
Ownership of a Porsche 962 offers numerous exciting opportunities on track, but coupled with the ability to be driven and enjoyed legally on U.K. roads is truly an incredible proposition. And, perhaps for an owner daring enough, it could be driven from the U.K. to France, race at Le Mans Classic, and be driven home again. With the installation of a passenger seat, there is indeed space for a sizable trophy or bottle of champagne…