The changes to sports car racing for 1968 were ideal for Porsche. Their 910 and 907 designs had dominated 2-litre sports car racing in 1967, and 2195cc versions of these cars had challenged for overall victory. So many 910s had been built that the 2-litre version qualified as a Competition Sports Car in the new Group 4. The new rules set a limit of 3 litres and Porsche set to work on a new 3-litre engine, taking capacity up to 2924cc and subsequently to 2997cc.
When it was first introduced the 908 chassis was little changed from the 907 but would evolve rapidly over the next two years. New rules for 1969 allowed open (Spyder) cars and removed the minimum weight limit, allowing Porsche to build a much lightened version of the 908, the 908/02 Spyder. This car won Porsche’s first world championship.
ROFGO Collection: 1971 – PORSCHE 908/3 #12
For 1970, efforts were concentrated on the 917 but the 908 family still had a role to play. Porsche built an entirely new car, the 908/3, based largely on the 909 Bergspyder hillclimb car that had been built for 1968 using the lightest possible components. The ultra lightweight 908/3 was intended for winding courses such as the Nürburgring and the Targa Florio while the 917 would be used at power circuits such as Monza. The 908/3 did exactly what was asked of it, finishing first and second in both Sicily and the Eiffel, and Porsche won its second world championship.
Porsche built two more even lighter 908/3s for 1971, the chassis 012 and 013. Again the intense was only to use these cars for two races, the Targa Florio in mid-May and the 1000km race at the Nürburgring two weeks later. This time the Targa Florio was a disaster, with all three cars crashing out having been outqualified bt the team of Alfa Romeo T33/3s. Four 908/3s were entered for the German race, two brand new cars in Gulf colours to be handled by JW Automotive and two ex-Targa examples for the Martini Racing Team. Chassis 012 was driven by Jo Siffert and Derek Bell and qualified fifth, behind the Ferrari 312 PB that Jacky Ickx had put on pole but also behind the leading Alfa Romeo and both the Martini Team entries. When the race started Ickx opened up a huge lead in the Ferrari but it soon overheated and dropped out. Siffert moved 012 past the two Martini cars to hold second place on lap 6 but the rear sub-frame broke on the Porsche at speed and Siffert had to drive slowly back to the pits to retire.
After this one and only race in Gulf colours, 012 wasn’t needed again by Porsche and was stored until 1974 when it was sold to Reinhold Jöst’s Joest Racing as a second entry to his regular chassis 008. Three of the old 908/3s received turbo engines in 1974 but 012 continued to race through a further four seasons with its original 3-litre engine.