1971 SEASON (Part VI) 




In 1971, by midyear, Engineer Pieter Falk - right arm of Engineer Hensler, who was Director of Porsche’s Experimental Division of Structures in 1971- announced the retirement of the German house of the World Championship of Makes for 1972, resigning to defend the 1971 title that was almost safe by that time of the year, given the spectacular campaign until that moment.  

This is what Falk had to say to the press (Parabrisas Corsa magazine Nº264 May/71):

"Porsche will not do anything in 1972 concerning the World Championship of Makes. The 917´s will be outside regulation as of January 1st, 1972 and as far as the 908/03, we are going to abandon the development process. We are no longer interested in three-litre cars. The 908/03 won the two races in which they appeared in 1970, the Targa and the 1000 of Nürburgring, and will participate - we think that with great chance- this year in the same two races. Those four performances justify the fact, and although the development stops, with the obtained results much can be done in benefit of the street cars of the marque, with which the experiment can be taken as good ".

"The 908/03 was studied, projected, tested, reformed and put finally in race in a lapse of five years in which a whole team worked in the model with total dedication and without thinking about no other car that that one. I do not know how much did it cost in money, but I’m sure that what leaves in knowledge, experience and advances, plus the obtained triumphs, they have been worth the spend. It was conceived to run in mixed circuits and I believe that still today (May 1971) there isn’t a rival who can beat it ".

"Regarding the contracts that bind us with John Wyer who handles our strongest team, and with International Martini, these expire at the end of the year and they will obviously not be renewed. There in more, if any team wants to continue running with cars of the marque, we will offer some support to them, but this will not mean that these teams can be considered not even as semi-official. On the other hand, if somebody wants to have the existing 908/03 I do not believe that there is a  problem that prevents us from negotiating them, but the existing units are very few and there is no intention to continue producing them in total or partial manner, so that I can’t imagine who could be interested in that sort of operation ".

"Of course, all this does not mean that Porsche retires totally of the sport, but simply that we will not follow in the Championship. We will prepare a car with all the pepper for Can-Am, that seems very interesting, for the next season; but regarding Sport Prototypes it is possible to be said from now, that at the end of the year, Porsche closes its doors".




( Parabrisas Corsa Magazine Nº269 - Editorial- June/71)

Porsche’s decision to retire of the competitions was the logical result of the panorama offered to the German signature by the new regulation that would govern the World Championship of Makes in 1972.

650 kilos of minimum weight, and only three litres of piston displacement, thus said the new rule.

This rule gave Porsche only one alternative:  if it wanted to stay competitive, they were to design and build a much more powerful motor that the one they had at the moment for the 908/03.To improve the power/weight ratio. That was the problem.

And it was a problem because the technical parameter that bonded Porsche with Volkswagen’s financing, was the use of air cooling exclusively, and in this case its construction did not allow the use cylinder heads with four valves each (matter of space and heat transfer). Not being able to use this layout in the heads, it was not possible to reach high specific power (same situation happened in the 12 cylinder, 5-litre engine).

The eventual rivals of Porsche, fundamentally Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, could afford to put their designers and engineers to adopt any design that maximized their powerplants and besides, as until that moment their chassis had not managed to be competitive as far as weight concerns, they could also work in that aspect, whereas Porsche had been racing within the prescribed weight limits and it did not have way to improve in that particular aspect.

As this cocktail turned out, Porsche’s possibilities of being competitive in the 1972 World Championship of Makes were remote and therefore it decided to move away, to compete in the Can-Am Series.



 (Parabrisas Corsa Magazine Nº247 page 37)

Away from the possibility to compete in the Sport Prototypes category in the World Championship of Makes, Porsche considered two alternatives of continuity for its sporting campaign. One was the Formula 1 scene and other the Can-Am Series.

The option as it is known, was the last one.

This were Porsche’s directives thoughts.

Formula 1 cars are machines that change continuously, of continuous evolution but of reduced technical quality.

The SP are not like that, these participate in long endurance races that are won with organization. F1 races can be won even with little organization, but with good ideas. As far as the Can-Am cars, they are very diverse and more interesting because the rules do not present problems of weight limits or power limit, in other words, there is more freedom of technical expression.

With the Can-Am engines, you can obtain useful experiences in fields that are not bound closely, thing that is essential for the other two formulas. Formula One requires extremely high benefits that are only interesting to advertising effects.

Nevertheless, other problems -for example the atmospheric contamination- are most interesting for Porsche and with the Can-Am engines, this can be studied deeply.

As far as the chassis, the Can-Am machines present the same problems that those of an F1, and to our understanding, the Can Am cars are more interesting in this case, because they offer remarkable possibilities of studies in the field of aerodynamics that do not arise in F1. With the Can-Am series there is much to be learnt due to the complete freedom that offers.

Our Porsche 908 were the lightest machines of them all and still we have not broken a single chassis. Not even in the Targa Florio, with the 908/03, that all we feared were too fragile. Heavy cars that collapse can be made, as well as extremely light engines that can’t be broken. This gives us an enormous pleasure.

Our chassis are light and they are not more expensive than the steel-made heavier ones. In its construction we used a light material that soon was optimised. A material that costs –certainly- more than steel, but when you add it all up, it does not influence much in the total cost because the assembly and welding process and work is exactly the same, and this is always ten times more expensive than the price from the material.

It is the design, and the technical principle of construction of the chassis the difficult part; not the material on which is constructed.

To make a frame, it costs ten thousand marks (1971). To do it with special material costs approximately 10% more. This percentage is not which will influence in the total price of the car. We have read the numbers that Enzo Ferrari published last year (1970) and we agree that costs are the same for us than for him ".

Rico Steinemann, Public Relations and Racing Division Director of Porsche, argued that in the factory it is a tradition (as well as a necessity), that when money is invested in a sport activity, this money must serve so much for the races, to try to win in them, as well as with advertising intentions, and the investigation and technical development with projection for the future.

It was known that in Can-Am much money could be made, but what ultimately motived Porsche to participate in that category, was the possibility of being able to deeply study much more in the subjects of aerodynamic development and engines.


More on the CanAm Series, Porsche’s campaign and other marques: Here (under construction)

to 1971 Season (V-II)

1953-1968 SEASONS 1969 SEASON 1970 SEASON




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