Legitimate Le Mans Warrior: 1981 Porsche 924 GTR Race Car

  • November 13, 2020
Why We Like It

Launched at the 1975 Frankfurt Show and entering production that November, Porsche’s new 924 replaced the 914 and interim 912E models in one dramatically different stroke and provided plenty of scope for future development. Commissioned by Volkswagen and designed by Porsche, the 924 was designed with many existing VW/Audi mechanical components in mind, including its 2.0-liter engine. Sleek wedge-shaped bodywork designed by Harm Lagaay included pop-up headlamps and somehow is both era-specific while remaining fresh some 40 years later. Initially designated VW Type 477 and internally coded EA435, the project was dropped by Volkswagen following a shift to economical front-drive models in the wake of the first 1970s energy crisis. However, given the new car’s potential, Porsche acquired the rights to the design and readied it for production at the Neckarsulm, Germany VW/Audi factory. In Porsche’s finest tradition, the 924 was relentlessly developed, improved, and refined, with road models benefiting from corresponding increases in power and performance. The 924 Turbo and a series of ultra-lightweight, flared-fender FIA Group 4 GT-racing homologation versions including the 924 GT/GTR/GTS quickly followed, giving the 924 an outstanding international racing pedigree, driven by many of the greatest Porsche racing drivers of all time.

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According to the seller’s excellent description, this 1981 Porsche 924 Carrera GTR is now offered for sale after 32 years in single private ownership. Bearing Chassis #BS720008, it’s stated to be the 8th example of the 19 total chassis believed to have been built for competition. This specific car was run by privateer group Herman & Miller and its racing career began in January 1982 at the 24 Hours of Daytona, sponsored by BF Goodrich, alongside a sibling transaxle car. Driven at Daytona by Paul Miller, Car and Driver magazine writer Patrick Bedard and Porsche racing legend and Le Mans champion Jürgen Barth, this 924 Carrera GTR placed a creditable 4th in GTO and finished 11th overall. Again under BF Goodrich sponsorship, this car was one of the three 924 Carrera GTRs to compete in the IMSA GTO class at the 1982 edition of the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it ran as car Number 86 co-driven by Miller/Bedard/Manfred Schurti and retired with gearbox issues at Lap 128. The Number 87 sister car fared better, co-driven by Jim Busby and “Doc” Bundy to 1st in class and 16th overall. Subsequently in 1982, BS720008 was driven to a 3rd place podium at the Trans-Am Trois Rivières, driven by Paul Miller. In 1983, this car contested a host of events, such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Riverside 6 Hrs, Mid-Ohio 6 Hrs, and for 1984 and 1985, various Trans-Am races at Portland, Atlanta, Trois Rivières, and Mosport circuits.

The car was refinished in its 1982 Le Mans BF Goodrich livery and the cockpit, engine compartment, and underside remain unrestored. The seller advises the car has not been started and run since the early 2000s, but the engine turns over freely and the original mechanical components of the car remain intact since being put into storage. It remains 1 of only 7 924 Carrera GTRs to have raced at Le Mans and much of its as-raced integrity remains intact, carrying the expected wear for its age after years of mild track use followed by long term storage, the most visible wear appropriately appearing on the front bumper. To prevent the fenders and front bumper from track wear and tear, protective film was applied but never removed. As related by the seller, the GTR appears to not have lost any of its original equipment; both the instrument cluster and Momo steering wheel appear to be to spec, as do the door panels. Further indications that the car remains largely original to how it was last raced include the preserved interior and roll cage, which bears a hand-stamped identification number. Accompanying this GTR are spare fiberglass body panels, a full set of BBS center-lock wheels and an air jack hose system. Note that this car will be sold on Bill of Sale and it is eligible for Historic FIA racing. This car’s racing history is documented on racingsportscars.com and a documentary on it and its sister car can also be found online for additional reference.legitimate-le-mans-warrior-1981-porsche-924-gtr-race-carscreen shot 2020 11 02 at 11 26 57 am 2eea0150125465c5b61e39dfeecb6fa943b26fab

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As expected, comparable sales are few and far between. Its racing history is confirmed and once properly sorted after years of storage, it will surely provide a welcome entry to many desirable classic racing events and series worldwide. We won’t bother with an opinionated value discussion here; suffice it to say, the market for a car like this is extremely thin, but we also know it does exist. It’s worth noting that the car recently ended with Reserve-Not-Met on cool upstart auction site Stratas Auctions with the high bid not disclosed, thereby lending no further valuation input, but there was another of the 17 produced offered at RM Sotheby’s Monaco auction in 2018, and that provides a little more salient data. That car never raced at Le Mans, RM gave it a $550k+ estimate and, while it didn’t sell, the bidding got to $320k. All things considered, with its great documentable provenance, we can’t say this one isn’t priced at fair market and it’s likely someone’s going to give it another 30+ years of well-deserved prideful ownership sometime soon.

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