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IMSA GTP

Advan/Coke-Liveried IMSA 962 Goes Up for Auction

Most sports prototypes last only a few years before they become obsolete, but the 962 enjoyed a successful run for over a decade. With a combination of unprecedented reliability and drivability, the 962 became dominant in the mid-1980s. Rather than rest on their laurels and grow conceited with their winning streak, Porsche remained honest enough to develop the 962 as technology advanced. To keep up with rapid progression of its rivals and their technology, the 962 received a slew of updates throughout its long and storied career.

It’s not often that a 962 comes up for sale, and if you were looking for one, this might be your chance.

This particular car utilized a mid-career update known as the Chapman chassis. The earlier cars utilized a monocoque tub that was made from riveted and bonded aluminum, but not this 962-C04. Jim Chapman, a former Lola engineer, designed this updated chassis which incorporates honeycomb aluminum panels and billet-aluminum bulkheads to make this car stiffer and better at deploying the power from the IMSA-spec turbo.

Over that stiffer chassis, the carbon-kevlar panels are covered in that iconic red and black Yokohama livery. Gold 18″ BBS wheels dot each corner, and a massive NACA duct behind the cockpit feeds the massive KKK K36 turbocharger. With this shape and color combination, it’s one of the best looking cars to ever grace the races of IMSA GTP.

Unfortunately, 962-C04 only contested three races throughout the 1987 season. Hurley Haywood, James Weaver, and Vern Schuppan successfully battled with this car at Road America, Columbus, and Del Mar; its highest finish being fifth at Road America. After retiring from professional racing, it’s been driven at historic events such as Rennsport, the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

A short racing career and a pampered life make it a great investment. Bob Akin, the original owner, held on to the car until 1991, when it was sold to a Michigan doctor. After that, a restoration was performed under subsequent ownership by Sean Creech Motorsports, who were again commissioned in 2014 to perform a mechanical overhaul following the current owner’s purchase in 2012. The turbocharged 3.2L flat-six was rebuilt in 2015 by Klaus Fischer of Amalfi Racing. It’s also been fitted with new gearing to suit Sebring, Laguna Seca, and Daytona. Long gears and nearly 600 horsepower should make it new owner a very happy person.

Now, the car is currently being auctioned by Fantasy Junction at a current bid of $670,000. For more pictures and information on one of the most gorgeous racing cars in existence, check out the full listing on Bring a Trailer—you won’t be wasting your time.

Photo credit: Ben Hsu, Conceptcarz.com, The Marshall Pruett Archives, Dennis Gray for Sports Car Digest, Motorsport.com, Micheal DiPleco for Sports Car Digest, UltimateCarPage.com, and Bring a Trailer.

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Dominic Dobson’s 962 Burns at Le Mans

Dobson enjoying his only stint at Le Mans.

In 1989, Dominic Dobson already had a few years’ experience in the Porsche 962. With Bayside Racing, he’d campaigned one of these cars in IMSA GTP and learned its nuances. That year, his team received a call from Vern Schuppan, who was looking to recruit an American driver for his Le Mans effort. Dobson duly signed, and flew off to France to join an all-star lineup.

He would partner with Will Hoy, the British touring car ace, and Jean Alesi, who’d just won the F3000 championship and was the unofficial star of the team. Dobson took the Takefuji 962 out for its second stint as the sun began to set in France. Hurtling down the Mulsanne Staight, all felt well. However, upon braking for Arnage, the hairpin leading onto the Indianapolis Straight, he sensed the car’s rear end quaver slightly—though not enough to cause alarm.

Hurtling down the Indianapolis Straight, Dobson caught the scent of smoke and by the time he’d engaged fourth gear—somewhere north of 110 miles an hour—he saw flames. A faulty fitting in the fuel system caused one of the fuel lines to spray onto one of the red-hot turbos at 120-odd pounds of pressure. With the perfect improvised flamethrower spewing away, soon the brake lines had melted completely.

Dobson, struggling to shut down the blazing prototype, prodded the middle pedal to no avail. The brakes were useless, and soon the rear began to sway wildly; the toe link had melted in the blaze. Downshifting to try and stop with engine braking did little good, and the barrier on the left looked like the best way to bring the car to a halt.

As he ground to a halt, he triggered the fire system which did very little. Undoing the belts with smoke starting to flood the cabin, Dobson—now painfully aware of the flames creeping around the firewall—tugged at the door straps with as much clarity as someone flammable in that situation can. His first attempt to exit failed; he hadn’t fully undone the shoulder harnesses, and the door closed on him in the pandemonium. Holding his breath, he pressed himself into the backrest, slipped the harnesses off, and felt once again for the door strap; thick smoke kept him from seeing much at that point. Fortunately, he found it!

Standing on the other side of the guardrail, he watched his only attempt at Le Mans go up in flames and several course workers struggle to quell the fire. One worker—not the sharpest knife in the drawer—began spraying his extinguisher thirty feet before he reached the car, and another slipped on the thick layer of white soot lining the track. Despite the yellow flags waving and the white cloud surrounding the site, cars continued through at 130 MPH-plus. « Nobody observes the yellow flags in Europe, » recalls Dobson with obvious mirth, « it’s seen as a chance to make up a place or two. » More surprising than the car not roasting completely: that none of the marshals were killed.  

As French television cut to another scene the first time the door closed on itself, his team were unaware of Dobson’s condition. As they fretted in the pits, Dobson was trekking through the French forest in search of a ride. Ninety minutes later, an uncharred Dobson wandered back into his pit box to the delight of his bemused but relieved team.

Dobson enjoying a cooler drive in the IMSA-spec 962 at Sebring.

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