Porsche 718 designation was used to categorize a series of racing cars. Porsche 718 model lineup had two-seat roadsters and a unique Formula One variant using the mechanical components of the Porsche 718.
Porsche 718 RS Spyder was developed as the spiritual successor of the Porsche 550 RS Spyder. Porsche 550 RS Spyder established Porsche as a serious performance car manufacturer and competitor due to the exuberant performance at Pan Americana endurance racing events.
RS moniker stands for RennSport, which means sports racing in German. K moniker is a reference to the shape of the car’s revised torsion bar suspension setup.Spaceframe chassis and aluminum bodywork construction resulted in a curb weight of only 570kg.
The front suspension consisted of torsion bars, telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar. The rear suspension unit consisted of coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and Watt-linkage. This suspension package greatly improved the handling and cornering of the car.
The Type 547/3 1498 cc dual overhead camshaft flat-four boxer engine was normally aspirated and was mated to a five-speed manual to transfer the power output to the rear wheels. This engine was previously used to power the Porsche 550 Spyder variants and the official power output was rated at 142 hp.
142hp was more than enough to propel the 570 kg Porsche 718 cars at blistering speeds.
Through its life span, different variations of Porsche 718 followed.
Porsche 718 RSK
FIA (Federation Internationale de I’Automobile (FIA) changed their requirements and rules to allow racing cars with enveloping bodywork to compete in Formula racing events for the 1957 racing season and onwards.
Porsche entered three 550/1500 RS Spyders to compete in Formula Two German Grand Prix event. To comply with FIA regulations, the passenger seat and spare tyre were removed. The passenger seat compartment was now covered with a tonneau cover to improve aerodynamic efficiency.
Porsche 718 made its racing debut at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was driven by Umberto Maglioli and Edgar Barth, the Porsche 718 failed to finish due to an accident.
In 1958, a Porsche 718 driven by Jean Behra won the first-overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans while his teammate Hans Herrmann won the third overall. Jean Behra piloted a Porsche 718 at the Targa Florio and finished in second place.
In 1959, Porsche team drivers Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel won the first overall at the Targa Florio.
Porsche 718 cars won the European Hill Climb Championship in 1958 and 1959.
Porsche 718 RSK Mittellenker
For the 1958 racing season, Porsche entered their all-new Porsche 718 RSK Spyder. It was also modified to compete in FIA Formula racing events.
The passenger seat and the conventional two-seat layout now replaced with a single seat in the middle of the car, thus earning the Mittellenker moniker which stands for “center seat” in German.
The bodywork of Porsche 718 RSK Mittellenker was slightly modified to accommodate the changed seating layout. Porsche engineers relocated the steering wheel, pedals, and gear shifter to accommodate the change. A fairing was now enclosing much of the cockpit opening.
Jean Marie Behra drove the car to win at the F2 event at Reims, and Wilfried Edgar Barth placed sixth overall and second of his class at the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. Masten Gregory drove a Porsche 718 RSK Mittellenker to win both the heat and first place in the F2 class at the Berlin Grand Prix.
Porsche 718/2 Formula
Porsche developed a new Formula One car packing the same engine and mechanical components as the Porsche 718 RSK Mittellenker. This was internally designated as the Porsche 718/2.
Porsche 718/2 featured a more traditional single-seat Formula-style bodywork. To save weight, the same spaceframe chassis construction and lightweight aluminum bodywork were used. The car was unpainted to further save weight.
Porsche 718/2 driven by Wolfgang von Trips at the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, qualified with the twelfth place but crashed on the second lap of the race. He was injured but soon recovered from his injuries. Joakim Bonnier finished third at Reims in the same season.
For the 1960 racing season, Porsche 718/2 received a revised bodywork and a six-speed transaxle gearbox. The wheelbase of the car was extended by 100mm. Five Porsche 718/2 cars were produced to compete in the events in the 1960 racing season.
Stirling Moss, Jo Bonnier, and Graham Hill won the first, second, and third overall places at the 1960 Aintree event behind the wheels of Porsche 718/2 cars. They again repeated their legendary performance at the race at Zeltweg, Austria.
Some of the 1960 Porsche 718/2 cars were then used to compete in the 1962 Formula One events under the 1.5-liter category.
Porsche 718 Formula One
FIA announced back in October 1958 that the regulations for Formula One events will be revised for the 1961 racing season onwards. The engine capacity of the Formula one racing cars now limited to 1.5-liter as same as the engine restrictions of Formula Two racers. This allowed Porsche to use the Porsche 718/2 cars without any significant modifications in Formula One events.
Three Porsche 718 cars driven by Dan Gurney, Hans Hermann, and Jo Bonnier made their debut at the 1961 racing season. Dan Gurney won three-second places, qualifying for the fourth-place in the FIA Driver’s Championship.
Porsche 718 Formula One car was replaced with Porsche 804 for the 1962 racing season. A privateer Carel Godin de Beaufort entered Formula One events from 1961 to 1964 on the wheels of a Porsche 718 Formula One car and was killed when practice driving his Porsche 718 for the 1964 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
Porsche 718 RS 60
FIA changed regulations for the 1960 season and to comply with these new regulations, Porsche had to revise the windscreen and cockpit size. Now the Porsche 718 RS 60 was equipped with a Type 547/3 1.6-liter flat-four engine.
The increased displacement of the engine resulted in a maximum power output of 160 hp. The rear suspension setup of the previous car consisted of coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and Watt-linkage. This system greatly improved the handling, but it was now replaced with a new double-wishbone rear suspension system.
All these modifications resulted in improved handling and overall performance of the car, and it was officially known as the Porsche 718 RS 60.
Porsche 718 RS 60 driven by Hans Herrmann and Oliver Gendebien won the overall-first at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring event.
In the same year, the Targa Florio event was won by Porsche team drivers Hans Herrmann, Jo Bonnier, and Graham Hill behind the wheels of Porsche 718 RS 60.
Porsche 718 RS 60 helped Porsche to successfully defend their dominance in the European Hill Climb Championship for the third consecutive year.
Porsche 718 RS 61
Porsche 718 RS 61 was virtually identical to the Porsche 718 RS 60 and was used to win the 1961 European Hill Climb Championship again.
Masten Gregory drove a Porsche 718 RS 61 at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1961 and won the first-overall at his class.
Porsche 718 W-RS
Porsche 718 W-RS was developed in 1961 and at first, it was fitted with a flat-four engine. Later, it was fitted with a Type 771 naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-eight engine, delivering a maximum power output of 240 hp.
Porsche 718 W-RS finished the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans with the eighth overall place.
Edgar Barth won the 1961 European Hill Climb Championship behind the wheels of a Porsche 718 W-RS.