The Petersen Automotive Museum opened the second of two Luftgekühlt exhibits, “Prototype Giants,” which focuses on the history and legacy of the Porsche 956 and 962 race cars.
The Porsche 956 was built to comply with the 1982 FIA World Sportscar Championship’s new Group C regulations, and was the first racing car to feature an aluminum monocoque chassis and ground effect aerodynamic elements. Factory 956s won the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, leading every lap and taking first, second and third place.
In 1983, a 956 driven by Stephen Bellof set the overall lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which stood for 35 years until a modified Porsche 919 Hybrid eclipsed it in 2018.
The 962 was created to meet the updated IMSA GTP specifications, with the Group C entrants taking the 962C nameplate. The 962 became one of the most dominant race cars ever, winning the WSC in 1985 and 1986, the IMSA GT championship from 1985-88, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1986 and 1987 and the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“We are delighted to share our second Luftgekühlt exhibit, which features some of the most iconic 956s and 962s ever produced,” Petersen Executive Director Terry Karges said. “This gallery will explore the rich history of these race cars and shed some more light on why they were so dominant on track.”
On display are a white Porsche 956, the Coca-Cola livered 962 driven by Bob Akin and Hans Stuck, the Copenhagen 962 campaigned by A.J. Foyt, the Miller High Life/BF Goodrich 962 that won the 1989 Rolex Daytona 24, a three-time race-winning factory Rothmans 962C driven by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass, a Leyton House 962C built by Kremer and the 0123/Art 962C driven by Hurley Haywood.
Almost all of the vehicles on display have continued to compete regularly in vintage races long after they retired from the top levels of competition.
“Prototype Giants” opened to the public Aug. 25 and will close on Nov. 19. For more information, visit Petersen.org.