The Porsche 934.5 Wings Into Our Hearts

The Porsche 934.5 is an odd duck. With its strange name and even stranger looks it doesn’t exactly elicit the same kind of emotional lust or name recognition as its late 1970’s contemporaries. But then, it wasn’t built to. The singular purpose for which the 934.5 was crafted was to dominate the race tracks of the day. It was here that this odd duck turned into a track-ruling, competitor-crushing, legend-creating swan.

How exactly did someone come up with this weird and prototypically ’70s Porsche? If you’d like to create one for yourself, simply start with one part Porsche 934 and add in a pinch of Porsche 935. Mix and serve immediately. The 934.5 is the bridge between these two racing models—a portmanteau if you will—of two incredibly successful 1970s race cars.

It all started with the 1976 Porsche 934, which was the racing version of the first 911 Turbo (code-named 930). The “4” in the racing car’s name comes from the fact that the 934 was built to compete in Group 4 of the FIA championship. Obviously, all of the engineering team’s creativity was spent making the car go faster. It worked too—the 934 took both the European GT championship and the Trans-Am championship during its inaugural season.

Meanwhile the 1976 Porsche 935 was a 930 that was developed for the next year’s FIA Group 5 racing class (there’s that Zuffenhausen naming wit again), and it featured widely exaggerated bodywork such as a slant-nosed front fascia and a dinner-table-sized rear wing that extended so far behind the car that it earned itself the whale-themed nickname of Moby Dick. Eventually the 935 would go on to be the overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979. In all, it won one-third of all the races it entered, including dominating endurance races such as Daytona, Nurburgring, and Sebring.

For the 1977 IMSA series, Porsche took 10 examples of the 934 and grafted on the massive wheels and rear wing from the 935—thus the 934.5 was born. This creative hodge-podge sported a 3.0-liter, flat-six motor generating 590 hp through its single KKK turbo. Unfortunately it was just a bit too creative. The IMSA immediately banned the 934.5 before its first race, leaving the racing team under Peter Gregg with little choice but to jump ship to the rival SCCA Trans-Am series.

Here the 934.5 won all but two of the eight races in the series and handily took the 1977 championship honors. However, our odd duck could not catch a break as the second-place finisher in the championship, because Ludwig Heimrath lodged a formal protest against the 934.5, and had the officials instead award him and his Porsche 934 the championship laurels. This did not stop either Peter Gregg nor Porsche themselves from loudly celebrating their Trans-Am series domination with the 934.5.

Despite—or even because of—the car’s controversial history, the Porsche 934.5 has now become quite the collectors item. The original 10 cars rarely change hands, and the current estimated value hovers around $275,000. Obviously the 934.5 is more than the sum of its disparate parts and has gone on to inform the modern tuning styles of shops such as RAUH-Welt Begriff, who are partial to comically exaggerated fenders and plateau-esque rear wings. This odd duck and racing swan has clearly enjoyed a strange and colorful journey, a journey and history that befits such a truly unique vehicle.

Make: Porsche

Model: 934.5

Coachwork Design: Porsche

Years Built: 1977

Total Produced: 10

Engine: 3.0-liter flat-six

Power Produced: 590hp

Torque Produced: approx. 435lb-ft

Curb Weight: 1,984lbs

Price When New: $41,800

Price Today: $275,000

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Photo Sources: Pbase and Porschebahn Weblog