Here’s How The Porsche Carrera 6 Helped Change History Forever
Written by John Lamm // Photography Courtesy of The Revs Institute
There’s no question Porsche had a solid racing history in the 1950s and early 1960s, but a major change took place in 1966. At the heart of this revolution were Ferdinand Piëch and the 906, otherwise known as the Carrera 6.
A grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Piëch was just 28 years old when he took over responsibility of development of Porsche’s racing cars. His plan was to create a new generation of lightweight race cars. So when the 906 was designed, Porsche turned from the heavy steel-and-fiberglass underpinnings of the 904 to a lighter space frame design with an unstressed fiberglass body.
In another step forward for Porsche, the Carrera 6 body shape with its 0.35 coefficient of drag was developed in a wind tunnel for optimum aerodynamics. It sports gullwing doors a la Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
The basic suspension of the 906 was inherited from the 904 for a very practical reason. The planned production of the 904 didn’t pan out and there were plenty of a-arms, links and radius rods left over so they were used on the 906 with some minor differences.
Because it was deigned for the FIA’s Group 4 Sports Car segment, the Carrera 6 was fitted with 15-inch wheels, which made sense for a semi-street machine. (Later equipped with the more race-worthy 13-inch center-lock wheels–and with only slight changes in dimensions–the Carrera 6 essentially became the Porsche 910 race car.)
Powering the Carrera 6 was a 1991-cc air-cooled flat-6 that was basically a racing version of the engine used in the production 911 with some changes, like exotic metals in the connecting rods and crankcase. Horsepower as 210 at 8,000 rpm, torque rated at 146 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm. The 5-speed gearbox was also 911 production based.
Debuting at the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona, a Carrera 6 finished 6th and won its Sports 2.0-liter class. Ditto at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1000-km races at Monza, Spa and the Nürburgring. In the Targa Florio, a semi-privately-entered Carrera 6 won overall, beating the sports prototype Ferrari 206S Dinos. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford GT40 MkIIs with their big-block V-8s took spots 1-2-3, but Carrera 6s came in 4-5-6-7 powered by their 2.0-liter flat-6s. Not bad for a debut year.
There were, of course, numerous Carrera 6 wins in 1966 throughout the world. In the U.S. for instance, Ken Miles took the 2.0-liter class in the Las Vegas and Laguna Seca USRRC races. Famed Porsche pilot Peter Gregg earned class wins at the Bahamas Speed weeks. These winning ways continued into 1967 and 1968, Carrera 6s nabbing class wins in the U.S. and Europe. Comedian Dick Smothers and Fred Baker famously took 8th overall to win its 2.0-liter class at Sebring in 1969.
We’re uncertain how one would say Carrera 6 in Finnish, but that’s the country where the Collier Collection Carrera 6–chassis 906-125–began racing. It was first delivered on April 4, 1966 to Antti Aarnio-Wihuri–put that one in your spellcheck–whose family distributed Volkswagens in Finland. It became part of AAW Racing and competed on such tracks as now-abandoned Keimola Motor Stadium near Helsinki and Artukainen near Turku. There was also an AAW outing to the Nürburgring for the 1000-km race in 1967-68-69, with the best finish a credible 13th overall in the last year.
Come 1970, 906-125 was sold to a German, Helmut Bross, who was on the way to developing a good reputation as a race driver and used the Carrera 6 at tracks like the Ring and Hockenheim.
By 1980, 906-125 was in the U.S., specifically in Harvard, MA with William T. Currie.
These days 906-125 is part of the Collier Collection at the Revs Institute. There it is with the other major elements of the Piëch Revolution. 910. 907. 908. 917. These steps took Porsche from being a winner at events like the Targa Florio, but only the class victor in many other races, to the top of the podium. From the best of the 2.0-liter cars to, just four years after Piëch took charge, an overall win at Le Mans.
It was also, of course, just the beginning of Piëch’s rise to the top of Volkswagen…but that’s another story altogether.