Rejecting Restoration–Porsche Museum Keeps 1967 European Hill Climb Champion Porsche 910/8 Bergspyder Just As It Is
We read a lot about efforts to restore notable old cars, to get them back to how they looked and ran in their heydays. The Porsche Museum is giving this an unusual twist however, instead seeking to preserve an old racing car just in the state in which it has evolved to over the last 52 years in hibernation!
The car in question is a 910/8 Bergspyder. It was the favorite factory car of Gerhard Mitter, who won the then-popular European Hill Climb Championship in 1967. To this day, the Bergspyder remains a prime example of a typically-Porsche synthesis of power and lightness, weighting in at less than 450kg—using Formula 1 standards of the time and all sorts of lightweight materials—and accelerating from 0-100kph in around three seconds. Just one week and 200km into its life the car on debut left the rest of the international field in its wake at Montseny, Spain, driven by Mitter. Three more wins and podium finishes in all eight races led to the 1967 title mentioned. The car retired at its peak, on October 3 that year, after competing in the Gaisberg Race in Austria. It then had its brake fluid, fuel, and oil drained and the battery removed, and was added to the archive. There the Bergspyder remained ever since.
Today its front bonnet is rusted, the once-bright paint is weathered, the seats are scuffed and retain only faint traces of their flocking, and the timing belt is toothless. Yet Porsche has chosen to preserve all this as it is, and with no desire to get the car back running, as this 910/8 Bergspyder conveys ‘authenticity, originality, a stopped moment in time’. “We do nothing to alter the condition,” confirmed Porsche Museum’s head of vehicle management Alexander Klein. “Any tinkering would destroy its unique originality. We have no intention of returning it to a ready-to-drive state. The Bergspyder has fulfilled its mission–it has already proven that it can drive and win.” The task now is to keep further aging of the car in check without changing its basic substance. This work, led by renowned preservationist Dr Gundula Tutt, will be done in full view of museum visitors.
As you might expect, such a preservation option is a rare one to undertake. It’s the first time the Porsche Museum has exhibited a classic car that survived its racing career and has been completely unaltered since. Further only three racing cars of the roughly 640 Porsches under the museum’s care have gone untouched since decommissioning. But as Porsche Museum director Achim Stejskal explained, views are changing. “Attitudes towards classic cars and what to do with them have changed markedly in the past 10 years,” Stejskal noted. “The focus is no longer just on restoring them to their original pristine condition.” This in line with the Charter of Turin—an international agreement that created guidelines on the preservation and restoration of vehicles since 2012. “We’ve been considering a project like this for a very long time,” added Klein.
Images courtesy of Porsche