Porsche 904 aka Carrera GTS –
Long live the original street racer
Unrivalled till this day, the Porsche 904 also known as the Carrera GTS is arguably one of the most beautifully designed race cars of all time - in our opinion of course. To not confuse you, the duel name is attributed to Peugeot's marketing and branding team...let me explain. The history of the name change of Porsche's 904 and the reason why the icon of the 911 wasn’t the 901, can solely be blamed on the geniuses at Peugeot who decided to copyright every 3-digit number with the ‘0’ in the middle e.g. 101, 204, 603, etc. Back in the earlier part of that century Peugeot was a real player in the racing world, so their decision to lock up all the 0's made sense. That move changed Porsches 3-digit branding forever.
The GTS was a homologated version of the 904 race car. Designed by the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, ‘Butzi’ aka Ferdinand Alexander Porsche developed three prototypes of the 904 which were approved for the next stage of the 904’s production process. As part of the requirements for GT racing in the under-2-liter class, Porsche needed to produce 100 examples of the 904 over the course of 12 months. They would eventually produce 120 masterpieces; the bulk of which were sold even before they were manufactured.
The unique design and engineering created the first of its kind for Porsche, a fibreglass body bonded to the steel ladder chassis, delivering a ridged and extremely light vehicle. Many will argue, but in my humble opinion it is the best-looking Porsche of all time. It's clean shape and well proportioned lines may fool the novice, but don’t let your guard down for a second. The canny use of air intakes leaves the chassis with an uncluttered aerodynamic body that will have the admiring spectator puzzled, questioning if this is a display or the actual racer. Porsche philosophy will always side with science over bravado, yet the 904 with it's belly shadowing the ground will corrupt any admirer with it's aggressive rattle.
The engine is mid-mounted with an air-cooled flat four, bulging with an aluminium block and heads powering the 904. Sitting to the south of this is a ZF 5-speed transaxle with integrated limited-slip differential that delivers direct force to the rear wheels. The 1,966cc engine produced 180bhp at 7,000rpm thanks in part to its twin Weber carburettors and four camshafts. The disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering and double-wishbone suspension play their part as the defensive line allowing the 904 extreme stopping power and handling needed to cope with its power. The 904/Carrera GTS was a world class competitor, winning numerous prestigious race titles, as well as being the first true street legal race option. Dreaming became a reality for the enthusiast, birthing the super car category without even realising.