The last German "Silver Arrow" to win in Formula 1
50 years old, but still loud - on the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Porsche 804 is celebrating a round anniversary. auto motor und sport has been piloting the famous Grand Prix winner since 1962.
Have you ever sat on a powder keg? This is probably how Dan Gurney felt in 1962. On the Nürburgring North Circuit in his Formula 1 Porsche, he fought for victory over Graham Hill and John Surtis. He has a stupid accident - the battery at his feet comes loose from the attachment mechanism and he desperately tries to fix it with his left foot. Fear lurks deep in his brain - what happens if he shuts down and flares up? This could have fatal consequences. Because the pilot in the Porsche 804 sits as if in the center of the tank. 75 liters of high-octane gasoline were poured into the main tank - left, right and behind it. The remaining 75 liters are sprayed into the front tanks around the driver's feet.
Iron Nerves helped Gurney, and he finished third, and later called the German Grand Prix his best race with a result of 804. In a German Formula 1 car, he already won the French Grand Prix, and a week later ... Formula circle at the Zolitude track near Stuttgart.
Porsche 804 with a small flat-eight engine
50 years have passed since then. The Porsche 804 is again in front of boxing - not at the Nurburgring or Rouen, but at the newly renovated Red Bull Ring in Austria. Today, to drive a Formula 1 car, you need a dozen assistants. All I need is Klaus Bischoff, head of the Porsche Wheel Museum in Stuttgart. He has already started warming up the V-XNUMX. The boxing engine in a Porsche is tiny - only 1,5 liters. In turn, he is very loud and growls like his best brothers. Eight cylinders are air-cooled. A large fan blows 84 liters of air per minute. This requires nine horsepower from power, but saves radiator and coolant.
Since the American Gurney was a huge Formula 1 player, Porsche racing felt comfortable. At least the steering wheel can be removed - it makes it easier to sit at the narrow "single handle". When it comes to getting in your car, it's best not to hold onto the rainbow, it should protect you when you roll over. It rocks like it's a mockup. It is not recommended to try it in practice. A thin tube can support the back of the head at best.
Nothing happens below 6000 rpm.
You need to sit on the seat, rest your hands on the outside of the body and carefully pierce your feet towards the pedals. The left leg rests on the battery. A steel cable runs between the legs - it engages the clutch. Otherwise, everything is in place: on the left is the clutch pedal, in the middle - on the brake, on the right - on the accelerator. The ignition key is located in the upper right of the dashboard. On the left - pins for starting fuel pumps. They are important because during the race, the gasoline is pumped out of the tanks so intelligently that the weight distribution of 46 percent on the front and 54 percent on the rear axle remains as constant as possible.
To the left of the tubular frame are the main electrical switch and the starting lever. Consequently, there is no need for a mechanic with a starting generator, because as soon as you pull hard on the lever, the eight cylinders start pounding behind your back. The first gear engages with some pressure. You accelerate, release the clutch, and go. But what's going on? The taste starts to break. The first thing you will learn is that high speeds are needed here. Below 6000 you cannot do anything. And the upper limit is 8200. Then, in case of emergency, it was possible to raise another thousand.
However, at over 6000 rpm, the bike starts pulling with amazing force. Not surprisingly, you need to accelerate at exactly 452 kilograms plus driver and fuel. The frame weighs 38 kilograms, the aluminum body is only 25. Later, the first plastic body parts were used on the 804.
The first time you hit the brakes, the pilot is terrified
The transmission gears are quite short. Firstly, secondly - and here the next surprise: the six-speed gearbox has no channels for moving the lever. “Be careful when switching,” Klaus Bischoff warned me. Later I found out that after the first race Dan Gurney asked for a channel plate. In third gear, you need to wait a bit to make sure the lever is in the middle lane. Anything else will backfire: if you put in fifth gear, there will be no traction, the first result may be engine destruction.
After some practice, however, you will learn how to carefully shift gears. Instead, you face the next surprise. The first corner, which stops intensively - "Remus-Right" is taken in first gear. The Formula 1 car is the first Porsche with disc brakes. More precisely, disc brakes with an internal coating, i. E. Combination of drum and disc brakes. An interesting technical solution. Unfortunately, with minor flaws. The first time the brake pedal is pressed, the pilot is horrified - the pedal drops almost to the floor slab. In professional jargon, this is called a "long pedal". Fortunately, I approached the first serious corner with sufficient respect and in the blink of an eye began to pedal. Then the braking effect appeared.
Porsche 804 addictive
Test pilot Herbert Linge recalls: "The brakes worked great, but they had to be prepared before turning." This is because the vibrations of the wheel movements move the pads away from the brake disc. This should be specially informed, but these subtleties have long been included in everyday automotive life these days. The pilots of that time had to put up with these small inconveniences, but you quickly get used to them. Even more damaging to the brakes is a route like the Red Bull Ring, with its short straight sections and tight bends, some of which, like the Rint-Right, are also descents.
However, piloting an 804 poses a serious addiction threat. The pilot is reclining in the cockpit, and his rear part almost loses the asphalt. Before his eyes - open wheels, over which you can accurately aim in turns and curbs. A single-seat Porsche with narrow tires behaves more like a passenger car than a Formula 1 race car - it is understeer and oversteer, but easy to drive. You have long forgotten that you are sitting in a mobile barrel of gasoline. Probably, it was so with the former characters of the Grand Prix. Pleasure peaked, and fear faded into the background.
Eight-cylinder boxer on other winning cars
In fact, the 804 career only lasted one hot summer. Even before the end of the 1962 season, the head of the company Ferry Porsche said: "We are giving up." In the future, the Porsche company intended to participate in racing in cars close to production. In 1962, Formula 1 was dominated by English teams, BRM won the World Championship. And with its new chassis - an aluminum monocoque - Lotus is not only sending history with tubular frame construction, but also revolutionizing Formula 1.
The 804 is in the museum, but parts of the project survived the withdrawal from Formula 1. For example, disc brakes are of course significantly improved. Or the V-XNUMX, which was originally a constant source of concern for the Porsche team because it did not develop enough power, but later came into great shape. With a working volume of 1,5 liters, it reaches a maximum power of 200 hp. When half a liter is added to the cubic capacity, the power increases to 270 hp. In a Porsche 907 the engine won the 24-hour race at Daytona, in 910 it won the European Alpine Skiing Championship, and in 1968 in a 908 it even won the Targa Florio in Sicily.
The Porsche 804 remains an important part of history. Exactly to his 50th birthday, Nico Rosberg with Mercedes celebrates another victory for the German team in Formula 1. Yes, it came from the competition, but still it can be seen as a nice birthday present.
BODY Single seater Formula 1 racing car, steel tube grille frame, aluminum body, length x width x height 3600 x 1615 x 800 mm, wheelbase 2300 mm, front / rear track 1300/1330 mm, tank capacity 150 l, net weight 452 kg.
SUSPENSION Independent front and rear suspension with double wishbones, torsion springs, telescopic shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizers, front and rear disc brakes, front tires 5.00 x 15 R, rear 6.50 x 15 R.
POWER TRANSMISSION Rear-wheel drive, six-speed transmission with limited slip differential.
ENGINE Air-cooled, eight-cylinder boxer engine, four overhead camshafts, two spark plugs per cylinder, displacement 1494 cc, 3 kW (132 hp) @ 180 rpm, max. torque 9200 Nm at 156 rpm.
DYNAMIC CHARACTERISTICS Maximum speed approx. 270 km / h.
Text: Bernd Ostman
Photo: Achim Hartmann, LAT, Porsche-Archiv