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Porsche 787 F1 (1961)

For the 1961 F1 season Porsche created a new car called 787.

Porsche 787
© Photo by Nicole Wakelin

Porsche 787 F1 (1961)

Premiere: 1961 May 14, Monaco GP / Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cam flat-4 / Gearbox: 6-speed / Predecessor: Porsche 718/2 / Successor: Porsche 804 / Constructor: Porsche / Designer(s): Wilhelm Hild /
Notable drivers: Joakim Bonnier, Dan Gurney

The Story

1961 was the first season when F1 cars were limited to 1.5-litre like F2 cars before (F2 limited to 1.0-litre in 1961). For the 1961 F1 season Porsche created a new car called 787. The first car (a prototype) was created from the experimental Porsche F2 car with chassis number 718/2-05. The 1961 Porsche 787 was the first Porsche with fuel injection, 6-speed transmission and coil springs in all corners.

The first race for the 787 was the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix. The best Porsche in the race, a 718/2, scored 5th, but the best 787 driven by Hans Herrmann, scored 9th after a pit stop caused by a fuel leak. Herrmann drove the 787 prototype with chassis number 718/2-05.

At the 1961 Monaco GP, Jo Bonnier drove the cars with chassis numbers 787-01 and 787-02. One of them he used in the practice and the other in the race (both wearing number 2).

Because of the fuel injection failure on lap 59, Bonnier couldn’t finish the 1961 Monaco GP.

A week later, three 787 were entered in the 1961 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, but the result was even worse – the best 787, #7 car driven by Dan Gurney finished 10th (1 lap down). Jo Bonnier in 787 #6 finished 11th (2 laps down) and Hans Herrmann in 787 #9 (chassis 718/2-05) finished 15th (last place, 3 laps down). The 1961 Dutch GP went into the history as a Formula 1 race without retirements and without pit stops in the 2 hour / 75 lap race!

Following just two races of the 1961 F1 championship, Porsche dropped the 787 cars. In addition to the 787 F1 cars, the 718/2 cars (originally F2) raced the full season. The old 718/2 brought podiums for Porsche in F1 in 1961, while the new 787 F1 couldn’t.

The prototype of the 787 with chassis number 718/2-05 was again used as a research and development vehicle. It was equipped with disc brakes (annular type) and horizontal engine fan – features that the 1962 Porsche 804 F1 would get.

2 months after Zandvoort, the 718/2-05, which wasn’t a 787 anymore and was serving for the development of the next year’s 804, was entered at the 1961 Solitude non-championship F1 race.

Edgar Barth finished 8th at Solitude with his high-tech car. It wasn’t a success as there were three old 718/2 cars in front of him in addition to the Lotuses and Coopers.

The 718/2-05 was sold to Carel Godin de Beaufort’s racing team Ecurie Maarsbergen to race it on the 1962 F1 season. While the 718/2 rear end was used on the car at Solitude in 1961, when the car was entered at the 1962 Dutch GP, the first race of the season, it wore a new rear end, a chopped version of the 787.

In lap 3, Ben Pon unfortunately drove off the track. That is where the known history of Porsche chassis 718/2-05 ends. The 787-01 and 787-02 were probably scrapped by Porsche in the sixties, but it is not known what happened to the Porsche formula car with chassis number 718/2-05.

1961 Porsche 787 F1
Fuel injection system of the 1961 Porsche 787 F1
Porsche 787
Coil springs were something new for Porsche. They were so unfamiliar, that were dropped a year later when the successor to the 787, the 804 was created. © Porsche
Porsche 787 prototype
1961 Monte Carlo, Hans Herrmann’s Porsche 787 prototype (chassis 718/2-05). Check out the consistent rear end design – good stuff in 1961!
Porsche 787
1961 Monaco, 787 practise car of Jo Bonnier
Porsche 787
1961 Monaco, 787 practice car of Jo Bonnier
Porsche 787
1961 Monaco, 787 race car of Jo Bonnier. From the rear, Bonnier’s practise and race car can be distinguished by how the Porsche crest was placed. The long 6-speed transmission can be seen. © A. Guichard
Porsche 787 F1 race car
1961 Monaco Grand Prix, Porsche 787 F1 race car of Jo Bonnier – note the holes in the windscreen which his practise car didn’t have. His practise car wore #2 aswell.
Porsche 787
1961 Zandvoort, Dutch GP, cool shot of all the three Porsche 787 (one with 718/2 chassis number)
Porsche 718/2
1961 Solitude, the 718/2-05 is now fitted with horizontal engine fan
Porsche 787
1961 Solitude, the chassis 718/2-05 now looks 787 from the front and 718/2 from the rear (because of the 718/2 engine cover). Note the disc brakes and the high roll-over protection bar.
Porsche F1 1962
1962 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, Porsche F1 with chassis number 718/2-05, Ben Pon at the wheel waiting for the start on the 18th grid position. Check out the chopped rear end design.
Porsche F1 chassis 718/2-05
1962 Dutch GP, Ben Pon, Porsche F1 chassis 718/2-05
Porsche F1 chassis 718/2-05
1962 May 20, Zandvoort, Ben Pon has survived the accident with Porsche F1 chassis 718/2-05

Specifications & Performance

Below we have the technical specifications and set up for the Porsche 787. Only two 787s, serial numbers 78701 and 78702, were ever built. Due to their lack of power and poor handling Ferry Porsche retired the model and continued with the 718/2 as a stopgap.

Engine: Flat four-cylinder four-stroke boxer Type 547/3
Displacement: 1,498 cc (91.4 cu in)
Bore × Stroke: 85.0 mm × 66.0 mm (3.3 in × 2.6 in)
Maximum power: 139 kW (189.0 PS; 186.4 hp) at 8000 rpm
Maximum torque: 147 N⋅m (108.4 ft⋅lb) at 6500 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.3:1
One bevel-gear driveshaft and two overhead camshafts per cylinder bank (four in total). Two valves per cylinder.
Cooling: Air-cooled (fan)
6-speed gearbox with limited-slip differential, rear-wheel drive
Brakes: Drum
Suspension front:
Upper and lower A-arms with coil springs over tubular shock absorbers.
Suspension rear:
Upper A-arm, lower reversed A-arm and radius rods, coil springs over tubular shock absorbers.
Space frame of mild steel tubing with aluminum bodywork
Track f/r: 1,300 / 1,330 mm (51.2 / 52.4 in)
Wheelbase: 2,300 mm (90.6 in)
Wheels and tires: 5.50-15 R on J × 15 front
6.00-15 R on J × 15 rear
Length × Width × Height:
3,600 mm × 1,520 mm × 900 mm (141.7 in × 59.8 in × 35.4 in)
Weight: 450 kg (992.1 lb)
Maximum speed: 250 km/h (155.3 mph)

Grand Prix Results

Year Grand Prix Team No. Driver Engine Tire Grid Result
1961 Monaco Porsche System Engineering 2 BONNIER Jo Porsche 547/3 F4 Dunlop 9 12
1961 Netherlands Porsche System Engineering 6 BONNIER Jo Porsche 547/3 F4 Dunlop 11 11
1961 Netherlands Porsche System Engineering 7 GURNEY Dan Porsche 547/3 F4 Dunlop 6 10
1961 Germany Porsche KG 10 BARTH Edgar Porsche 547/3 F4 Dunlop f
1962 Netherlands Maarsbergen stable 15 PON Ben Porsche 547/3 F4 Dunlop 18 ab