Menu toggle


28 Jun 2016

Completed 924 GTP revealed at Silverstone

1980 Porsche Le Mans hero restored and reunited with British driver.

Six months ago Porsche Cars GB set themselves quite a challenge - a full restoration of a 36 year old 924. Not just any 924 mind you, one of the three 924 Carrera GTPs which raced so heroically at Le Mans in 1980.

For 2016, as part of Porsche’s celebration of 40 years of the transaxle models, 16 Porsche dealerships have entered the annual restoration competition under the theme of ’40 years at the front’.

Accordingly a halo car was required by Porsche Cars GB and Jonathan Mannell, Manager, Owner Services knew of just the car. Sat on his desk was a model of the number 2 924 Carrera GTP, a gift from Porsche after his first visit to Stuttgart. This car, the only Porsche ever to wear the Union Jack would be the perfect, but little was known about the condition, history or even location since it’s performance at the Circuit La Sarthe in 1980.

Thankfully the front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe was found in the archives of the Stuttgart Museum and it was agreed that the car could be delivered to Porsche GB for work to begin. However, with a six month deadline, the pressure was on.

Upon delivery, an initial inspection revealed evidence of further use since the 924 crossed the finish line at Le Mans. Several items were missing and a number of modifications had been made; most notably, a 1982 built engine. The car was stripped for further analysis and to determine what was there, and more importantly, what wasn’t.

Restoring a factory-prepared prototype race car presented a unique challenge. In order to build a race car, Porsche had to build and make many bespoke parts. Parts which by their very nature would prove hard to come by more than 30 years later. Copies of the original designs were supplied and meticulous research was carried out, with the aim to present the car not as a show car, but as a race car finished to the same standard as when it first left Weissach.

With such a high goal, and such little time to achieve it, there was only one solution - to combine the expertise of Porsche Cars GB’s four Porsche Classic Centres, located in Glasgow, Hatfield, Leeds and Swindon. Porsche Centre Glasgow took responsibility of the suspension, brakes and wheels; Porsche Centre Hatfield worked on the gearbox and drivetrain; Porsche Centre Leeds, the electrics and plumbing and Porsche Centre Swindon were tasked with the heart of the car - the engine.

No sooner had the supplied engine been removed, inspected, cleaned and prepared for re-assembly, an email appeared purporting to the whereabouts of the original engine. A transaxle specialist and collector in Czechoslovakia had heard news of the restoration and was in possession of the necessary engine. An agreement was made which saw chassis 924 002 reunited with the engine it was first fitted with.

The same level of detail applied to the mechanical workings of the car were applied to the aesthetics. Road and Race Restorations in Manchester, a Porsche Recommended Body Repairer were tasked with restoring the bodywork and interior trim. As was the case when the GTP was first prepared, only a thin layer of paint was used, re-affirming that this was and always will be a race car.

With work completed, all within the set timeframe, all that remained was a grand unveiling, and who better to pass judgement than three Porsche factory drivers with first hand experience of the 924 Carrera GTP; Jurgen Barth, Derek Bell and Tony Dron. Each raced in the 1980 24 hours of Le Mans in one of the three cars, with Tony Dron having the honour of driving car number 2, wearing the Union Jack.

Gathered at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone, all three spoke fondly of their time behind the wheel of the 924 Carrera GTP, with Derek Bell going so far as to describe it as “one of the best handling cars I’ve ever driven”. No doubt it was the tremendous handling, especially in the wet which allowed the GTP to compete with the much faster cars on the track, including Porsche’s very own 936! After being re-united with his car, completely restored to its former glory, Dron said fondly: “I never thought I would see it again, especially not looking like this. It looks brand new whereas I certainly feel I have aged 30 years.”

Now complete, and with full approval from the driver who secured its place in Porsche’s illustrious racing history, car number 2 is ready to return to the circuit where it proved it’s worth. Le Mans Classic will be its first public viewing, followed by Silverstone Classic, where it will be displayed alongside 16 fellow ‘front runner’ Porsches, as part of the restoration competition.

It will also feature on Porsche’s display at the Old Timer Grand Prix and the NEC Classic Motor Show, as well as each of the Porsche Centres who worked so hard to restore it.

You can find out more about the 924 Carrera GTP here.

Let us help you unlock the potential of your Porsche

Join now