Porsche 804

The car that gave Porsche its one and only F1 victory as a constructor.

Porsche 804

The 804 was designed by Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche,grandson of the company’s founder Ferdinand Porsche, who was assigned to the project by the company’s long-time chief engineer Erwin Komenda. The 1962 F1 car had a conventional tubular steel frame and an aluminium body but, later it became the first Porsche to have factory body panels made of synthetic materials (nose and the cockpit surround made of fibreglass).

Porsche 804

The 1962 French Grand Prix was held on July 8 at Rouen-Les-Essarts. American driver Dan Gurney qualified his 804 in sixth place, and Swedish Joakin Bonnier’s took the ninth. Gurney won the race. Bonnier retired on lap 42 of 54 with a failed fuel pump. The 804 was able to give Porsche its only F1 win ever as a constructor.

Just before the end of the season, Porsche halted its F1 activities. The company was withdrawing from F1 to concentrate on endurance racing and the European Hillclimb Championship. At this point Porsche’s F1 participation had cost the company ₤500,000. Ferry Porsche felt that owners of Porsche’s production cars could not relate to the F1 machines. The company did not believe that expenditures in the highest motorsport class would necessarily result in technology that could be applied to their production cars.

The Porsche 804 had its last race in the 1962 United States Grand Prix on October 7th at Watkins Glen. Gurney started in the fourth position and finished in fifth. Bonnier retired.

Porsche 804

The winning car is among the three survivors of four units built and has been part of a French collection for many years. Chassis 02, used mostly by Bonnier, was bought from the factory in 1964 in mint condition. It can be admired in the Donnington Grand Prix Collection museum. The Porsche Museum owns the fourth car, which never raced. In recent years it has been given regular outings at events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Alex Iervolino,

Designer, ROUE Watch.