Arizona

16 - 17 January 2014

Lot 51

1961 Porsche 718 RS 61 Spyder

To be auctioned on Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sold for $2,750,000

  • Chassis no. 718-066
  • Engine no. P90316


178 bhp, 1,600 cc flat four-cylinder engine with dual Weber carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with torsion bar, coil springs, and tubular shock absorbers, and front and rear disc brakes. Wheelbase: 86.6 in.

  • Formerly owned and raced by Bob Donner and Don Wester
  • Finished 7th overall and 2nd in class at the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring
  • Numerous podium finishes at SCCA and USRRC events
  • One of just fourteen RS 61s ever constructed
  • Brilliantly restored and ready for track action


To many manufacturers, motorsport victories are essential to commercial success. The adage of “race on Sunday, sell on Monday,” was never more true for Porsche during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The mid-engined Porsche Spyders were still attempting to establish a foothold in the United States, and it took to the track in the hands of factory-supported racers and privateers alike, dicing with the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Maserati for the vaunted spot at the top of the podium. Victory was the goal for many a weekend, and victory on the weekend would only grow the allure of the brand to spectators, leading to further sales and overall awareness of the Porsche brand. Victory was what Porsche needed to gain a foothold in the United States.



Unlike other builders of highly tuned racing cars, Porsche’s engineers relied on constructing a lightweight chassis and powertrain with a streamlined alloy body in order to provide fantastic handling, braking, fuel efficiency, and tire wear, as well as more lightning-quick acceleration. This formula proved to be very effective, and the 550 quickly notched up overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, and the Nürburgring 1000. The 550A, 550/1500 RS, and RSK of 1957 would follow, which would only increase Porsche’s domination on race tracks around the world.



The RS 61, and the RS 60 before it, proved to be the ultimate development of the Spyder platform. These cars, which were still known as the Type 718, had a tubular space frame that was similar to the 1959 RSK, but they utilized a wheelbase that was four inches longer. However, these cars were noticeably different from previous Porsche Spyders due to tightening FIA regulations, with the most visible of these requirements being the installation of a larger windscreen, an increase in cockpit size, and space for the FIA-required suitcase.



Nevertheless, Porsche’s Spyders and those who campaigned them were able to make the best of the FIA’s regulations, and they achieved overall victories at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring and at that year’s Targa Florio. It was clear that the top brass at Porsche saw little reason to change what worked, and they continued production of the Type 718 cars into 1961, but they renamed them RS 61.



Like the RS 60, RS 61s were offered to privateers in almost identical format to the cars campaigned by Porsche themselves, and the RS 61 available today is one of those privateer-campaigned Spyders. Chassis 718-066 is one of the earliest RS 61 chassis constructed, and it is graced with a fantastic U.S. racing history under the names of two very well-known privateers, Bob Donner and Don Wester.



When asked about the car, Donner’s wife remarked that “it was one of his very favorite cars” and that the family had many fond memories of the car with Bob behind the wheel. There is no doubt that some of those memories come from the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring, which was quite far from Donner’s home state of Colorado. At Sebring, Bob Donner, Don Sesslar, and Ernie Erickson drove 718-066 to an incredible 7th place overall finish and 2nd in their class. Later that year, the car was entered in the USAC Sports Car race at Pikes Peak, where it proved to revel off the mountain air and finish in 1st place.



Don Wester, owner of Wester Motors, a Monterey, California, area Porsche and Volkswagen dealer, purchased this RS 61 from Bob Donner in 1963. Under Wester’s ownership, the car was repainted in a distinct two-tone yellow and black paint job, one which was adorned by many of Wester’s cars, making it easy for fans and competitors alike to identify his Spyder on the track. Wester also replaced the Porsche’s original 1,600-cubic centimeter engine with a 1,700 Homer Worth engine for added power and torque; this was something that he did with many of his racing cars. Just like Bob Donner, Wester soon found success in campaigning his Porsche, accumulating eight podium finishes in 1963 alone in SCCA and USRRC races on the west coast of the United States, with two overall wins at SCCA races at Stockton and Cotati.



The RS 61 was then purchased by Eldon Beagle, who continued to race the RS 61 in California in 1964. After leaving Eldon Beagle’s ownership, the RS 61 passed through several different owners, including John Grove and G. Grandell, before landing with its current owner in the 1990s.



Shortly after this RS 61 was purchased by its current owner, it was fully restored by a specialist that was familiar with this era of Porsches and racing cars in general. Any non-RS 61 items that found their way into the car were stripped and replaced with factory-correct components in order to make the car as original as possible. At this time, a correct 1,600-cubic centimeter engine was fitted to the car, and it was also refinished in its original color combination of silver with red leather bucket seats. After the completion of its restoration in the United States, the car returned with its new owner to Japan, where it resided in a collection of other significant racing cars.



Only a handful of RS 61s were produced, meaning that they very seldom come available for sale. This is a splendid example of the breed, as it is still in remarkable condition from its comprehensive restoration and it boasts a significant racing history from two well-known privateers that owned and raced many Porsche racing cars. Chassis number 718-066 has been expertly prepared for either historic racing or rally events, and it would be just as at home on the Colorado 1000 as it would at the Le Mans Classic.



Please note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price is payable on this car if the buyer is a resident of the United States.

Addendum

Please note the title is in transit.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more