Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Porsche 909 'Bergspyder'

One of Porsche's more brutal competition efforts, the 909 'Bergspyder' is as hardcore as they come. Powered by a 2.0-litre eight-cylinder boxer that produced around 300bhp, the car tipped the scales at just 385kg; it was effectively an aerodynamic soap-box racer with a huge sting in the tail.

The chassis was made from aluminium and the body was formed from plastic composite, while components such as the brakes and suspension were experimental lightweight efforts. (To save weight, it didn't even have a fuel pump; instead, it employed an innovative titanium ball that contained enough fuel for ten minutes' hillclimbing.) This, coupled with an almost perfectly centrally-mounted engine and a cockpit above the front axle, bestowed the car with sublime handling abilities. Unfortunately, however, it was notoriously tricky to reign in the immense power-to-weight ratio and, somewhat predictably, the 909 offered no protection whatsoever in the event of a crash, as evidenced by Ludovico Scarfiotti's fatal accident in 1968.
Nevertheless, the beautiful Bergspyder - so named as the open-cabin 909 was designed for hillclimbing - represents an exciting chapter in Porsche's history, and it formed the basic architecture of the incredibly successful 908/3, which complemented the 917 as an agile stablemate for use on twistier events like the Targa Florio. So, even though you may not realise it, the 909's legend lives on...

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