Presented by Mecum Auctions.
Immensely successful with factory drivers and skilled, well-heeled privateers, Porsche’s 718 RSK Spyder debuted in 1957 with the purpose-built competition spaceframe and Type 547 roller-crankshaft, DOHC powerplant ushered in by the prior 550 Spyder. Capable of defeating many seemingly more formidable opponents, the 718 RSK finished third overall—a Porsche first—at Le Mans in 1958. Since the FIA approved full envelope-type bodies for the 1957-58 Formula 2 seasons, the 718 RSK was also available with a center-mounted steering box and scored further victories so equipped at Reims and Avus. Of the as few as 34 built, only an estimated six 718 RSK Spyders were built with center-steering, and of them, four were factory-built with provisions to quickly switch between center- and offset-steering configurations for F2 and sports-car races, including this 718 RSK, Chassis No. 718-028.
Built in April 1959, this 718 RSK was delivered new with the center-seat adaptation to successful privateer racer Christian Goethals of Belgium. In addition to finishing fourth with 718-028 in the car’s first race at the 1959 German Grand Prix, Goethals drove this 718 RSK to victory at the 1959 Leopoldville Grand Prix in the Belgian Congo. In 1960, Goethals co-drove 718-028 with Curt Delfosse to sixth overall and third in class at the Buenos Aires 1000km Grand Prix. Other notable outings in 1960 included a class win at the Formula Libre Prix de Paris at Montlhèry and a second-place podium at Spa. Additionally, Goethals scored two overall victories at Belgium’s Lance Anvers hillclimb.
After the season, Goethals commissioned Porsche to install a 1600cc engine at the factory in Stuttgart, where the car remained until Goethals sold the car to Carmelo Guiffre of Mohawk, New York. Guiffre shipped 718-028 from Germany to the United States and later sold the car to G.F. Leydorf Jr. After years of perseverance and a very lucrative trade offer, Rick Grant of Dayton, Ohio, was finally able to acquire 718-028 from Leydorf. Grant had it restored for vintage racing and entered it into more than 100 events with John Higgins driving.
Displayed at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 718-028 retains most of its original Wendler alloy bodywork. The twin-Weber carbureted type 547/3 engine (No. 90220) was rebuilt by Porsche 4-cam expert Bill Doyle at California’s Rennwagen Motor Company. Documents with the car include letters and telegrams dated 1963-64 from Goethals to Guiffre, shipping invoices for the car’s export from Germany to New York in 1964, an original Porsche 718 RSK Spyder driver’s manual and a Telefax from Jurgen Barth of Porsche stating the car’s factory engine and gearbox numbers. A true racing icon, 718-028 is eligible for myriad exclusive vintage racing events because it has the option to convert from center-seat to two-seat configuration.
This vehicle will be offered at MECUM Auctions annual Kissimmee Florida, The World’s Largest Collector Car Auction®, along with almost 4,000 cars and thousands of Road Art items. Taking place January 4-15, 2023. View more cars and register to bid online at https://drive.mecum.com/