Motor

When the two Porsche 356SL first appeared at Le Mans | Preparations were a disaster?

Hilt's small team has tweaked the coupe to reduce air resistance and increase speed. The most noticeable change is the spats covering the tires. The front is inflated to secure the angle of the tire. This is an evolution of the concept found in Porsche's 60K10 KdF Wagen for the Berlin-Roman race and the coupe designed for Chisitalia. In order to reduce drag, the nose and tail were covered with a shaping plate, the front air duct was covered, and the quarter window was covered with louvered panels.

The brakes have ventilation holes on the backing plate to improve cooling. To reduce losses at the pit stop, a 18-gallon fuel tank was installed to surround the spare tire, and a fuel filler was provided at a position through the hood. There are still changes. A wooden box is installed instead of the rear seat to store spare parts that must be installed by rules. The driver's seat is a bucket seat, and the hood and engine cover can be opened and closed quickly. The engine has been increased to 46bhp with a modest tune-up.

Another wiper extending from the roof was added to the high-speed circuit where Le Mans was set. In addition, a light illuminating the car number at night was mounted on the right rear.

Porsche has named the official name of the race model 356SL. "SL" is an acronym for "Sports Leicht", meaning light sport. It was a year before Mercedes-Benz used the 300SL. To show off a different model from the Stuttgart 356, Porsche announced the 356SL by printing a simple 4-page leaflet. This is because Le Mans needed to acquire homologation as a production model, but it also indicated that it was ready to offer such a race model if demanded.

Preparation for Le Mans in 1951 was a disaster. First, on May 4th, when testing the axle ratio on site, team manager Paul von Guillaume had an accident and severely damaged the 356SL. A few weeks later, a Porsche mechanic suffered a second major accident while driving on another 356SL on an autobahn.

Porsche wrote for the production, "I built one from the remains of the first and second accidents," von Frankenberg wrote. The damage was so great that it was likely that only the mechanical parts could be reused, not the frame or body.

At the end of the race, Le Mans had two 356SLs. It looks exactly the same, with car numbers 46 and 47. However, in practice running in the rain, Car 47 crashed. The damage was not terrible, but it was impossible to complete the repair by the final. In this way, it was Porsche's importer, Auguste Vouille, and his friend Edmon Mouche who drove the only No. 46 car that had entered the race.

To conclude that there is no more … continue to the next time


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