The Porsche 718 was a competition focussed evolution of the Porsche 550 Spyder, which had been a very successful car for the still relatively young German marque. The 550 had begun production in 1953 and continued through till 1956, with the final iteration being the 550A. Porsche had established themselves an exceedingly solid platform with the 550, it had won over 95 races and taken 75 first in class victories in its short 3 year lifespan.
It goes without saying that new new 718 had large shoes to fill, it was released in 1957 and its first race outing was to be at the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans, piloted by drivers Umberto Maglioli and Edgar Barth. Disappointingly the car failed to finish due to an accident but the Porsche racing department pressed on with gusto.
In 1958 the 718 would take a class win and third overall at Le Mans, followed by a second place in the Targa Florio.
A year later the Porsche team would return to the Targa Florio and take a very popular first place, followed by wins at the hotly contested European Hill Climb Championship in 1958 and 1959.
The list of motorsport royalty that raced the 718 is long, but perhaps the most famous were Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Hans Hermann and Dan Gurney. Moss was particularly fond of the lightweight little German race car, he had raced it paired with Graham Hill at the 1961 Targa Florio and later recalled:
“Our racing car was just perfect for the course, we could hardly have wished for nicer, and I led for the first four 44-mile laps, by 1 1/2 minutes before handing over to Graham for his two laps. He handed the car back to me 76 seconds behind a Ferrari, and I managed to change that into a 65-second lead with one lap to go. We looked on course for a lap record last time round and a great win until – only 8 kms from the finish – the transmission failed, put us out, and the Ferrari won instead. We have since been described as moral winners of that race, which is unfortunate, because moral first places don’t pay first-place prize money.”
Moss and Hill remained together for the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometres race in the same year, the men would race through the snow all the way up into second place before a mechanical failure took them out of contention and handed victory to the Ferraris.
Sir Stirling remained an avid fan of the Porsche 718 for decades, over a half a century in fact, and bought himself the one you see here at the 2010 Gooding Amelia Island Auction. He then personally campaigned it at the Le Mans Classic and in his last ever competitive race outing at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion.