The Porsche 718 was built by PorscheÂ 1957-1962. ItÂ was a development of the Porsche 550A with improvements to the body work and suspension. The new front frame resembled the letter K and this lead to the car being referred to as the RSK. It had a mid-engined layout and used the Type 547/3 1.5 litre quad cam engine (142 horsepower (106 kW)) which was first introduced in the 550A. The car made its racing debut at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Umberto Maglioli and Edgar Barth. The car failed to finish the race due to an accident.
In 1958 the car successfully finished third overall at Le Mans and came first in class. Jean Behra also brought one of the cars home second at the Targa Florio. In 1959 the car claim overall victory at the Targa Florio driven by Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel. A 718 also won the European Hill Climb Championship in both 1958 and 1959. In 1961 Masten Gregory and Bob Holbert piloted a 718/4 RS Spyder to a class win at Le Mans.
|Engine:||Four-cylinder, unblown, air-cooled, two-valve, opposed-piston engine, four shaft-driven overhead camshafts|
|Power:||160 HP at 7.800 RPM|
|Fuel system:||Two dual-downdraft carburetors|
|Transmission:||Five-speed gearbox, limited-slip differential|
|Chassis:||Steel-tube space frame, independent suspension, torsion bars in front, coil springs in the rear, drum brakes|
|Dimensions and weight:||Wheelbase 2.200 mm
length 3.700 mm
weight 550 kg
|Performance:||Top speed approx. 225 km/h|
|Chassis No. of the museum car:||718 043|
Compared to the original 550, the biggest step forward was the new spaceframe chassis. Consisting of many small diameter tubes, the chassis was considerably lighter and as much as five times stiffer than that of its predecessor. To cope with the stiffer frame, the suspension was also reworked, although it still followed the traditional Porsche lines. At the rear the swing-axles were considerably lowered, eliminating many of the negative characteristics of this type of suspension. With the chassis so much stiffer, the body did not have to carry anymore load, so it could also be lightened considerably. Its design still followed that of the original, but the 550A can be easily distinguished by a louvered hatch on both sides behind the cockpit.
But 1960 brought new regulations for racesports cars, leading to the Spyder RS 60 with displacement increased to 1600 cc, larger windshield, a “functional” top and a regulation trunk in the tail, behind a four-cam engine which now produced 160 HP. This RS 60 brought Porsche its finest results up to that time, particularly in long-distance events. While an overall victory in the 44th Targa Florio in 1960 by Bonnier/Herrmann, with a lead of more than 6 minutes over a 3 liter Ferrari, was within the range of previous achievements – sports cars from Zuffenhausen had already captured overall Targa Florio victories in l956 and 1959 – a new Porsche chapter opened with the first appearance of the RS 60 at the 12 hours of Sebring in the USA. Olivier Gendebien and Hans Herrmann won outright while Holbert/Scheckter/Fowler drove a second factory RS 60 into second, ahead of Nethercutt/Lovely in a 3 liter Ferrari Dino. Swiss driver Heini Walter, at the wheel of an RS 60, secured Porsche’s third and fourth European Hillclimb Championships in 1960 and 1961, following those from 1958 by Count Berghe von Trips and 1959 by Edgar Barth.