Enter the 910
In the hopes of locking up the 1966 Hill Climb championship at Freiburg, Porsche unveiled a new iteration of the Ollon-Villars car for Mitter to drive. Designated the 910 (perhaps in homage to the Ollon-Villars’ #010 chassis number), this new sports racer was an evolution of the Ollon-Villars chassis, encompassing then-current work from the 906 as well. The new 910 retained the basic tubular spaceframe chassis layout of the Ollon-Villars car, but now with a shorter wheelbase (2,300-mm) and a wider front track (1,430-mm). Also carried over was the continued use of 13-inch wheels, though these were now cast magnesium and 8-in wide at the front and 9.5-in wide at the rear. However, new to this set up was the incorporation of a single, center-locking wheel nut, the first use of this now ubiquitous racing feature on any Porsche. For the suspension, Porsche redesigned the front and rear uneven wishbone, coilover suspensions with entirely new geometries such that the car could maintain negative camber even under the most extreme cornering forces. With this latest weapon, Mitter was able to best Scarfiotti at Freiburg and clinch the 1966 Hill Climb Championship for himself and Porsche.
As early as the summer of 1965, Piëch had firmly set his and Porsche’s sights on winning Le Mans outright and had consolidated all the racing car design under the aegis of a newly formed racing vehicle design department headed by Hans Mezger. Now there would be better continuity between race projects and the design team, which included famed engineer Helmuth Bott. As a result, progress proceeded at a breakneck pace with new designs coming to fruition even while their predecessors were still current and competitive.
For the 1967 season, the plan was to race the 910 in hill climbing with the 2.0-liter Flat-8 engine, while the endurance events would see it compete with either the 2.0-liter Flat-6 engine, or the 2.2-liter Flat-8. Regardless of the category, each of these powerplants would utilize the newly developed Bosch mechanical fuel injection system, with dual transistorized ignition, and be mated to a Type 906 5-speed, all-synchromesh transaxle with limited slip differential. In the case of the 2.0-liter Type 901/21 endurance engines, these were now producing a reliable 220-hp, with an 8,200 rpm redline.
For the first race of the season, the 24 Hours of Daytona, Porsche entered only one 910 (chassis 003) for Hans Hermann and Jo Siffert. Racing against the much larger displacement Ferraris (330P4 and 412P), Ford GT40s and the Chaparrals, Hermann and Siffert qualified their little 2-liter car 17th on the grid, but outlasted most of the field to finish an impressive 4th overall (behind the three winning Ferraris) and 1st in the 2.0-liter class.
For the next race, the April 1, Sebring 12 Hours, Porsche entered two 910s for Siffert/Hermann (chassis 004, the car featured here) and Scooter Patrick/Gerhard Mitter (chassis 005). It is interesting to note that after a string of chassis failures in 1966, Piëch implemented a racing department edict of only entering new chassis in major international events. On the one hand, this insured that the factory endurance entries were always “fresh” cars, with less chance of stress related failures, and on the other hand they had to build 50 examples of the 910 to satisfy homologation requirements so it made sense to race a chassis once and then sell it on to a privateer to facilitate getting those cars out on the market.
This policy seemed to pay off as, much like Daytona, the Porsche team (910s and 906s) ran like freight trains at Sebring, quickly grinding out the hours with no interruptions other than refueling and driver changes. When the checkered flag fell, the 910s had outlasted all but two GT40s, with Mitter/Patrick finishing 3rd overall and 1st in class, and the Siffert/Hermann 910 finishing right behind in 4th overall and 2nd in class. In fact, had Siffert and Hermann not lost 10 minutes in the pits to change a headlamp after an on-track altercation, the positions would have been reversed.