By 1953, Porsche had been successful racing its 356, but recognized it would need a true purpose-built race car to compete at motor sport’s highest levels. The resulting design, the 550 Spyder, became one of the company’s most significant race cars, paving the way for Porsche’s eventual motor sports dominance with specially built, lightweight race cars.
Following the enormous success of the Type 550 program, Porsche unveiled the next evolution of its lightweight, four-cam Spyder during the 1957 racing season. Internally designated as Type 718, the RSK replaced the 550 A, a car that had dominated its class and furthered Porsche’s reputation as a manufacturer of innovative race cars.
Visually, the RSK was more modern than its predecessor, with streamlined Wendler coachwork and faired-in headlamps, resulting in lower aerodynamic drag. Beneath the thin alloy skin, the RSK benefited from thorough development and offered more power, better braking, and improved suspension.
The Ernst Fuhrmann-designed four-cam engine was an advanced version of the Type 547 unit and it gained power and durability through adjustments to the roller-bearing crankshaft, cam timing, and compression. Delivering its power through a magnesium-cased five-speed transaxle, the RSK was easily adapted to a variety of applications, from hill climbs to high-speed circuit races.
In 1958, the 718 RSK took the racing world by storm, winning its class and finishing on the podium at Sebring, Le Mans, and the Targa Florio. Perhaps the most remarkable result for the RSK was at the Targa Florio in 1959, where a works-entered car took the overall win, leading Porsche’s 1-2-3 finish at the legendary Italian event.
With the RSK, Porsche had a true giant-killer. Although Porsche built just 34 examples, this important model set the tone for decades of dominance at the height of international sports car racing. This 718 RSK, chassis 718-018, was delivered new on March 4, 1959, to Emil Beck Pardee of Palo Alto, California. Born in Chicago, Pardee moved to California and partnered with Gus Mozart, who had opened California’s first Volkswagen dealership. Together they ran the Porsche/Volkswagen dealership, Pardee & Mozart, in Palo Alto, and campaigned 356s in local events. The Porsche factory liked this type of local support and it garnered the dealership a larger allocation of cars. Pardee & Mozart supported many Porsche club events and their “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” philosophy was good for business. In 1958, he ran a 356 Carrera Speedster with a number of podium finishes throughout the season. By 1959, Pardee had successfully competed in SCCA races in a 356 Carrera GT coupe, earning 1st place at Cotati.
After receiving the RSK, Pardee raced it with great success throughout the 1959 to 1961 SCCA seasons. From 14 starts, Pardee managed an incredible 10 1st in Class finishes, with nine podiums in the overall standings and three overall victories. Digital copies of racing photos from this period accompany the sale. The RSK then traded among several well-known California Porsche racers throughout the 1960s, including Don Wester and Steve McQueen’s personal mechanic Haig Alltounian. Alltounian raced the Porsche in six events in 1964, finishing first in the novice class in every race except one.
By 1968, the RSK had been modified with fender flares to accommodate wider wheels and tires in order to stay competitive. At that time, it was owned and campaigned by Dieter Vongehr, who fitted it with a pushrod engine and used it in various events. By the late 1960s, many Porsche Spyders had been wrecked or re-bodied, so the fact that this example was still intact and being raced at that time was a rarity.
In 1970, the consignor’s father purchased the Porsche from a physician in South Carolina. A captain in the US Air Force, the consignor’s father was a decorated fighter pilot who earned his Mach 2 card after flying the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. His love of speed continued on the ground as well, with his purchase of a Corvette and then a series of Porsches, which he raced in SCCA events. After he decided to retire from racing, he only drove the RSK a few times on the street and then stored it for the next 44 years.
In 2014, the Porsche was sent to four-cam specialist Ray Morgan of Vintage Motorcar Restorations in Jasper, Georgia, for a complete restoration. The car was completely stripped and delicate repairs were carried out as needed with the goal of retaining as much of the original metal as possible. The exhaustive restoration process took over three and a half years and photo documentation, written summaries, and receipts are on file. Mr. Morgan went to great lengths to ensure authenticity, even purchasing nitrocellulose lacquer paint from Germany and antique spray guns for the painting process.
According to the consignor, when his father purchased the car, it was fitted with a pushrod 356 engine, but it also came with a four-cam engine, which his father believed to be the original unit. During the 1970s, the consignor states that his father sent the 4-cam engine to the Porsche factory to be restored. This engine, rebuilt during the restoration by Ray Morgan and installed in the car today, is stamped with the correct engine number, but is missing its sequence and type number. A casting number on the case dates it from 1960, making it clear that this is not the original engine for the car. According to a recent conversation with previous owner Haig Alltounian, the RSK’s original engine suffered a connecting rod through the block and was no longer with the car by 1963. The RSK’s gearbox is stamped with the correct number per a copy of the Porsche Kardex.
Post restoration, the Porsche was seen by the public for the first time in nearly half a century when it debuted at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2018, where it was met with great acclaim. After the concours, the RSK was showcased on display for about six months at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta. Ahead of this sale, the RSK received service work in 2021 and 2022 by renowned Porsche four-cam expert Cole Scrogham of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Adding to the Spyder’s appeal, an extremely rare and valuable original RSK owner’s manual accompanies the sale.
In 1959, there was little that could compare to both the performance and innovation of a 718 RSK. With its successful early racing career, this example is already an immensely desirable Porsche racing Spyder, and thus one of the great postwar sports cars. Its rarity, long-term family ownership, and genuine character make it a historic automobile of the highest order. Without question, 718-018 is among the very best of an extraordinarily refined breed.
Emil Beck Pardee, Palo Alto, California (acquired new in 1959)
Don Wester, Bakersfield, California (acquired from the above in 1962)
Rick Muther, Laguna Beach, California (acquired from the above in late 1962)
Haig Alltounian, Santa Monica, California (acquired from the above in 1963)
Charlie Akly, California, (acquired from the above circa 1965)
Dieter Vongehr, La Mesa, California (acquired from the above in 1968)
Private Collector, South Carolina (acquired by 1970)
Current Family Ownership (acquired in 1970)
SCCA Tracy Sports Car Races, California, August 1959 (1st in Class, 1st Overall)
Laguna Seca Pacific Coast Championship Sports Car Races, Salinas, California, October 1959 (1st in Class, 1st Overall)
SCCA Cotati Sports Car Races, California, April 1960 (DNF)
SCCA Cotati Sports Car Races, California, April 1960 (2nd in Class)
SCCA Cotati Sports Car Races, California, April 1960 (3rd in Class)
Vaca Valley Sports Car Races, Vacaville, California, May 1960 (4th in Class, 7th Overall)
Laguna Seca Pacific Coast Championship Sports Car Races, Salinas, California, June 1960 (1st in Class, 3rd Overall)
Laguna Seca Pacific Coast Championship Sports Car Races, Salinas, California, June 1960 (1st in Class, 4th Overall)
Vaca Valley Sports Car Races, Vacaville, California, July 1960 (1st in Class, 3rd Overall)
SCCA Cotati Sports Car Races, California, August 1960 (1st in Class, 1st Overall)
SCCA Cotati Sports Car Races, California, August 1960 (1st in Class, 2nd Overall)
SCCA Cotati Sports Car Races, California, September 1960 (1st in Class, 2nd Overall)
SCCA Laguna Seca First Annual San Francisco Examiner Pacific Grand Prix, Salinas, California, 1960 (1st in Class, 2nd Overall)
SCCA Mojave Airport Races, California, 1964 (1st in Novice Class)
SCCA Riverside Sports Car Races, California, February 1964 (1st in Novice Class)
SCCA Del Mar Sports Car Races, California, February 1964 (1st in Novice Class)
SCCA Willow Springs Sports Car Races, Rosamond, California, June 1964 (1st in Novice Class)
SCCA Pomona Road Races, California, June 1964
SCCA Santa Barbara Road Races, California, September 1964 (1st in Novice Class)
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 2018 (Exhibited)
Porsche Experience Center, Atlanta, Georgia, 2019 (On Display)