In the early 1950s, Porsche achieved success in racing with lightweight and tuned versions of the 356, but quickly realized that in order to remain competitive they would need to create a car designed specifically for racing. In 1952, Porsche’s engineers began work on their first purpose-built racing car with a lightweight ladder frame chassis and aluminum bodywork which increased the overall rigidity of the vehicle. They implemented a mid-engined layout for optimal weight distribution. After 15 prototypes that served as design studies, production 550 Spyders began making their way into the hands of privateer racers and began dominating with numerous class and overall victories. The redesigned 550A models improved the Spyder’s winning formula by incorporating a much stiffer and lighter tubular space frame chassis and the second evolution of the Type 547 competition motor with 135 horsepower paired to a five-speed gearbox. The 550A’s chassis was 90 pounds lighter and its body saved another 60 pounds, making for a drastic overall improvement.
In Porsche’s unrelenting pursuit of improvement, the 718 RSK implemented a completely reworked chassis with revised torsion bar front suspension and a redesigned rear suspension with coil springs and shock absorbers with Watts linkages in place of the previous trailing arm setup, as well as an improved braking system. Most drastically, though, was the revised lightweight aluminum bodywork that lowered and smoothed the nose for better aerodynamics and the implementation of yet another iteration of the potent four-cam engine- the 547/3 which produced 150 horsepower and revved to 7,800 RPMs.
The RS60 and RS61 became the ultimate evolution of the Spyder program. These cars, which were still known as the Type 718, had a tubular space frame that was similar to the 1959 RSK, but they utilized a wheelbase that was four inches longer. While similar in appearance and equipment, these cars were noticeably different from previous Porsche 718 Spyders due to tightening FIA regulations, with the most visible of these requirements being the installation of a larger windscreen, an increase in cockpit size, and space for the FIA-required suitcase.
Nevertheless, RS60s and those who campaigned them were able to make the best of the FIA’s regulations, and the culmination of Porsche’s engineering allowed them to achieve an overall victory in the RS60’s debut at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring, taking first and second place ahead of a Ferrari TR59/60. Later that year at that year’s Targa Florio, Jo Bonnier set both the fastest practice and race laps in a Werks RS60, and Hans Herrmann won the overall victory ahead of a Werks Ferrari 246S. At the Nurburgring 1000 km, Bonnier once again set the fastest practice lap in an RS60 and finished in second place, while another factory-entered RS60 took fourth. Despite not being present at Buenos Aires at the beginning of the season and not being a suitable contender for Le Mans where larger displacement was a necessity, the RS60 brought Porsche to second place in the World Championship with 26 points- just behind Ferrari with 30 points. In the 2.0 liter and below division though, the RS60 was dominant and clearly a formidable racer.
The RS60 was offered to privateers in an almost identical format to the cars campaigned by Porsche themselves. Only 17 examples of the RS60 were constructed in total- Porsche kept four RS60s for their Werks racing team and the remaining 13 were delivered to Porsche’s privateer racing customers. Only six of those cars were delivered to the United States, where it mirrored its successes overseas and successfully fought for the top position in a number of SCCA-sanctioned races throughout the country.
This example, 718-060, was delivered new to its first owner through the Midwestern Porsche distributor Ollie Schmidt’s Porsche Car Import, Inc., in Northbrook, Illinois to Bill Wuesthoff in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in June of 1960. The factory invoice is dated June 9th, 1960, and Wm. Wuesthoff was noted as the purchaser with an engine displacement of 1500cc, silver metallic paintwork, and seats lined with artificial leather. The invoice price was $9,000 USD- an incredible premium considering that the later 904 Carrera GTS carried a sticker price of $7,425 in 1964. He had accents painted on the nose of the car and rockers in a blue-green metallic paint but left the car otherwise stock in its early life.
Weusthoff had begun selling Volkswagens and Porsches through his dealership, Concours Motors in Milwaukee, in 1955. That same year, he began racing and quickly evolved into a semi-professional racer. At every race, he made sure that 718-060 was carefully prepared and in turn, won 12 of 17 races that he entered between 1960 and 1963, including three class victories at Road America and a second-in-class finish behind Roger Penske at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1960. After upgrading the motor with 1700cc pistons and cylinders for the 1963 season, taking first-in-class victories at Indianapolis, the June Sprints at Road America, and the summer races at Meadowdale. Throughout his ownership of 718-060, Wuesthoff was fiercely competitive while managing to avoid inflicting any damage to the delicate aluminum body and never had to replace the original engine. He maintained the car himself and entrusted well-known mechanic from the Chicago area, Glen Carroll, to handle the engine work. In regards to Weusthoff’s abilities as a driver, Carroll recounted “Bill never had an accident with the car. He was extremely careful with his car and didn’t stick his nose in where it didn’t belong. He was leading a race at Milwaukee one time and he came in and said there is something wrong in the transmission. When the transmission was later torn down, there was a chip in the gear, and Bill had felt it when he was racing. He was an excellent driver and you really had to work to pass Bill”. At some point, the damaged original gearbox was replaced with the correct type gearbox number 718-115 which was taken from an Elva-Porsche and remains installed in the car to this day.
In 1963, 718-060 was sold to long-time Carrera Speedster racer Bruce Jennings, who was known as “King Carrera” in racing circles. Despite being considered old in comparison to other race cars of the era, Jennings drove 718-060 to a 9th place overall and 3rd in class at the FIA-sanctioned Bridgehampton 500 KM in September of that same year. During his ownership, he had his mechanic Heinz Bade, replace the drum brakes with annular disc brakes which remain with the car to this day. For the next few years, Jennings rarely raced the car and eventually sold the car to renowned Porsche collector, Dr. Bill Jackson in Denver, Colorado, early into building his famed collection. 718-060 remained in Dr. Jackson’s collection for approximately 30 years, until selling the car to a California-based dealer duo, Irving Wellens and Raymond Milo. Around 2000, the car was purchased by Peter LeSaffe in Massachusetts through Alex Finigan of Paul Russel & Co. Around this time, top four-cam engine builder Billy Doyle rebuilt the original motor. Alex Finigan also reported finding remnants of the blue-green metallic accents that had been painted on in 1960, attesting to the originality of the car’s condition. In 2004, it joined the collection of William “Chip” Connor in Nevada, who commissioned a restoration on 718-060 and displayed the car at a Concours in Pasadena in 2005 and The Quail in 2006. It remained in Connor’s collection until 2012, when it was acquired by Larry Bowman in Woodside, California, and later by another collector in 2015. It was meticulously maintained by Speedsport Tuning in Danbury, Connecticut, and was the participant of the Colorado Grand on two occasions. The blue-green metallic accents were returned to the car in 2018 by RPM restorations in Vermont and wears the number 77 which adorned the car for nearly all of Wuesthoff’s racing career. Its most recent owner and caretaker added an FIA-approved, removable safety roll bar and recently participated in the Classic Le Mans, where it performed flawlessly.
RS60s stand among the rarest Porsche models ever produced and very few early Porsche race cars have survived both competition and the test of time unscathed. This RS60 is perhaps one of the best surviving Spyders in the world due to its incredible condition, details, authenticity, and provenance. It has never been damaged or dismantled, thus retaining its completely original body, engine, and chassis VIN plate. The correct 718 type transmission has remained with the car ever since it replaced the original gearbox within the first three years of being raced by its first owner, and the annular disc brakes that its second owner replaced the original drum brakes with remain with the car. The original construction details are on display throughout the entire frame and body, and following a beautiful recent restoration presents in exceptional condition throughout. Chassis 718-060 is fully serviced and an eligible candidate for a number of vintage racing events, and would be a cornerstone in any Porsche collection.