At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1974, in addition to the factory team’s Martini Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo, it was another Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 that attracted the most attention – the Toblerone Porsche. Under the Swiss flag for the Porsche Club Romand, Bernard Chenevière, Peter Zbinden & Michel Dubois steered the RSR to the class victory, 3rd place in the GT category and 7th overall. In the colors of title sponsor Toblerone began the exciting life of No. 9058. Our partners from Historic Cars have compiled the impressive documentation of the vehicle. We take a look at the exciting racing history of one of only about 50 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 ever built.
During the 1970s, motorsport was booming in Europe. The scene was crazy as never before. There were countless racing series in which professional racers competed alongside talented amateurs. Racing cars were constantly changing owners, being modified and rebuilt for other classes. During this time, the drivers themselves looked for sponsors. Although Switzerland did not have its own race tracks, there were many drivers, talents and ambitious teams there as well.
One of these promising talents was Bernard Chenevière. At the end of the 1960s, he made a name for himself in hill climbs and, from 1970, competed in the World Sports Car Championship. He raced for the Porsche Club Romand from the French part of Switzerland and partnered up with drivers such as Claude Haldi. He was supported by the prestigious team of Guido Haberthur from Lausanne. The highlight every year was the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1973, Chenevière competed in a Porsche 908/3 for the Escuderia Montjuich team. They took fifth place overall in it, ahead of greats like Vic Elford and Jürgen Barth. But the car was primarily remembered by spectators for the prominent logo of a Swiss chocolate manufacturer: Toblerone.
After the introduction of the 3.0-liter displacement limit for prototypes, Porsche experienced a paradigm shift. From then on, development focussed on race cars based on the 911. The Group 4 racers developed on the basis of the Porsche 911 Carrera RS were so successful that even the prototypes from Ferrari and Matra often lost out in races at Le Mans, Daytona or the Targa Florio. In 1974, the 2.8 liter RSR was replaced by a new model. The Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 was considered the ultimate race car from Zuffenhausen. The approximately 50 vehicles sold out immediately. All customer teams wanted to have one. So did Garage Haberthur, which ordered two 1974 RSRs – one for Claude Haldi and one for Bernard Chenevière.
Actually, Claude Haldi was initially supposed to get the first allocated vehicle. However, Haldi had problems getting the budget together. Chenevière, on the other hand, was able to secure financing for the racing season more quickly. After discussions with Interfood in Lausanne, a budget of 100,000 Swiss francs was put together together with Toblerone. Chenevière thus received the first of the two Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 cars, Haberthur had ordered. Produced in March 1974, the customer racer with chassis number 9058 was born.
Shortly after delivery, the Toblerone Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 started at the test for the 24h of Le Mans in March 1974. At that time, the car started with number 38 and was still painted yellow. Immediately after the test, the car was painted in the Toblerone colors at a paint shop in St. Sulpice. That means cream and red with the characteristic Toblerone letters. Now 9058 was ready for the first 1000 km race in Monza. However, Chenevière/Zbinden did not qualify there. Not until the 1000 km of Spa did the Toblerone see the chequered flag in 9th place overall. After 22nd place at the Nürburgring, a retirement followed in the last race before Le Mans, the 1000 km of Imola.
So the omens for the 24-hour race at the Sarthe were not good for the Toblerone Porsche. On June 15, 1974, the squad of Chenevière, Zbinden and Michel Dubois in the cream/red RSR started from 32nd place. From the start, the Matras dominated away from the front. Behind them, a battle broke out in Group 4 between Porsche and Ferrari. The Toblerone Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 was not one of the fastest cars, but kept fighting its way to the front. After 24 hours and 4,261 km, the car from the Porsche Club Romand had achieved class victory! Third place in the GT category and seventh overall meant that only one Porsche was ahead of #9058: the Martini Racing Turbo RSR of Gijs van Lennep and Herbert Müller in second place overall. The Toblerone Porsche mastered the 313 laps at an average speed of 177.539 km/h.
Le Mans was undoubtedly a huge success for the Swiss team. But at the 1000 km race at the Österreichring two weeks later, it was already clear how the rest of the season would go. Kremer and Gelo were simply too strong. They fought out the podium places of the remaining races of the season among themselves. For the Porsche Club Romand only places in the rear midfield in Brands Hatch and Zeltweg, as well as a retirement in Le Castellet remained. Thus, at the end of the season, Chenevière and the Toblerone Porsche parted ways.
In February 1975, the 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 number 9058 was sold to the young Swiss driver William Vollery. Vollery repainted the car yellow and took part in a number of European racing events over the next few years. The ex-Toblerone Porsche received special attention due to a sticker on the windshield at the 1975 24h of Le Mans. Vollery had written “Sponsor help me” on the windshield to acquire sponsors. Unfortunately, the campaign was as unsuccessful as the race. Vollery retired with a technical defect.
In 1977, Porsche brought a new Group 4 race car to the tracks in the form of the 934. With its 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, it was far superior to its predecessor. The RSR had thus had its day in the world sports car championship. Guido Haberthur bought back the former Toblerone Porsche, which he himself had acquired in 1974. He converted it into a more modern car with a turbo engine and again entered it for Le Mans. Officially, it was entered as a Porsche 934, this time in white with Danone as the main sponsor. After ten hours, the driver trio of Baturone, Tarradas and Fernandez Garcia had to retire. Nevertheless, Swiss Rally Champion André Savary had his eye on the Porsche. Thus the Toblerone Porsche began a second life off paved roads….
Savary initially left the body untouched. But he replaced the turbocharged engine again with a naturally aspirated 3.0 liter. Curiously, he began stamping his initials into engine and transmission parts. The reason for this is simple: Guido Haberthur, who continued to look after the Porsche, was known for swapping parts back and forth between his cars. The newly minted owner, however, wanted his own parts in his car. Even today, the initials A.S. are stamped on some of the parts on the legendary Toblerone Porsche.
From 1977 to 1979, Savary was a regular competitor in the Swiss Rally Championship with the Toblerone RSR. From then on, it was rated as a Porsche 911 SC. The results were rather mixed. In his first rally, he immediately achieved a best time in the first special stage from Sonzier to Les Avants over the Montreaux, but then dropped out with engine problems. At the Jura Rally, however, the Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 suffered a serious crash. It went off the track at over 170 kph – fortunately without personal injury or serious damage.
André Savary showed who was the man to beat in the first special stage from Sonzier to Les Avants over the Montreaux. But Savary’s lead only lasted until the third stage. A passage through a beautifully maintained farm cost him about a minute. Shortly thereafter, his engine gave up the ghost.Motorsport Aktuell about the Rally Neiges 1977
Once again RSR #9058 was repaired. This time without the big spoilers and wide fenders of the RSR. The former Group 4 Le Mans racer could also have been mistaken for a 911 Turbo. Just six weeks after the crash, Savary was competing in the prestigious Criterium Neuchatel. While Claude Haldi won the 1979 Swiss Rally Championship on Porsche 911 Turbo, Savary secured second place in 1979 and 1980.
22-year-old Dutchman Tycho van Dijk, who lived in Switzerland, acquired the RSR in 1980 and once again contested a number of rallies with it over the next few years. He took part in the grueling 1983 Rally Corsica for example. However, he was eliminated, as were 121 others of the 178 starters. After a total of nine years being raced, the Toblerone Porsche retired. It started a more contemplative life in the Geneva Automobile Museum. But the impressive racing history of #9058 was not over yet! In the late 1990s, Geneva industrialist Peter F. Baumberger discovered the RSR and acquired it. He decided to restore the car. Afterwards, it went to the president of the Porsche Club France, Philippe Aunay.
In 2008, the Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 found its place in Stephan Meyers’ collection in Belgium. Meyers was enthusiastic about the vehicle’s history. With German historian Ulrich E. Trispel, he set about accurately reconstructing the Toblerone Porsche’s history. The two men dove deep into the archives of Chenevière and many others to gather the documents. Delivery receipts, original purchase invoices, sponsorship contracts and expenses from the 1974 season, other sales contracts, for example to Vollery, and some FIA documents were gathered. Based on the ACO reports from the official weigh-in before the 1974 Le Mans edition, it was also possible to verify the participation of exactly this car at the Sarthe. The eventful history of number 9058, starting as a Toblerone Porsche, has thus been retraced in detail.
While Meyers and Trispel worked up the history, the car was restored in Switzerland. Marc de Siebenthal rebuilt the Toblerone RSR to its original condition from Le Mans 1974. In the process, the car also got back its legendary livery in cream and red with Toblerone letters. Thus #9058 was again ready for historic racing events.
In 2011, the RSR was sold to its current owner, a Swiss amateur racing driver. Since then, the car has again been successfully entered in prestigious historic racing events across Europe. At the Classic Endurance in Spa, the Toblerone Porsche was as much a part of the inventory as it was at the Le Mans Classic or the Tour Auto. This car is probably one of the most famous racing cars in Switzerland. The impressive history of the Toblerone Porsche now continues again on the famous tracks where it once began: Le Mans, Spa, Monza… Now the car is again looking for a new driver for further adventures. Our partners of Historic Cars from Paris offer the Toblerone Porsche for sale.
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