The 1962 Porsche 804 Formula 1 was a groundbreaking machine that marked Porsche's first foray into the pinnacle of motorsport. Designed by Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche, the 804 was a testament to the engineering prowess of the Stuttgart-based automaker.
The 804's heart was a mid-mounted, air-cooled, 1.5-liter flat-eight engine, a departure from Porsche's traditional rear-mounted, flat-four configuration. This powerful unit produced around 180 horsepower at 9,200 rpm, propelling the lightweight chassis to a top speed of over 150 mph.
The chassis itself was constructed from aluminum and fiberglass, resulting in a remarkably low weight of just 461 kilograms (1,016 pounds). This contributed to the 804's agility and responsiveness on the track.
The 804's most notable achievement came at the 1962 French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les Essarts, where American driver Dan Gurney secured a historic victory, the first for Porsche in Formula One. Gurney's triumph was aided by the car's reliability and resilience, while its rivals succumbed to mechanical failures.
The 804 also claimed victory at the non-championship Solitude Grand Prix near Stuttgart, with Gurney leading the charge and teammate Jo Bonnier finishing second. This double podium further cemented the 804's reputation as a formidable competitor.
While the 804's Formula One career was brief, its impact on Porsche's racing legacy was profound. The car's advanced design and engineering paved the way for future Porsche racing cars, including the iconic 906 and 911.
The 1962 Porsche 804 stands as a testament to Porsche's innovation and commitment to excellence in motorsport. Its legacy continues to inspire generations of engineers and enthusiasts alike.