This car was nicknamed after the sperm whale “Moby Dick,” who features in its namesake novel by Herman Melville. An apt nickname if you ask us, for the car’s form and brute power are truly whale-like, and today both the car and the novel are undeniable classics in their own right.
A whale’s design
It was not that the design team was aiming to make a whale looking car, but it was the logical conclusion of all the 1970s experiments with car wings. With such a prominent rear wing on the car, the air flowing underneath it would create a powerful downward force that kept the car grounded – even at its incredible top speed for the time. Add the prominent nose, white coloring, and curvy front to back bodywork and you’ve got yourself an aerodynamic whale on wheels.
The pinnacle of the 935-serie
The Porsche 935 from 1978 was the Stuttgart team’s last and most developed version of the brute 935 series. It was the result of Norbert Singer (head of Porsche’s motorsport engineering department) taking the Porsche 911 as the starting point to create a Group 5 worthy car.
Singer proved to be well equipped for this task, for he famously got his monster jumping through all the Group 5 regulation loopholes. He cut out the floor pan so the body could be 10 cm lowered, flipped the gearbox, and placed the steering wheel on the right-hand sight to improve its weight distribution and the pilot’s view in right-hand corners.
It wasn’t just the 935/78’s design that resembled a whale, its power was a serious match for the largest mammal on earth as well. Where the previous air cooled engine had failed Porsche in 1977, it’s new water-cooled cylinder heads allowed the twin-turbo V6 boxer engine to be puffed up to 3.2 liters. As a result, the standard became 750hp at 1.5 bar turbo pressure but at 1.7 bar it was capable of reaching up to 850 horsepower!
Moby Dick in action
On the notorious Mulsanne Straight, the 1030kg Moby Dick was able to reach 366 km/h – an impressive top speed for the late ‘70s! Moreover, it won the 6 hours of Silverstone Circuit as well as the Silverstone Testing, pole, and fastest lap time, which was only 4 seconds slower than the fastest F1 car (piloted by James Hunt) of that year!
While qualifying 3rd 1978 Circuit de la Sarthe, motoric issues caused Rolf Stommelen en Manfred Schurti to finish the Moby Dick only 8th place. Yet, in 1979, the Porsche 935 secured the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and it scored six victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona.