The Final Evolution of the 4-Cam, 4-Cylinder Porsche
The year 1964 was an important one for Porsche. The debut of the 911 road car and the groundbreaking Porsche 904 Carrera GTS ushered in an era of sophisticated design and engineering. The introduction of these two models, both designed by F.A. “Butzi” Porsche, represents a remarkable moment in the company’s history, with many future successes rooted in these cutting-edge cars.
The Porsche 904 was the first Porsche model to use fiberglass construction for its bodywork, created after much consultation with aircraft manufacturers who had pioneered the use of the material. The fiberglass bodywork bonded to a boxed steel chassis created a very lightweight package; the Porsche 904 weighed just 650 kilograms, or 1,433 lbs. The Porsche 904’s unique design also produced stellar aerodynamic qualities, which allowed it to achieve top speeds that weren’t possible with Porsche’s earlier sports racing cars. Despite the model’s many technical and material advances, the Porsche 904 was the last Porsche developed as a true dual-purpose car – equally capable on road and track.
The Porsche 904 also marks the final application of the Ernst Führmann-designed four-cam, four-cylinder engine. Used to great effect for a decade, this complex and potent design was still capable of winning races in the right chassis. The production Porsche 904 featured the most advanced version of this famous engine, the Type 587/3, which utilized a plain-bearing crankshaft and produced nearly 200 bhp.
Following its official debut in November 1963, the Porsche 904 was actively campaigned by the Porsche factory racing team and privateers throughout the mid-1960s. Results were spectacular, with the model capturing over 300 class wins and 145 overall victories at international venues. The Porsche 904 Carrera GTS impressed many people, including Stirling Moss who bought Porsche 904-025 for his racing team too.