Ultimate Works Porsche 962 - The Definitive History (Limited Edition)
- Key Points
Octane magazine's 'Book of the Month' for December 2022
Motorworld Buch Preis Winner 2023 for "Jenseits von Allem" (Above Everything) category
Limited to 962 copies
The Porsche 962, created in 1984, was the successor to the all-conquering Group C-specification Porsche 956 of 1982, but also very much the result of Porsche adapting its successful Group C car to the needs and regulations of the US-based IMSA GTP Championship.
The 962 proceeded to obliterate the competition on both sides of the Atlantic, making it the most successful purpose-built race car in automotive history.
This three-volume book outlines in unprecedented detail the ten-year career of the works Porsche 962s and 962Cs, built and entered by the Weissach-based factory team run by Peter Falk and Norbert Singer, and driven to multiple victories by the likes of Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Al Holbert, Hurley Haywood and many others.
● It’s all about politics: a detailed account of the lengthy negotiations between Porsche and the International Motor Sport Association on how to allow or adapt the 956 for the American Camel GT Championship, including the notes and quotes of those representing both parties at the numerous meetings on both sides of the Atlantic.
● The best for both worlds: the rapid design and development of the 962 under the guiding hand of technical guru Norbert Singer created yet another motorsport milestone for Porsche – and the world of sportscar racing. Published here for the first time are dozens of unique photos of wind tunnel tests and specially commissioned artwork showing versions of the 962 that never went beyond the drawing board.
● Volume 1 moves on to cover the 1984–88 period (the works years): race-by-race chapters explain in exhaustive detail the activities of the Porsches works team, starting with the one-off IMSA race in 1984 that gave the 962 its baptism of fire.
● The 1985–87 world championship campaigns with the famous Rothmans Porsches brought victory at Le Mans in 1986 and 1987 and championship titles for Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stuck in 1985 and 1986. Every event is covered in great detail, including all the technical developments that were tried and tested between races, the strategies used, the successes savoured, the odd defeat explained.
● A rather super cup: for the first time since the German national sportscar championship was created back in 1972, Porsche entered a works team in the 1986 ADAC Supercup. Hans-Joachim Stuck’s special lightweight 962C with its trick PDK transmission initially dominated the series but later met with fierce competition from the many privateer Porsche teams and also the works Mercedes team. Every race of the four-year existence of the Supercup is covered, including how in 1987 the creation of Porsche’s iconic asymmetric Shell/Dunlop livery came about.
● Volume 2 examines the ‘Joest’ years (1989–94): following the works Rothmans Porsche team’s unexpected withdrawal from the World Sports-Prototype Championship after yet another Le Mans win in 1987, the world of sportscar racing was at a loss. The works team made a one-off comeback to Le Mans in 1988 and almost won, then gave an ultimate encore performance at Fuji at the end of that same year before closing its doors seemingly for good to concentrate on IndyCar and F1. But a little back door was kept open and earlier developments of what should have been the 962/88 were passed on to Reinhold Joest, the most successful privateer Porsche team owner. Joest promptly beat the Mercedes at Dijon in 1989 – scoring the 956/962’s 39th and final world championship victory – and was in the running for the title for most of the year, prompting Porsche to relaunch its Group C programme the following season.
● The second volume covers all activities with the works and works-supported 962Cs, in the ADAC Supercup of 1989 as well as in the WS-PC, where Joest became the de facto works team in 1990. With the demise of the ‘fuel formula’ at the end of 1990, Joest took his works cars to the IMSA and Interserie championships, again with much success.
● Le Mans 1994 marked the final appearance of a works 962, as a road-homologated GT car. Once again technical director Norbert Singer showed that he could read the technical regulations better than those who had written them, instigating the peculiar ploy of converting the 962C to a road car and back to a race car, and promptly won Le Mans again.
● Volume 3 covers the cars and the people. All 19 works chassis (16 Porsche 962s and three Dauer 962 LM GTs) are outlined in exhaustive technical detail, recording every test and every race with all available data, from gear ratios and fuel consumption figures to strategies and pitstop times. All this information has been gathered by the author from sifting through thousands of pages of period documents in Porsche’s Stuttgart archives and conducting dozens of interviews with people significant to the 962 story. Also included is the ownership history of each of the cars after completion of their race careers, with photos of where they are now.
● Artwork: exclusively commissioned artwork depicts every single chassis as it ran, as well as the aerodynamic evolution of the 962 throughout the years and some of the peculiar wind tunnel test models that never saw the light of day.
● Restoration: the ground-up restoration of three of the works 962Cs is covered in detail through many pages of step-by-step photos.
● Exclusive photography: eight of the cars are the subject of eye-catching multi-page photoshoots by some of the world’s finest automotive photographers.
● The people: detailed biographies of the two key engineers behind the 962 and all those who raced the works cars: Peter Falk, Norbert Singer, Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Vern Schuppan, Al Holbert, Hurley Haywood, Hans-Joachim Stuck, John Watson, Bob Wollek, Henri Pescarolo, Drake Olson, Kees Nierop, Price Cobb, Klaus Ludwig, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, John Andretti, Sarel van der Merwe, Yannick Dalmas, Thierry Boutsen, Mauro Baldi and Danny Sullivan.
Quarter-bound in red leather, the black fabric-covered hardback limited edition of Ultimate Works Porsche 962 features silver foil script and is presented in a black fabric bound slipcase. The print run has been limited to 962 numbered copies.
Author: Serge Vanbockryck
Dimensions: 340mm x 245mm
Pages count: 1400 pages
Volumes: 3 hardback volumes within a slipcase
Images: Over 1800 images
"If any car deserves a 1400-page ode, the Porsche 962 is it. What an astonishing achievement this is." Motor Sport (GB) (read full review)
"If you could get a PhD for the Porsche 962, then author Vanbockryck certainly deserves the Doctoral degree. [...] As far as we are concerned, the Porsche book of the year!" RS Porsche Magazine (NL)
(read full review)
"If you're a Porsche racing enthusiast, this definitive history would surely become a cherished heirloom." Octane (GB)
"This is the kind of work that gets labelled a collector’s book, but the reality is that it’s a history book. And one far too good to loiter unread on the coffee table." Autosport (GB) (read full review)
"What we have is an encyclopedia of the works cars (19 of them, plus two renumbered) in three weighty volumes, lavishly pictured and printed, detailing each and every one." Porsche Panorama (USA) (read full review)
"The level of research, attention to detail, the inclusion of rare supporting documentation, image selection and captions, and the easy style in which it is written, make this one of the best overall books on motorsport available today.
The author is to be congratulated on all levels, not just on what is mentioned above, but also for his perseverance over many years in compiling what is the ultimate documented history on the most successful prototype race car in the world… ever!" Stuttcars.com (USA) (read full review)
"Even at a whopping 850GBP, we can only conclude it's worth every penny. Remember it's three books. Magnificent books." Tazio Magazine (B) (read full review)
"It's an exhaustive body of work, one that has taken Vanbockryck most of his life to compile, and it is certain there will never be a more comprehensive book on these cars." Racecar Engineering (GB) (read full review)
"Available in three editions, 'Ultimate Works Porsche 962 - The Definitive History' is exactly what it says on the box: the most in-depth, extensive almanac of the Porsche 962 you are likely ever to find." Sportscar365.com (USA) (read full review)
"Vanbockryck has already covered the history of the 956, the 962's predecessor, in 2019 in an equally powerful work of exactly 800 pages. Now it's the 962's turn, and once again there's not a dry eye in the house: another 1,400 pages, yet another massive book that proves the half-knowledge on the Internet wrong. Yes, all this fun comes at a cost, because the work is limited to 962 copies, and the price of 1040 euros is almost epic." Sport Auto (D) (read full review)
"It is clear that this was a 20-year Sisyphean task - the result is astonishing every time you leaf through it and you will probably still discover new information and more pictures years after you have bought it. In short, when the 962 copies of the admittedly expensive work are sold, they will fetch high prices at auction. In addition to this 'basic edition' for £850, there is also a 'Collector's Edition' limited to 25 copies for £1,750 and an 'Owner's Edition' (19 copies) for £3,000 - it will probably be sold out first. A fantastic hard work and a work for eternity." Bulletin of Motorworld, May 2023 (DE)
"Most books oversell the word 'definitive', but as this three-volume, 1400-page labour of love proves, sometimes the word can be somewhat understated.
'... this is no dry, technical slog for the ardent 962 enthusiast only. Vanbockryck's description of each race weekend reads with the pace of a gutsy fiction title, while the human sides of motor racing are never far away. Add in the extensive archive imagery and bespoke photography, and this limited-to-962 edition is a must for any Group C aficionado." Magneto, Spring Issue 2023 (GB)
Foreword by Derek Bell
The Porsche 962… In a few words: the 962 was my career. And without it I wouldn’t have had the career I had. Beginning with the 956, this car was the one that made my life.
Of course, nobody could have thought this would be the car that would also define the sports car racing era of the 1980s. For me, before I raced it, it was just going to be another car. I had last driven the Porsche 936 with which Jacky and I won Le Mans in 1981 and four or five months later we went testing with the 956 at Paul Ricard, which I hadn’t previously seen and knew very little about.
Jacky and Jochen were also there and after the first five laps or so we were all amazed at how quick the car was. I had never tried the 936 around Ricard and here I was driving this amazing machine that went round the corners a lot quicker than anything I had experienced before. I didn’t then realise how good it was, how efficient it was, and what genius it was to put it together like that straight away.
We tried different tyres over those first couple of days in France and the car came towards us and just became quicker and quicker. There wasn’t much we could complain about, which is rare in a new car. It was an excellent car from the word go, typical Norbert Singer. We did what he asked, changed this and that, put in some back-to-back laps for comparison and just carried on, each time ticking a box on the test schedule.
Of course, we didn’t know yet for another few months how good our position was going to be. As it turned out, with the 956, Norbert Singer and his engineers had created THE car of the early Group C era and then did so again with the 962 two years later. The 962 was just an improvement of the 956. It was better, but not spectacularly better. But it was a little bit better in every domain, which is the remarkable thing.
The success of the 962 lay in the fact that it was basically simple, but simply correct in the first place. That was all it was, a simple car, yet perfect. And it showed the other manufacturers how simple it could be to make a perfect race car.
The driveability of the 962 was another key factor in making it the success it was, not just for us works drivers but also for the many gentlemen drivers who bought and raced them. It was user-friendly in every aspect and you could drive one for several hours and hop out still feeling relaxed. It was a Porsche in every way, exactly the way you expected a Porsche to be, which means you turned the key, the engine would fire up the way it was supposed to, and off you went. How quick you could go with a 962 depended on the driver as the car was so easy to drive and had no vices. It was a beautiful, magnificent, almost perfect race car.
The Porsche 962 would never have lasted more than ten years at the sharp end of endurance racing had it not been, in every aspect, a bloody brilliant machine.
Over time the regulations were tweaked and changed, rarely in favour of the 962, but the people at Porsche always managed to regroup, adapt and come back with even more appetite for victory, again setting the benchmarks for the others.
I don’t think there will ever again be a race car that could match the Porsche 962’s success, on both sides of the Atlantic, in wins and titles on the race tracks and in sales figures to customer teams, and for such a long period.
I don’t know what the future for sportscar racing will bring, although it does look very promising, but the Porsche 962 will forever be the most successful race car of the 20th century and possibly even of all time.