Porsches have come a long way since their beginnings, but even in the early stages, they were premium cars. Many Porsches were designed for races and helped drivers finish in first place. Thanks to their rich history, lightweight designs, and early popularity in the racing world, Porsches have been a collector favorite over the decades. If you’ve ever wondered what the five rarest Porsches are based on how many exist, this article is a good read for you. In descending order, we list the five rarest classic Porsche models ever made up until the early 1980s.
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Image courtesy of Brian Snelson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
In 1953, the third Porsche 550 Spyder prototype was the first car of its model to enter a race at the Nürburgring Eifel Race where it took first place. The car continued to win races, racking up 95 victories and 75 class wins over 370 races. You would think Porsche would make thousands of these awesome cars but only 90 were made with 43 of them constructed as non-race cars for customers. With so few of these cars in existence, they auction for a high price when an owner is willing to let go. Jerry Seinfeld sold his 550 Spyder for $5.35 million at a Gooding & Company auction.
The Porsche 550 Spyder was painted blue at the factory with white stripes on the rear. It features a low-slung stance that causes the car to appear wider than it is, a beige interior, two seats, a sloping hood, and raised headlights. In the back, the fenders extend above the wheels and end at the small taillights. This iconic Porsche reaches 140 mph, contains a flat-4 engine, and utilizes a four-speed manual.
James Dean, inspired by a love of racing, purchased a Porsche 550 Spyder of the non-racing variety. After he died at a young age in his Porsche, people began to believe it was cursed because many people involved in the wreck’s aftermath suffered misfortune.
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Image courtesy of Brian Snelson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
The Porsche 917 was designed and built within nine months. 25 vehicles were ready for inspection on April 20, 1968. The Porsche 917 features a very light space frame, a 4.5 liter flat 12-cylinder engine, and a four-speed gearbox. Almost double the speed of the Porsche 550 Spyder, this car could reach 220 mph.
When John Wyer’s race team J.W. Automotive became Porsche’s ‘Werks’ team for 1970, they developed a new wedge shaped tail for the Porsche 917 K. This improved car dominated the race world in 1970 and 1971, claiming the World Championship for Porsche in both years. At the end of the 1971 season, the FIA updated their regulations in response to how much better Porsche and Ferrari cars were performing than other brands.
The Porsche 917/10 was custom-built for Group 7 of American CanAm racing. They used lighter weight materials and a larger fuel tank in the Porsche 917/10. A 917/10 could finish a 200-mile race without stopping to refuel. It sounds like it would have been successful, but the 917/10 didn’t perform as well as expected during its first season of racing because the engine lacked power. To solve this problem, Porsche added turbochargers to the vehicle.
In 1973, Porsche developed the 917/30 with twin turbochargers and a 5.4 liter 12-cylinder engine that was capable of 1100-1500 horsepower. The Porsche 917/30 has a max speed of 238 mph and could reach 60 mph in 2.1 seconds. This race car was only available for Mark Donohue, a Team Penske driver.
With a rich racing history and different versions, you might expect about 100 of these cars were made, but only 65 were built.
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Image courtesy of Stahlkocher / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
One of the main goals in constructing the 1967 Porsche 911R was to subtract as much weight as possible from the base 911. They kept the steel shell but eliminated the removable panels and replaced them with fiberglass examples. Everything that was unnecessary was removed from the cockpit as well. The oil cooler was transferred to the right front fender from the engine bay. These are just some of the many changes that occurred, and only 20 911Rs were built.
The Porsche 911R made its racing debut in 1967 at Mugello. Vic Elford and Gijs van Lennep finished third behind two racers in Porsche 910s. In November 1967, a Swiss racing team landed high-speed record runs with the 911R at Monza. The Porsche 911R was also raced by a French driver in 1969 when the Tour de France was re-established. Gerard Larousse won the event in a 911R. He claimed victory at the Tour de Corse too. Humorously, Larousse challenged Porsche to make the car even lighter and offered them a case of champagne for every kg they managed to shed off of the Porsche. He handed over seven cases of champagne.
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Image courtesy of RaBoe/Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Only two 1969 Porsche 914/8s were ever made. The first 914/8 was created to prove its concept to Ferdinand Piech, who was head of the racing department at the time. It was painted orange, powered by a 350 horsepower flat-8 racing engine, and had quad headlights.
The second 1969 Porsche 914/8 was painted silver and contained a carbureted and detuned 908 racing engine with 300 horsepower. It was prepared as a gift to Ferry Porsche on his 60th birthday. The car is currently stored at the Porsche Museum. Although they were equipped with race engines, neither Porsche 914/8 was used in racing.
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Image courtesy of Luke Wilson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
The 1983 Porsche 935 Strassenversion was created for Mansour Ojjeh, a Saudi businessman who requested a Porsche be made for him. His specific request was a 935 version for the street that came with luxuries.
It was a challenge for Porsche to design the 935 Strassenversion because the 935 wasn’t an easily adaptable road car, but they diligently worked on it until they succeeded in giving Ojjeh a one-of-a-kind, high-quality Porsche. They even went as far as mixing an exclusive Brilliant Red paint for his Porsche.
You’re probably curious about how much Ojjeh paid for the car, but it was never revealed. Strassenversion simply means street version, so you’ll also hear this Porsche referred to as the 935 Street Version.
These are five of the rarest classic Porsche models ever made. The rarest of all Porsche models is the original 356 that was built in 1948. Porsche 550 Spyders sell between $3-6 million. The other Porsches are worth millions of dollars as well but it’s either impossible or extremely difficult to purchase one due to their rarity.
Born and raised in Detroit, David had no choice but to become a car enthusiast. As a young freelance writer, he is on a mission to turn his passion for cars into a career. When he is not writing about the latest auto technology, he spends his time hiking. You can follow him via Twitter @davidcmoss
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