Ben Collins Drives 1985 Porsche 962, Calls It the Pinnacle of 1980s Engineering

When you hear the name Ben Collins, you instantly think about the guy behind Top Gear's The Stig. But Collins is more than just a man dressed in a white racing suit to entertain us. He's also a skilled racing driver who tackled many motorsport series globally.
1985 Porsche 962 11 photos
Photo: Ben Collins Drives/YouTube
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The Brit debuted in Formula Vauxhall Junior in the 1990s and quickly entered the Formula 3 championship and the American Indy Lights series. He also briefly competed in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship and the British Touring Car Championship. More importantly, he raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times, finishing the race twice. His best result was a fourth-in-class finish with an Acura LMP2 prototype in 2011.

And not only he raced on many iconic tracks the world over, but he also drove cars most of us will never get to see in the metal. However, it wasn't until 2023 that he climbed aboard his hero car, the Porsche 962. Yup, I'm talking about the race car that dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1980s.

Well, it's not one of the chassis that won the endurance race in 1986 and 1987, but it's one of the only three works cars assigned to the Rothmans Porsche factory team for the 1985 and 1986 World Championship. How did he end up driving it, you ask? He was invited to drive several race cars that will be auctioned off at Le Mans in June 2023, during the event's 100th anniversary.

Collins got to spend some time with the 1985 Porsche 962 at Donnington Park and, fortunately enough, documented the entire experience on video. After a few high-speed laps in the car, he described the 962 as "the pinnacle of 1980s engineering." And based on how dominant this Porsche was on the endurance racing scene, I'd say the description is spot on.

Introduced at the end of 1984, the 962 was designed to replace the 956. The latter arrived in 1982 to replace the 936 and became the car to beat in the World Sportscar Championship. The 956 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times in a row (1982-1985) and set numerous records in the process.

Powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six, the 962 took over in 1986 and scored a 1-2 win at Le Mans. It scored yet another overall victory in 1987. Both winning cars sported the iconic Rothmans Porsche livery. But the 962's success extended beyond the World Sportscar Championship. The German race also won the IMSA GT Championship from 1985 to 1988, the Interserie championship from 1987 until 1992, and the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship from 1985 until 1989.

One of only three Rothmans Porsche models designated as Works cars for the 1985 and 1986 championships, the 962 you see here took pole position at Le Mans in 1986. It's also a three-time Le Mans participant with a fifth-place finish in 1988. Famous racers like Derek Bell, Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass, and Hans Stuck drove the car.

One of the most raced factory 962s, chassis 004 was entered in 23 races from 1985 to 1988. It scored an overall win and five additional podiums. The first Works 962 to go under the hammer at a public auction, the Rothmans-liveried Porsche will share the stage with other Le Mans legends, including a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, a 1984 Lancia LC2, and a 1991 Jaguar XJR-12 LM. The car is expected to fetch to change hands for €6 to €9 million ($6.4 to $9.6 million).

But that's enough history for today. Now hit the play button below to watch Ben Collins race the fabulous Porsche 962 around Donington Park.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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