Porsche 908/3 Prototypes Hit the Track, Flat-8 Engines Sound Amazing

When talking about race-spec Porsche legends from the past, we usually think about monsters like the 917, 936, and 956. And that's not surprising, because these cars (including the 962 evolution of the 956) have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 11 times in just 18 years.
Porsche 908/3 race car 10 photos
Photo: 19Bozzy92/YouTube
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But these aren't the only fabulous track machines that left the company's factory in the golden days of racing. They're too many to mention here, but the 908 deserves a shout-out because it's one of the great Porsche racers that doesn't get the attention it deserves. It arrived before the 917 rose to power and it was quite insane.

The story of the 908 began in 1968 when the FIA announced rule changes for Group 6 prototype racing. Needing a replacement for the 906-910-907 trio, Helmuth Bott designed a new chassis while Hans Mezger put together a larger flat-eight mill. Displacing 3.0 liters, the maximum size allowed by the FIA at the time, the engine generated 350 horsepower.

The first two iterations of the 908 were unsuccessful against the Ford GT40 but this didn't stop Porsche from creating additional versions. In 1970, the Germans were already relying on the 917 on fast tracks like Sebring and Daytona, but the 908 proved to be more useful on twisty courses.

Porsche decided to make radical changes to the 908/2. Inspired by the Hillclimb-spec 909, the 908/3 arrived with a new open-cockpit shell, a shorter wheelbase, and a curb weight of only 500 kg (1,102 pounds). While notably heavier than the ridiculously light 909 (384 kg/847 pounds), the 908/3 was incredibly lightweight for a long-distance race car. It was also a whopping 340 kg (750 pounds) lighter than the Le Mans-winning 917K. The flat-eight was also upgraded to deliver about 370 horsepower.

The 908/3 was successful at both the 1000-km Nurburgring and the Targa Florio and, alongside the 917, helped Porsche win the International Championship for Makes from 1969 to 1971. Upgraded regularly, the 908 remained competitive until the early 1980s, when a turbocharged version finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Come 2022 and the 908 is a rare sight, regardless of configuration. But thankfully enough, some of the surviving examples are still being raced during special events at famous race tracks in Europe or the U.S.

The 908/3 examples you see here were recently showcased at Circuit Paul Ricard and Monza while still wearing their iconic Gulf and Martini liveries and flexing their original flat-eight engines. They're a sight to behold and the Metzger-designed engines sound fantastic, to say the least. Check them out in the video below but make sure you crank up the volume for vintage flat-eight awesomeness.

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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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