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This Super-Rare Porsche 718 RSK Shares a Cool Feature With the McLaren F1

Introduced in 1957 as a replacement for the 550, the 718 became Porsche's vehicle of choice for endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Targa Florio, as well as the European Hill Climb Championship.
1959 Porsche 718 RSK 7 photos
1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder
Tipping the scales at around 1,200 pounds (544 kg), the 718 RSK went on to win many high-profile events, often against rivals fitted with larger, more powerful engines. Unlike some V8- and V12-powered race cars of the era, the 718 tackled race tracks the world over with a small-displacement flat-four engine under the hood.

Inspired by the car's success in its first year on the market, Porsche decided to enter the 718 RSK in the Formula Two championship. To do so, Porsche developed the RSK Mittellenker, a slightly modified 718 with a central driving position. Yup, the feature that was made famous by the McLaren F1 for street use.

The standard 718 was already a single-seat race car, but for this model Porsche moved everything, including the pedals and the shift lever, to the center. This allowed for a more enclosed cockpit and better weight distribution. The idea was further explored in 1961 when the Germans redesigned the 718 for Formula One.

But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to show you this super-rare 718 RSK Mittellenker that was recently showcased at Amelia Island. What makes this German race car rare, you ask? Well, the 718 RSK itself is pretty scarce since Porsche made only 36 of them, but this center steer version is one of only four built. And not all of them have likely survived to this day.

And it has quite a fabulous story because it's been involved in more than 150 vintage racing events. So it's not one of them garage queens spending their retirement years under a roof, but a full-blown track warrior that gets to rev its flat-four mill regularly. So much so that Porsche says it's the most raced RSK in existence.

So is this car still original? Well, yes and no. No, because it no longer features its original 1.5-liter engine, but yes because the 1.6-liter flat-four it has now was installed by Porsche at the factory.

You see, race cars like this used to get regular updates back in the day. When they weren't powerful enough or needed a different type of mill for a certain series, the cars would go back to the factory for an upgrade. This specific RSK features a 1.6-liter RS 60-spec powerplant rated at 160 horsepower.

The RS 60 was created for the 1960 season when the FIA made some changes to the regulations. It helped Porsche win the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Targa Florio, as well as defend its European Hill Climb Championship.

Speaking of track success, various versions of the 718 RSK went on to score class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a few overall wins in Formula Two. Although it never won a Formula One race, the 718 finished second on two occasions with Dan Gurney behind the steering wheel.

Check out this rare center steer conversion in the video below and make sure you crank up the volume at the 1:20-minute mark. That's when the flat-four engine flexes its muscle.

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