The Porsche 718/2 was a single-seater development of the 718 sportscar chassis and in fact intended for racing in Formula Two. But when the Formula One regulations limited engine capacity to 1.5-litre in 1961, they offered the possibility to run the car in Formula One. An opportunity that Carel grasped with both hands.
From 1957 on, Porsche sportscars such as the 550 Spyder and the 718 RSK were eligible for Formula Two. Although Ferry Porsche himself didn't any have aspirations towards single-seater racing, it was his Rennleiter Huschke von Hanstein who lured him into developing a proper F2 car. At first, in 1958, an RSK was converted into a single-seater with central steering but still with covered wheels. Its success prompted Hanstein to start developing the 718/2, still based on the 718, but a genuine open-wheel racer.
The car was still in prototype stage when the rumours about the 1.5-litre F1 regulations for 1961 reached Hanstein. This would promote the 718/2 to F1 instantly. It prompted Hanstein to ask Porsche permission to enter the new car in the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix At that time F1 and F2 races were held simultaneously and it would be a good test for the Porsche single-seater.
Ferry Porsche was a little anxious and told his Rennleiter so: "If you can lap the Nürburgring in nine and a half minutes, you can go to Monaco." Mind you, only one year earlier the F2 record at the 'Ring was set by Phil Hill in a Ferrari at 9:48.9. In a severe testing programme with Wolfgang von Trips the racing department managed to meet their boss's demands and the 718/2 raced at Monaco, where Trips qualified 12th overall but unfortunately hit a wall on the second lap.
Porsche was confident enough to set up a proper F2 campaign for 1960 with the 718/2, of which five were built. One of those, the 718/2 that would later be raced by Carel, was sold to privateer Rob Walker, the other four became official factory entries.
The first time Walker entered the car for Stirling Moss at Syracuse, he immediately got on pole and set fastest lap before retiring, but a little later at Aintree Porsche showed its real strength. Stirling Moss led the factory cars of Bonnier and Graham Hill home to a 1-2-3 victory for Stuttgart. More success followed and in the end Porsche won the Coupe des Constructeurs, the Championship for Makes. During the 1960 F2 season Joakim Bonnier, Graham Hill, John Surtees, Hans Herrmann, Edgar Barth, Wolfgang von Trips and Dan Gurney all raced the 718/2 for the factory team.
In the meantime Porsche was developing an eight-cylinder boxer engine for the 1.5-litre formula to enter the World Championship in 1961. Therefore the Porsche 787 was developed, which in fact was not much more than a 718/2 prepared for the new eight-cylinder engine, and with a new fuel injection system. The new car turned out to be only slightly faster than the old one, if at all.
Rob Walker didn't have any intentions to race the Porsche in F1, so he sold the car that had been so successful in the hands of Stirling Moss to Carel. Carel drove his first race with it in the Dutch Grand Prix on May 22, 1962. It would be his first of 57 races in the car.
The Porsche factory team weren't very successful in F1. Development of the eight-cylinder engine and a proper new car took much too long. Surprisingly, when the Porsche 804 finally raced it won on its postponed debut in the French Grand Prix in 1962, but that was largely thanks to their main rivals' misfortune. It didn't disguise the 904's incompetitiveness. By the time the long awaited eight-cylinder finally raced it still lacked in power in comparison to the Italian and British opposition. So at the end of 1962, Porsche decided to focus on production-based sports cars and prototypes, leaving Ecurie Maarsbergen to defend their honours in Grand Prix racing.
Carel raced the ex-Rob Walker car in no less than 57 events. He only raced 718/2 (202) twice after his 'own' car was damaged at the 1962 US Grand Prix. This was also the car that he crashed on that fateful Saturday on the 'Ring in 1964. The car's wreck was returned to Maarsbergen and later restored. It was lent to the Driebergen car museum in The Netherlands before being moved to the Nationaal Automobiel Museum (also known as the Louwman Collection) in Raamsdonksveer. The car is still owned by the Beaufort family.
After its service for the F2 factory team, 202 was sold to Scuderia Filipinetti and mainly raced in smaller events. After Carel damaged 201 at the end of the 1962 season, he bought the car to race it in Mexico and South Africa. In 1963, he entered the car as a second car for Gerhard Mitter on several occasions. After his death, the car was sold to the Donington Collection, where it remains today.
Carel with his 718 in front of the Porsche factory in Stuttgart, sometime in 1961. The Venezuelan license plate on the back of the trailer is clearly visible.
(Rob Petersen archives)
718-201 at the Louwman Collection. (photo by Arjan de Roos)
718-202 at the Donington Collection. (photo by Erik Klootwijk)
A model of 718-201 by Barry Boor. (photo by Barry Boor)