Unless you’re a die-hard Porsche aficionado, chances are that you’ve never heard of their 961 race car. Based on the 959 supercar from the 1980s, the 961 has the distinction of being the only all-wheel-drive car to ever compete at Le Mans. Compete it did, and the car’s first test at Le Mans ahead of the 1986 race yielded some surprising results. The car was tenth fastest overall, which made it faster than several cars in the prototype class, but a Le Mans victory was not in the cards. In 1986, the 961 finished seventh, still an admirable showing for the car’s competition debut.
The car then crossed the pond to race at Daytona in the final round of the Camel GT Championship. Due to the car’s capabilities, it was forced to compete in the GT-Prototype class, against cars like the legendary Porsche 962. The Dunlop tires developed for the 961 weren’t capable of the sustained loading caused by Daytona’s naked turns, and the car suffered several high-speed blowouts during the race. Forced to drive at a tire-saving pace, the 961 finished 24th overall.
The car’s last outing was at Le Mans in 1987, where it never ran higher than 11th overall and retired early due to a gearbox failure, crash and subsequent fire. The car was retired from competition after the 1987 LeMans race, rebuilt and displayed in Porsche’s Museum. Enjoy the car’s run up the hill at Goodwood in the video below.