The 1993 Dauer 962 Le Mans was a non-homologated car unlike any other as an ex-Prototype C and Le Mans winner for the road.
The FIA’s World Sportscar Championship, IMSA Championship, and the ACO 24 Hours of Le Mans had inspired numerous non-homologated, road-legal cars.
There were the GT1 era icons like the Toyota GT One, Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion, Nissan R380 GT1, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR and more.
The Dauer Le Mans was more unique with its successful heritage and one of the actual road cars ended up winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994.
There were 13 examples of the Dauer 962 Le Mans built between 1993 and 1997, but the real story began at least a decade before.
The background into the 962
The beginning of the Dauer 962 story was turbulent and started back when the 956 was in development from 1981.
Porsche wanted an endurance prototype that could compete in both the North American IMSA Championship and the World Sportscar Championship (WSC).
The Group C regulations of the WSC (and Le Mans) differed from the GTP regulations on the basis of safety – the 956 was banned immediately from the US championship due to the position of the driver’s feet being ahead of the front axle centre line.
Of course, they decided to modify the 956 in the pursuit of a dual-championship legality, and would make it more attractive for customer teams to opt as their choice of racer.
The safety modifications made included extending the 956’s wheelbase which would move the front wheels ahead of the pedal box.
A steel roll cage was also embedded within the new aluminium chassis.
Twin turbo-charged engines were also not permitted in the IMSA championship, so the non-Group C variant of the 956’s powertrain featured a single Kühnle, Kopp und Kausch AG K36 turbocharger coupled with a Porsche 934-derived Type-935 2.8L flat-six engine.
The 956 Group C, however, used twin K27 turbochargers.
And so the 962 was born and raced in the opening IMSA GT championship round of 1984 – the 24 Hours of Daytona on February 4-5.
Its debut that year was in the hands of the father-son Andretti duo; Mario and his son Michael in the GTP class (the fastest above the other three categories).
They represented Porsche’s manufacturer team, Dr. Ing. H.C.F. Porsche (Porsche AG), as the sole and first ever 962 in the race; the 935 was the outgoing go-to option for other customer Porsche teams in the GTP class.
Unfortunately, they did not make it to the end after retiring on lap 127 due to engine and gearbox problems at the race lead.
Mario’s efforts were at least rewarded in qualifying to secure outright pole position with a time of 1m50.989s.
However, the Porsche 962 would go on to win the 24 Hours of Daytona five times over the next seven years.
The 962 appeared at Le Mans later that year in two forms – one in the IMSA GTP class and another in C1 (Group C).
American Preston Henn entered a #61 962 which had a Type-935 2.9L turbo flat-six and driven by Henn himself, Michel Ferté and Edgar Dören.
Their race ended after 247 laps due to an ignition failure but were still classified in 26th position.
The other 962 (C1) had a 2.6L flat-six of the collaborated Skoal Bandit Porsche Team and John Fitzpatrick Racing, retired earlier on lap 72.
The 962C debuted full-time in the WSC in 1985, replacing the outgoing 956 – the ‘C’ distinguished itself from the GTP versions as the one with a twin-turbocharged engine and other adjustments that made it fit for Prototype C regulations.
By 1986, the updated twin-turbo displacements were 2.8L, 3.0L, and 3.2L variants.
Eventually, the water-cooled 3.2L engine was banned by IMSA in 1987 after running legitimately under their Group 3 engine rules in the prior year.
IMSA were swung to allow these water-cooled dual turbocharged Porsche powertrains back in 1988 with 36 mm restrictors, following the likely prospect of withdrawal by Porsche teams.
Joest Racing had their share of success since 1988 to secure four Le Mans wins, a small part of their long continued success in sportscar racing – they now find themselves at Glickenhaus for Le Mans Hypercars in 2021.
Overall, the 962 claimed 21 constructors’ titles in its lifetime of 91 racing examples until 1991.
There were 16 officially used by the Porsche factory team, while 75 others were sold to customer outfits.
The five-time Le Mans victor Derek Bell, who drove the 962 to 21 race victories between 1985 and 1987, notably described it as a “fabulous car” and crediting it as “easy to drive.”
The main efforts were down to its designer and Head of Porsche Motorsport Norbert Singer – a familiar name who was responsible for other cars like the Porsche 917, 935, 956, and the 911 GT1 of the later 90s.
Getting into the real story, German fashion magnate Jochen Dauer was amongst the notable customers of those who used the 962.
After running several teams in the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DRM – German touring and sportscar racing series) and its successor the Supercup championship, he purchased John Fitzpatrick’s team (all their racing cars, team transporters and equipment) at the end of 1986.
Dauer Racing (now better known as Dauer Sportwagen) sought to enter a Zakspeed C1/8 in the Interserie and a new 962C in the Supercup championship.
By the time of 1987, his duties as a sole driver in these both of these commitments were no longer as he decided to enter the WSC too with other drivers assisting with the longer events.
Whilst Joest Racing were in dominant form, his team struggled in 1989 to only complete one WSC race but came second in their Supercup commitments (the championship deceased in 1990).
Dauer was not keen to race ever again after the 1991 Daytona 24, but set about turning outgoing 962s into road-legal variants.
Despite other attempts on road-going versions, Jochen Dauer was arguably in the best position to hold such a vision for the 962.
He was the 1988 European Sports Car Champion and considered proficient at the wheel of a 962.
The perfect person to pursue the project under the Dauer Sportwagen GmbH name.
He contacted automotive stylist Achim Storz, who worked design for Lotus, McLaren, and Porsche amongst his notable portfolio.
His 1970 McLaren M26 F1 car, driven by the late F1 champion James Hunt, was most eminent out of his work.
Storz had also designed concept cars for Audi, BMW, Citroen, VW and Nissan.
Porsche themselves provided the necessary parts and sourced technical advice to tackle Germany’s strict approval process and turn the 962 into a road-legal car.
It was the honour of chassis number 169 to be the maiden conversion of a 962 for the streets.
The first example of a Dauer 962 LM was unveiled at the 1993 Frankfurt Motor Show.
It arrived with a list price of just over £620,000 ($853,000) and was slightly less than McLaren’s slower F1 supercar.
Between the race and the road variant, there were a combination of a few minor and major changes as their donor equivalents were rebuilt.
An example would be the Storz-designed carbon-kevlar bodywork that replaced the original 962 shell, but still on a standard Porsche 962 aluminium honeycomb monocoque.
The heart of the car, the engine, was the same 3L water-cooled Porsche flat-six from the race car.
The mid-longitudinally mounted layout and equipped with two intercooled KKK turbochargers offered three alternative levels of boost.
It was able to breathe to its full power potential at 730 hp that the race car could not do due to an air restrictor that was implemented as an old-school equivalent of a BoP.
In the September 2003 issue of Evo Magazine, they called it the “fastest street-legal production car in the world.”
The powertrain infrastructure was adapted so it could tackle urban driving if need be, as was the now-hydraulic suspension meeting German road-car height requirements.
A Motronic 1.7 engine management helped greatly along with the compression set at 9.0:1.
Uniquely, the 962 LM had a special type of sequential transmission that combined the normal 962 gearbox and clutch with Tiptronic S-style buttons on the steering wheel.
The customisation was ultimately tailored at that price, and there were a pair of custom-made carbon-fibre suitcases that fit snug into the rectangular luggage compartment situated in the left-hand door sill (and another at the front).
The specification of the 962 Le Mans
|Concept||Two seater sports car, body work and chassis in Carbon-Kevlar-Fibre compounds|
Mid-mounted, water-cooled, four-gear driven DOHC per bank, four valves per cylinder, twin-turbo (KKK26) cooled charger
Featuring multipoint electronic fuel injection, electronic injection system (TAG Motronic),
|Dry sump lubrication system, catalytic converter.|
|2994 cc (Displacement)|
|95 x 70.4mm (Bore Stroke)|
|700 Nm / 5,000 rpm (Peak torque)|
|537 kw (730 bhp) / 7,500 rpm (Peak power)|
|9:1 (Compression ratio)|
|Transmission||Sequential, five speed, all synchronized gearbox|
|Single disc clutch, hydraulically operated|
|Limited slip differential, rear wheel drive|
|Suspension||Front – Double wishbones with radius rods and magnesium/ aluminium uprights.|
Rear – Lower wishbones and rocker arms system with magnesium/aluminium uprights.
General – Adjustable damper units with coil springs, hydraulic controlled right height system (automatically lowers car above 50 mph),
|Adjustable anti-roll-bars, adjustable dual brake system,|
|Front & rear ventilated discs Brembo 355 mm diameter, four piston callipers – ABS.|
|Dimensions||Length – 4,600 mm|
|Width – 1,985 mm|
|Height – 1,050 mm|
|Curb weight – 1,130 kg (original 962 – 900 kg)|
|Max weight – 1,280 kg|
|Performance||0 – 100 kph: 2.6 secs.|
|0 – 200 kph: 7.2 secs.|
|Top speed: 404 kph / 251 mph|
The Le Mans victory in ’94 and the homologation loophole
It was no surprise that the Dauer-Porsche partnership grew further to enter the next two chassis into the 1994 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
But there was a trick if not a loophole that allowed them to enter a Dauer 962 LM; not entering it as a Prototype C.
Quite simply, Dauer entered it under the LM-GT1 category which only required one road-going example to have been produced for a racing version to be homologated.
As the revised ACO/FIA regulations were released earlier in 1993 to allow for teams to prepare, saw slower Le Mans lap-times for LMP1 and the GTs ran engines of up to 600 bhp, 100 bhp more than LMP1.
GT1 regulations also permitted fuel tanks at 120L, 50% larger than LMP1 (80L).
Norbert Singer was convinced by these regulations for a shot at the win so established a joint venture from Porsche with Dauer.
Two slightly rebodied variants named the 962 LM Sport were created since the original 962 generated the majority of its downforce from ground effect.
The race itself was its own narrative of drama across the five categories, but ultimately presented the second time in which Toyota would be pipped at the end for a Le Mans victory after a prominent lead.
The winning #36 Dauer Racing crew comprised of Hurley Haywood (his 3rd win), Yannick Dalmas (his 2nd win) and Mauro Baldi – who became the 100th different Le Mans winner on his maiden achievement.
This was also Porsche’s 13th overall Le Mans 24 Hours victory.
The fact was that a Dauer Racing Porsche 962 won an outright victory at the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours, and only asserted further publicity for the 13 cars that were made.
The 962 was subsequently banned to compete at Le Mans from 1995, but up to 13 total examples of Dauer 962 LM road-car were built until 1997.
Even so, it resides into the history books as one of the world’s fastest and most iconic supercars ever to exist, and was ultimately a wild Le Mans racer for the road.