By the late 1970s, Porsche’s 935 was arguably the most dominant car in sports car racing. Competitors feared it, since getting by one on the track bordered on the impossible. Drivers respected it, since it was utterly unforgiving when driven at the limit.
While the 935’s turbocharged engine typically made around 750 horsepower, the giant turbocharger suffered from noticeable lag, requiring the driver to anticipate when boost would finally spool up.
Get on the throttle too soon (or too aggressively), and power-on oversteer was the order of the day. Lift off abruptly mid-corner, and the car’s rear weight bias would suddenly introduce you to Mr. Lift-Throttle Oversteer.
Driving a 935 fast, then, was a delicate ballet under the best of conditions. In the rain, with the engine’s light-switch power ready to spin the rear tires at the slightest provocation, we can only imagine that it was terrifying to drive at speed.
The final factory version of the 935 was released by Porsche in 1978. Dubbed “Moby Dick” for its enormous tail and white color, the 935/78 debuted water cooling and four-valve heads to the 3.2-liter Porsche flat-six engine. To optimize weight distribution at Le Mans, Porsche even located the driver's seat on the right side of the car.
Despite the 935/78 being the fastest car down the Circuit de la Sarthe’s Mulsanne Straight (where it achieved a speed of 235 mph), the 935/78 managed only an eighth place finish at the 1978 Le Mans race, behind three Porsche 935/77s, two Porsche 936s and a pair of Renault Alpine A442s.
“Moby Dick” ran just two more races before being retired to the Porsche Museum. It’s occasionally called into service for special events, such as last year’s Le Mans Classic, where Romain Dumas put the historic racer through its paces in the rain.
As the video shows, the car is still capable of truly puckering velocities, even in the wet. While we’re generally of the “we’ll drive anything” mindset, this is one case where we’re content to leave the driving to a professional. Not many cars scare us, but the Porsche 935 certainly falls into that category.