Porsche 909 Bergspyder
Every manufacturer of performance cars is obsessed with power-weight ratio. You don’t have to be a physics professor to realize why. If you take away the adornments of luxury and concentrate all efforts on optimizing performance you’ll give yourself every chance of producing a truly dynamic vehicle that stays ahead of the pack.
Just look at the popularity of relatively affordable pocket rockets like the Ariel Atom and the KTM Xbow – which produce power-weight ratios that are staggering and match the performance of hyper-cars that retail at six figures. The thing is, however, about these high-revving flyers that while they are extremely quick – they don’t exactly tick all the aesthetic boxes.
But whilst planning a trip to Porsche’s Museum at Stuttgart, we came across an early superstar in lightweight sports car engineering that manages to retain it’s svelte beauty in the face of all the imperatives of desired speed. When form follows function closely, you often get a beautiful product. The 909 Bergspyder is certainly beautiful to behold.
The car was conceived in 1968 by Porsche to become the dominant force in hill climbing. The roots-and-culture time trial form retains a simple and classic appeal – and cars like the 909, with its low kerb weight, high power output and low centre of gravity, have a natural advantage.
Tipping the scales at a measly 380 kilograms, the 909 packed an 8-cylinder boxer engine that produced close to 300 horsepower. The engine was almost exactly centred and the cockpit hovered over the front axle and the frame was made from lightweight aluminium. The shell meanwhile was formed from a plastic composite and the brakes and fuel tank also featured experimental lightweight design and materials.
According to experts the 909 wasn’t easy to drive and in June 1968 Ludovico Scarfiotti was killed when the 909 he was driving went out of control, flew off the road, and slammed into some trees – a stuck throttle blamed as the culprit.
Plastic shells, high speeds and safety rarely mix. No matter. We love the 909 because of its sheer prettiness.
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