We don’t often carry book reviews on PMW; however, there are exceptions to every rule. Serge Vanbockryck’s Ultimate Porsche Works 962 – The Definitive History, is one such example. Spanning three volumes, the author’s opus (which has been researched over the past three decades) covers every detail of the iconic sports prototype’s development and competition history, running to over 1,400 pages of content. It is a follow-up to his previous tome, covering the 956.
The trilogy charts the 962 from the earliest days of the project, with detailed accounts of negotiations between Porsche and IMSA on how best to adapt the 956 to the Camel GT championship, and the rapid development program headed by Norbert Singer. The book presents not only meticulously researched text but also a host of never before published images showing the wind tunnel program and original artwork depicting versions of the 962 that never left the drawing board.
Volume 1 covers the ‘works years’ of the car’s competition, from 1984-88, with every event covered in minute detail, including all the technical developments that were tried and tested between races, the strategies used, the successes savored and the odd defeat explained. Also covered are developments such as the lightweight 962C campaigned by Hans-Joachim Stuck in the 1986 ADAC Supercup, fitted with an early PDK transmission.
Volume 2 goes on to examine the ‘Joest’ years (1989-94), following the unexpected withdrawal of the works Rothmans Porsche team from the World Sports-Prototype Championship after yet another Le Mans win in 1987. The works team made a one-off comeback at Le Mans in 1988 and almost won, then gave an ultimate encore performance at Fuji at the end of that same year before closing its doors seemingly for good to concentrate on IndyCar and F1.
Earlier developments of what should have been the 962/88 were passed on to Reinhold Joest, the most successful privateer Porsche team owner. Joest promptly beat Mercedes at Dijon in 1989 – scoring the 956/962’s 39th and final world championship victory – and was in the running for the title for most of the year, prompting Porsche to relaunch its Group C program the following season. This culminated in the final appearance of a works 962 at Le Mans in 1994, as a road-homologated GT car. Once again, technical director Norbert Singer showed that he could read the technical regulations better than those who had written them, instigating the peculiar ploy of converting the 962C to a road car and back to a race car, winning Le Mans again.
Volume 3 covers the cars and the people. All 19 works chassis (16 Porsche 962s and three Dauer 962 LM GTs) are outlined in exhaustive technical detail, recording every test and race with all available data, from gear ratios and fuel consumption figures to strategies and pit stop times. The author has gathered all this information by sifting through thousands of pages of period documents in Porsche’s Stuttgart archives and conducting dozens of interviews with significant people in the 962 story. Also included is the ownership history of each car after completion of its race career, with photos of where they are now.
As a bonus, exclusively commissioned artwork depicts every single chassis as it ran, as well as the aerodynamic evolution of the 962 throughout the years and some of the peculiar wind tunnel test models that never saw the light of day. The ground-up restoration of three of the works 962Cs is covered in detail through many pages of step-by-step photos.
This book is Vanbockryck’s second title for Porter Press’s Ultimate Series, following the critically acclaimed Ultimate Works Porsche 956 – The Definitive History, published in 2019.
Limited edition ISBN 978-1-907085-92-5: £850 (US$990)
Collector’s edition ISBN 978-1-913089-31-3: £1,750 (US$2,038)
Owner’s edition ISBN 978-1-913089-64-1: £3,000 (US$3,494)