The Last Bob Akin IMSA 962. Driven by Hurley Haywood, Vern Shuppan, and James Weaver.
1987 Porsche 962
Coca-Cola Yokohama Paradyne Dynamic Black and Red Livery
Among the most successful race cars of all time, the Porsche 956 and 962 are legendary for their dominance in the international Endurance Sports Car racing, not just in their heyday, but increasingly as main attractions in historic racing and events. The extensive list of team drivers including A.J. Foyt, Hans Stuck, Jackie Ickx, Al Holbert, Hurley Haywood, and Jurgen Barth, combined with unprecedented Porsche engineering explains how so many world championships and Le Mans Porsche victories (including first place at Le Mans every year from 1982 to 1987 and again in 1994) were repeatedly achieved.
Replacing the 956 was no easy task. The 956 had already proven to be successful on the track, but the new longer wheelbase 962 had to be built in order to meet IMSA GTP specifications, primarily by moving the pedal box behind the front axle. A new steel roll cage was also installed to improve safety. Many privateers modified 962s to suit their purposes and one of the most common practices was to build the cars using stronger tubs. Former Lola engineer Jim Chapman developed a 962 tub that replaced some of the sheet aluminum with a honeycomb construction that was both light and strong, a construction technique also employed by Fabcar, which built some of the Porsche factory 962 tubs.
The 962 chassis featured front suspension with coil over dampers and wishbones, while the rear utilized rocker arms and dampers, with cross drilled and ventilated disc brakes at all corners. The 962 was the culmination of decades of Porsche racing experience, particularly the preceding decade when Porsche went from its hard won first Le Mans victory with the 917 to becoming an absolute tour de force in endurance racing starting with the 936 in 1976. The 962 improved on the 956 to deliver a more resolved and effective car. The longitudinally mounted mid-engine Porsche air-cooled 4 valve per cylinder DOHC 3.0 liter unit with KKK Turbo and Bosch fuel injection, developed specifically for the 962 to win at the 24 hours of Le Mans, would indeed go on to bring Porsche their sixth record victory at Le Mans in 1987. With 780 hp on tap and 1984 lbs weight, it’s no wonder the 962 would deliver a record breaking 180 victories, besting the previous 956 from which it was derived. Today, with the increasing popularity of historic race events for which these cars are eligible and in demand, they have rapidly become a top choice among competition-minded enthusiasts. The 962 captures the excitement and glory of Porsche’s dominance and authority at race tracks all over the world, reaffirming more than half a century of motor sports excellence.
This 962 is the last car Bob Akin campaigned in the IMSA series. Akin ran a number of 962s, including 962-102 in the 1984 and 85 IMSA seasons. The second customer 962 built, that car was eventually damaged and a replacement tub sourced, 962-113, which they raced until mid 1987 when they began campaigning this car, whose updated composite Chapman tub offered superior protection in the event of a crash, an attribute that remains true today and makes the car all the more suitable for the gentleman driver. Akin’s Coca-Cola Yokohama/Paradyne sponsored team was winding down when Akin took delivery of 962-C04, thus it would end up being not only the last IMSA car Akin campaigned, it would be the first team car Akin would never personally drive. This fortuitous circumstance would allow for celebrated drivers Hurley Haywood, James Weaver, and Vern Schuppan to race the car. Painted in a stunning and dynamic red and black color scheme, the Coca-Cola Yokohama/Paradyne sponsored car also ran the season with Hudson Wire Company sponsorship (owned by Akin). At its first outing, C04 finished 5th at Road America 500 with James Weaver and Vern Schuppan at the wheel. Shortly after that race, legendary endurance icon Hurley Haywood piloted C04 along with James Weaver to an 8th place finish at Columbus. The third and final race would be at the Del Mar 2-hour with James Weaver as the sole driver. At the close of the 1987 season, C04 would retire unscathed from IMSA competition, just as legendary Bob Akin would also do that year.
After retirement, Akin retained the car until 1991, selling it to Dr. Tom Green of Saline, Michigan. In 2002, Green sold the car to Stan Wattles of Glen Cove, New York. Wattles then engaged expert Sean Creech of Sean Creech Motorsport/Metro Racing Systems to restore the car to both a high visual and mechanical standard. In 2005, Wattles sold the car to Rasim Tugberk of Fairfax, Virginia, who then sold it to a collector in Miami, Florida in 2006. In 2012, the current owner purchased the car, performing significant mechanical work again with Sean Creech. The car has since been carefully preserved and maintained to a very high standard.
Important racecars such as this 962 have become highly sought after, but it is critically important that their mechanical history and track time have sound documentation and records of professional support. C04 is one of those remarkable cars that has benefited from such care throughout the years of ownership. As a late production Chapman tub car with very low total hours and no known damage history, the car also benefits from recent updates. Work performed in 2014-2015 by Sean Creech includes a Klaus Fischer dyno tested 3.2 liter engine fitted with air-air intercoolers and Bosch Motronic 1.2 engine management system, a new fuel cell, new 8:37 ring and pinion, and transmission gearing for Daytona, Sebring, and Laguna Seca. Additionally 4 new BBS wheels were installed in November 2014, a new clutch disc and gear set were also installed. During this period C04 was comprehensively examined while carefully removing the engine, gearbox, and lower rear control arms. With body panels removed, the chassis was cleaned and several other jobs performed, including electrical work, a complete nut and bolt check, fluid replacement, and setting up the shocks. This work is documented with invoices totaling $19,122.72.
Today, this 962 is spectacular in stunning red and black racing livery. C04 has excellent paint and bodywork with minimal signs of wear and no damage. The graphics are dynamic and impressive, not only enhancing the stunning Porsche body design, but giving a sensation of speed even when standing still. All exterior features are beautifully detailed including lenses, clear finishes, mechanical fasteners, and the recently installed new BBS wheels.
With the body panels removed, Porsche’s extraordinary engineering excellence is visible in its full splendor. The engine, gearbox, and suspension are very accessible and beautifully presented. The turbocharger and associated plumbing are awe-inspiring and the entire car shows care and attention to authentic period details while still updating the car for current historic races and events. Every aspect of the sophisticated interior, engine management systems, instrumentation, and supporting components for the car are professionally presented and ready for serious competition. Indeed, the car has been campaigned enthusiastically, including outings at Rennsport II and III in 2004 and 2007, the Rolex HSR Historic Endurance, and both the Classic Daytona 24 Hour and the Monterey Historics in 2014. The car is accompanied by an extra set of BBS wheels with tires.
The premier racing car of its era, the 962 remains at the top of the heap in terms of desirability. It is not only eligible for an expanding number of premier historic racing venues around the globe, it has the potential to be one of the most competitive cars at these events. These events include the Le Mans Classic, Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours Classics, Monterey Historic Reunion, HSR and SVRA events, and Rennsport. The 962 also represents strong value. Objectively Porsche’s most successful race car, the 956/962 is still worth a small fraction of other historic Porsche race cars, be they 917s or 550 Spiders. Their values trail even some 911 variants (both street cars and race cars), and with this context in mind, the 962 is something a bargain. This particular example is well-maintained, beautifully presented in its unique livery, and has no damage history, making it an ideal example to relive the evocative IMSA racing of this period.
On track photo credits:
The Marshall Pruett Archives
Dennis Gray for Sports Car Digest
Micheal DiPleco for Sports Car Digest
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