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Autoart's rare F1 Porsche 804 'simply' beautiful

By Mark Savage
Published: March 18, 2014
Autoart-Porsche-804
How rare is Autoart's new silver F1 Porsche 804? Well, consider that you probably didn't know that Porsche raced Formula 1, and won. Consider, too, that only four of these cars were made.

Thanks to Autoart, that number is now growing. Of course, these are 1/18 scale diecast, so not quite as fast, or as dangerous, as the originals.

In the early 1960s, the racing world, led by Formula 1 in Europe, was transitioning from front-engine to rear-engine cars. Porsche joined Ferrari, Lotus, and others in developing new chassis and engines to show off their design capabilities.

Porsche was only in it for a short time, with moderate success in 1961 with its 718 and 787 models. But in 1962, Porsche created the slim 804 racer that won Porsche its one and only F1 race, the French Grand Prix at Rouen. American Dan Gurney drove the car, beating Tony Maggs' Cooper by a lap. Gurney also won the non-points Solitude Grand Prix shortly after.

This is Autoart's version of version of that racer's sister car, as driven by Sweden's Joakin (Jo) Bonnier at Germany's Nurburgring later that summer. The Gurney car also is available from Autoart, and both models are available with driver figures.

Bonnier was a well-regarded racer at the time, and had a long career in F1 and sports cars. He finished second to Gurney for Porsche's only 1-2 F1 finish at the Solitude GP in Stuttgart, Germany. Sadley, Bonnier was killed in a racing accident at LeMans in 1972.

As for the 804, later in 1962 Gurney put the Porsche on the pole for the German Grand Prix at the famous Nurburgring, but a loose battery in the cockpit caused him to drop back, but ultimately he rallied to finish third.
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This model of the 804 is amazing in its simplicity and detail, from its space frame construction with double wishbone front and rear suspensions and well-executed brake cables, to its smooth metal body (aluminum on the original) bearing only a black No. 8. Back in the day, there were no sponsor decals or drivers' names painted on the cars. Beautiful!

The detail here comes in the cockpit and rear engine bay, where Porsche's 180-horse flat boxer 8-cylinder 1.5-liter air-cooled engine is replicated, with "Porsche" molded into the black headers. There's a spring for the throttle pull, aluminum head stacks, and a unique horizontal cooling fan atop the engine, which was made of magnesium alloy to save weight in the 1:1 car.

Autoart provides a removable cover with a mesh grate that covers the engine and fan, plus a metal tailpiece that slides over the unequal-length burnished metal tailpipes. The engine detail — including wiring, filters, and more — is what makes this model special visually.

The cockpit consists of a black felt seat and headrest, three-spoke racing steering wheel, a lone shifter knob, and sparse gauge pod with large tach in the center and smaller round gauges flanking it.

Small rivets are visible around the body where the body panels would have attached and along the lower edge of the windscreen where it attaches to the body. A thin roll bar — that likely would have done little to protect the driver — and two tiny mirrors are also present.

Simply beautiful!

For the record, Porsche pulled the plug on its F1 team before the end of 1962 season because of costs, so the 804 missed the final race of the season in South Africa. Who knows, maybe it would have won in that final outing!

Porsche did return to F1 racing, but as an engine supplier to McLaren, where it proved a big winner during the 1980s, including consecutive F1 championships from 1984-1986.

Vital Stats
Product: 1962 Porsche 804 Formula 1 racer: Jo Bonnier
Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 86272
MSRP: $234

Prefer 1:1 cars? Visit www.savageonwheels.com to read full-size new car and truck reviews and see videos by Mark Savage.
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