It’s the ultimate book on the Porsche 962
There are some great books on the Porsche 956/962 in existence already. Ulrich Upitz’s ‘Porsche 956-962’ springs to mind. But this nothing compared to Serge Vanbockryck’s new magnum opus ‘Works Porsche 962 – The Definitive History’.
A word of warning first: the price is shocking, which is why we will leave this until the end.
‘Works Porsche 962 – The Definitive History’ is part of the Ultimate book series publisher Philip Porter has launched. Those of you with a nose for car books will know Vanbockryck has previously authored a similar pair of books, retracing the history of the Porsche 956.
1400 pages, 1800 photographs
In what is commonly seen as ‘a Porsche 965, only slightly different’, Vanbockryck managed to pen down three volumes on nothing but the Porsche 962. In total, we count 1400 pages, on just the Porsche 962. Incredible. The title is a bit misleading in that this book not only tells the story of the works 962s, but talks about all 962s, including those built by and for privateers outside the factory. Richard Lloyd’s 962s and the Thompson-built carbon monocoques Kremer Porsche used in the CK6s for instance, all pop up in the book, next to even more unknown initiatives to sharpen the 962.
The main focus lays on the works cars, but credit goes to the author that he did not overlook the one thing that makes this period so exciting: Porsche allowed privateers to take the fight to the factory withs more or less the same equipment.
John Bishop’s sketches
Volume 1 and volume 2 describe the race history of the 962. The book starts with the 962s ‘raison d’être’: a dispute between the FIA and IMSA where John Bishop was unwilling to copy the fuel-saving regulations the FIA had imposed in Group C. The correspondence with notes and even sketches John Bishop made are all in the book, just showing how hard Vanbockryck worked to get to the bottom of ‘the whole story’. The sketches John Bishop used in his talks to Porsche to convince them to do something about the driver’s feet sticking out in front of the front axle line are there. These should be considered as the conception of the 962.
This book not only impresses with knowledge and pictures, but also with fine writing. All the major races are covered in extenso, with attention to detail. The post-race analysis of Joest Racing’s 1985 win at Le Mans is an eye-opener. And the book has plenty of other hidden gems like this as well. It’s when you are confronted with the many evolutions the 962 received over the years, that you start comprehending why three volumes are not too much. Dramatic moments like Stefan Bellof’s fatal crash in Spa 1985 or the accidents that claimed the lives of Manfred Winkelhock (Mosport 1985) and Jo Gartner (Le Mans 1986) receive the pages and analysis they deserve.
The second volume ends with a detailed report on the 962s unexpected ‘encore’, as the Dauer special that managed to squeeze out another Le Mans win in 1994. Volume 3 describes the works chassis in detail. The book ends with a chapter on Henry Pearman’s remarkable collection of Group C Porsches.
To sum up: easy to read, full of interesting facts and background stories. Tons of photographs and documents make every next page surprising. Vanbockryck spent years researching this, and it shows. Every name you know in Porsches Group C history has a place in the book. Really, the only critique we can formulate is the occasional typo. But let’s be honest, that is inevitable in a work this size. This really is a masterpiece.
This brings us to the hard part. All this work comes at a price, and it’s a whopping 850 pounds sterling with Porter Press. With Sportfahrer Zentrale in Europe, it costs 1100 euros. The three volumes are bundled in a slipcase, and only 962 copies – each one is numbered – exist. If you love quality, you will sell other books to get a copy of this one.