Lotus isn’t the only company that has been obsessive about weight reduction in its long history.
You’ve been good boys and girls this week, which means you get another Porsche Top 5 video, this episode counting down the lightest models in Zuffenhausen’s storied history. Not only is Porsche showing off its delectable sports cars of years gone by, but it's doing it on the greatest road I’ve ever driven, and one of the best and most photogenic mountain passes in Europe: the Grossglockner Pass in Austria.
The list starts with the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Sport, arguably the car that started the great tradition of 911 special editions and crazy-ass Porsche spoilers with its ducktail. The RS 2.7 Sport saved 100 kg over its Touring counterpart, dropping total weight to 975 kg, which is really hard to imagine in today’s world of bloated high-powered sports cars, and made the most of its modest 210 hp.
Fourth lightest is the Porsche 906 Carrera 6, a special build for a German TV station to film races at the Hockenheim ring, which consisted of a fiberglass body, mid-mounted air-cooled 2.0L flat-six also producing 210 hp, and weighing a measly 675 kg, but then again, it is a race car, so it’s not exactly apples to apples. In the middle of our list is the 356 SL, the first Porsche to win its class at Le Mans in the early days of Porsche’s racing legacy. The 356 SL turned to aluminum for its light weighting, resulting in a 640-kg body, although power was pretty anemic back in the '50s, so its 70 hp sure doesn’t sound like much, but you can already begin to see the basic shape that would become the iconic 911.
Next is another early race car, but this one built for long-distance racing and campaigned by racing legends Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. The Porsche 718 Formel 2 is a tiny thing, with a an equally compact 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine cranking out 150 hp, which was plenty for a car weighing 456 kg. This was the inspiration for Porsche to designate the Cayman and Boxster as the 718 series, highlighting the company’s successful history with four-cylinder power. And if you want to see the lightest of them all, you’ll have to watch the video, or at least skip ahead to 3:54, but I will tell you that it was plastic-bodied, aluminum-frame, V8-powered hill-climb special. Enjoy!