During the two years it participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1964 and 1965), the Porsche 904 racked up as many as four class wins. Here is a look back at the short history of a singularly designed car, combining a new aesthetic and performance on the track.
In Porsche's genealogy, the 904 holds a very special place between two important dates in the German marque's history. The car made its first appearance on the scene in 1964, one year after the birth of the sports car icon 911, and two years before the 906, the first Porsche prototype at the 24 Hours.
The 904 also marked an aesthetic break from Porsche's lineage previously seen at Le Mans. Unlike the curves of the 356s and Spyders (550 and other 718s) which preceded it, the 904 had more angular lines but with just has much aesthetic cohesion. They were developed from the imagination of "Butzi" Porsche (1935-2012), grandson of Ferdinand and son of Ferry Porsche, and even won over the marque's engineers who implemented the mechanical elements of the car without comprising Butzi's design.
The designer of the 911's lines in 1963, thereafter Butzi Porsche founded his own company, Porsche Design, creating watches, pens, sunglasses and luggage.
The 904's unique lines were the talk of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1964, five of the cars managed an impressive feat, finishing seventh (Guy Ligier-Robert Buchet), eighth (Ben Pon-Henk van Zalinge), 10th (Gerhard Koch-Heinz Schiller), 11th (Claude Sage-Herbert Müller) and 12th (Jean Kerguen-Jacques Dewes).
The 904 rose even higher in 1965, and found itself at the center of a great metamorphosis in Porsche's sporting history...for more, check out the next installment in this series.
Photo: Of the seven Porsche 904s at the start of the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, five made it to the checkered flag. Pictured is the car driven by Gerhard Koch and Heinz Schiller, tenth.