Thank Frankel it’s Friday: Driving the new Porsche 935 up the hill at FOS

05th July 2019
andrew_frankel_headshot.jpg Andrew Frankel

Driving any car up the Goodwood Hill comes with its own sense of responsibility. It’s never your car (at least in my case), it’s often worth more than me (not difficult) and if you get it wrong not only will your colleagues never let you forget it, you’ll be single-handedly responsible for holding up one of the greatest shows on earth.


But being the very first to drive something of which there are, at present, just two in existence? Well that brings a whole new level of pressure. As I found out yesterday morning when I blasted the new Porsche 935 off the line in the first run of the day. Just before I got in I was told that no other journalist had yet driven the car and that in the whole wide world there was one running car and one show car. That’s it.

What do you do? You can’t just tootle up at 30mph, because this may be your only opportunity to drive it and editors are expecting a reasonable set of driving impressions, even if they are based on less than a minute behind the wheel. I did what I always do: went for maximum drama off the line, the minimum risk thereafter while still driving as fast as I safely could. It’s a formula that has seen me safely to the top these last 26 years and it’s one that worked all over again in the 935.


The car, you may recall, is Porsche’s homage not only to its 911-based Group 5 racer of the late 1970s, but its entire racing history, hence the rear lights being styled on those from the 919 Hybrid, the wing mirrors coming from the 911 RSR race car and the titanium exhausts recalling those of the 1968 908. Its powertrain is the same in all bar detail to that of the GT2 RS race car, but its chassis, with race suspension, slick tyres and high downforce bodywork, is very different.

It helps if you turn off the traction control before you start: it makes the car look good if it erupts forward towing a plume of incinerated Michelin, but it also makes you feel less like a stone dispatched from a catapult. With that power, an engine over the rear wheels and those slicks, the 935 is ridiculously, disconcertingly quick off the line. Spinning those tyres actually calms the experience down quite a lot.

Until that is you change up and, because their surfaces are now warmer, the tyres bite. Then you’re off in a blur of hands, snatched breaths and muffled expletives. Because the front tyres are still cold you still have to be quite careful through the corners and even when you are it still understeers a bit. But if you’ve driven cars on slicks here before, you’re ready for that.


So you do that 911 thing, the same thing you’d so were this a 1964 2.0-litre 911: you keep your entry speed down and rely on the traction to fling you out of the corners. At this the 935 is very good indeed.

Sadly I was quite near the top before I felt the front tyres just starting to find some grip, and then I was through the finish line at goodness knows what speed and into the bumpy slowing down area.


This is an outrageously enjoyable car and I couldn’t care less that it’s neither a racing car nor a street machine. If I had one of the 77 Porsche will build, I’d go on a world tour of all the circuits at which I ever wanted to drive knowing I’d have a ball at every one. But I’m not and not just because I could not begin to afford the approximate £750,000 each will cost. Someone at Porsche told me that, even at that money, they could have sold every car ten times over. Having driven it, I can see why.

Photography by Mark Riccioni.

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  • Andrew Frankel

  • Thank Frankel it's Friday

  • FOS

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  • 2019

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