The last car ever raced by Sir Stirling Moss – a sensational 1961 Porsche RS-61 – will go under the hammer at Bonhams’ Goodwood Festival of Speed sale this year.
Despite their small dimensions and engines, the open-topped Porsche RS sportscars proved immensely successful and won the demanding Targa Florio – then a key round of the World Sportscar Championship – in 1956, ’59 and ’60; their well-sorted chassis proving ideally-suited to the twisty 45-mile Madonie road circuit on Sicily.
Moss described RS-61s as ‘Just super cars – beautifully balanced and simply tailor-made for such races as the mighty Targa Florio around 440 miles of Sicilian mountain roads. That was one morning when I woke up and could really say to myself “for today’s race you have got the ideal car”.’
His sentiments proved correct in 1960 when, armed with an RS-60, he and Graham Hill put in a terrific performance on the event; Moss overturning a 76-second deficit to build a 65-second lead with a ‘Flat-Out and Fearless’ drive, only to see his advantage wiped out with a final-lap transmission failure. Armed with an RS-61 at the Nurburgring 1000km later that season, Moss snatched the lead from the more powerful Ferraris by using his skill – and the Porsche’s agility – in damp conditions, only to fade with less straightline speed than his rivals as the track dried.
Moss’s sale car, RS-61 chassis ‘070’ spent most of its competitive life in North America, being purchased from new by successful US sportscar racer and entrant Bob Holbert and later sold to Tom Payne, both of whom contested events in the Sportscar Club of America’s regional and national series’.
Third owner, Millard Ripley, added to its victory count – which officially stands at 13 in SCCA competition, before retiring the car in 1963.
Moss bought the car some years ago when he saw it offered for sale in the USA and ‘just fell in love with it all over again,’ and has since contested many historic and vintage racing events in it – including his final race – the ‘legends’ event that supported the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2011.