Here’s Why The Dauer 962 Le Mans Is So Special

Homologation special car is a term that re-emerged in recent years with both endurance racing and rallying looking to follow a more road-relevant ethos. Nevertheless, this is far from the first era that cars on the racetrack had road-going siblings. What is rare, however, is when a race car becomes a road-going model sold to the public.

Thanks to plenty of help from Porsche, that is exactly what German racing fan, Jochen Dauer did in 1994 with the 962 Group C racer to create the Dauer 962 Le Mans. Not only a street-legal Le Mans race car, the car upon which it takes inspiration is one of the most successful models to ever grace the tarmac at La Sarthe, dominating several editions of the greatest endurance races in the world throughout the 1980s and 1990s .

In fact, the Porsche 962 is such a remarkable racing icon that several other companies also took it upon themselves to make road-legal versions with varying successes. A total of 13 examples of this eccentric, now classic vehicle made their way out of the factory as well as a pair of racing variants adding another link to the race car to road and back to racing chain.

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What Is The Dauer 962?

The 962 name originated with Porsche when the German manufacturer refreshed its Group C contender in 1984. Early in its lifetime, the Porsche 962 became one of the brand’s most dominant cars winning four Le Mans 24 Hour races in a row and claiming 21 championship titles across several series.

It’s this success that lead Jochen Dauer to produce a road-going version of the car, a model he would dub the Dauer 962.

Albeit in a cheaper mix of carbon fiber and Kevlar than on the racing model, it makes for a truly impressive sight on the road. Several modifications to the lights and mirrors ensure the car is more pedestrian-friendly while the front end loses its sharp angles for the same reason. Although it is overall a design that heavily resembles the original Porsche 962.

Under that Group C bodywork is the same 3-liter twin-turbo flat-six engine that powered the racing model. However, as the road car never had to follow the Group C class regulations, the air restrictor disappeared freeing up the engine enabling it to produce even more power. In total, 720 horsepower would charge from the engine to the rear wheels through the same 5-speed transmission as the racecar.

Unlike the exterior, the Dauer 962 bore little to no resemblance to Porsche’s model on the inside. A pair of lush leather seats feature in the tight cockpit. The steering wheel has a square bottom and also features a lot of leather while the dashboard has a radio, many instruments and 962 lettering covers the floor mats. Later models featured a DVD player and screen to entertain their passengers on long road trips.

The Porsche Dauer 962 May Be The Greatest Loophole In Motorsport History

With 1993 marking the end of the Group C era, the sports car racing world fell on its head. The ACO, organizers of the Le Mans 24 Hours, decided it wanted to give GT classes a better chance at winning the race outright and so, Prototypes were heavily restricted.

With plenty of smart people working for the company, Porsche began reading the new GT1 class’ rule book ahead of the 1994 edition which stated, among other things, that manufacturers have to have sold at least one road-going version of the car. That in mind, Porsche thought it best not to build a racing variant of a road car as the ACO intended, but to adapt an old prototype for the road and create their race car from that.

Lucky enough, Dauer had already put together its road legal 962 giving Porsche the perfect base upon which to build its new racer. Making the most of larger fuel tanks allowed for GT1, the result was a Group C car adapted for GT racing.

Bringing in experienced team, Joest, and world-famous drivers such as Yannick Dalmas and Thierry Boutsen, the pair of Porsche Dauer 962LM cars were ready to take on the likes of Toyota who continued in the prototype class.

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The Dauer 962, A Le Mans Race Winner

Qualifying in 5th and 7th with their two cars, it didn’t seem like a special result overall. Although with larger fuel tanks than the faster Prototype cars allowing for fewer pitstops over the race, the race pace would surely be different. Furthermore, the Dauer cars thrashed their opposition in the GT class meaning the class win was all but confirmed.

Come race day, it wouldn’t be long before the number 36 car jumped to the lead, able to go the full first hour without stopping for fuel. A race-long jostle with Toyota’s 94C-V driven by Eddie Irvine among others would keep things interesting, but Dauer would ultimately win both overall and take a dominating victory in GT1. The brand’s second car came home in third overall making it a double podium for the final year of the Porsche 962 at Le Mans.

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