Porsche has built many legendary race cars over the decades, but the 935/78 “Moby Dick” still stands out. So much so that Porsche devoted an entire video in its “Top Five” YouTube series to the car. You could say it’s a whale of a tale.
The 935/78 got its nickname from its long tail, a testament to the liberal rules in sports car racing at the time. While the 935 was based on the 911, engineers had significant freedom to alter its shape for better aerodynamics. The 935/78 also had a longer nose than other versions of the 935, with the 911’s trademark round headlights replaced by square units lower in the front fascia.
While the rules allowed for extensive modifications to the bodywork, they were more restrictive when it came to the engine. Porsche wanted the 3.2-liter flat-6 to be water cooled, but was forced to stick with air cooling, as in the 911 road cars of the period.
While it’s an icon today, the 935/78 wasn’t a very successful race car. It only won a single race—the 1978 6 Hours of Silverstone. The single 935/78 built only raced during the 1978 season, but other versions of the 935 raced prolifically, with many teams continuing to develop their cars independent of the Porsche factory.
The 935/78 may not have been a success on the track, but its design made it a legend. Porsche even launched a tribute version in 2018, based on the 991-generation 911 GT2 RS. Unlike the original, the modern 935 was not homologated for racing, although filmmaker and Porsche fanatic Jeff Zwart ran one at the 2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
For more Porsche lore, check out the “Top Five” videos for the 959 Paris-Dakar. Porsche also put together top-five lists of rally cars and secret prototypes.