The Porsche 356 on a highway to Rome

Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi. Marc Lieb raises a piping-hot espresso to his lips, savours it, and revels in a moment. Before him, a Eternal City bathes in a intense dawn. It’s his initial time in Rome, and he’s not alone. He leans opposite a beauty during his side: a Porsche 356 A 1600 GS Carrera GT with some-more than half a million kilometres on a odometer. Its central looseness image reads WN-V2 – and in a universe of engine racing, this automobile is a legend. In a day, it started in all a critical European highway races and rallies, including classics such as a Mille Miglia in Italy, a 1,000 Kilometres of Nürburgring, and a Targa Florio in Sicily.

Long-awaited arrival: Marc Lieb finally brings a Porsche 356 A 1600 GS Carrera GT to Rome—sixty-two years after a city sealed a doors to a Liège–Rome–Liège rally.

The automobile can strech speeds of some-more than 200 km/h. Lieb is an altogether leader during Le Mans and a former WEC champion. The dual make a quick couple, that’s for sure. But this story starts with a poignant delay: 62 years, to be precise.

Let’s spin behind a clock. In 1959, a Liège–Rome–Liège convene was one of a many challenging highway races in a world. More than 5,000 km nonstop. The speed restrictions set onward by a eventuality holder, Royal Motor Union in Belgium, were unfit to accommodate even on a relationship stages. Of 104 starters, usually 14 reached a finish, and zero did so nonetheless incurring chastisement points.

The altogether victors that year were Paul Ernst Strähle and Robert Buchet. They did swapping stints behind a circle for a towering 86 hours. It was a biggest delight for Strähle, afterwards one of a many distinguished German private racers in a Porsche. And it was a biggest feat for this shining 356. The name of a rally, incidentally, was a misnomer in a 1959 running. Roman authorities no longer wanted racing cars in a city during holidays; as a result, a track was altered several times and a turnaround indicate was situated in what was afterwards Yugoslavia.

Role model: innate in 1928, Herbert Linge made patron racing during Porsche distinct anyone since.

But now a 356 A has reached a Italian capital. Lieb is in love. With a city, with a sound of a Carrera engine, and with a unobtrusive doing of this gem of a car. He is good wakeful of a a significance. After crowning his 14-year Porsche bureau pushing career with an altogether feat during Le Mans and a WEC pretension in 2016, he shifted gears and got into patron racing management. His good purpose model: Herbert Linge. “Undoubtedly a coolest male we ever met,” says 40-year-old Lieb with unashamed admiration. Linge was innate in 1928. He dedicated his whole operative life to Porsche. After starting out as an neophyte in 1943, he became a competition mechanic, a racing driver, determined a patron use organization in a US, and was eventually a running light in development.

Herbert Linge as Steve McQueen’s double

He was also Steve McQueen’s double in a pushing scenes in a film Le Mans, found a land for a Weissach contrast grounds, and perceived a German Federal Cross of Merit as a owner of a ONS Staffel (Oberste Nationale Sportbehörde crew) – an organization dedicated to reserve in engine racing and a partial of Germany’s motorsport ruling physique ONS, as it was famous during a time.

Linge knew all too good a significance of such efforts for incomparable reserve in racing. “We gathering Liège–Rome–Liège full bore, day and night, zero was sealed off – totally mad, and totally unthinkable today,” he says of a mythological rally. In 1954, he won it with Helmut Polensky. Later he contested this and many other highway races together with his crony Paul Ernst Strähle. “You could usually finish Liège–Rome–Liège as a good team,” says Linge. “We alternated about any 3 hours. You had to be means to nap in a newcomer seat. Strähle could do it. At control points we would infrequently put on his shawl and pointer for him – he never knew a thing. I, on a other hand, hardly got a blink of sleep.

In 1959, Paul Ernst Strähle and Robert Buchet won a Liège-Rome-Liège convene in a Porsche 356 A 1600 GS Carrera GT—without indeed being authorised to enter a Italian capital. Sixty-two years later, Marc Lieb brings a V2 to a Eternal City.

After breakfast during sunrise, a tour starts during Piazzale Guiseppe Garibaldi.

Loyal companion: a decals on a side window bear declare to a racing story of a 356.

Lieb’s happy place: altogether Le Mans leader and former WEC champion Marc Lieb sets a march for a Colosseum.

The 1.6-litre Carrera engine produces adult to 125 PS. The famous racing automobile has some-more than half a million kilometres on a odometer.

Travelling by time opposite a Tiber: a Porsche 356 A 1600 GS Carrera GT explores a ancient city.

Marc Lieb reverentially guides a 356 towards St. Peter’s Basilica. The slight travel becomes a ideal resonator for a engine sound.

Pit stop: in races of a past, gas canisters had to be deposited during a side of a road; today, Marc Lieb can conduct for a stuffing station. For a racing driver, checking a oil turn is a matter of course.

A ancestral automobile on an even some-more ancestral roadway: in ancient times a Via Appia was famous as a Queen of a Roads. The 356 departs Rome along a former trade route, that is some-more than 2,000 years old.

Rest eluded Linge not usually since of a breakneck speed over slight streets and sand towering passes. He was also tapped into a technical state of a 356 with any one of his senses. He knew any final screw. Linge had been a test-driver for all of a early 356 cars. “They knew that we had some prior believe from motorcycle races as well, that is because they entrusted me with it. In a early days, we built 3 or 4 cars a day. After a test-drive, we had to news to Ferry Porsche that dusk that of them were fine and that ones had to go behind into a shop.” The bureau racing and convene drivers held breeze of Linge’s skills as a mechanic, and by 1954 he was a sought-after second male in long-distance races. “They pronounced to Mr. Porsche: ‘When Linge’s on board, he takes caring of everything.’”

Retrospection: Lieb behind a circle of one of a biggest icons of Porsche’s motorsport story – a story he is a partial of himself.

The fact that a Weissach local was himself a tip motorist would shortly be common believe as well. Plus, he was famous for a pushing character that was easy on a material. Even from a newcomer seat, he called for peaceful rigging changes. “The synchroniser rings were tricky!” As a matter of course, Linge altered a stop pads 4 to 5 times over some-more than 5,000 km. “Before a towering trials we would change a front ones during least. The automobile would lift when they were half-worn. We didn’t have front brakes behind then, nonetheless drums.” The princely 125 PS, 1.6-litre engine with 4 overhead, straight shaft-driven camshafts burnt nonetheless hint plugs during a fast clip. “Before any relationship stage, if we had a few minutes’ conduct start, we substituted out a plug. It wasn’t probable to do some-more during one time or we would have mislaid a lead.”

Racing legend: The Porsche 356 V2 has finally reached a destination. The 1959 convene leader on a route of a conventional expostulate in Rome.

It’s exegetic to cruise a conditions in place behind then: some highway races were championship races, and a squads gathering a 356 from Stuttgart to far-flung regions of Europe themselves wholly underneath their possess steam. And afterwards they gathering behind home. Those miles combined adult too. And a network of stuffing stations was by no means ubiquitous. Linge suspicion ahead: “On a special stages we always wanted to have as small fuel weight as probable in a car. Mechanics gathering forward in a VW train and deposited 20-litre gas canisters on a side of a highway during concluded locations. Just like that – no one stole them. We all upheld any other. When others were carrying trouble, we helped them out.” That he himself indispensable assistance during some indicate was a substructure of his loyalty with Paul Ernst Strähle.

Linge’s loyalty with Paul Ernst Straehle

Linge always had a subsidy of his bosses. So it came to pass that he was means to steal a association VW train over a weekend in 1952. When a train pennyless down, he was forked to a emporium of a Strähle family in Schorndorf, and it was a propitious stroke: a youth trainer Paul Ernst helped him get a automobile behind on a road. A few weeks after came a subsequent possibility encounter. On this occasion, regulating his VW Beetle, Strähle pulled Linge’s and his friends’ motorcycles out of a sand array in that a patrol had gotten stranded during a rally. It goes nonetheless observant that Linge told Strähle to get in hold if he could ever be of use in Porsche matters.

Timeless: a racing automobile with a Carrera engine represents a early years of patron racing during Porsche. Today, Lieb takes on some of that role, embodying a Porsche truth of those who have left before him.

In 1956, Paul Ernst Strähle, by afterwards a seasoned motorist behind a wheel, procured a used 356 – nonetheless was still not competitive. With his 1.3-litre engine, he didn’t mount a possibility opposite a 356 cars that were already sporting a Carrera engine out of a Porsche 550 Spyder. The new benchmark was set by a Porsche 356 A 1500 GS Carrera with 100 PS, a sum weight of 850 kilograms, a tip speed of 200 km/h, and a 0 to 100 km/h time of around 12 seconds. Strähle also knew that Porsche had a GS Carrera GT in a works. The GS stood for Gran Sport, GT for Gran Turismo. The designed GT chronicle enclosed countless lightweight parts, a racing empty and, on request, a incomparable tank for long-distance races.

Pre-series various of a GS Carrera GT

Strähle was not in a position to means any of a letters. But he knew Linge and found out that a rescue automobile with a preferred engine was for sale. The cessation and delivery were also still in operative order, nonetheless a framework had suffered lost glow damage. The automobile was indeed slated to be nude for parts. But afterwards Strähle asked Porsche for a deputy chassis, that was afterwards systematic from Reutter with Ferry Porsche’s blessing. Thanks to a recognition from a top, Strähle perceived a pre-series various of a GS Carrera GT in his preferred colour of Adriatic Blue. “The rehearsal duration of a 356,” as Paul Ernst Strähle, who died during a age of 83 in 2010, once called it.

Permanence: work on Rome’s Via Appia Antica – a initial and many famous of Rome’s roads – began in 312 BC. A good accelerator of trade, it brought with it success. Something a 356 is informed with.

What was eventually innate was a competition automobile that contained usually a good stuff, and even that was relentlessly softened over a years by a dual friends. After finishing work, Herbert Linge would conduct over to a Strähle seminar to tinker away. In 1957, a new 1.6-litre Carrera engine was commissioned in a automobile with his assistance. Linge still exudes childlike joviality when he says: “We always had a best material! Sometimes we were means to implement tools that a bureau hadn’t even finished testing. Shock absorbers and things like that.” As a test-driver, he was good wakeful of a advantages of certain components. In 1957, a dual scored a feat for a 356 with a category win and a 14th-place altogether finish in a Mille Miglia. Many some-more would follow before Strähle stopped racing in 1964.

“Customer racing was always a priority”

Although Linge was not as good proficient with any Porsche competition automobile as with a 356 during that time, one thing is a indicate of emphasis: “Customer racing was always a priority. Every racing automobile form had to be accessible for sale. We immediately built 20 or 30 units – even a Porsche 917 was a patron car. That was really critical to Ferry Porsche. Advertising was forbidden. He always told us: ‘Our job label is racing’.” And racing is any bit as critical for a code today.

Rooflines: a 356 quickly passes underneath a architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Even in retirement, Linge followed Lieb’s career, from a standout motorist in a Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland – that Linge had once headed – and afterwards from patron racing to a bureau group and, later, as he scored wins and titles all around a world. Lieb says, “I’ve schooled things from Herbert any time we’ve met – his believe is an unconstrained value trove.”

The competent automobile record operative looks in a rear-view counterpart and indicates for a Colosseum. The vast steering circle in a 356 is surrounded by special instruments commissioned by Linge and Strähle. The imprinting during 3,500 rpm is still on a tachometer. The Carrera engine doesn’t like anything less, as Lieb has already discovered. “Porsche now builds between 250 and 300 patron racing vehicles a year, nonetheless a truth is a same as it was then,” he says. “It’s not only about offered cars; it’s about vital plan planning. Those who take an seductiveness in a indication – from a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport to a Porsche 911 RSR, as is used by a bureau group – have some-more than only technical questions. They wish recommendations for where to use it, they wish to know that bureau motorist is available, and they wish to know what technical support exists.”

Development, motorsport and sales

The German acronym for a department, EMV, stands for development, motorsport and sales – and it is obliged for a intersection of precisely these 3 areas. Its strech extends into a marketplace organisations and informal managers worldwide. It was with EMV that Lieb started his second Porsche career in 2017. “Just as it was for Herbert, it’s about a common idea with a customers, and that is to win races.” The private racing drivers of currently are, like Strähle was in his day, profitable ambassadors for a code and have a approach line of communication with a company. Key comment managers now say a contact, only as Linge did some-more than 60 years ago. And like satellites launched into a racing cosmos, Porsche engineers broadcast a unfiltered patron feedback directly to Weissach. Now, as then, both sides advantage from a arrangement.

Lieb points a 356 quickly in a instruction of a southern hinterland of a city. He swims by trade in a precious gem, changeable kindly nonetheless rapidly; and always double-clutching on a downshift. Unlike in 1959, there are few tourists in a city. Passers-by wave; dual military officers give a thumbs-up as a bella macchina hums past with a matchless sound. The buildings of a Via Appia Antica duty as a sound box. Lieb inhales deeply, as if he wanted to breathe in a some-more than 2,000-year story of a road. “Everything we are is an expansion of a past.” The 356 has arrived in Rome, and he has arrived in it. “500,000 km underneath a hood, a aged seats, a cockpit – all is opposite and nonetheless so familiar. You expostulate off and feel immediately: this is a Porsche!”


Text initial published in a Porsche repository Christophorus, No. 399.

Author: Heike Hientzsch

Photographer: Markus Bolsinger