It’s not every day that you get to drive an actual IMSA GTP race car on public roads to a racetrack, turn some laps, and then drive it back home. But today was that day for me. While “race car for the street” is often thrown around, this 1 of 3 (Chassis 001 to be exact) Koenig C62 makes most other uses of the cliché instantly irrelevant. Why? Because this chassis was at one time an iconic 1980s Porsche 962 race car designed to race in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) and FIA Group C championships, then was converted by legendary German exotic car tuner Koenig Specials into a street legal supercar.
The Porsche 962 was one of the most successful racecars ever made. It was introduced in 1984 as an adaptation of the preceding Porsche 956, which was banned in IMSA due to safety concerns resulting from having the driver’s feet in front of the front wheel centerline. Between those two cars, the 956/962 had an unparalleled 12-year career, winning the first and last 24 Hours of LeMans they were entered in, along with countless races and championships in North America and Europe. Porsche produced 91 original 956s; additionally, some older 956s were rebuilt as 962s, making the 962 one of the highest production number racing cars of all time.
Privateers and factory race teams alike would highly modify the cars and create their own variants by reworking body panels, modifying the engine, reinforcing the chassis, and some even replacing the aluminum monocoque chassis for a carbon fiber tub to make the car more competitive and better suit the rules of each category over the years.
At the height of Group C’s popularity in Europe, the FIA changed the rules in 1989 to handicap privateers who were using cars like the 962, and made it unaffordable for them to compete with large manufacturers who were using Formula 1 sourced 3.5L engines. This decision led to the downfall of Group C, as privateers made up the majority of the competitors. Ironically enough, a Dauer Racing 962 won at LeMans in 1994, in the last race in which a Group C car was permitted. By the end of 1994, Group C cars were no longer eligible in professional racing, rendering the 962s obsolete. In 1995, the 911 GT1 and later the Porsche WSC-95 took over from where the 962 left off in pro racing.
Publishing magnate Willy Koenig was best known for his tuning company’s over-the-top road car builds that ruffled the feathers of Enzo Ferrari. As if making a convertible Testarossa, a 1,000hp Testarossa, or an 850hp twin turbo F50 weren’t enough, outright stating that his company aims to make Ferrari a “proper sportscar again” probably did the trick in upsetting “The Old Man” himself. Some give Willy credit for inventing the side strakes made popular by Pininfarina on the Testarossa, which Willy installed on his modified Ferrari 365 GT4 BB 10 years before the Testarossa was created. Ironically, he removed the strakes from the design of his tuned Testarossas, which further upset Enzo to the point of sending numerous cease and desist orders to remove the prancing horse badges from all Koenig vehicles.
Willy competed in motorsports as a driver and team owner, and viewed racing as the key to his company’s tuning philosophy. Due to the abundance of outdated 962 race cars, Willy bought two Porsche 962s in 1990 and campaigned chassis number 962-003BM without much success in 5 German “Interserie” races that year. He also purchased the previously wrecked 962.006BM Jagermeister car that he later sold unrepaired in 1998.
THE CREATION OF THE C62
In 1991, Willy Koenig took his biggest step as a car producer by modifying a Porsche 962 race car into a road-going car named the Koenig Specials C62. The C62 was the first street-legal Group C/IMSA type car and the first racing sports car ever approved for the street by the very stringent German TUV, a herculean task and automotive highlight of the 1990s. Other shops followed suit, from German Tuner DP Motorsports to 962 factory race driver Vern Schuppan. Race team Dauer Racing would go on to create their own road-going 962 variants, which was done to enable Dauer to avoid competing under the older, no longer competitive Group C rules and classify their 962 in the new GT1 class (which didn’t allow ground effects) at LeMans. They won the race, marking the last LeMans victory for a 962.
The C62’s custom bodywork was made by Wethje Composites GmbH, the same group that now makes the KTM X-Bow and the Porsche 918 carbon fiber chassis. While dimensionally similar to the 962 donor car, there were a lot of tweaks necessary in order to meet German TUV regulations. Turn signals and reflectors were added. The headlights, front fenders, and taillights had to be raised. And the ride height and bodywork were modified to increase ground clearance. Surprisingly, the front overhang was lengthened slightly, making it even more difficult to avoid scraping the front end. A wide grille and vented hood were added for the large oil cooler that was relocated to the nose of the car.
Slightly larger 2-piece doors flipped forward and featured gullwing side windows that opened up, with pneumatic locking mechanisms.
There are no front diffusers or ground effects; however, an early 962 rear diffuser was fitted. According to Koenig, (due to the raised ride height) “The aerodynamic qualities change basically, so our designers had to construct a new body and new underfloor”.
Most of the chassis and underpinnings appear to be period correct, and identical to the 962 race car. This includes the integrated roll cage, bladed sway bars, 13” Brembo Motorsport endurance calipers, and gold suspension arms. Carbon fiber reinforcements were added to increase torsional stiffness of the chassis, and are visible in the footwell. The springs and shocks were changed out to a softer and more streetable setup. “We tune the car to the customer’s wishes, between racing and comfort” said Koenig.
The interior of the C62 was designed by TechArt and featured a Porsche-esque gauge layout with a large, centrally mounted 9,000rpm tachometer, flanked by a 400kph speedometer and oil temperature and pressure gauges. To the far left are fuel and air temp gauges, as well as a 1.5 Bar boost gauge. A handbrake was added by law while air conditioning and a Sony Stereo system were added for comfort.
Blue leather is abundant throughout the interior, and wraps around a thin layer of padding on the carbon seats that feature a 4-point harness. Headroom is quite tight for anyone taller than 5’10”.
There are various stated origins of the powerplant, and it is still unclear whether the C62’s powerplant is actually a 3.2-3.6L bored out Porsche 930 road car engine or if it’s a 934-derived race engine that competed in either 2.65L, 2.8L, 3.0L, or 3.2L configurations making anywhere from 620-900hp in either a single turbo (for IMSA) or twin turbo (for Group C) arrangement. According to Koenig: “Because of the peaky power curve of the boxer, we had to rework it completely to reach a better throttle response at lower revs and, additionally, we had to reach the legal emissions and noise levels”.
While the engine foundation is still unclear and unconfirmed, Koenig said that custom-ground camshafts were made to maximize drivability in traffic as well as the highway, and the engine was bored out to 3,368ccs of displacement and controlled by a special Bosch Motronic ECU to produce a streetable 800bhp at 6,300rpm and 553lb-ft of torque at 4,500rpm and 1.4bar (20psi).
Power figures were also quoted for the car at 588bhp as well as a dyno-verified 550whp. Our research has indicated that the block is likely from a 1989 standard 3.2L Carrera, which conveniently had a Bosch Motronic 2 DME engine control unit and L-Jetronic fuel system.
A high-performance pneumatic-assist clutch mates the engine to the same dog-ring engagement 5-speed race transaxle found in the 962 race car. This H-pattern transmission has a dog-leg 1st gear which is very functional and important for a race car while being subjectively very cool.
With power figures ranging from 550-800hp, the 2,400lb C62 has been quoted as launching from 0-60 in 3.3 seconds and topping out at an impressive 235mph. Only three C62s were ever built: a yellow prototype, this red Chassis 001, and a black Chassis 002. The price back in 1991 was $1,000,000, which was more expensive than a Bugatti EB110 or Jaguar XJ220. That is equivalent to $1.98M today.
MODIFICATIONS TO CHASSIS 001 (RED C62)
From our research, sometime after 2012, during its ownership in Japan, the original special edition BBS 17×9 and 17×13 BBS wheels and 255/40-17 & 335/35-17 Bridgestone RE71 Denloc tires were swapped out for 18” wheels that are now wrapped in 235/640-18 and 310/705-18 Dunlop Racing rain tires. The original suspension was changed out to Quantum Racing Suspension coilovers, which started business in 1988.
The interior was heavily modified. The blue leather was removed from the top of the dash, A-pillars, and roof, as was the carpet, to expose more carbon fiber. The blue gauge faces were replaced with white faces, the warning lights on the right side were replaced with a backup camera (a nice feature to have).
The Sony stereo system was removed altogether and the pneumatic door latch switches and light switches were relocated to the left side of the dashboard. The original turn signals’ stalk mounted arm no longer functions, functionally replaced by buttons added to the steering wheel to operate the turn signals. A carbon fiber Momo steering wheel plate with a small red horn button replaced the “KS” horn button.
The most significant modifications were the doors. The original 2-piece door was replaced with a 1-piece design that now poses significant fitment issues less than a decade later. The pneumatic door latches no longer line up easily without someone outside the car to assist, and even so, they tend to pop out of place. The top of the door can be secured by a very small and even more difficult-to-align pin system that absolutely needs a person outside to help lock into place. Without help to properly secure the latches and pins, the top of the doors will bow outward half an inch at speed. The problem is that the upper (and main) latches can get stuck due to this misalignment and potentially trap the occupant(s) in the car.
Additionally, the side windows were shortened, and the very functional and ideally located high-mounted side mirrors were replaced with stylized lower-mounted side mirrors, which greatly increases blind spots in the car, and makes navigating traffic far more stressful, even with the backup camera.
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Author’s Biography: Billy Johnson
Billy Johnson is a (freelance) American professional race car driver who has competed in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and 24 Hours of LeMans from 2016-2019 for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, driving the #66 Ford GT at LeMans, and winning the 6-Hours of Spa Francorchamps. He is the 2016 IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS Champion for Ford/Multimatic Motorsports driving the #15 Shelby GT350R-C Mustang with Scott Maxwell. Billy also works as a development driver for programs including the Ford GT race car and road car, Ford GT MKII, Shelby GT500, GT350, and Mustang GT4 race car.
Billy’s passion for cars began early in life where he read all of his dad’s car magazines cover to cover and grew an appreciation for European, Japanese, and American cars. Over his career, Billy has raced everything from prototypes, sports cars, NASCAR, formula cars, karts, and vintage cars for marques varying from Ford, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW, Acura, Mazda, and Nissan.