A pair of Porsches at the Targa Florio

01 March 2023
Never lost for things to talk about, Rick Wilson shares another selection from his collection.

During the early months of 2022, when we began planning our first proper holiday for five years, to Sicily, a little light bulb flickered on in my mind. Anyone with a whiff of Castrol R in their veins will most likely have heard of the famous race that used to take place around a public road course on the island – the Targa Florio.

Long since succumbed to the sensibilities of driver (and spectator) safety, the original circuit, and some of the infrastructure, still remains. Planning to undertake the 45-mile Piccolo circuit in our humble hire car, I soon hatched a plan to bring along a couple of appropriate models for a photoshoot.

A dear friend of mine, Michael Keyser (who actually helped with a huge amount of research for our holiday), raced a Porsche 911 ST in the 1972 Targa with Jürgen Barth, finishing 10th. So, sticking with the Porsche theme, I opted for a pair of Italian-made models of the 1969 and 1970 winners.

Having meticulously researched the incredible, twisting, but amazingly scenic route (with Michael’s help, of course), we started at the old pits/start complex just north of the town of Cerda, on the SS120. The pits complex is still mostly intact, along with some grandstands and the footbridge that marked the start point - the perfect location for our first photoshoot.

The course is still almost entirely drivable, although caution is needed as subsidence is common on this volcanic island and evidence of recent landslips can be around any corner. Our next ‘photo opportunity’ took place at the famous hairpin on the other side of the circuit, in the town of Collesano. We certainly caught the attention of some locals, laying in the road to take pictures, but once they saw the subject matter, they all understood what we were doing.

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Best Porsche 908/2 – 1969 Targa Florio winner

Porsche had introduced its 3-litre 908 in 1968, as the successor to the 2.2-litre 907. For 1969, Porsche transformed the 908 by turning it into a spyder. It proved perfect for the Targa Florio, with 908s taking the first four places overall. The winner was driven by Gerhard Mitter and Udo Schütz.

Best’s model is at the budget end of the market, but it still makes for a very nice miniature replica. The shape is well captured, but the nose panel was actually red, not deep pink (although the strong Sicilian sun did fade the paint during the event, making it look that colour in patches).

Best Porsche 908/3 – 1970 Targa Florio winner

For the 1970 season, the 908 was revised again, making the car even more competitive, especially at the Targa Florio, where Jo Siffert and Brian Redman took the now Gulf-sponsored machine to a memorable victory ahead of another 908/3.

Best’s model of the 1970 winner is, again, a good replica for the price. It is a little lacking in the livery department, though – there should be a green flash on the left rear flank and the green on the nose should carry on into the intakes.

Both models now serve as an extra special memory of an incredible holiday. I’m so glad I took them with us.