After achieving just one constructor’s win at the 1962 French Grand Prix with Dan Gurney behind the wheel of an 804, Porsche bowed out of Formula One competition at the end of the ’62 season. And while money was admittedly tight at the time, it nonetheless enabled the Stuttgart firm to focus its efforts in motorsport exclusively on non-single-seater sportscar racing. In order to do so, however, the marque would need a new race weapon, prompting Ferdinand Alexander Porsche to design the 904.
Powered by a mid-mounted 2.0-liter four-cam, four-cylinder engine — the same Type 587 four-banger found in the 356 Carrera 2 — the 904 GTS came cloaked in an ultra-aerodynamic and lightweight fiberglass body that was directly bonded to the GT car’s steel, cross-braced box section frame. Successor to the 718, the 904 was engineered from the ground up to win races, though due to FIA homologation requirements, Porsche was tasked with producing at least 100 road-going specimens of the 904. One of only 108 specimens ever built — a trio of which were prototypes — the second 904 to be delivered to a customer from outside of the manufacturer’s factory works program would leave the firm’s Zuffenhausen Porsche works in January of 1964. This very GTS-spec 904 (Chassis No. 904 012, Engine No. 14264) was originally purchased new by California-based Porsche enthusiast and racing driver, Steve Earle — not to be confused with the rock and bluegrass musician of the same name — before trading hands on numerous occasions and then eventually winding up in the stable of legendary actor, director, and activist Robert Redford. The Southern California-born Hollywood icon would keep the 904 GTS in his collection for just over half a decade before finally parting ways with the Porsche. Now, this very same example is seeking a new home, and as such is headed to auction next month at a prestigious annual car sale.
Expected to fetch between $1,500,000 and $1,700,000, this 1964 Porsche 904 GTS previously owned by Robert Redford is slated to go under the hammer at elite auction house Bonhams’ forthcoming Les Grandes Marques du Monde a Paris in the French capital on February 3.