Robert Redford’s Porsche 904 GTS

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh
“The Natural”—sparse cockpit that defines the 904 as a pure-bred racing car

Porsche ownerships among Hollywood legends from the past are not totally reserved with those who many of us are already aware of. How many times have we come across with so many iconic photographs of James Dean driving his 356 Super Speedster or being seen with his ill-fated “Little Bastard” or Steve McQueen in various poses with his own 356 Speedster, THAT Slate Grey 911S from “Le Mans”  or the 908/2 K Flunder Spyder that he co-drove with Peter Revson to second-place at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring?

“Sneakers”—At only 42 inches high with a mid-engine layout—plus Porsche reliability—a 904 won outright at the ’64 Targa Florio, it also took class wins at Le Mans, Spa and Sebring among several others

Apart from some grainy stills of him with a Porsche 911 T Sportomatic in “Downhill Racer” or in the brief driving shots with a 912 in “Spy Game”, it is quite understandable that not many would immediately associate that Robert Redford, who aside from Dean and McQueen, had a penchant for Porsches as well. It is just that any photos of Redford posing next to or driving his very own cars are virtually non-existent to the public.

“The Candidate”—Redford could have sat here and raced it if he wanted to. Oh well…

Famous for his unforgettable roles in “Barefoot in the Park”, “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid”, “All The President’s Men” and so many others, the now 82 years young Hollywood star and highly-acclaimed producer and director drove Porsches quite regularly since the beginning of his career way back in the Sixties. Among several 911s and 912s that he has driven over the years, Redford also had a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder RS—as well as a beat-up Porsche sans engine sent to him as a “joke” present from Paul Newman (which Redford in turn had it crushed and sent it back to Newman in a friendly retaliation)!

“Indecent Proposal”—904 012 was painted in blue when raced under the Otto Zipper Team banner during the ’65 season before repainted to green

On the 17th of January in 2019 during the Scottsdale Car Week at the Westin-Kierland Resort & Spa in Arizona, Bonhams will introduce this 1964 Porsche 904 GTS, chassis number 904 012, as one of the main feature cars to be for sale at their auction—which for a time was a part of Redford’s collection during its early days.

“Downhill Racer”—904 body made from lighter glassfibre—a first for Porsche

Purposely-built to be a racing car, the 904 coupé was the first Porsche with a revolutionary (for 1964) fiberglass body and had a two-litre Flat-4 engine matted to a five-speed gearbox that delivers 180 brake horsepower. To comply to the sportscar racing regulations for the under two-litre class at the time, Porsche had to produce at least one hundred examples of the 904 GTS (the final tally was 106 produced). Given that kind of volume, it meant that the GTS was made available to the general public to compete as a private entry or for personal road use as a street-legal one.

“The Sting”—the car currently has updated 911 2.0 Litre engine from first restoration

Chassis 904 012 was one of the early cars made by Porsche for its customers and was delivered new in California and eventually raced as an entry under Otto Zipper—the very Porsche dealer based in Beverly Hills who sold the car to the first owner. Robert Redford subsequently became its third owner right after the car had retired from full-time competition a couple of years later.

“The Great Gatsby”—the Redford association could help with the record setting for a 904 in Scottsdale

Redford parted ways with the car some time during the Seventies before it moved on to the next owner who had the car restored that included removing the original engine and replacing it with an updated one and repainted it in period-correct green as found today.

Given its brief Californian racing pedigree and the special celebrity provenance that Robert Redford was one of its several owners, it will be very interesting indeed to see how this vintage 1964 Porsche 904 GTS will perform under the auction environment.

All Photos & Video Provided By Bonhams/P.Litwinski