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Klaus of

I have never liked static displays, says Porsche Museum Curator Klaus Bischof just after punting the worlds only 911 GT1 around Queensland Raceway
Interview Ben Dillon


Australian Classic Car

Klaus BiscHof likes

to get his hands dirty. Thats why, right now, the curator of the Porsche Museum is wearing a race suit and wiping sweat from his brow having just put the championship-winning 1976 935 through its paces at Queensland Raceway. Parked alongside the 935 is the only Porsche 911 GT1 le Mansbased road car and a 356Bbased carrera GT. While the cars are attracting a crowd, only the short, stocky German can make them come alive as he recounts the stories of each. Bischofs knowledge of all things Porsche is borne of working for the company his whole life; first as a race mechanic, then as a race engineer, and now as curator of Porsches Rolling Museum.

How important is it for you to have the cars as rolling monuments, rather than static ones gathering dust? My philosophy was always that the museum should be like a garage. There are 80 cars in the museum and only two of them are not running at the moment. I have never liked static displays and [the cars] must be active. It is what the cars are made for, running and driving. Often when we release a new car to the press, we will have one of the cars from the museum leading the press cars, either a 935 or GT1 or a 917/10 or a 917/30. Sometimes I drive them, or if the event is somewhere where Im not, we will have, for example, Walter Rhrl, or in Australia, Jim Richards driving, or Vern Schuppan. For instance, I was just at the Mille Miglia in Italy three weeks ago with Jacky Ickx; its always important to put the original boys in their cars. I like to put the young boys in the cars too, like [2010 Le Mans winners] Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and [multiple Nrburgring 24-hour winner] Marc Lieb so they can realise what has happened in the past. They often say they havent raced in such a powerful car and they are impressed. Its also a part of the tradition to give the younger generation the Porsche feeling. What about the logistics of the museum? How difficult is it to ship these cars around the world? We have to forward plan a lot of the time. I have just come from the Mille Miglia and am going to Goodwood after this. I was in Beijing four weeks ago. We took 10 cars there to teach the Chinese people a little bit of tradition and to show the Chinese why Porsche is so special, but we had to send those cars air-freight because it was a bit of a late idea; they came back by boat. The logistics is done by me, but I did this during the racing days as well. The most important thing is that you must always have a car in running condition. The rolling museum is just a one-man show. But it does include the race department in Wessaich and the new workshop in Zuffenhausen. The workshop is very important because it teaches the next generation, when I retire, where to stick the key in [laughs]. But still there are some old guys in Porsche, mechanics etcetera from the old days, and to still work with them is great.

We recently took 10 cars to China to show the Chinese people some of the brands heritage

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Will other cars from the museum come to australia in the near future? Yes, we will again have a collection of museum cars coming to Australia. This is a tradition that goes back to 1996. Its hard to find cars that people in Australia havent seen, but we have a few under construction so we will find some special things. Maybe those with an Australian link, like Stefan Bellofs 1984 Group C 956, or Vern Schuppans Le Mans winning car. Also, bringing legends to Australia. Im wanting to bring Jacky Ickx or Stirling Moss I am friends with both. However, Stirling had a problem here, he had a traffic accident in Tasmania and the police are still looking for him [laughs]. He said that since he is Sir Stirling maybe its different now. Which season was the most memorable for you while working for the Porsche factory racing team? The most memorable for me was 1984. I was involved from the very start in the Group C cars, the 956 and later the 962, and was there from the start in 1983 with Stefan Bellof, Derek Bell, Jochen Maas and Jacky Ickx. In 1984, Stefan won the World Endurance Drivers Championship, the last race was at Sandown and that was a great time between 84 and 86. We won the F1 championship, the World Championship of Makes and Endurance and twice the Paris-Dakar, all in our little team.

it must have been a sad time also, among all that success and working so closely with stefan Bellof, to see him killed at spa-francorchamps in 1985? We wanted to stop racing at that time. First it was Manfred Winklehock, then Bellof, then Jo Gartner at Le Mans, and nothing happened before and nothing happened afterward. It was not even a technical problem. Winklehock was a puncture, Bellof was... a special thing [accident], with Jacky Ickx, its racing but that was a hard time in 85. Also with Rolf Stommelen [being killed] in 1983, he was a good friend. Thats racing... but in our time it was sometimes not easy. Do you get excited about being in the 935? It takes a little bit of time to learn how to handle it. I havent driven it a lot lately. Its not a problem, but you must be a little bit careful. Three weeks ago we drove the 356 at Targa Tasmania, which is a different world.

I had to stay in the back of the car, behind Rolf stommelen, for 10 laps... I was sick from the corners

finally, the 935 is obviously a special car for you. Tell us about some of your memories with it. At Daytona with Rolf Stommelen, the car was in the middle of the grass because during the night it stopped. So I crept out to the back of the track and cut through the fence, turned off my lamp so nobody could see me and went to Rolfs [stranded] car. The belt of the injection pump was a problem, so I got into the back of the car and got a spare belt from [inside] the car and opened the housing [from inside the car] and put the new belt on. Rolf sat in the car to see if it worked and it worked! I wanted to jump out, but Rolf said, Keep sitting, and I stayed in [behind the drivers seat] for about 10 laps! I said, If we come to the pits well be disqualified, and maybe I will go to jail! But our mechanics realised what was happening, and when we came to the pits there was only one marshal, so another mechanic ran into him and knocked him down so I could escape from the car! I had to lie down afterwards because I was sick from the banking [corners] at Daytona. Also, at the Norisring circuit we had a problem with the fuel pressure of the Baby [1.4-litre turbo 935] so I watched the gauges from behind the driver to see the problem and we fixed it. There was low fuel pressure. Not long after fixing the problem I got out of the car and returned to the pits... then, just a few laps later Ickx crashed the car [laughs].


Australian Classic Car