As discussed in Chronicles Post 54, Porsche brought the 1976 Le Mans winning 936 and its driver Jacky Ickx to the Porsche Parade at Brainerd. It had raced the weekend before in a combination of Can-Am and World Sportscar Championship race at Mosport. Ickx finished 3rd overall and won the sportscar class. Vasek Polak trucked the 936 on an open flatbed from Mosport to Brainerd. This was all organized by Manfred Jantke, Director of Sport and Public Relations at Porsche AG. 

Dave Morse was Nord Stern’s President in 1974. He was the Parade Chairman in 1976 and the driving force in making the Parade happen. In those days, Regions organized the Parades with limited help from PCA. I was aware that after he moved to Silicon Valley he had put together a collection of significant Porsches, one of which was a 936.  

Initially, I was simply curious if the 936 Morse would later own was the car that was at the 1976 Parade. That evolved into being curious about the Morse Collection as well as the history of the 936. The more I learned of the Morse Collection, the more amazed I was at the collection this former Nord Sterner had put together and found quite an incredible story.

Lorraine and David Morse showing their car at the 1973 Porsche Parade in Monterey CA. Larry Skoglund photo.

Dave and Lorraine Morse came to Minnesota from the Boston area initially to work for Tonka Toys in Mound in approximately 1970. Fred Baker, the son of Tonka founders, was racing Porsches around that time, including a 906 and a 911L but that is a story for another day. The Morse’s became active Nord Stern and PCA members and subsequently, Dave became Region President and Parade Chairman. They moved to Silicon Valley in 1982 and over the ensuing years started several tech companies. Most notable starting the company, Hi-Toro, which became Amiga and developed the Amiga 1000 computer as well as a variety of video game software and hardware.

At the ’76 Parade Dave and Lorraine rode in Gerry Sutterfield’s Gulf 917. Yes, those cars had tiny passenger seats. They became enamored with Porsche race cars and his success in the business world allowed him to build an impressive collection. The collection included not one, but two, 936s, a Lancia Stratos World Rally car, a famous tangerine streetable 934, a 935, an early-70s 911 ST, a 908 short-tail coupe, a 924 GTR, a 917/30, and more. Quite a collection. Unfortunately, after a couple of business setbacks, he liquidated the collection, and the cars were dispersed. He passed away in 2007 at the young age of 64.

Leonard Turner photo. Next to the old BIR tower near start/finish.

The Porsche 936 which came to the parade was the second of two built late in 1975 for the 1976 season. It featured the 2.1 liter single turbo air-cooled engine developed for the 935 and the 4-speed gearbox from the 917. The engines and transmissions evolved over the years as the cars were raced.

The Parade car was sn 936-002. This car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1976 in the hands of Jacky Ickx and Gijs van Lennep. It also won the World Sportscar Championship that year with Ickx at the wheel. Its sister car, 936-001, won Le Mans in 1977 also with Ickx at the wheel. This time with Jurgen Barth and Hurley Haywood. The factory built another car for 1978, 936-003. That is the extent of the factory-built cars. For the 1980 season, Reinhold Joest assembled another car from parts with considerable factory support which is sn 936-004. It ran at Le Mans in 1980 as a 908/80 as Porsche didn’t want to be seen as selling the 936. In 1981 Kremer built a 5th car from blueprints and that is considered 936-005 by some. In 1981 936-003 had the engine developed for Porsche’s Indianapolis 500 project installed and again won Le Mans with Ickx at the wheel. So all three factory-built 936s won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and all three had Jacky Ickx at the wheel!

Did the Morse Collection own the Parade car, 936-002? To find out Bruce Boeder and I reached out to the experts, past PCA President Prescott Kelly and Dale Miller. Both have been trading in rare Porsches for decades. Turns out they not only knew the history but had personally been involved in some of the transactions involving these cars.
They responded:
The 936 story is: In 1991, Dale Miller acting for Tommy Trabue did a trade with the Factory to get 936.001 – five-time Le Mans entry, 2nd place in 1976 and winner in 1977 – from the Museum in return for Tommy’s 550.04 – the Hans Hermann Carrera Panamericana racecar – and a 1958 Speedster that Prescott purchased. Ferry Porsche wanted 550.04 because Huschke von Hanstein’s 80th birthday was coming up and that car and its history were close to von Hanstein. Manfred Jantke made the deal.

We thought one of my Japanese customers would buy the 936. Did not work out. Then Dale sold it to a Bugatti collector family Rick and Lee Adams in San Diego. (Grandpa invented the paint roller!) When that family decided to sell, it went through Dale to Dave Morse and ended up with Bruce Canepa when Dave liquidated. Dale got Julio Palmaz to buy it. Ultimately, the car went to Carlos Monteverdi (London) who still has it.

Throughout this discussion, I kept confusing 936-001 and 936-004. The reason for the confusion turned out to be simple. Dave Morse owned them both!  In 1985 Morse had also bought 936-004 from Joest who had turned to running the new 956. 

Click on cover photo to see article.

The Morse 936-004 was extensively covered in the December 1987 issue of Panorama. The article covers the history of 936-004 as well as the restoration done by the Morse family.  You can read that article here. The car was restored to its 1980 Le Mans Martini livery where it came in 2nd in the hands of Jacky Ickx, this time with Reinhold Joest. 

The newly restored 936-004 captured by Leonard Turner in the summer of 1987.

More from Dale:

Eventually, I sold 004 to Jean Marc Luco in Switzerland who won the Group 6 race at Le Mans Classic 3 times with it. I sold the car from Luco to Charles Nearburg about 7-8 years ago…with a 2.65 engine as used in the car at Le Mans 1980 (which is the same engine in the first 956s).

Thus, Porsche has always had the Parade car and still does.  Porsche has 936-002 and 936-003. Private owners have 936-001 and 936-004 as well as the Kremer-built 936-005.  

But there is more to the 936 Nord Stern connection. Currently, 936-004 is owned by Texan Charles Nearburg. This is the 936 that was on display at Rennsport 7. JDC-Miller MotorSports Chief Engineer Rick Cameron “looks after” several of Nearburg’s cars and was doing so at Rennsport as seen in the photo below. 936-004 is now in its 1980 Le Mans winning livery.

Charles Nearburg’s paddock at Rennsport Reunion 7. 936-004 in the foreground. Rick Cameron and John Church in the background. 

So there you have the remarkable connection between Nord Stern and three of the four (or five) Porsche 936’s.  

This could be my favorite photo of all time. They flat-towed the Le Mans winner the 10 miles from Madden’s Resort to BIR. Panorama photographer Leonard Turner shot this photo riding in the open back of the LTD station wagon used as a tow vehicle. I asked Leonard if the State Trooper they met on Gull Lake Road pulled them over. He responded, “No, he just kept going.” Guess extremely rare race cars being towed down a state highway in rural Minnesota is just an ordinary thing. I’d say time has treated the look of the 936 rather well and the state troper’s Plymouth not so much. These early 936s were just under 1600 lbs and the Plymouth north of 4500.

Huge thank you to Dale Miller, Prescott Kelly, Betty Jo Turner, for most of the details here. Especially, thank you to Leonard Turner for his amazing photos.