Vern Schuppan, a reputable Australian racer in his own right, saw the potential of his Le Mans-winning car as a road-going sports car. The 956, which later became the 962, was known for its long-distance ability; a syncromesh gearbox and relatively supple ride quality for a car with ground effects made it effective and usable over long distances. Dominic Dobson, an IndyCar, Le Mans, and IMSA GTP veteran, noted how the 962 “rode like a road car.”
However, a 700-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, full-on racing thoroughbred never really becomes a road car — and those that claim to be, don’t become one without making a slew of compromises to make it appealing to a wider audience. There are some exceptions, however, and this car is one of them — one which never lost much of its rugged charm when it was made into a road car. Turn signals and a set of storage compartments make up most of its road-car concessions — and the latter are more cosmetic than usable.
That’s all part of the old-school charm. The motor isn’t really even made for the road. The engine was borrowed almost directly from the standard Porsche 962 unit, as used in the North American IMSA GT Championship, with a slight decrease in displacement to 3.2-liters. Until 3,000 rpm, nothing much happens, then the K26 turbochargers wake and fire the car forward to a top speed of 230 mph.
The Schuppan 962 led a troubled life. Besieged by a worldwide recession, Schuppan’s Japanese backers pulled out, forcing Schuppan’s business to fold. Only six were reportedly built, and one was supposedly burned in a fire. This ambitious Northeastern car collector, Matthew Ivanhoe, managed to get his hands on one with only one mile, and was kind enough to let Leno put on a few more.