Porsche 911 restoration one man’s quest to build his ideal RS 2.7. Thomas Kønig thought the door fit on his 911 RS 2.7 could be improved. Malcolm Thorne explains how the restoration progressed from there. Photography Tony Baker/Thomas Kønig.
PORSCHE PERFECTION EPIC READER RESTO!
Epic RS 2.7 restoration Building the perfect 911
Thomas Kønig’s fastidious, almost obsessive rebuild of his stunning Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 all began with a door gap. “The car was basically in good condition when I bought it,” says Danishborn Kønig, who has lived and worked in London since 2007. “The previous owner had restored it in 2004, so it certainly wasn’t a wreck, but I just wasn’t happy with the fit of the driver’s door. There was a gap of around 1cm at the top of the B-pillar. At first it barely registered, but the more I saw it the less happy I became – it just looked wrong. I decided to get it sorted out, and before I knew it I’d embarked on a quest to create the ultimate RS.”
He has certainly succeeded: no matter where you look or what you touch, this Porsche has all the gloss, integrity and well-oiled solidity of a 911 that’s just rolled off the production line – what you’re looking at is not so much a rebuild as time travel. It’s a tribute to Kønig’s insistence that everything should be completed with exacting attention to detail, as well as to the workmanship of those involved.
Appropriately enough, the story begins in Germany. “I bought the 911 two years ago from a racing driver based in Berlin,” Kønig recalls. “I already owned a 930 turbo but had never driven, nor even been in, a Carrera RS. Every review that I’d read about the model had been hugely positive, and I’d always loved the look of them. Values were increasing significantly at that time and there didn’t seem to be a single Carrera RS on the market, so I decided that as soon as one came up at a fair price I would buy it.”
That car, chassis number 1564 (and thus one of the last of the 1580 produced), popped up on a German website at 2am one morning in 2014. “I spotted it at 6am,” reflects Kønig, “and after giving it 10 minutes’ thought I contacted the seller, telling him that I would buy the Porsche at the advertised price.”
It wasn’t until later that day that Kønig realised how fortunate it was that he’d got up early: “By that afternoon, 45 serious buyers had already called the vendor, including a dealer in France who had given him an offer 15% higher than the price at which he’d listed the car.
Because I was the first person who had contacted him, he told me that he would honour our agreement if I was willing to match the French buyer.” Determined not to miss out, Kønig agreed. The car’s owner, who was by then being inundated with calls, switched off his phone and went to Most to race his RSR: “For the next week we communicated via his wife’s mobile, because potential buyers were still calling his number at all hours of the day and night.”
Once the owner had returned from the Czech Republic, Kønig travelled to Berlin with Steve Vinter of Jaz Porsche in St Albans, who gave the 911 a thorough inspection. “It was obvious that the seller was a true enthusiast,” says Kønig.
“There was a vast Stuttgart flag on his livingroom wall and a shelf full of race trophies, not to mention his two classic Porsches in the garage.” Vinter’s appraisal of the car revealed a lengthy list of niggles and incorrect details – from the wrong badges to a broken sunroof and dented floorpan – but the report was basically positive. A deal was done and the Carrera RS moved into temporary storage before being loaded onto a lorry and transported to the UK – bizarrely arriving without its windscreen. “There was no trace of it,” remembers Kønig, “and no sign of any broken glass.” One theory is that because the car had been loaded onto the truck facing backwards, the pressure of the air entering the cabin through the vent above the rear window had blown the glass out. Its fate remains a mystery.
“I had a new windscreen put in,” he says, “because I was intending to drive the 911 as it was. I took it for an MoT and got it UK registered, but soon felt a little disappointed. The bodywork was solid and looked nice enough, but dynamically everything seemed a bit loose and it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
“After four or five months I had to stop driving it due to a petrol leak, so when Steve told me that he could get it to SportWagen, I decided to have the door gaps adjusted and the other minor jobs on the inspection report looked into.”
That was in February 2015 and Kønig originally envisaged that it would take just a few months. As the project progressed, however, it soon became apparent that there were many other problems that could be tackled: “I went back to inspect the 911 after a month, and the big question from [SportWagen’s] Bruce Cooper was whether I wanted a good car where the most important areas were properly sorted, or whether I wanted to take it further. That was when I decided to go all out and get everything done to the highest standard possible: I wanted the best Carrera RS in the world.”
The car was duly reduced to a naked shell, the SportWagen team then laboriously stripping the paintwork. “I prefer to keep well away from dipping,” says Cooper, “because in the long term it can cause serious damage to the metalwork.
In this instance, we elected to remove all the coatings by hand – slower but far less intrusive. Bearing in mind that it had already been rebuilt once, if the car were being stripped a second time, the thickness of the sheet steel would not have improved one bit by dipping or blasting.”
With the Porsche back to bare metal, the prognosis was that there were no nasty surprises, but that the previous restoration had, as suspected, been less than exacting. “The work had been done back in 2002,” says Kønig, “when values were much lower. The financial argument for ploughing a lot of money into a project just hadn’t been there at the time.”
The body was mounted on a Celette bracket jig, and SportWagen’s craftsmen set about replacing the typical 911 rot spots: inner and outer sills, door skins, the front floor section under the fuel tank, plus the front and rear cross-members. “These were not rotted out but were on their way,” says Cooper. “With the car apart, replacement was the best solution for longevity.”
The RS had already received new rear wings prior to Kønig owning it, but these too required fettling before they were correctly aligned. “Poor workmanship was the reason for the imperfect fit of the doors,” says Cooper. “It wasn’t so much distortion, which implies something is bent, but rather poor tailoring of each panel to line everything up correctly. Unfortunately, they don’t fit straight out of the box.”
The car was resprayed in the original Grand Prix White with the trademark Fuchs alloys, refurbished by wheel specialist Biaggio, correctly finished in contrasting blue.
“A common mistake is to paint the centres the same colour as the Carrera decals,” says Kønig as he proudly points out the difference in hue. The wheel rims, which were highly polished when Kønig acquired the car, were returned to the original brushed finish.
Ironically, the quest for perfection actually called for some imperfect work: “The car was painted to a very high standard, but then rough patches of black were sprayed around the seat runners and behind the air vents in the front wings, replicating what Porsche would have done in period.” It’s a small detail, and when you see pictures of the car before reassembly it looks like the work of a ham-fisted amateur, but that is how the car would have left the factory. Accuracy is everything here.
While the body was being repaired, the engine and gearbox were rebuilt by Vinter at Jaz Porsche, everything being put back to original spec but with maximum attention to detail. The interior, meanwhile, was beautifully retrimmed by Neil Tadman, but not before a correct set of seats had been sourced.
As bought, the car had competition-style buckets from an RSR, but these were replaced with correct Touring-spec items. Getting these right was a labour of love. “They were stripped down to every last individual component, cleaned, repaired, replaced and repainted before being reassembled,” says Kønig. The rear seats, which are notoriously difficult to retrim properly, were replaced with second-hand items of the correct type in as-new condition.
The dashboard gauges were restored by the Palo Alto Speedometer Co in California, which, like the other marque experts involved, Cooper considers to be the best in the business. The refurbished items were reinstated in the original fascia, and allied to a thin-rimmed RS steering wheel to replace the incorrect RSR type.
In total, 1500 man-hours went into restoring the car, and both Kønig and the specialists who worked on it are justifiably proud of the end result. “As values increased, the horns grew on traders’ heads and many a car was ‘toshed up’ to be sold on, and on, and on,” says Cooper. “Each buyer made a profit and cashed it in, but only when the car is owned by a true enthusiast does it receive a proper restoration.”
After investing so much time and effort into the rebuild – not to mention a considerable amount of money – will its owner be pampering the Carrera RS from now on? “It’s for driving,” says Kønig. “It’s been restored twice now, so if anything were to happen to it, that would hardly be the end of the world – it’s not as if any unique originality would be lost. The whole reason for buying a Carrera RS is for the driving experience – it’s not the prettiest variant, so why have one if you just want to look at it?
“When I first got it I was disappointed, but all that has changed. It’s to factory spec, but everything is new or rebuilt and everything’s been very carefully set up. It feels amazing, and certainly lives up to its reputation. I definitely don’t intend to restrict myself to polishing it.
“I enjoyed the entire process of getting it to where it is today: finding the right car and creating the best possible team. I became inspired by the craftsmanship, the passion and the focus on details, so what could from the outside seem a long and unexpected process ended up being hugely enjoyable and became a true passion.” “The most satisfying thing,” he concludes, “is opening the garage early on a Sunday morning and taking it out for a drive with my four-year-old daughter, Zoe. Neither of my sons pays much attention to cars – I even had to persuade the eldest to get a driving licence – but Zoe loves it. And that makes all of the time and effort worthwhile.”
Clockwise, from above: fabulous profile with ducktail spoiler – and note the correct blue alloys; Kønig at the wheel of his pride and joy; stickers celebrate Porsche’s period motorsport success; only when the car was finished did he appreciate how well an RS 2.7 could drive.
Clockwise, from below left: mechanically, the car was good when bought, with a strong flat-six; immaculate interior – the seats received a major rebuild of their own, as did the instruments; Kønig is determined to use the car as much as possible now that it’s been rebuilt.
From main: the Porsche was superficially good when Kønig bought it, but the bodywork is now as-new; jig also acted as a chassis tilter; getting the door and wing alignment spot-on; desirable badge.