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Classic Porsche 911 - Surveys owners, repair and operation of 911 news stories and page model, sales and much more in ou...
Classic Porsche 911 - Surveys owners, repair and operation of 911 news stories and page model, sales and much more in our club fans and fans of the legendary series cars Porsche 911. All about 911-901, 930, 964, 993, 996 and new era 997 and 991-series.

If you're buying a used 911 as an investment, send me your address so that I can arrange a visit from the boys. Investors who never drive their 911s bring a word to mind. That word is 'pimp'. As 911 diehards, the boys don't like pimps, so when they arrive, make sure your engine is still warm, the exhaust system is making that tinkling noise and there is evidence in your tyres of some recently accomplished brisk cornering.

All 911s, from 1963 to this afternoon, share a characteristic 911 'feel', but that varies greatly in degree. Bog-standard used Coupes from the late 1970s or 1980s once delivered the goods for sensible money but they might demand some restoration work now.

Choosing a 911 is such a very personal matter. Just go for what you really want, get the best straight car you can find and look after it. Reliability is legendary but repairs can be costly.

My choice is currently the 993 Carrera 2 Coupe of 1993-98. Its predecessor, the 964, was respectable but dull. The 993's different, agile feel makes it terrific to drive and good ones go for less than £30,000 - this week, anyway.
It's the last air-cooled 911 model but so what? Later models lost nothing by being water-cooled. No, pick a 993 for its exhilarating agility, and its price.

A friend of mine paid £26,000 for a superb 1994 993 Carrera 2 in late 2013. He loves it, whether he's tootling about the shops or on a 300-mile blast through the remote Highlands of Scotland, where it truly excels. And that's no more than it deserves.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS
1973 // £500,000
The eternally great, ultimate development of the original 911 concept, it combines high performance and low weight with inch-perfect precision handling. Superb but the price of this model now, sir, is officially‘through the roof'. If you buy one, promise us you will use it.

On an autumn day in 1972 the salesman from Porsche GB came to visit our house. 'We're making a special car,' he told my father. 'Only 200 will be built, and we're offering them to our best clients first as demand is sure to be strong.' They built more than 1500 in the end, and demand was so great that, instead of management having to use them as company cars to use up unsold stock as expected, Porsche sold out the first batch of 500 immediately and had to build two more series.

Why the fuss? Because the RS is so much more than the sum of its parts. It was derived from the relatively humble 2.4S, but with flared rear arches and wider wheels (a 911 first), bored-out engine (at 2.7 litres Porsche's biggest road car motor to date), a rear spoiler (another first, and not just for Porsche, so initially illegal in some markets) and, last but not least, weight-loss that took the RS under the magic 1000kg in 'lightweight' trim.
The result: 150mph, 0-60mph in 5.0sec, handling to die for (and you would if you lifted off mid-comer) and a string of victories on every continent including rallies, Le Mans and the Targa Florio. Oh, and you can drive it to the shops.

Mine's been in the family for 42 years and has never once 'failed to proceed'. Beat that, Enzo...


Porsche 911 GT3 (997-series, generation II)
2009-12 // £80,000-120,000
The 997-series Generation II cars were terrific in their time and the naturally aspirated 997 GT3 was a hugely powerful, seriously fabulous machine, subtly better in fast corners than previous GT3 models.
A classic in waiting - bound to be a sound long-term investment.

Any brand new 911
2015 // From around £75,000
Admit it, they are absolutely brilliant. If you don’t want one, you should. Buy it, keep it, service it properly. One day, it will be a classic but, meanwhile, enjoy a few happy decades driving it. The best of all worlds.
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  •   Axel E Catton reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    PRANGED PORSCHE DISINTERRED / #Porsche-911S / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche / #Porsche-901 /

    Clockwise: shapely tail shows evidence of its altercation with Firebird; flat-six good for 180bhp; interior complete; 911 hidden for two decades.

    2015 / #Nick-Zabrecky from LBI of Philadelphia has been telling me of the company’s latest discovery, this 1967 #Porsche 911S.

    Stuttgart’s legendary flat-six made its public debut at the #1963 Frankfurt-Motor-Show , with the higher performance 911S – short for Super – introduced for the #1967 model year. The new variant had forged magnesium-alloy wheels, special gauges and many interior features that were optional in previous years. With 180bhp being tamed by ventilated disc brakes and Koni adjustable dampers, the 911S was well received by drivers and, to this day, remains one of the most highly sought-after versions among 911 enthusiasts.

    The story of uncovering this one was remarkable, a chance conversation leading #LBI to a wooden barn in which the Porsche resided. The car had been bought by the owner in 1972 and used for many years until it was rear-ended by a Pontiac, at which point it had been laid up.

    Zabrecky told me: “The Firebird’s distinctive pointed nose left a telltale crease in the rear deck that is still visible.” The accident damage and the salt-laden roads of the north-eastern United States led to the owner putting it away in the barn some 20 years ago and it had not been driven since.

    When discovered, the Porsche was complete and still fitted with many original components, including the rare 4½x15in Fuchs wheels, carpets, seats and gauges.
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  •   Andy Everett reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    STILL GOING STRONG

    Classic Porsche visits Hexagon, Londonbased Porsche specialist. Hexagon sold their first Porsche over 40 years ago. They’re still doing it! Words and photos: Paul Davies.

    I have a list of Porsche dealers dated October #1972 here on my desk. Covering the whole of London there is just one main dealer – AFN Ltd., which can still be found as Porsche Guildford – plus three retail dealers. Two of these are no longer around but the modern child of Hexagon of Highgate is very much alive, and in business less than a mile down the road from where it was born. Now Hexagon Modern Classics is firmly established as one of the country’s leading showrooms for prime condition, previously-owned Porsches. It would be derogatory to refer to the 50-or-so cars in the building behind the grey fence on Fortis Green road, in the London borough of Haringey, as ‘used’. Here we are talking about the absolute tops, low mileage classic Porsches, in as new condition.

    It’s no longer an official dealer – that status ended in the late seventies – but there’s a common denominator between the Hexagon of 1972 and the company of today; founder Paul Michaels.

    From a motor trade family, Paul started selling cars way back in 1963 in a London mews and became a successful dealer of classic sports cars, the likes of Marcos, Lotus and Aston Martin, as well as Porsche. An oil ‘crisis’ in 1973 prompted by the Yom Kippur war (oil shot up from $3 a barrel to $12, would you believe!) knocked the performance car market for six, and left dealers such as Michaels vulnerable; he recalls selling 28 Aston Martin V8s at the London Motor Show of that year and then having all but one cancelled.

    The result was for Porsche GB to seek representation in west London rather than the northern location of Highgate which, in effect, ruled out Hexagon. Not that Paul was down for long – he soon began an association with BMW as an official dealer that ended (at Paul’s request) only a few years back. But, with a long-term love for Porsche that stretches back to the #1967 911S he owned, he set up the current business just over two years ago.

    So, what’s a classic #Porsche in the minds of Paul Michaels and sales manager Jonathan Franklin? Almost anything air-cooled we’re pleased to note, although the pair are not averse to adding later top-model versions of the 911 if the right car comes along.

    There’s a leaning towards the performance end of the family, with RS and Turbo models from early #Porsche-911 through to 993, particularly welcome at Fortis Green, although the wider criteria seems to be that condition and low mileage are all-important. Which explains the presence of a #Porsche-911SC-Cabriolet , an early 911S Targa and several Carrera 3.2s in the showroom alongside the exotica.

    Time now, I think, to get something straight. As we said, Hexagon deals in the highest-quality Porsches (and the occasional something else that takes the owner’s fancy) and a look around the showroom, or glance at the web site, will reveal that quality does not come even slightly cheap. There’s a tag of £42,995 on that SC Cabriolet, and £53,995 for an 1989 Carrera 3.2 Targa. These are prices you might do a double-take on, even alongside the more likely £130k for a 1989 LE ‘flatnose’ Turbo, or a fiver under £200k for a Ninemeister-modified 964 RS.

    The underlying theme is quality, and Paul Michaels is not apologetic about the figures on some of the cars. Quality, he says, demands an extreme high level of preparation. It’s not unknown to spend the equivalent of £10,000, and many hours, getting a car to the level he and Jonathan consider right for sale. That SC Cabrio had some £30k-worth of restoration completed just before it came to Hexagon, but even so it went through the usual preparation process in the workshop. The top-price 3.2 Targa has completed just 35,000 miles in 26 years.

    Hexagon has a large workshop alongside the showroom dedicated purely to sales car preparation and commissioning. The company does not take in servicing or other work, and sends its own vehicles to trusted specialists when mechanical or major bodywork is required. Needless to say, every purchase comes with a full 12 months warranty, including breakdown.

    The success of the business confirms that condition and originality clearly overrules price as far as customers at Hexagon Modern Classics are concerned. Many purchasers know exactly what they want and see their acquisition as an investment, says Jonathan. Possibly a shrewd move at a time when interest rates are low and values of significant cars of many marques are rising. Many customers own more than one classic car; a few count their collections in double figures. Cars have to be – as they say in the concours world – 100-pointers.

    Chatting with Michaels you learn more about the man. A few yards from us is the Leyton House-liveried 962 Group C car he’s owned since 2003. It’s an ex-Kremer machine that did Le Mans in 1987 (finishing 4th) and 1988 (8th) and just one of a collection of significant cars the Hexagon chairman owns.


    On the walls is a display of photographs from his days as a car owner and entrant, including the Jaguar D-type and Lister-Jaguar raced – amongst others – by Willy Green, Gerry Marshall and Nick Faure and, most famously, the wall-art showcases the John Watson connection.

    After a season in British Formula 5000 with Watson, Hexagon took the Ulster ace into Grand Prix racing in 1974 with a privately-owned Brabham, the driver scoring six points in the season. Plans for a further year of Hexagon in Grand Prix were dropped when a sponsor changed its mind at the last hour. Paul Michaels says the decision to concentrate on Porsche in 2013 was, apart from that deep-rooted personal preference, because he considers the marque to be most usable of all the quality classics. They are, as he puts it, ‘proper cars’.

    But the fact a Porsche can be a daily-driver produces problems, namely that mileages tend to be higher – and growing all the time. ‘Eighteen months ago we reckoned our ideal top mileage was 50,000, now it’s more like 70,000’, says Paul. It’s becoming even harder for Hexagon (who employ a number of specialist buyers) to find the cars they want, and consequently prices are increasing.

    What does a man with half a century in the car sales trade think about the trend in Porsche values? Despite the stratospheric levels achieved by certain models (Carrera RS anyone?) in recent times Paul doesn’t see any ceiling to prices. ‘We’re more likely going to see peaks and troughs as certain marques and models come in and out of favour’, he says.

    You get the impression Hexagon can cope with price increases, but what is causing Paul Michaels more worry is the ‘faking’ of high-level Porsches, and the desire that every car should have matching chassis and engine numbers. He’s seen more than a fair share of RS and RSR clones presented as original, and now will not buy high-price cars unless he knows and can trust the seller. Mere supposed history or documentation is not enough nowadays.

    ‘It’s relatively easy to fake a Porsche and it’s getting more and more difficult to know the real thing’, he says. The need for cars to have matching numbers is a trend that Paul believes comes from the USA. Whereas he appreciates that a genuine car should have its original chassis number, he points out that it is quite likely a competition or high performance car will have had an engine change in its lifetime. That famed 2.7-litre unit of 1973 was not always totally reliable!

    An hour with the Hexagon boss confirms he’s an out and- out enthusiast for the performance car, and Porsches in particular. He says his personal favourite, and daily drive, is his #Porsche-911-Turbo-S-993 , and admits more than a soft spot for the oft-ignored 928 grand tourer of the eighties and early nineties. Its day is fast approaching, he says. Take note from someone who should know after over 40 years of selling Porsches.

    Hexagon Modern Classics boss Paul Michaels is a great fan of the 993. This Strasse-modified RS Club Sport is the rarest of the rare – and a future classic without any doubt.

    Pre-impact bumper 911s are leading the price rise, hence a tag of just under £160k on this low mileage 1971 911S 2.2-litre Targa.

    CONTACT
    Hexagon Modern Classics
    90 Fortis Green
    London
    N2 9EY
    Tel: 020 8348 5151
    Website:
    www. hexagonmodernclassics. com

    Hexagon rates the 3.2 Carrera as the first 911 that’s a daily-driver. Club Sport is the ultimate; this is one of 53 cars made in right-hand drive and has covered just 40,900 miles.

    The 962 Group C sports racer was a high finisher at two Le Mans. Now it’s part of Paul Michaels’ collection and is centre-piece of the Porsche display in the Hexagon showroom.

    The Hexagon workshop carries out extensive preparation work before any car is offered for sale A price tag a whisker under £43k for a 911SC Cabriolet may sound high, but please note this car has had a £30k restoration and has just 35,000 miles recorded on the clock.

    Paul Michaels was a Porsche dealer back in the Sixties. Now, as the chairman of #Hexagon-Modern-Classics , he sells quality used Porsches Attention to detail: marks show where this Carrera 3.2 has been checked over for paintwork blemishes and stone chips.

    “There’s a leaning towards the performance end of the family, with RS and Turbomodels welcome…”
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  • 1967 PORSCHE 912 45 YEARS AND COUNTING…

    John Rialson tells us what it’s like to own a 912 for more than four decades. That’s how long John Rialson has owned his 1967 Porsche 912. Now, with no fewer than 421,600 miles under its tyres (yes, you did read that right!), it’s living proof that they built these cars to last… Words & photos: John Rialson.

    My father, who was an educator and a librarian at San Jose State College, would always tell me that a car should simply get you from point A to point B, and be nothing fancy. I would always ask, why couldn’t we have fun in a car that does more? I was eight years old.

    The first car I remember my dad buying was a 1953 Volkswagen in Texas Brown. It had a 36 horsepower engine, a small rear window, turn signals that popped out of the door pillar, no fuel gauge, and a thick metal body. The interior was red. I don’t remember it even having a radio installed.

    We were probably about the first family in the San Francisco Bay area to buy a VW. The neighbours would tease my dad about the car and would often hide it by carrying it down the street and putting it behind a hedge (love it! – KS). I, on the other hand, would brag about all the car’s functions to my school friends, which probably didn’t make me very popular since I told them this was a better car than the one they had.

    This turned out to be a good, reliable car that Dad drove for many years. He traded it in for a new 1960 Volkswagen. That one was red with a white interior and this time it did have a radio. It also had a fuel gauge and the larger rear window.

    I learned to drive in that car when I was fifteen. I received my driver’s licence when I was sixteen and proceeded to show my high-school friends what a good driver I was. I knew the car was waterproof, and while driving in the mountains on a dirt road one day we came to a river. Usually the river was passable but it had been raining and the water was higher than usual. We decided to try and cross.

    We got half way and the car started floating down the river! Feeling hopeless and wondering what I was going to tell Dad, we finally hit a sand bar on the other side. I was then able to drive the car in the shallow water at the edge of the river back to the road. The girls thought I was crazy and I never told Dad.

    In 1967, when I was twenty-two, I bought my own car. It was a brand new Volkswagen in beige with black interior. I fitted it with Koni shocks, Pirelli tyres and an anti-sway bar. It handled well and I put well over 100,000 miles on it by 1970. I drove it everywhere.

    I used to take the car to a garage in Los Altos, California called Reitmier’s Werkstatt. They worked on VWs and Porsches. One day in 1970 the owner’s brother put his 1967 Porsche up for sale for $4400. He said he was selling it because he wanted a 1968-model #Porsche with the flared fenders so he could put wider tyres on for autocrossing. The car was beautiful, so I bought it: it was a Bahama Yellow 1967 912 Porsche with low mileage, and looked as good as new. It was probably the best investment I could have made.

    I have always enjoyed driving. Over the years that I’ve owned the Porsche, there have been some fun stories. On one camping trip up to the San Juan Islands between Washington and Canada, we took the ferry boat to Orcas Island. I was taking photos of some Scottish Highland cattle when a huge dog came running up to me. Needless to say, I jumped into the Porsche. The dog stood higher than the car and proceeded to mark his territory on all four tyres…

    On a memorable trip to visit close friends in Bangor, Maine, I was told about some places I should visit and explore in Canada. One was Campobello Island in New Brunswick. Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, had a 34-room ‘cottage’ used as a summer retreat on Campobello, which is now a park and museum.

    When I travelled alone, I’d usually camp out, or sleep in the car. I could put the passenger seat all the way down, put an air-mattress over the seats and climb into a sleeping bag. It was very comfortable. One night while exploring Prince Edward Island, I parked the car next to a lighthouse out on a point of land high above the ocean. While I was asleep during the night the wind came up, waking me a few times as the car shook. At about four in the morning, I noticed that the lighthouse had ‘moved’.

    Feeling confused, I looked out the side window and could see the waves breaking on rocks about a hundred feet below. The car was sitting right on the edge of the cliff. The wind had slowly moved the car across the dewcovered grass, right to the edge. A few more minutes and I’d have gone over. I quickly moved the car to be out of the wind and went back to sleep. The next morning I walked over to where the car had been and could see the wind had moved it about fifty feet. The right rear tyre was on the edge of the cliff. That was close.

    One very cold morning while visiting Nova Scotia, Canada, I woke to find the car covered in snow (see photo). It was really cold in the car so I thought it would be a good idea to start the engine and get the heater going before getting dressed and having breakfast. I turned the key but the starter motor had stopped working.

    I knew I could probably start the car from the engine compartment, so I jumped out in my underwear and managed to start the engine. It was cold and the ground was covered in snow – and I was barefoot. When I tried to open the door, the lock mechanism was frozen and the door wouldn’t open!

    The car was running and the heater was on but I couldn’t get back in. There was no one around for probably fifty miles so I had to get out of this mess by myself. I was jumping up and down trying to keep warm while giving the door handle little karate chops, hoping the ice would melt. After about ten agonising minutes, the heater had warmed the inside of the car enough to thaw out the lock and allow the door finally to open.

    On another trip, I drove to Cape Breton Island where Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, had a lab and boat house to test his inventions. That, too, is now a museum. I wanted to drive the car as far east as I could on the North American continent, just to say I had been there. But after studying the map, I realised that easterly point was in Labrador, about 1600 miles away. I am not even sure if the roads were passable, so I settled for the most easterly point on Cape Breton Island. A lot of the road was dirt, but I made it. The photo below left shows the car at the most easterly point, with lobster traps in the background.

    The Porsche has always been a joy to drive. I had wanted to visit Mexico for a long time, so I decided I would spend six months exploring as much of Mexico as I could and first of all I headed for Veracruz. The first night while staying with friends in the city, the local children found out that, by shaking the car, the alarm would go off.

    The kids thought this was great. I would yell out in Spanish to get away from the car, so they would run and hide. But when I left the window, they would come back and do it all over again. I finally had to turn off the alarm. I truly enjoyed exploring Mexico and never had any problems with the car or the people I met. Everyone was always helpful, warm and kind.

    This last year has been a time to restore the car. The carburettors were in bad shape. A good friend, who also owns a 912, totally rebuilt my carburettors. The car is now 48 years old and things wear out. It had been sitting in my garage for a few years, but I am enjoying driving it again. It still has the original paint, which buffed out nicely when I detailed it. She still looks good and now I have four little boys who all want to drive it when they are old enough!

    John Rialson is a professional trumpet player living with his family in Hollister, California.

    Bahama Yellow paintwork is all original, apart from the bonnet (hood) which was damaged by a drunk who fell on it one night! From left to right: 1978 and a trip as far east as John could go – Cape Breton Island; on a visit to visit relatives in Minnesota; just south of Carmel, California, in 1990.

    Above left: A trip to Nova Scotia resulted in the car experiencing some very un- California weather – and John locking himself out of the car…

    Above: Getting ready to make some music back in the 1980s.

    Family affair: photos with two of John’s four boys. All four want the car when they grow up. His youngest, at five years of age, told John he could almost reach the pedals…

    REPAIR HISTORY

    My Porsche 912 was originally sold to a fellow from Los Altos Hills, California on 20th December 1966 from Gus Mozart Volkswagen at 825 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, California. Unfortunately, I understand he was badly wounded during the Vietnam war and was unable to drive the car. The 912 was then sold to the Porsche mechanic, Helmet Bezak, from Reitmier’s Werkstatt in Los Altos, from whom I purchased it on 14th April 1970. The car had only about 16,000 miles on the clock and clearly hadn’t been driven much. In the 45 years I’ve owned it I’ve always been careful about maintenance, and still have all the records for oil changes, tune ups and major repairs. Oil changes are every 3000 miles, and a full service every 6000 miles. I also have all the records for other parts, repairs and rebuilds of the engine.

    Looking through my records, I was surprised to find so many old bills (about 150) for new tyres, batteries, brake jobs, clutches, bulbs, radio repairs, wheel bearings, wheel alignments, clutch cable, Koni shocks, rubber seals, generators, starter motors… the list goes on and on. I found that most oil changes cost less than $50, while full tune-ups cost from $150 in the early days to over $800 now.

    The first major repair was in April 1971. I’d owned the car for one year, with only 24,000 miles on the clock, but it had a bad oil leak. It turned out to be a crack in the crankcase. After trying to weld the crack, which didn’t work, I had to buy a whole new crankcase for $235.

    We replaced the camshaft, main bearings, oil cooler and a number of other parts, for a total bill of $768. One lesson I learned early on is to keep the throttle pedal linkage well lubricated. One time while on a freeway on-ramp I had the car up to 6000rpm in second gear, ready to shift to third. What I didn’t know was that the throttle pedal was stuck, so when I pushed in the clutch to shift, the engine raced way past the redline in a split second. By the time I could reach the key to turn off the engine, it was too late. The fan exploded and sent shrapnel through the fan housing.

    The inside of the car filled with white smoke but I made it safely off to the side of the freeway and had to call for a tow. This happened in 1973 and the car ended up needing a valve job, a new oil cooler, fan and fan housing. The charge was only $289!

    My first full engine rebuild came in August 1974, when the car had covered about 110,000 miles. The bill for that was $867. The second engine rebuild was in August 1979, by which time the car had covered 190,403 miles. This also included a new flywheel, clutch, valves and brakes. The cost came to $1575. The third engine rebuild was in 1986 at 285,000 miles. The total bill this time came to $2100.

    In September 1987, at 314,340 miles, the car needed another new flywheel, along with a clutch and battery, all of which cost $964. When it was time for the fourth rebuild, I decided to replace the engine with a totally rebuilt older unit with a lot lower mileage. This was in 2005 at 398,000. I have not driven the car much in the last ten years, so it currently has 421,600 miles on the odometer. Ken’s Porsche Technique in Campbell, California, who carried out most of the work, still exists and is highly regarded for their repair work on Porsches.

    More recently, we moved to Hollister, California, about five years ago. The car had not been driven because the carburettors needed a complete rebuild (they were leaking fuel). I started playing trumpet with a big band here in Hollister and one day one of the other trumpet players, Jay Hilgers, showed up in a 912E Porsche.

    We were already good friends and he didn’t know I had a 912. His father, Rick Hilgers, was one of the chief Porsche mechanics at Westers in Monterey, California, and had taught his son how to tune and repair Porsches. When Jay heard my carburettors needed repair, he offered to rebuild them for free.

    He said the car was too nice to be sitting and that we needed to get it back on the road, so I paid about $76 to Eckler’s for the Solex repair kit and Jay did a beautiful job making the carburettors look and work like new. They now work perfectly.

    Because the car had been sitting for so long, it needed some more work. I felt guilty about letting Jay spend more free time on the car, as he had already done so much with the carburettors. I took the car to Briganti’s Automotive Service in Hollister where they repaired the throttle linkage and brakes, and gave the car a tune-up.

    I still have a few more items to sort out but the 912 is about ready for the road again. It still has the original paint, except for the hood, and still looks great. And, it goes without saying, it is still a joy to drive.

    Recent photo of the 912 was taken at San Juan Bautista, in California. You’d never believe this car has covered well over 400,000 miles in the last 48 years.

    Miguel Martinez is considered to be the father of mariachi-style trumpet playing and was only too happy to pose with the 912 Highway 90 in the middle of Montana in winter. No traffic. John stopped in the middle of the freeway to take this photo in 1994.

    “Over the years that I’ve owned the Porsche, there have been some fun stories ”

    John pauses at a roadside coffee shop on a trip to Baja, Mexico, in 1986. He recalls that ‘this place had great lobster tacos!’

    SPECIFICATION: #1967 #Porsche-912

    Delivered 20th December #1966 to Gus Mozart Volkswagen, Palo Alto, CA. Bahama Yellow, black interior with basketweave seat inlay; light grey perforated headliner; left-hand drive; #VDM Ebonite plastic steering wheel and circular horn button; #Blaupunkt radio; factory stabiliser bars front and rear; chrome bumper guards, front and rear; engine # P751924; standard #Mahle pistons/cylinders; Solex carburettors; #Bosch 022 distributor; five-speed gearbox; chrome steel rims; 165 HR 15 radial tyres.
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  • RALLYING CALL

    Rallying for beginners. Will Page and MacLeman get lost? Navigational events are proving ever more popular, so James Page and Greg MacLeman went to Wales to see if they knew their Tulips from their tripmeters. Photography Tony Baker/Hero Events.

    During the 1950s and ’60s, rallying formed the backbone of amateur club motorsport. Across the UK, enthusiasts organised their own events, which often took place at night. A young Vic Elford competed in rallies organised by the Sevenoaks and District Motor Club, while Henry Liddon – who went on to win the Rallye Monte-Carlo with Paddy Hopkirk in #1964 and Rauno Aaltonen in #1967 – was a regular on the BAC Motor Club’s Cross Trophy.

    As historian Pete Stowe has noted, these grassroots events were ‘tests of route-finding rather than outright speed’, but even so the RAC began to increase the legislation around them. Clubs branched out into other forms of the sport and stage-based rallies came to the fore.

    In the 1980s, however, the late Philip Young instigated a resurgence in events that replicated the cerebral challenge offered by period navigational rallying. It has become a huge scene in its own right, which is why we’ve come to the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation (HERO) in South Wales to see whether we can tell one end of a map from the other.

    The company offers an Arrive & Drive package that enables you to compete in one of its own cars – from the #Porsche-911 for which digital editor Greg MacLeman and I make a beeline, to a Lancia Integrale, #Alfa-1750GTV and even an Austin Seven special. It’s not only novices that use this service as a way of trying a rally without having to invest in their own car. Seasoned campaigners from overseas often choose it instead of shipping their classic to the UK. There’s a single-day Driving Experience, too, which introduces newcomers to the various forms of navigation, using HERO’s fleet to head into the Brecon Beacons and surrounding countryside. That’s what we’ll be attempting.

    The basic premise of historic rallying is that you have to get from the start of a section to the finish in a particular time. That time assumes an average speed that will never be more than 30mph, and the amount of help you have in plotting your way along the route varies depending on the level of that particular rally. To add to the pressure, secret intermediate controls will ensure that you are keeping on time.

    The initial section that MacLeman and I have to tackle is a Jogularity, a system devised for the first Le Jog event in the early 1990s. We are given a printout of the route, with landmarks noted as well as the time at which we should be passing them. So, for example, it might say ‘gate on left’. Look across the page and it tells us that, if we’ve stuck to the required average speed, we should be passing that gate 2 mins 8 secs after leaving the startline. There is also information on the distance and time between each landmark, while junctions are highlighted.

    I take the first stint in the navigator’s seat, quickly discarding the interval details (far too confusing…) to concentrate on calling out each landmark and giving #MacLeman feedback as to how we’re doing in terms of time. We have 17 mins 41 secs in which to cover the 8.09 miles.

    The average speeds for the section are between 24 and 30mph, which sounds easy enough. For the most part it is, even though much of it is country lanes. The problems start when you miss a landmark and lose where you are on the list. Even on a practice day such as this, there’s a moment of slight panic; on a real event, it must be horrifying.

    The other issue is how quickly you go from being roughly on time to 20 secs behind if, for example, you have to stop to let another vehicle come the other way on a narrow section. It happens to us, and MacLeman enjoys a short section of spirited driving to get us back on time.

    It all goes to plan until the end of the regularity. Having tracked our progress via staggered crossroads, gates, junctions, warning signs and postboxes, I miss a turning into a lay-by (which would likely have contained an intermediate control were this a genuine stage) only 0.3 miles from the end. As a result, we arrive 6 secs early. After being worryingly vague to begin with (“Er, there’s a gate somewhere up here…”), MacLeman fares better when we swap places and try again, getting us to the finish line only 1 sec before our allotted time.

    Our next challenge is a 7.44-mile Tulip route. This system replaces written instructions with diagrams – a ball or blob at one end shows you where you are coming from, an arrowhead shows where you are going. Whereas the Jogularity had given us a near-constant stream of instructions to follow, here the guidelines are much less frequent – there are only seven in total, from going through speed-limit signs to crossing a cattle grid and taking junctions.

    The relative lack of information means that a decent tripmeter – which will need to have been calibrated over a set distance at the beginning of the event – is essential to ensure that you really are where you think you are. On the Jogularity section, we had been able to get away with it to a certain extent because the feedback came thick and fast. This time, there is longer between instructions so we need to know that we’ve covered, say, 4.61 miles since the previous one and that this really is the left turn that we need.

    Fortunately, it is a relatively straightforward run, and I deliver MacLeman to the end of the section without any navigational errors – or ‘wrong slots’. We then follow a marked route on the map back to the #HERO headquarters. This is the simplest form of map navigation. Others include ‘plot and bash’ (crew receives map references, translates them into locations, and charts a route between them), Herringbone (route is simplified into a straight line with roads ‘to leave’ – ie junctions – drawn above and below that line) and London Rally (a series of waypoints – A, B, C, etc – provide the framework for the route).

    ‘Plot and bash’ formed the basis for most period club rallies, and if it turns up in an historic event you will need to understand map references. In contrast, you could complete a Tulip or Jogularity section without referring to the Ordnance Survey charts. On some rallies, you will need to be au fait with each discipline.

    Take last year’s Le Jog. Competitors received three map books to take them from one end of the UK to the other. The road sections were marked with a black line that you needed to follow. That was the easy bit. Every so often, however, the black line stopped. There was an ominous gap of many miles before it started again, and it was between those two points that the regularity sections took place.

    Those legs took different forms. Regularity Section A began at Morvah in Cornwall and finished near Lelant. Crews used six map references that were supplied to them at Land’s End to plot the shortest route. Regularity Section B lasted for almost 20 miles and was a Jogularity. Section C was another Jogularity, D needed to be calculated from a Herringbone layout and E from a number of specified waypoints. Le Jog is renowned for its gruelling nature, though, and not all rallies are so taxing.

    “There are certain events where you need the sort of mind that could do a cryptic crossword,” says HERO’s Peter Nedin, who cut his teeth on the Welsh club scene, “but organisers can do that via trickery rather than making the route tough. Different levels of rally have different levels of information in the route book. Jogularity gives you times to be at certain points. Others don’t do that – you have to work it out for yourself, which involves using a separate average-speed table.”

    HERO rates its fixtures with a colour-coding system: Green is for introductory rallies, which means daytime driving, in summer, on surfaced roads and using Tulip and Jogularity navigation. Blue is intermediate, Red advanced and Black is expert, involving maps, day and night driving on mixed surfaces, and with an endurance factor thrown in. Cars have to be pre-1986 and to period-correct specification; the focus on reliability rather than performance means that you don’t need to spend a fortune on preparation.

    “Most events have a non-competitive touring element for people who still want to be part of it,” says Nedin. “You can get into it that way and then move from tour to trial. It enables you to enjoy it at first before you get more serious. When you do that, if you get the navigation right first, the timekeeping will come.”


    Taken separately, neither the navigational element nor the timekeeping one are all that difficult. It’s when you have to combine them that it becomes a genuine challenge. I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to do it in the dark, in the middle of night, having had very little sleep and with hundreds of miles still to go. Road rallying may be cerebral rather than visceral, but it’s no less rewarding for that.


    Thanks to Everyone at HERO. To find out more about its events and the Driving Experience, go to www. heroevents. eu

    COMPETITOR’S VIEW
    Paul Crosby

    “I started rallying with a Mini when I was about 20,” says #2014 HERO Cup winner Crosby, “but later had to give it up because of other commitments. I only recently got back into it with a #1970 #Porsche #911 – last year was my first full season. It’s not the cheapest hobby, but everyone involved is incredibly friendly and welcoming. “I started at the deep end with the Winter Challenge, which is rated Black by HERO. We finished third in class and – being a bit competitive – I started to really get into it once those points were on the board. “Andy Pullen was my co-driver for many of the events. You can make the last bit of difference as a driver, and a reliable car needs to be a given, but really it’s 75% down to the navigator. How Andy kept going on Le Jog, for example, is beyond me – 27 hours without sleep. It’s all about having fun, too, and I wouldn’t sit next to somebody whose company I didn’t enjoy. You have to share responsibility – having a go at your navigator if something goes wrong isn’t going to help.”

    Clockwise, from left: a good tripmeter is essential if you are to keep track of the various instructions; beautiful Welsh roads and coastline, but the navigator has little time to admire the scenery; MacLeman doing the easy bit – driving.

    ‘IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE DOING THIS AT NIGHT, WITH HUNDREDS OF MILES STILL TO GO’

    COMPETITOR’S VIEW
    Stephen Owens

    “The people on this type of event are brilliant, so resourceful and always willing to help,” says Owens, who competes on everything from one-day UK rallies to the Mille Miglia, often with his wife Colette and son Thomas. “Who I take with me depends on the type of event. I do some, such as the Poppy Rally, where I will have a more experienced co-driver. I went on the 1000 Mile Trial with my wife, though, and that was stunning. I was blown away by the scenery. Then I took my son on the Scottish Malts. “They have both been to a rally school to learn about navigation and were told that they were very much in charge in the car; it was their ‘office’. The navigators are the unsung heroes. That’s where you see the youngsters coming through, because you don’t need to own the car, you just need to find a sympathetic driver. There is a skill to the driving as well, but you have to be a partnership. You do see people falling out – I’ve been on events where the driver and navigator weren’t talking by the end of the first day. It can certainly test a relationship.”

    Clockwise, from above: the 911 feels like overkill given the low average speeds, but comes into its own when you need to press on; Page checks that he’s got the map the right way up before setting off; an extract from a Tulip section of Le Jog.

    ‘YOU COULD COMPLETE A TULIP OR JOGULARITY SECTION WITHOUT HAVING TO READ A MAP’
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