Porsche 911 SC RS The Bastos-liveried 911 had a stellar rallying season in 1984. We take it for a drive in its native Belgium – and quickly find out why it left so many rivals trailing in its wake. In 1984 Porsches were really smoking them off – specifically, the tobaccosponsored #Porsche-911SC
RS rally cars. Johnny Tipler tells the tale of this short-run competition car and samples the real thing on its Belgian home turf Photography Antony Fraser. Archive pics courtesy Johan Dirickx.
Let there be light. I flick the dashboard switch and the battery of Cibies bursts into life, illuminating the Belgian countryside. I’ve come to Kontich, home to 911 Motorsport, to drive the #Porsche-911SC-RS
, a short-run hybrid competition car that stalked the stages in the European Rally Championship in the mid-Eighties. The car basks in the livery of Bastos, a Belgian cigarette brand, from an epoch when fags and motor sport worked hand in glove.
Fire up the engine and the stripped-out cabin is a very noisy place. My forward view from the left-hand driver’s seat scouts beyond the rounded wings and the 911 headlamps, but I’ve also got the four semi-circular humps of the spotlamps in front of me. I’m strapped tightly into the low Recaro race seat by a five-point harness, and I’ve got the dished Sparco steering wheel pointing back at me. I’m surrounded by the roll cage, beneath a bare white roof graffiti’d with signatures, including that of original owner Jean- Pierre Gaban. The tachometer redlines at a little less than 8000rpm. The transmission whine and engine noise are deafening. The gearbox is difficult to engage when cold and the racing clutch is ferocious. My feet pass one another on the pedals and all hell breaks loose. It’s as if a bucking bronco has been released into the rodeo ring and I’m the cowboy struggling to hold on to the reins. Acceleration is immediate and the shift of the 915 transmission is surprisingly compliant rather than the wrestling match I’d anticipated. The roar of the flat-six, the howl of the transmission and the bonk of the suspension on the Belgian pave are raw and immediate sensations. Bystanders hear its approach a long way off, backfiring and popping on the overrun. The set of the steering wheel is off-centre and there’s a prevailing tendency towards understeer as I rush into bends.
Next thing I’m fighting oversteer too. It’s sensory overload and a rush of bewildering impressions at first – because it’s not much like any regular 911 that I’ve driven.
Then I begin to get used to the idiosyncrasies of this Porsche’s rally car nature. It’s not like a race car – it seems less sophisticated than that, tauter and more hardcore and it sits higher on its pins than a low-slung racer. I force myself to relax into it and take a calm overview. The further I go, the more I understand its foibles; once I get the hang of it, the monster is not so monstrous after all.
CHASSIS 010’S 1984 SEASON
BELGIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Snyers/Colenbunders 1st overall
Boucles de Spa (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 3rd
Circuit des Ardennes (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 1st
TAC Rally (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 1st
Rallye de Wallonie (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 1st
Ypres 24-Hours (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 2nd
Circuit de Flandres (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 1st
EUROPEAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Snyers/Colenbunders 3rd overall
Ypres 24-Hours (Belgium), Snyers/Colenbunders 2nd
Madeira Rally (Portugal), Snyers/Colenbunders 1st
Rally du Vin (Switzerland), Snyers/Colenbunders 6th
Relatively unknown today, the SC RS was a rallying force to be reckoned with 30 years ago.
With the exhaust flaming and popping, you hear the SC RS coming long before you see it.
‘Suddenly all hell breaks loose – it’s as if a bucking bronco has been released into the rodeo ring and I’m the cowboy struggling to hold on to the reins’
The Prodrive-built 911 feels unruly at first.
300kph (186mph) speedometer is from the 911 3.0 RS.
‘Good to see you again’ – the 911 with a reproduction of Jean-Pierre Gaban’s period Ford Granada support car.
In-period action with Patrick Snyers and Dany Colenbunders.
I form two conflicting views about how to drive this car – either with brute force and ignorance, or as smoothly as possible. The answer lies between the two, because it does react to being bossed and also responds to a smooth hand. It much depends on the scenario; doubtless a firm grip is needed on a timed rally stage, but it’s nice to know it can be placid on the transit sections.
We’re familiar with the #Porsche-911
SC in production form, but what’s this RS version? Here’s the background – in 1983 Porsche was in the ascendant with the Group C 956 and 962 sports racing prototypes, but it was also in the throes of launching four-wheeldrive projects including the 961 Le Mans car and the 959 supercar.
Fearsome Group B cars such as the Ford RS200, Audi Sport quattro and Lancia Delta S4 dominated theWorld Rally Championship. Porsche couldn’t compete against them even with the 3.3-litre 930 Turbo because in Group B spec the Turbo would have incurred a severe weight penalty. So Porsche’sWeissach competition department sought a more down-to-earth machine that could use existing components to give both factory and customers a realistic chance of international rally success.
Weissach guru Jürgen Barth had driven the 1982 Monte Carlo Rally in the Alméras brothers’ 911 SC, coming ninth overall and second in Group B. By coincidence Rothmans, sponsors of Porsche’s works Group C team, had just asked the factory to produce a rally car for the 1984 season, so Barth and workmate Roland Kussmaul got the go-ahead to build a rally-spec 911. A loophole in the FIA homologation rules allowed 20 cars to be produced provided they were based on a redundant model, and since the standard 911 SC had just been superseded by the 3.2 Carrera that was the ideal starting point. Accordingly, the SC RS was constructed at Weissach from 1983 and was competitive until 1987. Five cars went to David Richards’ Prodrive-run Rothmans WRC squad, 15 were delivered to private customers, and a single car was created retrospectively at Weissach from leftover components, making 21 SC RSs in total.
Of the privateers, Belgian tobacco companies Belga and Bastos bought two and one respectively. The Bastos car was chassis number 10 and is the car featured here. It was originally bought by Porsche racer Jean-Pierre Gaban for Patrick Snyers and Dany Colenbunders to contest the 1984 Belgian National Rally Championship, which they won. One of the Belga cars, chassis 12, of Robert Droogmans and Ronny Joosten, was runner-up that year. Then Pascal Gaban, Jean-Pierre’s son, won the Belgian National Rally Championship with the Bastos car in 1986.
When Johan Dirickx discovered the car in France a few years ago it was in poor condition, so the engine, gearbox and chassis were rebuilt and overhauled at his 911 Motorsport workshop at Kontich, incorporating new-old-stock components personally supplied by Jürgen Barth out of Weissach, while the original Bastos exterior livery was faithfully reproduced at the same time.
The 911 SC RS was no ordinary 911. Aluminium front wings and welded-on aluminium extensions, and bulging steel rear wings with welded-on steel extensions covered Fuchs 944 Turbo wheels fitted with 225/50ZR 16s on the front and 245/45ZR 16s on the back, and a polyurethane whale-tail spoiler from an early 930 Turbo. The spec was different enough to warrant its own factory type number, 954. There was no turbocharger – the SC RS’s flat-six was a 3.0-litre 930/18 SC, fitted with the preceding Kugelfischer injection and special fuel pump instead of the standard SC’s K-Jetronic system, plus air pump for more efficient exhausting. Compression ratio rose from 9.8:1 to 10.3:1, with reprofiled forged pistons, high-lift camshafts and valve timing adjusted accordingly.
Ratios in the 915 gearbox were shorter than standard, so acceleration was brisker at the expense of top speed. A dedicated oil cooler was housed within the rear wing mounting on the engine lid, a safer location for its rallying objectives. The road car’s final drive ratio was 8:3.1, with shorter 8:35 and 7:37 competition versions available, together with a 40 per cent limited-slip differential.
Brake discs and calipers were gleaned from the #Porsche-930
, and although coil springs would have been ideal they were not homologated until 1985, so the SC RS ran with larger-diameter torsion bars, 22mm front and 27.5mm rear, replacing 19mm and 26mm items respectively. A simple but effective modification involved holes adjacent to the damper turrets through which the suspension was harnessed by cables to preclude the wheel cambers from going mega-positive as the car took off on the jumps. Archive photos of it poised in mid-air show the wheels hanging vertically, instead of tucked in at the bottom.
With no turbocharger the SC RS achieved its performance largely through weight reduction. It has lightweight body panels, and all the sound deadening and rear seats were stripped out. There’s no heater and the window glass is thinner than standard. The front wing extensions are welded-on aluminium flares and the rears are steel, welded on to the narrow SC bodyshell. The crossmember rearward of the engine was reinforced and filleted to save weight, and the bodyshell seam-welded with extra reinforcement around the damper towers. The glassfibre front and rear bumper panels and valances were unique, though the rear one was very similar to the 3.0 RS. The SC RS weighed 980kg compared to a standard SC’s 1160kg, which – given a 280bhp power output at 7000rpm coupled with short gearing – makes for rapid acceleration. At 5.0sec dead, it’s 0.2sec quicker to 100kph than the 3.3-litre Turbo, running out of steam at 244kph (152mph), while the 930 speeds on to 260kph (162mph).
Cabins varied in detail across the 21 cars, but a bolted-in, crossbraced roll cage, competition seats, period steering wheel and fly-off handbrake were ubiquitous. Thinner carpet covers the floor, while door panels are slim cards with thong-pulls to open, with wind-up windows. The tachometer winds to 10,000rpm.
The zenith of the SC RS’s career was the #1984
European Rally Championship. Rothmans/Prodrive engaged Henri Toivonen for the task, even though Lancia also booked him to do theWorld Rally Championship in the 037, so the Finn campaigned both cars. With SC RS victories in the Ypres 24 Hours, Milles Pistes, Costa Smerelda and Madeira rallies, Toivonen had a commanding lead in the European Championship until he was forced to pull out after an accident in a WRC Lancia 037, ending up second in the final European standings despite missing some rounds.
The car here contested the Belgian National Rally series, vying with main rivals Robert Droogmans and Ronny Joosten in the Ring Auto Service-run Belga-sponsored SC RS. Patrick Snyers and Dani Colenbunders emerged victorious in the Bastos car, after placing third in the Boucles de Spa, first in the Circuit des Ardennes, first in the TAC Rally, and first in the Rallye deWallonie. In the Ypres 24 Hours, which counted towards the European title, they finished second behind Toivonen’s Prodrive SC RS, helping them towards third overall in the Euro series. Droogmans and Joosten in the Belga SC RS were runners up in the Belgian championship.
The 911 SC RS may be relatively unknown now, but 30 years ago it was a force to be reckoned with on the provincial rally stage. And it’s great that Johan Dirickx’s enthusiasm is ensuring it’s not forgotten today. Though he’s unlikely to put the Bastos car at risk on Goodwood’s arduous Forest stage, he will probably take his other SC RS, Belga chassis number 12. If so, watch out for another Turbo-look rally car in red-and-white livery. One thing’s for sure – you’ll hear it coming first.
TECH DATA PORSCHE 911 SC RS
Engine: Rear-mounted 3.0 flat-six, aluminium block, aluminium ’heads ex-935
Fuelling: Bosch #Kugelfischer
Power and torque: 280bhp @ 7000rpm; 184lb ft @ 6400rpm
Bodyshell Seam-welded, lightweight aluminium wings, doors, front and rear lids and roll cage; glassfibre front and rear panels, valances
Suspension Front: wishbones, MacPherson struts, torsion bars, gas dampers. Rear: semi-trailing arms, torsion bars, gas dampers, anti-roll bar
Performance Top speed: 152mph; 0-60mph: 5.0sec
Weight 980kg (2160lb)
Chassis number WPO ZZZ 91Z ES 110 010
Engine number 63E9 003
Gearbox number 73E9 00002
911SC RS offers understeer and oversteer at will.
‘There’s a tendency towards understeer as I rush into bends. Next thing I’m fighting oversteer too. It’s a sensory overload and a rush of bewildering impressions’
Signatures above writer Johnny Tipler include original owner Jean-Pierre Gaban’s.
‘With no turbocharger, it achieved its performance through weight reduction... At 5.0sec dead, it was 0.2sec quicker to 100kph than the 3.3-litre Turbo’
Cabins of the 21 SC RSs differed, but navigators all got a map light and some had Halda trip meters.
Wheels hang vertical in mid-air thanks to cables preventing the cambers going mega-positive.
3.0-litre flat-six is ‘basically a 935 engine without the turbos’, says owner Johan Dirickx.
The 911 got Jürgen Barth-supplied NOS components when it was restored a few years ago.
aficionado and 911 RS expert Johan Dirickx loves nothing more than drifting his cars on track days, and has raced them at Laguna Seca’s Monterey Classics and Le Mans Classic as well as Goodwood’s exacting Festival of Speed rally course with the Bastos SC RS.
He has owned this car for six years and is compiling a history of all 21 SC RSs. ‘They took 20 SCs off the line and built them into turbo-look cars,’ he explains. ‘Basically the chassis is like a 930 turbo, with bigger brakes, and the engine is something different because it’s really a 935 engine without the turbos and an ’85 rally exhaust. It’s amazing how they brought things together from different cars and made it into something new. That’s unique at Porsche, especially if you go into the race cars. It makes sense because you’re not going to start a production line for 20 cars.’
‘They were pretty fast machines, faster than a turbo at the time because they were light. You have the lollipop seats that are typical for the 935s plus the complete aluminium roll cage, which isn’t allowed any more. ‘Apart from that it’s actually a sweet drive with a little understeer, and you go on the throttle, doing four-wheel slides. You need the power on to do it, and with a little bit higher revs it starts to go a bit. There’s nearly 300 horsepower, so it is bloody quick.’