CALIFORNIA DREAMING / #Porsche-911-SC
John Esposito loves driving his SC RS-insired 911 on SoCal’s sun-kissed roads. When youʼre a long-term Porsche addict with four decades spent working on Stuttgartʼs most desirable metal under your belt, how do you make the drive home special? John Esposito reckons heʼs found the answer, and itʼs pretty hard to argue with… Words & Photos: Andy Tipping.
Iʼm starting to envy John Esposito. Not only does he get to make a living working on some of the most desirable Porsches ever made, but heʼs used that experience to build possibly the ultimate motorsport replica for enjoying the miles of incredible driving roads on his doorstep. Half an hour winding through the Californian countryside under the glow of an autumn sunset, and itʼs a lifestyle I could get used to pretty quickly.
A legend of Californiaʼs world-famous classic Porsche scene, Johnʼs carved out a reputation for meticulously executed restorations, backdating and modifying Stuttgart metal at his eponymous workshop.
A bodyshop guy with 43 years of experience under his belt, heʼs developed an infectious enthusiasm for his work which is reflected by the contents of his garage. Heʼs had 12 356s since he bought his first ʼ1958 coupé in the late 1970s, and this is one of four 911s which make up his current fleet.
To classify it as a simple ʻreplicaʼ would be ignoring most of what makes this so special, and so personal to John. Itʼs an interpretation of the road-going 911SC RS, built as a homologation special for the Rothmans-sponsored Group B rally cars of 1984 and 1985.
Itʼs an homage to one of the rarest Porsches ever made, and a cherry-picked selection of parts heʼs become familiar with through four decades working with the brandʼs most desirable models. This might not be a car for the purists, but a short blast on one of Johnʼs favourite local routes has shown itʼs definitely a car for the road.
Ironically, the original SC RS was just as much of a ʻparts-binʼ car. Porsche had needed a stop-gap competitor for its Group B rally efforts while the four-wheel drive 959 was under development, so it turned to Prodrive in the UK to construct a homologation special for the #1984
season, bankrolled by main sponsor Rothmans. The 3.0-litre SC had just been replaced, but Porsche opted to base its new rally car on the outgoing car instead of the newer 3.2- litre Carrera, in turn meaning only a handful of road cars had to be built. Exterior panels and mechanical parts were based on 1970s racers, such as the 3.0 RSR, while the bodywork was a stripped, stiffened and weight-deprived version of the 930 Turbo. Only 21 were ever built.
This car started with a helping of good luck: ʻThe idea came from a client,ʼ says John. ʻHe approached me to build him an SC RS replica, but he changed his mind at the last minute and opted for an ST in the Toad Hall livery instead, suggesting I should build an SC RS for myself.ʼ
Delighted with his ST, that same client even donated the rolling bodyshell to get Johnʼs project moving: the rust-bitten remains of a 1975 coupé with most of the interior and all of the drivetrain missing. It was the perfect starting point.
ʻThe ʼshell was a lucky find, but it needed extensive metalwork before it was solid enough to begin building into an SC RS replica,ʼ he recalls. ʻThere was plenty of rust and some damage from storage, so I wasnʼt starting with an immaculate, original car. We even changed the roof panel to one without a sunroof while we were restoring it.ʼ With the coupéʼs skeletal structure free from rot and strengthened ready for its extra power, John was able to seek out all of the parts needed to take it beyond its original proportions. Potentially a headache on low-volume homologation cars, the SC RS proved easier than most. The wider arches are identical to those of the 930 Turbo, a relatively easy find for someone so well connected, while the glassfibre bumpers turned up on-line.
Chassis parts were no more of a challenge. Prodrive had used the 930 Turbo as the basis for the chassis setup on the roadgoing SC RS cars, which meant the brakes, suspension and torsion tube could be pulled from crashed donors. John even managed to find a genuine set of 930-spec Fuchs, repainting the centres white as on the original SC RS.
A donor Turbo was also able to donate its entire black leather interior. With no roll cage to avoid when getting in and out, itʼs perhaps the most obvious sign that Johnʼs put his own stamp on the Group B rally car.
ʻItʼs inspired by the SC RS – itʼs not an exact replica,ʼ he explains. ʻI decided early on that I wanted to be able to use it every day, which meant I could keep the audio and fit airconditioning. Itʼs built to be driven on the road.ʼ John lifts the decklid, and more signs of his own take on Prodriveʼs work live beneath. Tony Gerace of nearby Porsche specialist TLG Auto rebuilt the 964- sourced 3.6-litre engine to fast-road spec, which means this produces 290bhp.
Thatʼs more than any cars running under the Rothmans livery, and a significant uplift on the 255bhp of the roadgoing versions – and plenty to offset the weight of the immaculate leather interior.
Unsurprisingly, it doesnʼt spend much time sat still: ʻI donʼt think Iʼd change anything on it,ʼ says John as the flatsix barks into life for the drive back to the workshop. ʻI drive it every day – itʼs a blast. Itʼs really fast, the handling is incredible, and I know exactly what itʼs going to do.ʼ
That bare ʼshell, which could so easily have followed the fashion for backdated early 911 projects, took an unusual twist in Johnʼs hands. Instead of a retro homage, heʼs taken the ingredients of one of the rarest motorsport Porsches ever built and modified the recipe to suit the driving heaven in his back yard.
Fast, impeccably built and used every day, itʼs a truly enviable product of a life well lived.
Out on the open road, at first glance itʼs hard to tell this from an original SC RS – even the licence plate will make you think again…
Engine is 3.6-litre 964 unit built to fast-road spec by Tony Gerace at TLG Auto. It produces a cool 290bhp, more than enough to put a smile on John Espositoʼs face every time he gets behind the wheel.
“IMPECCABLY BUILT AND USED EVERY DAY…”
Full black leather interior was pulled from a donor Turbo – the car was designed to be a daily driver rather than a true SC RS replica, hence the desire for home comforts, such as air-con and a radio!
Itʼs hard to imagine a better driving environment than the mountains of southern California. For Esposito, itʼs his every day driving route…
“WIDER ARCHES ARE IDENTICAL TO THOSE OF THE 930 TURBO…”