- Post is under moderationBehind The Scenes On Our 1969 #Porsche 911 T Film
/ #1969-Porsche-911T / #1969 / #Porsche-911T / #Porsche-911
Each week, with every one of our films, our goal is to bring you not only the cars you love, but the kinds of stories that speak to our shared interests from an individual’s perspective. This week we join an old favorite in the form of this 1969 911 T as we follow Kurht Gerhardt through his favorite driving spots during Los Angeles’ early hours.
After a stint owning some classic Italian steel, Kurht decided that he wanted to hang onto the romance of the vintage experience, but in a package that was altogether more reliable and decidedly easier to find parts and service options for. “I wanted something that was efficient, and that ran right, and that I could get into and just drive.”
An early 901 Porsche fit the criteria, and so he bought two. It might sound strange to label this one-to-two car swap as an instance of reduction, but looking past the size of the garage space required that’s just what’s happened here. The 911, and the T, or Touring, model especially so, is a very simple car. It’s not fitted with extra functionality or many amenities to dilute the driving feel and feedback provided in such a lightweight and focused sports car. This holds true for all early 901 chassis, but it’s the T that’s the most stripped-down model in the range, and arguably the most pleasurable experience because of it.
It’s every bit as quick as he needs it to be, and outside of an R, the T can be considered the Porsche that’s been reduced to the maximum degree — not in the sense of loss in the negative though, but rather that its simplicity adds to the driving characteristics and overall temperament by way of not getting in the way; the T channels a level of purity, of unrefined Porsche personality.
So what does Kurht do to take advantage of this? “One of my favorite things to do is to get up at like six, seven o’clock in the morning on a Sunday.” Living in LA, these early morning weekend hours are the most opportune time to have the weave of the city streets all to yourself, and as you can see in the film, Kurht makes good use of the space available in the first hours of light. It’s a time when the city is still quiet, and the urban and mountain roads alike can offer their true potential to the drivers who seek it.
He also plans to participate in the Peking to Paris race in 2019, taking the dizzying 8,500-mile route as an opportunity to live out a dream of his. “I can’t wait to get out in the Porsche and camp and just rough it,” he says, “being out in the middle of nowhere for six weeks, it’s going to be an amazing adventure.”
In the meantime though, he will continue driving the snot out of this sweet piece of Porsche history, and it’s a plan he has stretched out into the furthest future too; “It’s something I want to keep for life because it’s such a solid car. No matter what, it just keeps on running, and you can beat it up a bit and you can haul ass and it still does great. It starts up every day.”
This is how you use a classic car and wring the most out of it, this is how you Drive Tastefully.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #1968 / #Porsche-911T / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche / #1968-Porsche-911T /
Geoff Love Car prepared. Driver not...
In store for us on this year’s London to Lisbon Trial are 2091 miles, 25 regularities and 14 tests. There is also the option of the Classic Car Tour, which offers less-experienced drivers the opportunity to enjoy a nine-day rally taking in some of the best scenery in France, Spain and Portugal.
With no previous experience, a car from organiser HERO’s Arrive and Drive scheme and the optimism borne of a naïve sense of ‘What can possibly go wrong?’, my co-driver and I have opted for the full-fat Reliability Trial. We may be a little underprepared, yet HERO’s #Porsche-911-2.0T-SWB certainly is not. Finished in periodcorrect Irish Green with a black hide interior, the 1968 Porsche has been the subject of a mechanical and cosmetic restoration in recent years.
It features a full rollcage, harness, bucket seats and Brantz tripmeter. In preparation for the London to Lisbon, it has also been fettled by specialist Andy Prill of Maxted-Page and Prill, who made good a few rattles and a number of minor faults on the carbs and ignition system. The result is a well-sorted and reliable car that should have no problem facing the challenges ahead.
The same unfortunately cannot be said of the crew. The event begins with scrutineering and documentation, which should cause us no problems as the car has been prepared by the organisers. But then we are on our own. Even before the ferry port in Portsmouth at the end of the first day there are two regularities and two tests to navigate – nothing like easing you in gently for the challenges ahead.
The provisional entry list hints at a wonderful selection of cars that will congregate in Greenwich on 27 April for the start. No fewer than seven other Porsche 911s are due to take part, alongside a Riley Brooklands, an Austin 7 Ulster, two Derby Bentleys, a smattering of Austin-Healeys, a gaggle of Morgans, a small pride of Jaguars and an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato. Altogether, nearly 60 cars will be setting out for Lisbon and the gala awards dinner on the Sunday evening nine days later.
Rather optimistically I had a look at the list of awards available for finishers. While we have few illusions of picking up any of the marque or class awards, we have set ourselves the challenge of at least being placed in the ‘Absolute Beginners Trophy’. Follow our (mis)adventures on the Our website.
Top and left HERO’s 911 is ready to roll, and fresh from some engine work by Porsche specialist Andy Prill. If only publisher Geoff Love were fit to match…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationThe Next Level #Porsche-911T vs. #Porsche-911-964 . Got a little more cash to splash on a #911 ? Two decades apart, the E-Series and 964 proffer alternative prospects for around £35k-50k… Got a little more cash to splash on a 911? Although two decades apart, both the #Porsche-E-Series-911T and the #964 offer alternative prospects for around £45,000… Story: Simon Jackson. Photography: Gus Gregory.
There’s a simple and realistic question everyone should ask themselves prior to purchasing a vehicle of any kind. This question cuts through all the hype, drastically reduces any hastily pencilled list of pros and cons, and immediately delivers a sense of serene clarity, and that question is: ‘What am I going to use it for?’. It seems indisputably obvious but it’s not always the first thing a passionate petrolhead considers before embarking on an excitable, sometimes emotional, car shopping journey.
When it comes to Porsches, in particular over 50 years worth of #Porsche-911 variants, asking yourself this question is absolutely imperative. This argument is clarified here with two 911s available for around the same price, both of which are fantastic in their own right, yet which on paper offer very divergent ownership prospects. Indeed, choosing between them could well be a case of deciding exactly what you plan to use them for…
The 964’s transformation in fortunes is almost entirely complete now. Today it’s virtually impossible to purchase one of these post-1989 911s for under £20k, with the exception of the odd rogue convertible or #Targa version perhaps. Once the abhorrent black sheep of the 911 family, today the 964 stands tall as a cherished 911 with a strong following – and rightly so. But despite this reversal in favour the 964 still has some headroom to grow, and prices reflect this steadily rising as the cars become older and good examples become more sought-after. As such, anyone looking above the SC and 3.2 Carrera for a classic yet useable 911 could do far worse than considering a 964 as their #Porsche of choice.
This #1991 #Porsche-911-Carrera-2 , finished in Mint green, is for sale at 4 Star Classics in Hampshire. The lefthand- drive model has been imported from Japan at some point during its lifetime, has covered just 46,000 miles and features the ‘love it or loathe it’ controversial Tiptronic gearbox. As you might imagine given the mileage it’s in exceptional condition, and is offered for sale at £39,995.
Stepping inside the 964, one is reminded of how this model really does bridge the gap between what you might interpret as a true ‘classic’ 911s and more modern versions such as the 993 or 996. The driving position and dashboard layout owe more to Porsches of old than we might have first realised when the car was new back in the Nineties, and this projects a familiar and tangible ‘modern classic’ environment.
With the weather doing its utmost to hamper progress and dampen the day during our photoshoot, the 964 presents a delightful safe haven – it feels old enough to be special, yet current enough to offer the touches of modernity a day like today may require. Heating to effectively and quickly clear the screen, door rubbers capable of keeping copious amounts of rain water at bay, plus a reliable and tractable drivetrain. It all feels wholly useable.
Out on the road that persona remains as the driving experience is exceptionally friendly. This isn’t a Porsche that fights you at every step, rather one that wishes to make life as smooth as possible. In combination with the four-speed Tiptronic gearbox, the engine offers relatively sedate progress, belying the book figures of 250hp produced by the 3600cc flat-six. But when pushed a touch harder the C2 will pick up pace accordingly. For all intents and purposes this is a 911 you could happily use 365 days of the year.
Steering is light yet offers progressive turn-in bite and a depth of feel often missing in more modern machinery, so perhaps the only real flaw here is that often-loathed Tiptronic gearbox, which certainly doesn’t deliver as urgent or progressive a driving experience as a contemporary #PDK system. However, despite how our first choice would undoubtedly be a manual ’box in this generation of 911, the Tiptronic cog-swapper is perhaps not the malevolent piece of devil engineering it is depicted as by some. Worse things happen at sea.
In many regards, for me, the 964 is of a period just prior to the over-indulgence of technology in cars, when form followed function to just the right degree, cars were more lithe and simplistic offering the perfect balance of driveability, comfort and convenience, and straight-talking sex appeal not electronic dominance. For me, the 964’s legacy will be that it was the last truly classically-styled 911, offering a driving experience that looked ahead to the future, while taking a leaf from the book of the past. Personally I can’t think of another 911 I would rather use everyday, but perhaps the 964 has now become too precious for that kind of thing?
As you’ll no doubt be all too aware, early 911s of all variants are incredibly sought after today, so it’s little wonder that even the more basic models which used to offer plausible entry-level 911 ownership not so many years ago, are now becoming pretty expensive investments. The 1970s 911T is one such model that is going through a rapid acceleration in asking prices, and as such it makes a very plausible case for purchase to anyone in the market for a £40,000 (and upwards) classic 911.
The car you see here is an E-Series, available in #1971 - 1972 , with it came a new 2341cc engine which resulted in these cars being commonly referred to as the ‘2.4-litre’ 911. The E-Series boasted Bosch mechanical fuel injection over the carburettor alternative, and is noted for its oil tank (and subsequent filler flap) located between the right-hand door and rear-wheel arch – a feature dropped in the summer of #1972 to avoid owners filling their oil tanks with fuel.
This Light yellow car, offered for sale by 4 Star Classics for £49,995, is a 1972 911T and has covered 81,000 miles from new. It might seem a world apart from the aforementioned 964, but with its five-speed manual gearbox, ventilated disc brakes and mechanical fuel injection system, it is effectively just as useable as its 1990s equivalent – if a touch more precious.
Firing the 911T into action is a smile-inducing experience, as the sound of that traditional aircooled flat-six greets one’s ears. There’s just something so infectious about that tuneful clamour. Moving from the 964 into this 911, two decades its senior, you’d quite rightly expect a level of shock at your basic surroundings to befall you, but thanks to the 911’s gentle evolutionary nature this car doesn’t feel as ‘night and day’ compared with the 964 as you might first expect. Typically period pliant seating offers levels of comfort a few modern machines could learn a thing or two from, and the steering wheel and gear knob provide chunky tactile points of contact for the driver. Pure Seventies. Engaging drive is a characteristically air-cooled procedure, matching revs for take-off doesn’t take one too long to master and there’s a reassuringly consistent disposition to all the vital controls – unlike some classic cars of the era which can provide a temperamental driving experience to say the least. Once in motion, as with all classic 911s, the gearbox can take some getting used to, but once mastered and when handled with the correct level of aptitude and care, the change between gears is a satisfying process. Turn-in is a weightier affair than with the 964, but it is direct and confidence-inspiring, allowing the driver to get back on the throttle at his or her earliest convenience. It really is an enjoyable drive.
In pursuit of the 964, the 911T provides perhaps its biggest shock – its level of performance. It feels brisk, in relative terms, fooling the brain into believing that the (over) 100hp deficit to the penultimate aircooled 911 ahead must be some kind of misprint. Unlike the cosseting more modern 964, this car encouragingly feels like a true classic sports car, one you could enjoy on the back routes or on your local track in equal measure. My only complaint is that I wish I was driving this car on a beautiful summer’s day – hardly the fault of the car! The 911T feels like just the right mix of classic Porsche, not too precious that you won’t want to push it from time-to-time, but not too quick that you’d feel the need to rinse it for every tenth of a second just to invoke a thrill through the controls. In many respects it seems to currently occupy a 911 sweet spot…
Of course it goes without saying that these two 911s are very different. The 19 years that separate them may visually represent a typically mild Porsche evolution, but psychically under the skin it’s more of a revolution. So you might be expecting me to tell you that the comparative result is that today they do entirely different jobs, but I’m not going to – because I’m not sure they do…
Given the sought-after nature (and not forgetting their asking prices) of these two variants of 911, both the 911T and 964 have morphed, seemingly in parallel, into Porsche 911s which you probably wouldn’t want to use on a day-to-day basis, and in a way that defines this duo. Deciding which one to buy really does come back to that question we discussed earlier: ‘What am I going to use it for?’.
If you’re looking for a financial investment opportunity that will only appreciate in value, then based on historical evidence either of these cars offer value for money and should be almost bulletproof in terms of depreciation. If you buy the right example you probably can’t go wrong there. If you want a Porsche for high days and holidays, a car to roll out of the garage a few times a year when the sun is shining or for the annual pilgrimage to something like the Goodwood Revival, again, the world’s your oyster with this pairing – just take your pick. Want to drive your 911 to work once a week or enjoy it strictly during your leisure at weekends? Guess what – a 911T or a 964 would make for the perfect partner too. And, if you’re a strictly dedicated enthusiast there’s certainly an argument that either could be used on a day-to-day level.
Of course you might be thinking that there are other Porsches, other 911s perhaps which display this all-round ability, and you might be right. But as the star of both these cars rise up the classified listings in harmony, it’s clear that choosing a 911 in this price bracket has never presented a tougher decision.
Firing the 911T into action is a smile-inducing experience, as the sound of that air-cooled flat-six greets one’s ears.
Comparing 911s from different eras, which in essence offer completely different ownership concepts, is no easy task. In reality there’s nothing wrong with any of the prospects we have examined here; the #Porsche-911SC would make the perfect starter air-cooled 911, and those with a little more cash to splash might consider a 911T or a 964 – two already popular versions of Stuttgart’s icon, but cars which can still be acquired for a reasonable outlay… well, reasonable in Porsche terms anyway.
Naturally there are many other variants of 911 which could sit alongside our selections here, most notably the 3.2 Carrera, and undoubtedly you’ll have your own ideas. But the message is clear; whichever path you choose you’re sure to end up with a 911 you can cherish and use in equal measure, and which, in theory, should not lose value. Of course, that’s not why the majority of enthusiasts purchase Porsche cars in the first instance, but it’s certainly a nice silver lining to owning one of the world’s most iconic sports cars, right?Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationONE OF THE FAMILY
Ron Fleming has owned his #1972 #Porsche-911S for four whole decades… Not many people can boast of having owned a car for as long as Ron Fleming, for he bought his black #911S 40 years ago! We look back over four decades of life with a 1972 #Porsche . Words & photos: Keith Seume.
Ron’s name will be familiar to many people with a passing interest in high-performance Volkswagens and off-road racing. His company, FAT Performance, based in Orange, California, has an enviable reputation for building race-winning motors for cars competing in the SCORE off-road race series in California and Mexico.
Ron is still also heavily involved with the world of VW drag racing, a sport in which he first became embroiled back in the late 1960s, first at the wheel of a Bug called Underdog, later in control of a legendary racer called Tar Babe. And today, he competes regularly in the VW Super Street championship in a 300+bhp nine-second Beetle. But let’s turn the clock back a way – back to the early-1970s, in fact. Having spent (who said misspent?) his youth racing VWs on the drag strip and embarrassing muscle car drivers on the street, Ron – like so many other #VW owners, then and now – began to lust after a Porsche. He bought a 911T which he proceeded to modify, with a hot 2.4-litre engine, boredout Webers, Carrera-style flares and suitably wide Fuchs wheels. It scratched the itch, but he still wanted more – more in the form of a 911S.
In 1975, He sold the #Porsche-911T and tracked down a black sunroof 911S. Being a 1972 model, it had a 2.4-litre engine and oil-filler in the rear quarter panel. The stock engine (which displaced 2341cc) produced 190bhp at 6500rpm and was equipped with the original Bosch mechanical fuel-injection. The car already had an interesting story attached before Ron bought it. The ‘S’ left the factory in Light Yellow, destined for sale at the famous Vasek Polak dealership at Hermosa Beach, on Pacific Coast Highway. It seems that a customer came in one day and was desperate to buy a new 911S, but it had to be in black. After some phone calls, the salesman came back with the news that there were no black ones available anywhere.
The solution? Take the Light Yellow car sat in the showroom and repaint it for the customer! Can’t help wondering how many dealers today would go that far to get a sale – and how many customers would be happy to accept a new car that had been repainted before it had even turned a wheel? Not many, I’m sure.
With just 34,000 miles on the clock when it came into Ron’s ownership, the 911S was sound in wind and limb but, Ron being Ron, he dropped the engine out in his workshop and tore it apart to check all was OK. It almost goes without saying that it was fine after so few miles but Ron just wanted to make sure…
However, it was perhaps inevitable that Ron’s hot-rod instincts would come into play before too long, so it was only a matter of time before he tore the engine apart and rebuilt it with a pair of SC-spec cams, which helped boost power to a very useful 212bhp – 22 more than stock and enough to keep Ron happy (for now).
Ron’s programme of personalising the ‘S’ has manifested itself in a number of ways, some subtle, some not quite so. None, however, have done anything to detract from the character (and desirability) of this most sought after of early 911Ss. Ron likes black cars – his race car had been black, as was his old Oval-window VW street car – but to him the 1972 #911 just wasn’t ‘black’ enough. ‘When the later cars came out, with their black-anodised trim, I knew that was what I wanted,’ says Ron.
But rather than have the brightwork around the windows and door frames anodised, he chose to have them powdercoated instead, because he’d seen how black anodising often suffered in the strong California sunshine, turning purple before your very eyes. He had the headlamp rims coated, too, along with the door handles and ‘S’ body trim. He also swapped the door mirror for one from a 1974 model as it was the smallest available in black, at the same time fitting factory-supplied tinted glass all round.
The personalisation process didn’t stop there, though. Turning to the interior, Ron had local trim specialist, Don ‘Brad’ Bradford reupholster the seats and door panels in his trademark ‘fat biscuit’ style. This is a reference to the double-stitched pattern on the seat inserts, which many thought resembled a tray of freshly-baked biscuits! Brad’s handiwork was regarded as unsurpassable for quality in the 1970s and original examples of his workmanship are treasured today, particularly within the VW scene.
Among other changes Ron made to the interior were to fit the passenger door card from a European-spec RHD 911 to the driver’s side door of his LHD car. This meant that he now had a proper arm rest and door pull on both doors, for greater comfort and convenience. Later, he also had Brad stitch up some new footwell mats, which included a pair of speakers so that he wouldn’t have to cut holes in the retrimmed door panels.
Ron drove the car like this for close to 10 years, by which time the paintwork was beginning to show its age. Needless to say, he had it repainted in – you guessed it – the original black. Well, what else did you expect?
By the mid-1990s, the car had clocked up over 230,000 miles on the rebuilt engine and showed no signs of needing anything other than routine maintenance and tyres – ‘Oh, plenty of tyres!’, quipped Ron. He drove the 911 virtually every single day to work from his home in Yorba Linda, California, and was constantly hassled by people wanting to buy the car.
One Japanese visitor would regularly leave his business card under the windscreen wiper, while another hopeful offered Ron the sum of $25,000 for the car… Yes, we did say $25,000. That was quite a bit for an old 911 back then, even an ‘S’. But, as the owner said at the time, ‘What else can I buy that would give me as much pleasure?’ – and he was right, what could he have bought?
And talking of prices, one of the little extras of which Ron is most proud is the factory touring kit, which he bought for the car not long after he acquired it. Consisting of all that was deemed necessary to keep the 911S on the road during a lengthy transcontinental drive, it includes a spare valve spring, a new belt for the MFI pump, a drain plug, fuses, clutch cable and a set of plugs and points. In the 1970s, it cost just $27, but it’s hard to imagine what it would change hands for on the open market today.
You can’t own a car for this length of time and not have some stories to tell, particularly if you’re a hot-rodder at heart. Ron still smiles when he recounts his two favourite tales, one being of the time when he was heading across the desert on the way to a show. Feeling the need for ‘refreshment’, he spied a sign stating that the next service station was 143 miles away. As his needs became more urgent, he planted his foot to the floor and rolled into the gas station within the hour…
The second story is one of those which are best enjoyed around a fire with a beer or two to hand. Ron and a friend were on the way to New Mexico, rolling along at a steady 130mph, or so, when they were spotted by a member of the Highway Patrol who took a rather dim view of the 911’s rate of knots. Pulling the Porsche over, clearly the officer thought it was his lucky day as he took out his notebook and wandered over to speak to the anxious driver.
Ron, knowing that the safekeeping of his licence lay in the balance, immediately launched into a tall tale that he hoped would appease the officer’s obvious wrath. When asked why he was driving so fast, his reply was to the effect that the car was suffering from serious fuel-delivery problems, thanks to the belt-driven fuel-injection pump. ‘I need to keep the engine rpm as high as I can, or it won’t run at all!’ he told the patrolman. ‘If I leave it in low gear, it overheats, so I need to drive as fast as I can to keep up the airflow.’ he said.
The officer gave Ron a sideways look and asked if he thought it was possible to reduce the speed just a little. ‘Would a hundred be OK?’ asked the driver, to which the officer mumbled something which Ron took to be in the affirmative, at which point the black 911S headed off down the road, with one very relieved owner at the wheel.
In more recent times, Ron has continued to make changes to the car, the most evident of which is a swap to 16-inch wheels, which have been detailed to resemble the earlier style of Fuchs (the original 15-inch rims are tucked away safely in the garage). This has broadened the choice of tyres and also helped to sharpen the handling. In addition, Ron carried out another engine rebuild, swapping the cams for new grinds from WebCam, who also supply camshafts for his drag race motors.
Today, the black ‘S’ competes for Ron’s favour with his beloved rag-top #VW-Beetle , with which it currently shares garage space. He’s taken the ‘S’ on R Gruppe ‘treffen’, and frequently visited the late lamented Cars & Coffee at Irvine – he’s even lent it to yours truly on several occasions. But it doesn’t get used as much as he would like, so Ron occasionally talks about how maybe he should think about selling the 911.
Sadly, the way the market is now, it’s too valuable to drive every day in rush hour freeway traffic, and he can no longer simply park it outside while he dives into his favourite sushi bar for fear of theft or damage. But selling it would leave a Porsche-sized void in the garage which he would struggle to fill. And anyway, how could anyone bring themselves to sell a member of the family?
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- Post is under moderationHAPPY DAYS EKLUND RALLY PORSCHE 911
We take a look at the recently-restored Per Eklund #Porsche-911-SCRS rally car. Swedish rally star Per Eklund ran this factory-built 911 as a privateer in the WRC in 1978 and #1981 , and now it’s been totally restored. We caught it in action on the rally stage at 2014’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Words: Johnny Tipler. Photos: Antony Fraser (statics), Johan Dirickx (archive), Johnny Tipler (action).
I duck instinctively. A cloud of dust, stones flying everywhere as the white 911 sweeps sideways round the final bend on Goodwood’s Festival of Speed rally stage, barrelling angrily along the final run between the bales to the finish line. It’s Johan Dirickx, Belgian Porschephile extraordinaire, resolutely helming his latest acquisition, the ex-Per Eklund SC.
Whilst snappers are liberally showered with shingle, there’s no particular danger of an off as Johan is familiar with the course, having run his Bastos SCRS here on previous occasions. He has a penchant for 911s with provenance, and bought the Eklund car in 2013, its illustrious rally star owner having abandoned the restoration that he’d implemented a full 15 years earlier. In the past year, under Johan’s tenure, the car has been comprehensively rebuilt from the bare shell – including a repaint and replicating the original Happy People livery – at Johan’s 911Motorsport workshops in Kontich, Belgium. All mechanical work, including a comprehensive engine and transmission rebuild, has been expertly carried out inhouse by Mike van Dingenen.
A passionate collector, Johan makes an acute assessment of the Eklund 911: ‘There were two factory cars – the East African Safari cars – and then there were three cars built to most of the Safari specs, and one of those is this one, the Per Eklund car. I think two of the three client cars still survive. So this car was pretty much built up like the Safari cars, and that’s why it is a little bit higher, and if you look at the rear wheel arches you’ll note that they are much wider than SC wheel arches, more like STs. There are signs that this is an experimental engine; you’ve got the high butterflies and single-plug ignition, which is strange because most of those engines ran on twin sparks. The engine sounds pretty similar to the SCRS; it’s a deep boom. I absolutely love it.
‘Also the suspension is different to what you would expect, and it could indicate it was a prototype, because the car is much higher. Those were some of the little things that #Porsche did at the time when it was built into a race car; all those little things that only Porsche did that no individual would ever have done.’
The car has an intriguing provenance. Chassis number #911 410 2989, it only competed in a couple of WRC events, though Per Eklund campaigned it in a number of less important rallies, the car ending up with 935 style front bodywork doing autocross, a discipline (if that’s the right word) that Eklund excels in. A works Saab rally driver from #1970 to 1979, he scored a fair number of podiums at the wheel of a 96 V4, and like several of his countrymen he is up there with the gods of the WRC. He was Swedish Rally Champion in 1978, and Swedish Rallycross Champion as recently as 2004.
So how come the #Porsche-911 ? In 1978 Per was looking for a suitable rally car for the #1978 WRC season, and was introduced by his pal, Prodrive engineer David Lapworth, to the exalted short run of rally 911s that Porsche was building in Weissach at the time.
This batch consisted of just five cars, two of which were retained by the factory, one ordered by Alméras Frères (winners of the 1978 Monte Carlo Rally with Jean- Pierre Nicolas), and one by Prodrive, in the pipeline for Henri Toivonen to contest the 1984 European Rally Championship, while the fifth went to Eklund Motorsport.
Rather than being the very latest kit to come out of Weissach, the specification actually dates from four years earlier, 1974, when Porsche homologated the 911 to FIA regulation 3062. The competition department didn’t actuate the homologation until 1978 when they decided to build up the SC as a competition car to Safari spec, based on FIA 3062. The factory finally decided to go for the East African Safari Rally and nail the win, according to Jürgen Barth, who was, predictably, involved with the project at Weissach, along with Roland Kussmaul.
Working backwards, in 1974 Porsche created what they called the ST kit, which seems to have been an adjunct to the pre-existing ST race car spec that came into being as a factory-derived competition car in 1970. Although not well documented, it’s likely that 15 examples of the original 2.3-litre #Porsche-911ST were built in race and rally format, with a further 23 units of the 2.5-litre 911ST documented as race cars. In The Porsche Book, Jürgen Barth lists the chassis numbers of 15 special 911S race and rally cars from 1970 and 1971, with 23 race cars from #1972 . The ST designation was an in-house amalgam of the #Porsche-911S engine and the lighter #Porsche-911T chassis.
Eight years on, it enabled Porsche to build this small run of rally 911s to comply with the #FIA papers based on the 1974 car. Porsche judged the 1974 car to be the lightest base-model of the range, and so that was the starting point for the 1978 project. While a number of key privateers like Kremer and GELO Racing acquired STs and SC packages in the early ’70s, these later kits were so rally specific that only Alméras, Prodrive and Eklund Motorsport got them.
The Alméras SC was also a narrow-body Group 3 lookalike, and they had a second 911 which was the Group 4 car, built up as a wide body Tarmac specification car, on account of the fundamentally Tarmac requirement of French rallies, whereas Prodrive and Per Eklund stayed with the narrow bodied 911, given the gravel-strewn surfaces of the rallies they would be entering.
These two cars were built at the same time, but with significant collaboration between Per Eklund and David Lapworth. As such, the cars resemble each other very closely, and were equally similar in specification to the two 1978 works Safari cars (see sidebar).
The comprehensive ST kit installed in the lightweight car comprises the 300bhp 3.0-litre flat-six built by Porsche Motorsport (with butterfly injection instead of the slider injection that was prone to jam due to dust on rally stages), a close-ratio gearbox with oil pump and cooler on top of the ’box (like the RSR), a 10,000rpm rev counter, competition clutch, competition exhaust manifolds and system, and a front-mounted #Porsche-935 oil tank.
The uprated suspension components include front springs and struts with coil-over rear shocks, wrapped alloy trailing arms, and uprated brakes based on the 935’s at the front. There’s a front-mounted engine oil cooler, bias-adjustable pedal box, rear ducktail engine-lid spoiler, rear wing extensions in metal, and front alloy crossmember. The shell is reinforced in strategic places, including the engine bay and suspension mounts, with double-skinned front wheelarches and alloy roll cage. A battery of four Bosch spotlamps on the front lid completes the image.
According to Per Eklund, the kit did not include the additional rally equipment of sump guards, seat, spotlights and steering wheel, and hydraulic handbrake, which he didn’t like. At the time, seats and steering wheel were left to driver choice, and sump guards were fitted according to the nature of the stages the cars were rallied on. The fuel tank was original so the spare wheel could be carried. Fuchs wheels were fitted at the front, and Fuchs or ATS Cookie Cutters on the back, depending on the nature of the stages. Per Eklund confirms that he received the complete ST kit from Jürgen Barth as one of the three selected teams, and indeed Jürgen refers to the batch as ‘STs with Porsche Motorsport’.
The Per Eklund 911SC (or is it ‘ST’?…) began life as a standard car, converted with Porsche support in his Swedish workshop and remained in his ownership until Johan bought it. Bedecked in its jolly Happy People livery, its moment of glory was Finland’s FIA 1000 Lakes Rally of 1978, where Per and co-pilot Björn Cederberg finished 4th – having been 3rd on the road but docked a place for speeding on a transit section and receiving a time penalty.
The 1000 Lakes was also nicknamed the Thousand Jumps on account of the notorious ’yumping’ over countless blind crests. A photo in Motor Sport’s October 1978 edition shows the Happy People car chucking up mud while spectators on a sunny hillside shelter under brollies. Amazingly, this was the very first time that Porsche scored points on gravel in the World Rally Championship.
And the sponsor? According to Johan, ‘Happy People was a non profit organisation, and it seems that it still exists.’ But whether any funds changed hands, or Per just liked the logo is a moot point. As Johan says, ‘Per did not have any sponsorship and therefore volunteered to carry “Happy People” on the car, and even if that isn’t 100 per cent true, it is a nice story.’ The Eklund SC was then used at National Championship level with a good degree of success in rallies like the Hunsrück in 1979, and in the #1981 Swedish Rally where, notwithstanding its age, Per finished 9th overall, sponsored by Publimmo, with co-driver Ragnar Spjuth. This pair contested the 1981 Rally of 1000 Lakes, but failed to finish because of mechanical problems. Resplendent in white Clarion livery, Per then went rallycrossing with it, funking it up with 935 style droop-soot nose, front lid and polyester bumpers, all parts supplied by Porsche. These period parts have been kept with the car, including the original Swedish number plate, HOH 276. The car was then retired and placed in the local motor museum at Arvik, Karlstad, Sweden, part of which is dedicated to Per and his WRC successes, including his formidable Metro 6R4 from 1986.
Back in the late ’90s Per decided to restore the car with the idea that he would enter the European Historic Rally Championship, so he extracted it from the museum. In 1999 the original Porsche Motorsport engine and gearbox were dispatched to Francis Tuthill for overhaul, though they remain under wraps and have never been reinstalled in the car. The projected restoration was never finished: Per was pulled from the project to run an X-Games (X = Extreme sports) team in the States, so in #2013 ownership of the car passed to Johan Dirickx.
Perfectionist that he is, Johan instantly embarked on a full restoration, from bare metal repaint and application of the red-nosed clown and Happy People identification, based on a multitude of period archive images, to a comprehensive rebuild of the drivetrain and running gear. Happy People? A genial identity for such a fierce bolide. Still, it makes everyone smile.
Which brings us to the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s Rally stage. I asked Johan’s friend, Alan Benjamin from Denver, for his impression of hurling it around the Goodwood rally course. ‘Absolutely fantastic, and a huge grin every run,’ enthuses the laconic Colorado man. ‘I am one of the few American rallyists here; we don’t really do rallying in the USA that much. Except for Pike’s Peak, which is now all paved. But Johan, my best Porsche buddy in Belgium, allows me to do this, and then he comes over to the US and races some of my Porsches at Laguna Seca, so we have a good international alliance.
‘But the Goodwood rally track is narrow, it’s pot-holed and the edges of the track, as we would say in the US, are trees, so when you’re driving someone else’s expensive car you try and leave a little bit out there and let the car owner and the pros really go for it. But it’s absolutely fantastic and the car is getting better every day.’
What about the particular methodology of driving a loose, off-road rally stage? ‘The skill sets are completely different. There are way bigger slip angles, and if you had that much slip angle on pavement you would be dramatic but overall you would be slower, a lot more power and oversteer, less four-wheel drifting, but either way, it’s a blast!’ From last year’s 3m 24s in the Bastos car, Johan managed 3m 11s in the Eklund car. ‘We could have done better if the gearbox and final drive were more adapted to the terrain,’ mused Johan. ‘If this had been the case, 3m 05s would have been possible.’
The Happy People SC remained in Per’s ownership for 35 years, and that’s a testimony in itself, even though it got neglected latterly. But now it’s in Johan’s tenure, benefiting from a nut-and-bolt rebuild, and knowing of his penchant for letting his beast off the leash, we’ll be seeing lots more of the car in historic rallies. Happy days!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWAR HORSE PORSCHE 356 RACER REBUILT
The fascinating tale of John da Silva Lucas’s #Porsche-356-Carrera racer. After an early life spent racing at club level in Kenya, this little coupé gained notoriety on British circuits as the star of many a David and Goliath battle against far quicker 911s. We step behind the wheel of the recently restored former John and Caroline Lucas 356 Carrera. Words and photos: Keith Seume. Archive material courtesy of Roger. Bray/Caroline Lucas/Ian Robertson.
Many of our older readers will be familiar with the name John da Silva Lucas, he of the receding curly hair, glasses and winning smile. The wicked glint in his eye only hinted at a devilish sense of humour, one which saw him take delight as his daughter Caroline took on all odds – modern 911s included – in the old Porsche Club GB championship driving a well-worn 356 Carrera coupé.
John Lucas – ‘Lukie’ to his friends – enjoyed a laugh but behind the seemingly casual exterior lay a person who looked into every possible way to make an old Porsche competitive against far more modern and more powerful machinery. He and Lotus founder Colin Chapman could have come out of the same mould, for both saw the benefits of ‘adding lightness’ to make a less-powerful car competitive. But of that, more anon…
The story really begins back in December #1956 when Porsche chassis number 58162 was driven off the assembly line at Stuttgart. This was a #Porsche-356A Carrera, finished in Aquamarine Blue with a contrasting grey leatherette interior – and right-hand drive. The number stamped into the crankcase of the four-cam engine was 90743, while the special-order low-ratio gearbox bore the serial number 12396. And although built in Germany, 58162 was destined for warmer, dustier climes: Kenya.
We can thank a future owner, Ian Robertson, for compiling the early history of the car, his efforts appearing as a story in Porsche Club GB’s Porsche Post magazine a few years ago. The first owner was WJ ‘Jim’ Cardwell who was well-known in local motorsport circles for his class-winning ways in the East African Safari Rally, while partnered by his wife Lucille. Of note is that he also won the East African GT Championship on more than one occasion at the wheel of this very Carrera. Now Kenya and circuit racing are not commonly mentioned in the same sentence, largely because, at the time, there was only one race track available: Nakuru, located in Kenya’s beautiful Rift Valley. Better known today for its lake and nature reserve, populated by countless flaming goes, Nakuru was the home of Kenyan motorsport, but only hosted events three or four times a year. These events were typically two-day affairs held over a weekend, with practice on the Saturday, followed by the race proper on Sunday. In 1963, after almost six years of hard use, the Carrera, still with its four-cam engine, was sold to Irish ex-pat, Bill Parkinson, who also raced and rallied in East Africa, with considerable success. In fact, he also won the GT Championship at the wheel of the same Carrera. Parkinson had a reputation for being both outspoken and generous, and it’s the latter side to his character which led to the Carrera’s mechanical downfall.
It seems that his generosity extended as far as lending his car to an Italian friend to race at Nakuru – and that’s where things started to go wrong. Intending to shift from third into fourth gear, foot to the floor, the hapless driver – possibly unused to driving a right-hand drive car – shifted into second by mistake. Now even the high-revving four-cam has its limits, and they were well and truly exceeded at this point. There were two alternatives available: either send the engine back to the factory (there were no official Porsche dealers in Kenya at the time) or fit a suitable replacement. The former option would have meant the car was out of action for quite possibly several months, the latter would see it back on track immediately, if a little down on power. The second option was the one of choice…
A Super 90 motor was sourced and installed in the Carrera (as would be the case with many Carreras over the years) which meant that the 356 was now less than ideally geared for circuit use. The problem was that the four-cam engine could be revved quite happily to 7300rpm, whereas the Super 90’s maximum rpm was closer to 6000 revs. What were ideally-placed close-ratio gears for the high-revving Fuhrmann motor were somewhat limiting as far as the pushrod engine was concerned.
Of no matter for it meant that the Porsche could once again see some track action, the big Carrera-spec drum brakes and uprated suspension meaning that the car was still a fun drive around Nakuru, if not especially competitive. However, Bill Parkinson decided to put the car up for sale and it was snapped up by Ian Robertson. Although the engine did need attention not long after purchase (it began consuming oil, requiring a full rebuild), the new owner drove the car for several thousand miles over the course of the next 19 years. His work took him from Kenya to Uganda (Entebbe, immortalised by the military coup) and then back to Nairobi in Kenya once more. Here the owner continued to race the Carrera at Nakuru, crossing paths with Gordon Crow, who had recently re-opened an official Porsche dealership in Kenya (see Kenyan Memories, issue #22) and whose business greatly facilitated maintenance on the hard-working 356.
In 1969, a transfer back to London saw Ian Robertson import the Carrera and get it registered on UK licence plates. At the time, nobody cared about (or was even offered) an ‘age-related’ number plate, so the 1965-built coupé was granted a #1969 registration number, #GPX890H . Once he’d joined Porsche Club #Drive-My , Robertson began using the Carrera once more for motorsport, competing in events at Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, Goodwood and Silverstone.
The car was also used for a daily commute of some 80 miles, to and from Heathrow airport from its Sussex base. This was in the days before the M25 motorway and, despite its age and hard life, the 356 coped well, seeing some 12,000 miles added to its mileage in around six months. During this time it suffered just one failure, a broken cylinder head stud, which was quickly and simply repaired.
The Carrera was tucked away in storage in west London for four years while the owner went to New Zealand on business. He returned to the UK in 1978, but eventually decided to emigrate to New Zealand, arriving there in October 1984. The decision was also made to sell the Carrera before leaving the UK, the car being snapped up by well-known Porsche racer and 356 guru, John da Silva Lucas.
John had raced 356s with the Porsche Club for many years, gaining a reputation for being able to persuade their little four-cylinder engines to produce levels of horsepower that others could only dream of at the time. It was John’s ability to think outside the box that made his cars special, and he was very much an advocate of ‘form follows function’ for it would be true to say that he was not overly concerned with achieving a concours finish if the same amount of effort could be applied elsewhere to make the car quicker.
John’s master plan was to make the car as light as possible. He generally ran the car in Porsche Club events where he mixed it with rivals driving far more modern and powerful 911s, so anything he could do to improve the power to weight ratio would be advantageous. At this stage, had anyone been aware of the extent to which John would pursue this plan of attack, they would have done well to invest in Black & Decker company shares… To say that John attacked the Carrera with gusto would be something of an understatement.
Today, of course, nobody in their right mind would dream of desecrating a genuine 356 Carrera in this manner, but to John Lucas it was an old 356 which was simply a tool with which he could embarrass the ‘moderns’. Out came the hole saw, out came the drills, as John set out to remove as much weight as possible from the already stripped-out coupé. Every inch of double-skinning was turned into a metallic imitation of Swiss cheese, while every square inch of what he considered to be excess material was pared from the likes of door locks, window winders, door skins and seat mountings. If something wasn’t actually needed to hold the car together, it got trimmed down – or thrown in the bin.
John’s daughter, Caroline, frequently drove the featherweight Carrera, cutting her racing teeth before getting behind the wheel of a #Porsche-911T in the Porsche Challenge, a supplementary series to the PCGB Production Championship. In 1994, she became champion in this series, driving a #Porsche-924S . She was second in the 1995 #Porsche Cup and then entered the British GT Championship. In 1998 and 1999, she drove a #Porsche-911-RSR run by PK Sport, finishing 11th and 13th in races at Spa and Silverstone in the first season, with the best result being a ninth place, at Donington, in a GT2 in the next.
Although she undoubtedly had fun in the old Carrera, in an interview for sister title #911 & Porsche World magazine back in 1995, Caroline recounted how she never really expected to make an impact on the race scene, believing she never actually had the ability to achieve anything special: ‘Upsetting the men in my father’s #Porsche-356A-Carrera seemed to be the highlight of the day when, according to them, I used to be in the way. I was “The mobile chicane”, they used to joke. I only managed muted success and, looking back, some of this was me, coupled with the modern technology of my competitors superseding that of the pretty 356.’
John Lucas, though, used to take delight at the antics of the 911s in their efforts to overhaul the 356. I remember him telling me with glee how the ‘moderns’ occasionally struggled to keep up with the little coupé on the straights. The secret? Well, at one point, the engine in the back of the Carrera wasn’t quite what it seemed.
‘Nobody ever paid much attention to the car in the paddock – to the mit was just an old Porsche with a little four cylinder engine,’ Lucas told the author. ‘So when I ran a big VW motor in it, nobody noticed – or if they did, they didn’t care…’ The ‘big VW motor’ which John ran at one point was a potent concoction featuring Scat ‘split-port’ heads (aftermarket items along the lines of the separate cylinder heads used on Porsche’s 911) and dual Webers. It probably produced upwards of 170bhp which, in a lightweight 356, was more than enough to keep the big bangers at bay on the straights. ‘It was great,’ laughed John, ‘but we couldn’t keep up round the bends.’
Ultimately the Porsche was retired and, with John’s passing, fell into the hands of Porsche restorer Roger Bray in Devon. Roger had known John Lucas of old and knew the car well – and its significance in UK #Porsche-356-Carrera history. He was in something of a quandary, as Carrera values had gone through the roof and, while the ex-Lucas car was far from original, it was still a genuine factory Carrera. Just one which had been drilled full of holes…
Looking at the bodyshell in its stripped state, it was obvious that to restore it to original would require an absurdly large amount of time and effort. But, there again, with #Carrera values what they are… No, thought Roger, this is a car with a great story and deserves to be kept that way. And we wholeheartedly agree.
The shell was repaired as necessary (time had taken its toll in a number of places) and certain ‘race mods’, such as a single-skin aluminium deck lid and lightened door catches, replaced with original parts on the grounds of longevity and safety. Although Caroline had raced the car bedecked with tiny red teardrop decals, Roger opted to keep the car plain white, as it had been when John Lucas first took it under his wing, with repro decals added for our photoshoot.
Inside, the original MotoLita steering wheel was retained, while a pair of Speedster-style seats replaced the worn modern race ‘bucket’ fitted by John to keep the scrutineers sweet. Still with its plastic side and rear windows, rear roll-cage and race harnesses, and now running a ‘warm’ 356 motor once more, this was how I came to drive the legendary ‘Lukie’ #Porsche-356 . And I can tell you, with so little weight, it felt quicker than a stock Carrera, and a whole lot more fun than any #Porsche-356-Super-90 .
Taking to the byways of Devon, I could almost hear John’s laugh over my shoulder as he urged me to keep ahead of the modern hatchbacks. It’s a fun drive and one which the new owner will enjoy for many years to come, of that I’m sure. It’s now sporting a fully-trimmed interior, but let’s just hope it never gets returned to being ‘just another’ stock Carrera. That, after all, would be a crying shame.
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