Where else but in Southern California could you wake up early on a Saturday morning, drive to a car show and come face to face with a collection of Porsche race cars like those pictured below.
However, before the morning was over, the open space to the left of the Carrera 6 (Type 906) would be filled, and the white Porsche 928 to the far right would bow out to make way for a 914-6 GT race car. A rumor circulating that morning was that a Porsche 911R was on its way to the show, its intended parking space next to the 906 Carrera. Half an hour later, that rumor became a reality, as a white 1967 Porsche 911R, with its distinct exhaust note, pulled up to the featured lot and took its place alongside its Porsche brethren.
Given the rarity of the Porsche 911R model (just four pre production prototypes were produced, followed by a limited production run of only 20 models). Just seeing one in person is epic, however, this particular 911R (pictured above and below) takes epic to a completely different level, due to its historical significance.
This particular 911R is currently undergoing restoration by the Torrance, California shop of Callas Rennsport. A clue to this cars origins can be found displayed on each door. Have you figured it out? If not, for those unfamiliar with the Porsche 911R, I’ve included a brief history regarding this limited production model, as well as details specific to the 911R captured at cars&coffee:
The 911R was a purpose-built vehicle that came out of Ferdinand Piech’s experimental department at Porsche in the spring of 1967. An initial batch of four prototypes were produced, all ultra light weight examples based upon Porsche’s 911, each capable of demonstrating their competition potential in both under rally and GT based racing conditions. Each prototype started life as a standard 911, however lighter weight, thinner gauge steel panels were substituted for the chassis stampings where feasible. Body panels were fabricated using both fiberglass and aluminum, to maintain a stock appearance, and contribute to overall weight reduction efforts. All of the windows were also put on a diet, with all side and rear windows produced in Plexiglass. Even the windshields were included, and made as thin and light weight as possible. The stock front vent windows were replaced by fixed panels, with each incorporating a single round, aircraft sourced pop out vent (as seen below).
Each rear quarter window, in addition to being produced in plexiglass, included a set of louvers to aid with interior ventilation.
The 911Rs potent 1991 cc race motor (delivering 201 HP), came complete with dual ignition, 46mm Weber carburetors (complete with water shields), and smaller diameter cooling fan with the natural finished, fiberglass cooling shroud ( as seen below). Power is delivered through a 5-speed transmission, linked to a ZF limited slip differential. These components had been sourced from another of Porsches successful race cars, in this case the Carrera 6 (Type 906). Ironically, on this morning the white Porsche race car (#11) parked to the right of the 911R, just happened to be a Carrera 906…
Visible just to the left of the fan is the massive, twin plug distributer, sparked by the dual, blue Bosch coils. Fuel delivery is provided by the dual Bendix fuel pumps as seen below.
Porsche’s abbreviated tail light design, created for and utilized solely by the 911R.
(Below) A freshly restored, fiberglass rear deck lid with integral rear mesh grill, left unpainted on the underside, as originally delivered.
This 911Rs first taste of competition came on July 23, 1967, in a 330 mile race in Mugello, Italy. In its debut event, piloted by Vic Elford and Giis van Lennup, this 911R finished third, behind two Porsche 910s and ahead of a Ford GT Mk IV. Then in late October of 1967, this very 911R was called up to the big leagues. A Swiss race team was at Monza (Italy), attempting to set world and 2.0 liter class records for distance and speed, driving a Porsche Carrera 6 (906). Unfortunately, the 906 experienced suspension problems after 12 hours into its quest. Sponsors for this record-setting attempt were BP and Firestone, and to honor this sponsorship commitment, the Swiss team contacted Stuttgart regarding a replacement car in order to continue their record-setting attempt. Porsche responded back, stating that they could send a 911R as the replacement, confident in its capabilities to meet the teams needs.The 911R was then driven from Stuttgart, and delivered to the waiting team at Monza. After being loaded up with the spare parts required for this type of event, the car was sent onto the track, to begin its record-setting attempt. The following four drivers would take turns behind the wheel of the 911R over the duration of the attempt: Rico Steinemann, Jo Seiffert, Dieter Spoerry and Charles Vogele. Over the next six continuous days, the 911R was run flat-out, and succeeded in setting eleven time and distance records in the 2.0 liter class, as well as posting five world records at 15,000 kilometers, 10,000 miles, 20,000 kilometers, 72 hours and 90 hours. Their average speed recorded at the end of the six-day run, (of over 20,000 kilometers), was 130.02 mph. All of these records were accomplished by the 911R seen here, recorded as chassis No.118 990 001. This chassis came to be noted by Porsche as the very first “production model” out of their limited run of twenty cars, thus establishing this individual car’s historical significance.
Front wheel detail; the 911Rs “deep six” X 15 inch, Fuchs 5 spoke alloy wheel, wrapped in Firestone rubber. Rear wheels measured 7 inch X 15.
Seeing is believing; the powerful, dual lamp Bosch H1 headlight, with 911R specific front running lights, and its unique front air intake, designed to provide cooling air for the dual oil coolers tucked into each front fender.
The highly detailed front trunk, with its prominently placed fabricated steel fuel tank with central filler, and the welded in place, front shock tower strut bar. Located directly below, are the dual set of hard lines linked to each front fender mounted oil cooler, providing cooled oil for the motor. Also visible is the restored underside of the front fiberglass hood, showcasing its natural, unpainted finish, as originally produced back in 1967.
Another of the design features unique to the 911R; the rear fender mounted, dry sump oil tank filler with exposed cap. This very feature would reappear in 1972 (the dry sump oil tank moved forward to in front of the right rear wheel, for the supposed benefit of better weight balance), as a one year only feature found on all 911 models.
During this cars world record-setting run, the team back in Zuffenhausen had begun work on their initial batch of 20 “production 911R” models. Due to the limited production nature of this model, Porsche had contracted with an outside firm (Karl Bauer of Stuttgart), for the production of the bodies. Porsche ended up making a series of minor changes to their production run of 20 vehicles, when compared to the spec for their four prototype 911Rs. These variations would consist of the following: the production versions all had body parts manufactured from normal thickness steel. The windshield glass was specified at 4 mm thick, while the remainder of the windows were specified as 2mm thick Plexiglass. Up front, one major departure from the prototypes was the piercing of the front hood, providing access to the central mounted fuel filler and cap. In regards to the 911R suspension, the production models were equipped with Koni shocks and anti roll bars similar to those found on the Porsche 911S model, and had their suspension ride heights set lower by two inches. Subtle changes made to the motor consisted of the use of Weber 46IDA3C1, triple throat carburetors. Transaxles could now be configured from two unique final drive ratio offered. Standard body color for the 911R was white, unless the builders were given a three weeks advance notice of a desired color change. Upon completion, the finished production 911R weighed in a full 450 pounds less than a stock 911S. Ironically, its final weight of 1810 pounds (for the production 911R) was only 45 pounds heavier than its much lighter 911R prototype siblings. Unfortunately, plans by Porsche to produce additional runs of 911R models never materialized, so fans and collectors were left with only 24 cars to relish. On a personal note, I have been fortunate enough within the last year, to have seen two out of the final 20 production 911Rs in person (#001 and #017). To view 911R # 017, please use this link to access one of my previous blog posts…
As I noted earlier, after the white Porsche 928 had moved over one space to make room for the 914-6 GT (pictured below), those in attendance were now treated to a rare assemblage of Porsche race cars. Was it a coincidence then, that this gathering took place on the very same day as the start of the 2014 24 Hours of Daytona race?
This particular Porsche, the Lufthansa sponsored 1970 914-6 GT, serial # 914 043 1415, also possesses a unique history. Not only is it one of only eleven team cars built, but it also holds several records set during the 1970 Nurburgring 1000KM race. In addition to finishing second in class, this 914-6 GT also set the fastest lap time, and now here it was on display 44 years later, looking like it had just rolled out of the Race Department at Porsche.
The power source for the mid engined 914-6 GT; as seen below, its immaculately prepared, 2.0 liter twin plug boxer six, also derived from the Porsche Carrera 6 (906).
Another example of the ” European market only” rear badging, with the circular Porsche badge used to cover up the stock rear trunk lid lock location, removed for racing and replaced by a pair of rubber hold downs as seen above and below.
California has long been considered a hotbed for all things Porsche, and it never fails to deliver up a multitude of treasures hidden away in garages and the private collections housed throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Surprises can vary from Porsche street cars to the rare and in some cases, seldom seen Porsche race cars. And what makes this particular venue so amazing, is that one never knows what jewels will make their debut from week to week, to an always appreciative crowd.
(All photos by the author)