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forward-dated 911 SC: back to the future

The road ahead is deserted, its twisting Tarmac totally bereft of traffic. A thick wall of trees lines the roadside, their density willing us to keep moving our 991 towards the setting sun.

A look in the rear-view mirror reveals much the same story behind us. The highway is empty, save for two hazy yellow lights in the far distance. However, as the minutes tick by, those lights become more prominent. Glancing briefly at the road ahead, my eyes return to the 991’s rear-view mirror, fixated on those yellow lights coming quickly towards us. There’s a red hue visible between them now. A bonnet. A roof. A windscreen. It’s a car.

The rate at which this car is closing in on us is astonishing. It surges up the stretch of road behind us, revealing more detail with each passing second as its features become ever larger in our mirrors. A 964, I think to myself, catching its chunky front PU with integrated side lights. Then, roaring up behind us, the 964 pulls out and shoots past, gliding back in line and charging up the road ahead. Now the confusion sets in: replete with one-piece bumper, full-width rear reflector with clear ‘Porsche’ script, a distinctive tea tray spoiler and wheels with the lip and profile of Cup-spec alloys, the visual cues give this car away as a 964 3.3 Turbo. However, the mechanical howl of that flat six as it shot past certainly wasn’t akin to the noise of a 911 with an exhaust turbocharger bolted on. So, what on earth has just overtaken us on this rural stretch of Swedish asphalt?

Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long to find out. Not 20 minutes later we pull into a gas station and there, sitting by the pumps in front, is our mystery Porsche 911, being fuelled by its joint owner, Andreas. Originally a 1982 SC, the car was converted to a 964-look of sorts before Andreas and co-owner Lennart bought the car, though closer inspection of that one-piece Strosek front PU shows it to be more 944 than 911. We’re also told the rear bumper mimics that of a 3.0 RS. A peek inside reveals the car’s true age, its Pasha interior an obvious giveaway. Not that this car is trying to hide anything: Andreas and Lennart have even left the ‘SC’ lettering on the car’s decklid.

In our contemporary world where backdating a 911 is all the rage, the idea of a forward-dated 911 makes for an odd concept, but one which, in a bygone era, was a popular conversion. Due to the large spectrum of interchangeable parts on air-cooled 911s, many found favour with the idea of swapping a few panels to make an older model look just like one which had only just rolled off the production line at Zuffenhausen. Much like backdating, how convincing the car looked depended largely on how far you were willing to go, or how much you were willing to spend. So what of the car we’ve caught up with?

Andreas tells me he and Lennart bought the car in its current guise, complete with ‘teardrop’ wing mirrors commonly found on later 964s. “We found favour with how different it was compared to other SCs, and especially liked how it drove,” Andreas tells me as he replaces the fuel hose and tightens the 911’s filler cap. So did Andreas and Lennart ever consider converting the car back to standard, or backdating it – as is currently in vogue – to a longhood, pre-impact bumper 911? “No, because a lot of work had gone into converting it to 964 spec. For example, the rear reflector on a 964 sits at a slightly different angle to the G-series cars, so getting this to fit required the previous owner to make some modifications to the rear wings. We believe this is part of the history of the car and shouldn’t be changed,” comes Andreas’ reply.

For the full feature on forward-dated 911s, including a how-to guide from specialists, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 171 in shops now. You can also order your copy here for delivery to your door anywhere in the world, or download to an Apple or Android device of your choice. 

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How to buy a project Porsche 911

How brave do you feel? Buying a project 911 isn’t for the faint-hearted; we’ve all heard tales of running repairs that snowballed into fully-fledged rebuilds. But for those with sufficient time, patience and money, restoring a car can be an edifying and enjoyable experience.
Here we round up what you need to know and look out for, with help from Autofarm founder Josh Sadler and his 911 2.7 Sportomatic.

Money is, of course, the elephant in the room. Parts availability for classic (1964-1989) 911s is at its best since the late 1990s – one positive side effect of rising values – but many components are expensive, and some still need to be custom made. Also, since most of us don’t possess the skills to restore a car ourselves, the task usually involves paying a specialist. With labour rates typically around £60 to £100 per hour, costs soon escalate.

It’s therefore best to approach most projects as a labour of love: a chance to save an ailing 911 from the scrapyard, rather than a business opportunity. Unless the car you plan to restore is a special model, such as an RS, you may find it hard to make a profit – even in the current, still-buoyant Porsche market. Work out how much you’re willing to invest before you start, not forgetting the cost of the car itself.

Josh’s 1976 2.7 Sportomatic is a perfect example of a project-in-waiting. On the plus side, it’s a very original, three-owner UK car with a verifiable MOT history and no obvious structural rust. Less positively, it’s covered 183,000 miles and hasn’t run since 1999 due to an undiagnosed engine problem. Josh wants £30,000 for the 911 and estimates it would cost a further £30,000 to fully restore. 

 

ENGINE

The engine is nominally the most complicated part of a classic 911, yet frequently the easiest to fix. “They’re a great big Meccano kit,” says Josh. “There are very few electronics to worry about compared to a modern car, and engines are potentially good for 200,000 miles if looked after properly. That said, I’d usually factor the cost of a rebuild into any project.”

The air-cooled flat six doesn’t suffer a pivotal, defining fault like the IMS issue that plagues early 996s. However, it evolved hugely over the years, so later cars are markedly more reliable. Josh singles out the final evolution of the original 911, the 1984 to 1989 model year Carrera 3.2, as having “a very solid and sorted engine”. 

One persistent problem that was fixed for the 3.2 concerns the timing chain. As 911 engines got bigger, torquier and lower-revving, more strain was put on the chain tensioners, partly with emissions in mind. These were pressurised in the 3.2, and many older cars have these upgraded tensioners retro-fitted – including Josh’s 1976. “Ironically, if you rev an early 911 hard, you get dynamic tension in the chain,” explains Josh. “So if you want your Porsche to be reliable… drive it like hell.” Advice we’ll happily adhere to.

Some oil seepage from the engine is almost inevitable, but oily cylinders are bad news. Look carefully at the crankcase: the O-ring seal around the crankshaft nose bearing expires, meaning the entire case needs to be removed and opened up. Cylinder head studs are problematic on earlier 911s with magnesium crankcases and also the 1978 to 1983 SC, as they can pull out or rust. Porsche partially solved this issue with coated studs for the Carrera 3.2, but the best replacements are 993 studs or ARPs.

For the full guide on how to buy a project 911, with specialist advice for engine, chassis, interior and body, plus our ten golden rules to consider before purchasing the project, get your copy of Total 911 issue 165 in shops now or available for direct delivery here

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911/83 engine: A Porsche 911 history

The story of the Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS is well documented here at Total 911. However, it has now been 40 years since the famous 2,687cc flat six engine was last fitted to a production car at Zuffenhausen.

Prior to the Carrera RS, on the race track, Porsche had been campaigning an upgraded version of the 2.4-litre Porsche 911S (known as STs). However, thanks to the class structure, that car could only have an engine enlarged to 2.5 litres, leaving Zuffenhausen lagging behind the competition.

For the 1973 racing season, Porsche needed a bigger engine. Initially, Zuffenhausen’s engineers were at a loss as how to achieve this. Not only was the 911 shell originally designed for a 2.0-litre engine but, the 2.5-litre flat sixes in the 911 STs were bored out as much as Porsche dared take them.

Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RSH

An answer came through Porsche’s experience with the 917 prototype. The Nikasil cylinder coating developed for the 917 allowed the 911’s barrels to be bored out to 90mm without losing too much strength. The nickel-silicon carbide material also provided less friction compared to Biral cylinders.

Combined with the 70.4mm stroke from the 2.4-litre cars, the new engine measured in at 2,687cc (allowing it to be enlarged all the way up to 3.0 litres, if need be, for racing purposes).

Codenamed the 911/83 engine, the new flat six featured a magnesium crankcase providing a 10kg weight saving over the previously considered aluminium version while the new barrels featured 11 cooling fins (rather than the 15 seen in the 2.4S).

Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7

Like the 2.4-litre 911S, the box-type pistons remained forged and the cylinder head was largely the same with the same 8.5:1 compression ratio, valve sizes and timing. The 2.7-litre’s 20hp boost and 44Nm torque increase came solely from the greater displacement, providing totals of 210bhp and 255Nm respectively.

Originally, the engine was destined for a 2.7-litre version of the 911S featuring wider arches. However, the planned new car was so extreme, the ‘S’ badge didn’t seem to do it justice. Instead Porsche settled on calling it the Carrera RS.

Even after production of the 2.7 Carrera RS stopped at the end of 1973, the 911/83 engine continued for another three years, fitted into the ‘Rest of World’ version of the Porsche 911 Carrera (the first 911 to sport impact bumpers).

For more historical online features, check out our full selection of ‘Porsche 911 history’ articles now.

2.7-litre badge

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Rear wings and spoilers: A Porsche 911 history

While the Porsche 911 wasn’t the first road car to feature a rear wing or spoiler, it did help to popularise these aerodynamic appendages on production vehicles, starting with the legendary Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS in 1973.

The original Rennsport’s ducktail-inspired rear spoiler (known as the ‘bürzel’) was designed to keep the rear end of this 210bhp sports car in check, and give Zuffenhausen and advantage on track where it was adapted into the ‘Mary Stuart’ style seen on the factory 911 Carrera RSRs at Le Mans.

A year later and the ducktail was replaced with another animal-inspired spoiler design: the whale tail, sported on the new 911 Carrera 3.0 RS and the original Porsche 911 Turbo created a silhouette that would become a Seventies staple.

Whale tail

With its thick rubber edge (designed to protect pedestrians), the whale tail would remain in the 911 family until 1989, living on as standard equipment on Sport-spec 911 SCs and 3.2 Carreras.

Meanwhile, the 930 would switch to the ‘tea tray’ design in 1984 as part of the 3.3-litre upgrade. With its upturned edges, the new spoiler was designed to accommodate the intercooler for the updated forced induction flat six.

The tea tray wing would continue on the 911 Turbo throughout the 964 generation courtesy of the 964 Turbo 3.3 and 3.6, although the Porsche 964 Turbo S would revert to the whale tail style seen in the Seventies.

993 RS wing

Elsewhere on the 964 range, the standard Carrera was bestowed with an electronic decklid spoiler that would extend upwards at high-speed. It’s a feature that has remained on every generation of 911 Carrera since, right up to the latest 991.2.

The 964 also saw the first wing fitted to a production 911, with the 964 Carrera RS 3.8 sporting a single-plane item supported between two swept back endplates.

This would begin a new Rennsport tradition, with the 993 Carrera RS (albeit in Clubsport spec) gaining a monstrous wing – complete with air intakes – before the successive 911 GT3 RS variants utilised motorsport-inspired wings with inboard struts.

For more historical online features, check out our full selection of ‘Porsche 911 history’ articles now.

Porsche 911 991 GT3RS Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

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Total 911’s favourite Porsche 911 Rennsports ever

The waiting is nearly over. The Porsche 991 GT3 RS release is nearly upon us. However, until then, we will have to be satisfied looking over the Rennsport history books and the delectable collection of metal they contain.

As part of our #RennsportWeek celebrations, the Total 911 team have voted for their six favourite Porsche 911 RSs, with Lee, Josh and Steve scoring their choices with the Porsche Supercup points system (fitting for Porsche’s most motorsporting car).

With the totals totted up and checked, we can now bring you Total 911’s favourite Rennsport 911s. How would your top six look?

6) Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RS
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RS

Often referred to as ‘the forgotten RS’, the 3.0-litre Rennsport was the successor to the famed 2.7 RS of 1973. Launched a year later, it was only available in ‘Lightweight’ trim and RHD examples are so rare, they’re referred to by their colour.

5) Porsche 996 GT3 RS
Porsche 996 GT3 RS

The first water-cooled Rennsport 911, the Porsche 996 GT3 RS was also the inaugural offering based on Porsche’s racing-derived GT3 platform. With 2.7 RS-inspired decals, the 996 GT3 RS was an undervalued beast until a surge in prices over the last 18 months.

4) Porsche 997 GT2 RS
Porsche 997 GT2 RS

Launched as part of the Porsche 997’s swan song, the GT2 RS is the only official Rennsport ever to have been turbocharged, turning out a mighty 620bhp. This propelled it onto 205mph and a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time of 7m18s, making it the fastest production 911 ever.

3) Porsche 993 Carrera RS
Porsche 993 Carrera RS

Whether in Riviera Blue and Clubsport spec, or a more subdued Midnight Blue ‘Comfort’ affair, the 993 Carrera RS is a huge office favourite, thanks in part to its place at the end of the air-cooled Rennsport lineage. The fact it also handles like a dream helps its cause too.

2) Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS
Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS

The original Rennsport icon. Born in the latter half of 1972 and officially released in 1973, the 2.7-litre RS proved immensely popular, requiring Porsche to build a second run after the first 500 sold out almost immediately. With its ‘Carrera’ decals and ducktail spoiler, this 911 will always be remembered.

1) Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0
Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0

The car that the upcoming 991 GT3 RS will have to live up to. The Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0 is potentially the ultimate embodiment of the Rennsport philosophy. With more aerodynamic grip than its 3.8-litre counterpart, the RS 4.0 never fails to stand out. The last Mezger-engined 911 has earned its rightful place in the history books.

What would your top six Rennsport 911s look like? Add your selection in the comments section below, or join the debate on our Facebook and Twitter pages now.

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