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When You’re Running Late Take The Tuthill Taxi

The UK is quite proud of its taxi services. Those drivers train for years to get the road grids memorized and learn traffic patterns, and the cabs are scientifically created to provide the maximum amount of room for passengers in the smallest footprint possible. It’s no wonder London just kicked Uber out, because their cab system is a far better way of managing traffic and transport. That said, a mid-80s Porsche 911 rally car might be an even better taxi than the black cab.

Hop in the Tuthill Express and you’ll get across town in a flash. It can take short cuts that no other cab can, running across open sections of hill and dale, cutting through pot-holed parking lots, and charging across ring road medians. All in the name of getting you to your destination a little quicker. Can you imagine if even one in 100 cabs were 911s. Oh what a joyous day it would be to get one of these to show up to bring you to your meeting. And with a rally-rated suspension and tall sidewall tires, you’ll just float right over the bumps that would normally jar your tailbone and spill your morning coffee.

Sadly, this isn’t reality.

Here is a short promotional clip from Hagerty Insurance’s UK division that really caught our eye. That’s easy to do when the subject of the film is a Tuthill-prepped Porsche stage rally car. It’s delightful, give it a watch.

Oh, and eight pounds sixty is about equivalent to $11.20 US. I would absolutely pay twelve bucks to slide around the UK—Forza Horizon Style—for a little bit. Sounds like a fun time.

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This Rally-Spec 996 GT3 is a Handful and a Half

With interesting headlight covers in place, the front of this 996 could be mistaken for its successor.

Ruben Zeltner may have more modern rally cars in his stable, but his white 996 GT3, kindly nicknamed « Zebra, » still makes regular appearances at German hillclimbs and rally events. At this year’s ADAC Rallye Köln-Ahrweiler, an 87-mile-long rally outside of Cologne, the two-time Germany rally champion brought his trusty 996 to cover the fourteen stages. With Hellmar Hellenberg calling course notes, the pair won the event with a time of 1:16.50.4; besting four-wheel drive Audi Quattros and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions in the process. With all the talent on display, it’s not hard to see how.

He grabs the car by the scruff of its neck and uses the pendulum effect to help it rotate through quick switchbacks. Then, with a tug of the hydraulic handbrake, he pitches the car into hairpins (1:34) and fires out of them with minimal oversteer. Zeltner « bends » this frantic and agile 996 around treacherous spots of country road in the measured sort of way which would impress Walter Rohrl.

Zeltner deftly manages the weight hanging over the GT3’s rear axle to pivot it through technical switchbacks without much steering effort.

In the faster sections, Zeltner needs to manage a lot of oversteer, but the stellar traction always keeps it moving forward. Note how it dances nicely over the dirtier stretch of road (1:59) with a little shimmy after the gearchange. Even though the GT3’s rear is not completely planted, that rear grip is a very reassuring thing to have when traveling at these speeds with no runoff anywhere in sight.

Combine that impressive traction with a punchy Mezger’s 400 horsepower, sent through closely stacked gears of a sequential gearbox, and the GT3 accelerates like turbocharged four wheel-drives—albeit with a lot more style and slip angle.

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Walter Röhrl Honored By the FIA Hall of Fame

 

Röhrl’s affiliation with Porsche began with a handful of races in 1981—including the San Remo Rally, in which he used a 911.

Few have risen to such prominence in rallying to become a near-household name like Röhrl, who began his rally career fifty years ago. Within three years of amateur rallying, he became a factory driver with Opel. His career launched then and there, and throughout the seventies and eighties, he went on to drive just about anything under the sun. With wins at Le Mans, Pikes Peak, and most WRC stages, he’s a unique driver with the versatility and mechanical sympathy to climb to such levels in the most dangerous decades of motorsport. This is why the 6’6″ German ace, though never having competed in Formula 1, is one of the few rally drivers/non-F1 champions to have the privilege of being inducted into the Motorsport Hall of Fame.

Röhrl won the Monte Carlo Rally four times in total, driving four different marques, and was world rally champion twice.

Has affiliation with Porsche started in 1981, when he entered the German Rally Championship in a 924, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a 944 LM, and the San Remo Rally in a 911. Even when leaving his fourth decade,the time at which most retire from racing, Röhrl remained involved in motorsports—mainly through development.

Röhrl, one of the few who could drift the Carrera GT confidently, helped in the development in all of Porsche’s flagships for the last thirty years.

With his touch and sensitivity, he helped develop the 964’s four-wheel drive system, as well as Porsche’s greatest flagships including the Porsche 959, Carrera GT and 918 Spyder. Years of bold but methodical driving helped make these machines the masterpieces they were, and for that alone, Röhrl deserves to stand among the best.

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Porsche 911 on safari

Did you know the Porsche 911’s first ever race was, in fact, a rally? The year was 1965, and Huschke von Hanstein, race director and Porsche PR officer, was keen to show off the dexterity of the company’s new sports car, which could be driven on the road and raced at weekends. Herbert Linge and Peter Falk were thrust into a 2.0-litre 911 for the legendary Monte Carlo rally, driving the car from Bad Homburg, Germany, to the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, finishing a creditable fifth overall. A 911 would win the notorious event outright in 1968 in the hands of ‘Quick Vic’ Elford, the first of many key rallying successes which forms an important part of the 911’s 30,000 overall race victories to date.

Meanwhile, alongside the sport kits which formed the basis of Porsche’s famous Sports Purpose manual in 1966, the company offered a rally kit – option 9552. Comprising of a pair of Recaro seats, roll bar, a 100-litre fuel tank with front hood filler, adjustable Koni shock absorbers plus subtle engine modifications, the kit was intended for customers who wished to participate in long-distance rallies.

Notable success on the rally stage has continued throughout the 911’s history. Who can forget the heroics of the factory-supported Prodrive SC RSs in the 1980s, a precursor to the 1984 Paris-Dakar-winning 953 and, later, the 959, which was built for the very purpose of rallying before the demise of Group B just before its release. The air-cooled 911 remains a regular participant in global regulation and speed rallies, with most notable success courtesy of British Porsche specialists, Tuthills. They have campaigned all manner of classic 911s in various rallies of considerable magnitude right around the world, with the late, legendary rally maestro Björn Waldegård often found at the wheel right up until his death in 2014. Current works driver Romain Dumas, meanwhile, developed his own 997 GT3 RS R-GT which competed alongside a rival 997 – again from Tuthill – in the 2015 WRC, with Porsche itself testing a Cayman GT4 Clubsport R-GT in 2018 with a view to joining the WRC series. As you can see, rallying isn’t a mere offshoot of the Porsche 911 – it’s forever been part of its DNA.

Meanwhile, safari 911s have well and truly captured the imaginations of wider enthusiasts in the last two to three years, catapulted into the limelight by pro racing driver and Porsche enthusiast Leh Keen’s imaginative safari builds. Others have since joined the market with their own off-road expressions of the 911, but what are these cars really like to drive? Today we’re going to find out, thanks to an invite from Makellos Classics to test their most remarkable project to date. Matt Kenyon, owner of the San Diego-based company, explains: “Safari cars are popular right now so we wanted to try our interpretation of it. Some cars have the look, but we wanted to build a car that you could legitimately take off-road.”

The 911 in question is a 1978 European SC, which Makellos acquired in April 2018 with 125,000 kilometres on the clock. As Matt describes, its spec was perfect for the project at hand: “When we came across this 911 SC it had a pretty cool factory spec. It had sunroof delete, lower console delete and radio delete. It just screamed at us to build a rally spec 911.” Work started in May and was completed by mid-September, an incredible feat when you consider this was a passion project which Matt, manager Greg Bartley and the rest of the Makellos team had to fit around a busy stream of paying client jobs.

After a strip down the team began with crucial fabrication work to the 911’s chassis, which entailed custom bracing all over the car as well as reinforcement of the rear strut towers. The front strut towers were custom braced, and custom front and rear skid plates were added too.

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Will This Cayman R-GT Concept Go Into Production?

Privateers have been rallying Porsche’s Cayman GT4 in FIA R-GT class racing for a couple seasons now—it was 997 GT3s before that. Now, Porsche is putting a corporate a toe in the water to investigate whether the company could sell a ready-made Caymany R-GT to the buying public.

Next weekend in Germany, Porsche will unveil a specially-built GT4 Clubsport to run as the course car, sweeping each stage to make sure it’s clear and safe for the Rallye Deutschland competitors to race. Porsche is calling this a critical test under real conditions, and has said that a decision will be made as to series production of an R-GT class spec Cayman GT4 Clubsport later this year.

Romain Dumas has been racing and rallying just about anything with wheels for his entire career, and that continues, as he is the development driver for this project. For the last twelve years he’s been contesting rallies all over the world with his own rally team. He’s also a four-time Pikes Peak International Hillclimb champion, including setting the outright record this year in Volkswagen’s all-electric I.D.-R. Similarly, Porsche factory drivers Richard Lietz and Timo Bernhard are also seasoned in the art of rallying, and were involved in the GT4 Clubsport concept rally car test program.

The R-GT Cayman runs essentially unchanged from the already-available GT4 Clubsport package, with a naturally aspirated 385 horsepower 3.8-liter flat six engine mounted in the middle and mated to a PDK gearbox. Obviously, in preparation for rallying, the wheels, tires, and suspension have been optimized for the discipline, and full skid plates have been added to the underbody of the car, as well as energy-absorbing foam, as used in WRC cars, added to the doors.

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Car:

“We’re looking forward to seeing how the rally world responds to our FIA R-GT concept study. I would like to invite every interested driver and team principal to visit the service park and take a close look at our rally concept car. Based on the feedback and the interest from potential customers, we will then decide by the end of the year whether we’ll develop in the mid-term a competition car for near-standard rallying based on a future Porsche model.”

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