911 CAR­RERA RS 2.7

The sharply fo­cused light­weight coupe that kicked off the en­dur­ing 911 cult

Motor (Australia) - - FEATURE : TOP FIVE 911S -

A DECADE AF­TER the 1963 Frank­furt show de­but of Porsche’s new sports coupe, the model that came to be re­garded as the defini­tive 911 ar­rived, born out of mo­tor­sport ho­molo­ga­tion.

The Ne­unelfer (nine eleven), had evolved from sketches done by Fer­di­nand ‘Butzi’ Porsche in 1959 and was in­tended as a larger, more pow­er­ful 356 suc­ces­sor. It soon es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful rac­ing cars.

The 1973 Porsche 911 Car­rera RS 2.7 reprised the badge from the 356 Car­rera, which was named af­ter early ’50s suc­cesses in the gru­elling Mex­i­can Car­rera Panamer­i­cana road races.

RS stood for the Ger­man Ren­ns­port (‘rac­ing sport’) and the Car­rera 2.7 was ho­molo­gated for the FIA Group 4 Grand Tour­ing cat­e­gory, which called for the pro­duc­tion of 500 cars. Based on the con­tem­po­rary 911S, the RS 2.7 is the clas­sic ‘big en­gine in a small car’ ap­proach to build­ing a race­car for the road.

A fi­bre­glass front bumper/chin spoiler and rear ‘duck­tail’ spoiler/en­gine cover cre­ated the un­mis­tak­able RS 2.7 sil­hou­ette and broader wheel arches al­lowed an in­crease in rim size and larger disc brakes. Re­vised, stiffer sus­pen­sion low­ered the RS’s cen­tre of mass.

Com­plet­ing the power-to-weight puz­zle is a 2687cc, Bosch Kugelfis­cher me­chan­i­cally fuel-in­jected flat-six (346cc larger than that of the 911S) pro­duc­ing 154kW.

In ‘M472’ RS Tour­ing form the Car­rera weighed just 1075kg, but the ‘M471’ Sport Light­weight op­tion trimmed a whop­ping 100kg. Gone were un­der­body coat­ing, sound in­su­la­tion, rear seats, pas­sen­ger sun vi­sor, coat hooks, clock, door sill trims, door han­dles, glove­box lid and car­pet and the wind­screen was made of thin­ner glass.

Early RS 2.7’s also got slightly thin­ner 0.8mm gauge steel in the body in­stead of the 0.88mm steel used in later cars.

Porsche ini­tially took or­ders for just 51 Car­rera RS 2.7’s when it was shown at the 1972 Mon­dial de l’Au­to­mo­bile in Paris, fu­el­ing con­cern about selling a stripped-out racer as a road car. And could they shift all 500 with­out the key US mar­ket where the RS did not meet emis­sions leg­is­la­tion?

But the first 500 sold and Porsche learned that buy­ers will pay extra to join an exclusive club. Still, ner­vous­ness about the bare bones RS was ob­vi­ous be­cause the more richly up­hol­stered 911S in­te­rior and lux­u­ries like a sun­roof and elec­tric ra­dio an­tenna were op­tions. A to­tal of 1580 RS 2.7’s were built and to­day the 200 lightweights com­mand top dol­lar.

Yet they were ba­sic trans­port, and there was a dis­tinct lack of equip­ment in the black-on-black RS cabin, just a thinly padded bucket seat, plain four-spoke steer­ing wheel and a sim­ple spher­i­cal knob top­ping the gear lever.

How­ever, a twist of the key brings that evoca­tive, gut­tural ex­haust note and the sound of a belt-driven fan whirring away be­hind the cabin, keep­ing the en­gine cool.

At speed there’s an un­mis­tak­able rear-en­gined feel to the RS 2.7’s han­dling that de­mands a dif­fer­ent driv­ing style. A ju­di­ciously timed lift on cor­ner en­try to shift weight for­ward and pro­voke over­steer, sets up the car to hit apexes in style.

The flex­i­ble flat-six gen­er­ates sur­pris­ing mid-range ac­cel­er­a­tion, aided by the car’s low weight. Power out is mod­est by mod­ern stan­dards and you must use mo­men­tum to un­stick the rear be­fore adding throt­tle from the apex to main­tain cor­ner­ing at­ti­tude and power out in a gen­tle drift, in­side front wheel cocked as the RS squats on its out­side rear.

In funky, bright ’70s colours with clas­sic Fuchs wheels, duck­tail spoiler, and (op­tional) Car­rera de­cals, the 911 Car­rera RS 2.7 is a pure driver’s car and the quin­tes­sen­tial 911.

ABOVE No in­ner door han­dles for you! Op­tional M471 Sport Light­weight ver­sion trimmed 100kg off al­ready lean chas­sis

BE­LOW Rear end dom­i­nated by duck-tail spoiler, an aero aid that would grow in size and com­plex­ity on fu­ture 911s

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