964 TRACK REFUGEE

Start­ing life as a Car­rera 4 race­car, trans­formed into an RSR with 3.8 flat-six trans­plant, this wide-body 964 has seen ac­tion at Day­tona, Se­bring and Spa. And now, wood­land glades in north Ger­many where we put it through its paces

911 Porsche World - - Contents - Words: Johnny Ti­pler Pho­tog­ra­phy: Antony Fraser

We drop in on Thomas Sch­mitz and drive a wild 964 3.8 RSR, which isn’t all it seems

This is a car with a very long story. It be­gan life as a black, pre-pro­duc­tion 3.6-litre 964 Car­rera 4, and sold to pho­tog­ra­pher Klaus Treude (who also owned a gen­uine 964 C4 Le­icht­bau, in yel­low) who raced it for two sea­sons in ’90 and ’91, notch­ing up a cou­ple of class wins and sev­eral podi­ums. Then, be­fore the 1992 sea­son, it was sold to Wolf­gang Mathai, an in­dus­tri­al­ist and prom­i­nent am­a­teur rac­ing driver who ran it for him­self and his son Oliver in the Ger­man na­tional Porsche Club Cham­pi­onship, DTR club rac­ing and VLN en­durance rac­ing.

Our sto­ry­teller for this re­mark­able tale is Thomas Sch­mitz, the car’s long-time owner and pro­pri­etor of TJS Ger­man Sportscars. We’ve come to visit him at his premises in Tel­gte, near Mün­ster in North RhineWest­phalia. Like the Siren’s beck­on­ing call, it’s an en­tic­ing Aladdin’s Cave for 964 and 993 buffs, with a dozen gor­geous ex­am­ples in the show­room and maybe a dozen more ex­otic Porsches of one sort or an­other in the work­shop. And that in­cludes our sub­ject car, the broad-beamed sil­ver 964 RSR, which Thomas bought in 2007 and con­verted to RSR spec. Para­dox­i­cally, this is one 964 that’s not for sale. Maybe.

So, mean­while, back to the story: after Mathai ac­quired it, the car was first re­paired, hav­ing been crashed by Klaus Treude, then prepped by Kre­mer Rac­ing as a Class 6 Group 4 car, which in­cluded con­vert­ing the bodyshell to a wide-arched RSR. Be­cause there were not yet any tun­ing parts avail­able for the 964, Kre­mer con­verted the en­gine to Group B-spec 3.8-litres, and since six in­di­vid­ual throt­tle bod­ies were not al­lowed, it was equipped with one huge throt­tle body on top of a mag­ne­sium air in­take. With the help of Porsche Weis­sach, specif­i­cally Jür­gen Barth, Bernd Mueller and Roland Kuss­maul, it was de­vel­oped along the lines of a Car­rera 4 Light­weight (Le­icht­bau), with the 953 driv­e­train, alu­minium doors, alu­minium bon­net, a Kevlar rear wing, three-piece BBS mag­ne­sium rims, all ac­quired from Porsche Mo­tor Sport. They also bought two sets of 953 trans­mis­sion ra­tios, one set for the back and one for the front. Be­ing wide-bod­ied it was more ex­treme than the Weis­sach-built nar­row-bod­ied C4 Le­icht­bau, and was in fact a unique car in the events it raced in; the C4 Le­icht­bau was never se­ri­ously raced at the time, and they didn’t have the ad­van­tage of the strong Kre­mer-built en­gine. Fa­ther and son Mathai cam­paigned their C4 in en­durance events un­der the Porsche Club Hildesheim ban­ner, in­clud­ing Day­tona and Se­bring, and it did lots of the Euro­pean longdis­tance races in­clud­ing Zolder, Nür­bur­gring, Zand­voort, Di­jon, Öster­re­ichring and SpaFran­cor­champs, and Oliver also ran it in the Porsche-fer­rari Chal­lenge, twice fin­ish­ing the series run­ner-up in ’92 and ’93; the only car to beat him was a Fer­rari F40 Mich­e­lotto. It was main­tained by Kadach Tun­ing, for whom Oliver Mathai drove in the Ger­man Car­rera Cup (2nd in 1995) and Su­per­cup. In the 1992 Porsche Ger­many Tro­phy Series, Oliver won five out of six races, in­clud­ing Di­jon on 20th September, and he re­calls the round at the Öster­re­ichring very well: ‘it was rain­ing heav­ily, and in the course of the halfhour race I had lapped ev­ery­body else! I could brake re­ally late with the four-wheel drive chas­sis, and it would turn in very nicely, so it was very com­pet­i­tive and a very good car to drive in the rain. It was a very fast

cir­cuit, the old Öster­re­ichring, and our 964 was much the fastest car on track that day.’ The fol­low­ing year his re­sults sheets show Oliver won the Porsche Club Cham­pi­onship round held at Zand­voort on 10/11th July, go­ing on to win at Zolder on 20th July, and then fa­ther and son plac­ing 2nd in race one of the round at Hock­en­heim on 31st July ’93, and Oliver then win­ning the 2nd race out­right, too. He won again at the Öster­re­ichring on 29th August ’93 against a strong field of RSRS and 964 Cup Cars. The Mathais used it in the na­tional Porsche Langstrecken Tro­phy and the Cas­trol Hauke Cup series – which evolved into the VLN en­durance series (Ver­anstal­terge­mein­schaft Langstreck­en­pokal Nür­bur­gring), where Oliver some­times fin­ished in front of top names like Franz Con­rad, Roland Asch, Hans-jür­gen Tie­mann, Jür­gen Alzen and Mike Heze­mans. In ’93 Oliver and his fa­ther teamed up with an­other well-known Ger­man racer, Edgar Dören (at the time rac­ing a 944 Turbo Cup) to con­test en­durance races, and one time at the Nord­schleife they qual­i­fied ahead of Olaf Man­they who would nor­mally have been up front, but it was part-wet, partdry, and the four-wheel drive C4 chas­sis en­abled them to take pole on a greasy track. That was as good as it got, though: ‘Un­for­tu­nately, dur­ing the race, the gas pedal stuck open on the long straight, and we got ma­rooned in the gravel trap!’ The fol­low­ing

year Oliver ran it in the Porsche-fer­rari chal­lenge again and won the Nür­bur­gring round, but after that the car was re­tired and placed in stor­age. It wasn’t long be­fore Wolf­gang Mathai bought a brand-new re­place­ment RSR bodyshell for it from Porsche Weis­sach: ‘It was a hard-fight­ing car, and it had quite a lot of ac­ci­dent dam­age dur­ing its race ca­reer, so a friend was able to help us buy shell pro­duc­tion num­ber 20, the last 3.8 RSR bodyshell left, and my fa­ther com­mis­sioned Kadach Rac­ing to carry out a com­plete restora­tion, in­cor­po­rat­ing all the ex­ist­ing com­po­nen­try.’ There­after, Wolf­gang Mathai only used it as a hobby road car for 1500km. Still, it had been a pretty suc­cess­ful rac­ing car.

When Thomas Sch­mitz bought it, the driv­e­line was still in 4x4 mode, but he had other plans. ‘I con­verted it to two-wheel drive and re­verted it to full 964 RSR spec in­clud­ing ABS in­stead of ad­justable brake bal­ance, with a fresh en­gine, and since then it’s hardly been driven, sit­ting here most of the time; I did a track day on May Day this year, and it still runs won­der­fully.’ The cur­rent en­gine is not the Kre­mer-built 3.8 – which Thomas still has; rather, it’s an­other 3.94-litre unit, built by APP Au­to­mo­tive, who are based at Weesp, just south of Am­s­ter­dam in Hol­land (www.ap­pracin­gengines.com). Max­i­mum torque is 434.8Nm at 5300rpm and max­i­mum power is 375bhp at 6900rpm. Ready to race, with 82kg on the driver’s seat plus half a tank of fuel, it tips the scales at 1172kg, so it is quite light. It’s a vis­ual treat, too, its pur­pose ab­so­lutely un­mis­tak­able. Those bulging whee­larches wouldn’t dis­grace them­selves on The World’s Strong­est Man, while the en­gine lid is re­splen­dent with the bet­ter-pro­por­tioned smaller 3.8 RSR wing. The car sports brand­new gold-cen­tred split-rim with bil­let alu­minium cen­tre 18in BBS wheels wear­ing 235/40 ZR18 Miche­lin Pilot Sport Cups on the front, and 295/30 ZR18S on the back.

Thomas walks me round the car. ‘The nor­mal RSR didn’t have power steer­ing, so we fit­ted elec­tric power steer­ing so we didn’t lose the horse­power from the cam-belt. There’s a spe­cial wiring loom in the front with an elec­tric mo­tor with its own fuse. It works very nicely, es­pe­cially on track with slicks on, be­cause after a while it gets ex­haust­ing, es­pe­cially in en­durance rac­ing. This ex­haust sys­tem was de­vel­oped for Le Mans by Mühlbauer Rac­ing in 1991, and all the big teams copied the de­sign. It’s very light, with in­di­vid­ual head­ers, and it’s a very clever sys­tem, avail­able with or with­out cat­alytic con­verter; this one is with a cat­alytic con­verter, and with­out it’s even louder.’ It’s cur­rently mated to a gen­uine six-speed 993 RS man­ual box, but Thomas also has a cor­rect five-speed ’box from a 964 RSR as back-up. He’s also switched glass­fi­bre seats for Kevlar seats to save weight. ‘It’s very emo­tional to drive, be­cause you are so in­volved with the han­dling of it and with the re­sponses of the car, and when you look at it, it looks so sexy, and then when you fire up the en­gine the sound is amaz­ing, the throt­tle re­sponse is un­be­liev­able, and I just feel at home in these cars. Of course, when you drive very quickly then it gets tricky, be­cause you don’t have any elec­tronic helpers but I love it, it’s all so pure and very en­ter­tain­ing. It’s so much more vis­ceral than a mod­ern GT3 RS. Cre­at­ing emo­tion is very im­por­tant for me, and I’m do­ing this for my plea­sure and with this car I al­ways have a smile.’

Nev­er­the­less, Thomas is crit­i­cal: ‘it is a lit­tle

It’s so much more vis­ceral than a mod­ern GT3 RS

bit too stiff; I or­dered a brand-new RSR sus­pen­sion from Bil­stein’s race de­part­ment and they ad­vised me not to use the nor­mal race springs be­cause the cars al­ways have prob­lems with un­der­steer be­cause they are too stiff at the front, so in­stead you should have a softer spring rate; but I didn’t lis­ten, and I ought to swap the fronts for a bit more of a softer rate be­cause I be­lieve it will run much bet­ter then. We had some un­der­steer­ing prob­lems at the be­gin­ning, but we sorted them out by mak­ing the car stiffer with the anti-roll bar at the rear and more neg­a­tive cam­ber at the front. But I love it, and the his­tory is very in­ter­est­ing, and if you check the val­ues of proper fac­tory built 3.8 RSRS they are €1 mil­lion, €1.5 mil­lion even, and this car is a frac­tion of the money, and it can do ex­actly the same – and ba­si­cally it is the same, but it doesn’t have the cor­rect VIN num­ber of course, but it does have a nice rac­ing his­tory and a nice prove­nance.’

We gaze at the mighty 3.94 flat-six. Thomas points out the reser­voir tank. ‘This was some­thing we put in re­cently; we call it a throw-up can, be­cause when you have too much pres­sure in the crank­case or too much oil, it throws it into this can. The catch­tank is nor­mally a sep­a­rate one for when you have ex­cess oil, and if you have oil fumes there is a pipe go­ing back into the air fil­ter, but then it sucks in all the oil with the air, which is not good. In this case, this is like a proper race car breather tank. And you can see the solid en­gine mounts, and we have also mounted the en­gine a lit­tle bit lower in the en­gine bay, so there are spac­ers to make the en­gine sit a bit lower to set the cen­tre of grav­ity a lit­tle bit lower.’

The 3.8 RSR en­gine has six in­di­vid­ual throt­tle bod­ies with a big mag­ne­sium air in­take sys­tem that looks re­ally for­mi­da­ble. ‘To gain a lit­tle bit more torque we ex­tended the in­take trum­pet pipes, and be­cause we wanted this car to be road le­gal and us­able on the road we run it on a MAF hot wire air mass sen­sor sys­tem, while the nor­mal race cars only run on the vane me­ter, and this makes it a lit­tle bit more us­able on the road, pro­vided you don’t go full throt­tle all the time.’

Thomas has three thick fold­ers of doc­u­men­ta­tion record­ing the car’s his­tory and prove­nance, and he scrolls through the race his­tory. ‘I have a lot of re­sults from the ear­lyto mid-’90s, and it was a front run­ner. Wolf­gang and Oliver Mathai had the car built up with parts sourced di­rectly for Weis­sach. Here is a let­ter writ­ten by Wolf­gang Mathai to the key peo­ple at Weis­sach, which is some­thing I like very much, be­cause Mr Mathai was an in­dus­tri­al­ist, but he was one of the proper old Ger­man gen­tle­men; you see the old car­tridge pa­per that he wrote on, with a proper ink foun­tain pen, and you can read what he says: “Dear Mr Barth, Dear Mr Mueller, Dear Mr Kuss­maul, …thank you very much for tak­ing care of me on my visit on the 9th January 1991, fol­low­ing up again on my or­der (in writ­ten form) alu­minium doors right and left, like Type 959, front bon­net in alu­minium, thin glass, Car­rera 4 Light­weight lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial trans­mis­sion sys­tem, pedal sys­tem with dou­ble brake ac­ti­va­tor, strut-brace, Cup sus­pen­sion com­plete with anti-roll bars, Cup ver­sion Matta roll-cage; all these parts are used to con­vert the Car­rera 4 with the vin num­ber 400325 to Class 6 race car. Please send all the parts in the next few days to Firma Mathai……” It also says, “The or­der form for the en­gine will be done shortly as we are con­sid­er­ing whether it should be a turbo or a non-turbo en­gine; very best re­gards, Wolf­gang Mathai.”’

Next doc­u­ment in the file is the in­voice submitted to Wolf­gang Mathai for the parts, dated 22nd January 1991. I scan though it, and my eyes alight on the whop­ping to­tal: it’s

just short of DM9560, which back then would have been not far off £10,000. As Thomas ad­mits, ‘That was a lot of money at the time.’ In­deed, but the Mathais were per­cep­tive enough to see that the 964 con­fig­ured with the four-wheel drive trans­mis­sion had dis­tinct po­ten­tial as a com­pe­ti­tion car, es­pe­cially in poor weather con­di­tions, and it was prob­a­bly a cheaper route than stump­ing up for a Weis­sach-built 964 C4 Le­icht­bau.

Wolf­gang Mathai is no longer with us, as Thomas points out: ‘the fa­ther un­for­tu­nately passed away two years ago, but the son Oliver (49) is very much ac­tive.’ True enough, I spoke to him re­cently about the car’s early days, and he pro­vided us with pho­tos from back in the day. I’ve also seen him in ac­tion at a num­ber of venues over the years, rang­ing from Le Mans Clas­sic in a 911ST to the N-24 in a 996 GT3RS, and the Nür­bur­gring Old Timer and Tour Auto in a 906. His ca­reer in the 964 RSR pre-dates those ap­pear­ances, though he is keen to share his ex­pe­ri­ences, as I’ve al­ready re­ported.

Time to put it to the test. This is a rac­ing car and no mis­take. Sure, it’s road reg­is­tered, but there the syn­chronic­ity ends and the urge to be do­ing this on a cir­cuit takes over. On nar­row coun­try lanes, it’s go­ing to be nigh-on im­pos­si­ble to truly dis­cern its ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but it’s a thrill to be let loose in any cir­cum­stances. It’s a pretty ex­cit­ing car, a very harsh drive and very loud, and it’s on proper RSR sus­pen­sion so it’s very stiff, and on a bumpy road it prob­a­bly wouldn’t be a lot of fun be­cause you’d al­ways have a wheel in the air, but here on the for­est back-lanes it’s good enough, though the width of black­top leaves some­thing to be de­sired. Sur­pris­ingly, it is road-le­gal, even in Ger­many. The view in the rear-view mir­ror is of a sub­stan­tial wing fill­ing the space. I’m six-point har­nessed into a Kevlar Re­caro race seat, sur­rounded by a com­pre­hen­sive sil­ver painted roll cage, im­part­ing that in­vi­o­lable feel­ing once in­stalled in­side the cabin. The clutch is race-sharp, and I wel­come the mus­cle-build­ing chal­lenge it presents, and to get if off the line I’m revving it rather harder than nor­mal. On the other hand, the elec­tri­cally as­sisted steer­ing makes light work of wheel twirling. Shifts come eas­ily enough, though it’s not a swift mo­tion through the gate. I’m good and close up to the wheel, the per­fect race po­si­tion, and it’s sim­ple enough haul­ing on the wheel to bring it around the bends – thanks to the elec­tric power steer­ing, then ac­cel­er­at­ing hard on the straight bits where its true storm­ing per­for­mance po­ten­tial re­veals it­self. Brakes are as pow­er­ful as its ac­cel­er­a­tion, and it’s as well-bal­anced gain­ing speed as it is slow­ing down, though ac­tu­ally we’re barely scratch­ing the sur­face here. The throt­tle re­sponse is fan­tas­tic and the turn-in is supremely ac­cu­rate. It’s com­pli­ant, it goes where I want it to go, and the power is right there. It’s a proper job, and I rel­ish the fact that it’s done its time on im­por­tant cir­cuits in the hands of some of the top pro-am driv­ers. Or rather, its for­mer bodyshell did, along with its other en­gine. Nev­er­the­less, it would be so nice to em­u­late them on a track next time. For now, I stand back and ap­pre­ci­ate the glo­ri­ous lines of one of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing cars I’ve (all too briefly) driven. PW

It’s a pretty ex­cit­ing car, a very harsh drive and very loud

Look­ing im­mac­u­late in sil­ver, with gor­geous split-rim BBS wheels, this 964 RSR looka­like is ac­tu­ally an ex-racer, with quite a his­tory

It’s a long story but, some­where back in the mists of time, this gen­uine RSR bod­ied 964 ac­tu­ally started life as a pre­pro­duc­tion 964 Car­rera 4

If you want a rare and very spe­cial 964 or 993, then Thomas Sch­mitz is your man

It’s a pretty ex­cit­ing road car, as you might ex­pect. It’s re­ally bet­ter suited to the track, though, with it’s un­com­pro­mis­ing sus­pen­sion

Left: En­gine built by Dutch out­fit APP. At 3.94-litres, we might as well call it 4! It’s dom­i­nated by huge mag­ne­sium air­in­take sys­tem. Power is 375bhp

Thomas Sch­mitz has fit­ted elec­tric power steer­ing, but even so, Ti­pler seems to be a long way from the apex here!

Be­low: In rac­ing 4WD spec in the ’90s, with Oliver Mathai at the wheel

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