Porsche 911 2.2 S
Bought new by a lottery winner, this road car became a top Australian Touring Car racer before a crash ended its career. Since then it’s been lost, found and restored
Bought new in 1969 by lottery winner Laurie Rogers
Alan Hamilton, an Australian racing legend, was the dealer who sold this Porsche to its first owner, Laurie Rogers. Says Hamilton, ‘Laurie was a friend from school days. He worked in the lost-property office of the Melbourne Metro Tramways until he won AU$60,000 on the lottery.
‘After his big win, he came to see me and said he wanted to buy a Porsche because he had always wanted to have one. I refused to sell him a car. I said to him, “This win is your big breakthrough, make the most of it!” AU$60K was big money back then.
‘Later I got a phone call from Ralph Lowe, the local Ferrari importer. He said, “I have a bloke here called Laurie Rogers who wants to order a Dino Ferrari because you won’t sell him a Porsche.”
‘In those days Ferraris didn’t have a good reputation for reliability, so I spoke to Laurie and I said to him, “For God’s sake don’t spend your money on a Ferrari, have something worth owning that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.” So he ordered a new 911S.’
Laurie stuck just about every option known to man on his 911, including the sunshine roof, a radio, tinted windows and fog lights. He finished up with the most expensive 911S ever ordered to Australia at that time.
But the Porsche was soon to see a transformation from a road car to a racer, as Hamilton explains. ‘At the end of 1969 I had decided to sell my orange 911TR race car and Laurie decided he wanted to own that instead of the 911S. So he part-exchanged the 911S for the 911TR, which put the 911S back on the showroom floor.
‘I had done pretty well in my Orange 911TR, which created quite a bit of interest from other drivers to run Porsches in the ATCC for 1970. Brian Foley called me, wanting to order a 911S for the 1970 season, but there were no more new 911S models available so he finished up buying Laurie Rogers’ old car and turning it into a his race car for 1970. It was a bit of a shame because it was the nicest 911S in the country at the time. Brian and the team filled in the sunroof with a piece of aluminium pop-riveted in place, which made it easy to identify when current owner Ian Henderson rescued it.’
Brian Foley buys it for AU$18,000 for the 1970 season
Brian Foley takes up the tale. ‘In Australia, 1970 was the first year you could get sponsorship from someone
other than the manufacturer or maybe an oil company to race in Australian Touring Cars. Up until that point I had been racing Minis with help from BMC and the oil companies. For the 1970 season I was able to get some money from Rothmans under the Chesterfield name.
‘I discussed the Porsche option with them and they liked the idea of a prestige car which promised to be both fast and reliable, so we agreed on the 911. Shortly afterwards I contacted Alan Hamilton, made the trip down from Sydney to Melbourne and bought myself this 2.2-litre 911. I think I paid AU$18,000 for it.
‘I took the car to David Mckay’s Scuderia Veloce workshop where Bob Atkin worked on the car with me. Bob fitted all the factory performance bits to the engine, giving it 220bhp and allowing it to run for the whole season without a rebuild. Because of the regulations of the day we could lighten the car, fit magnesium wheels and so on. The fact that it was accepted as a Touring Car to start with was a bit of a breakthrough, plus we lightened it quite a bit so the power to weight ratio was pretty good.’
The 911’s most distinctive features were added next. ‘After Bob Atkin did the engine, we took it over to Freddy Gibson’s Road and Track shop where we flared the wheelarches out and put the Minilite wheels on.
Some 911 attributes proved difficult to handle on track though, explains Foley. ‘In 1970 they were very restrictive with changes to suspension pick-up points and such. It was quite a problem because the rear wheels used to change camber, castor, toe in and toe out as you accelerated and came out of corners. It was a bit of a handful. The rules were relaxed in the following years, and owners could make their way around it, but for 1970 we were stuck with it.
‘We ran the car at Warwick Farm a couple of times; it also went to Bathurst, Mallalah and Wanaroo. We were promoting Chesterfield Filter in those days, so we were prepared to travel quite a bit. The big thing about the Porsche was that it did prove to be reliable.
As a racer, Foley remembers, the car had good and bad points. ‘It was very quick off the line, and the top speed was quite good – it was timed halfway down Bathurst straight at 140mph. At those speeds it got a little light over the bumps on Conrod Straight – you could actually hear it losing traction slightly over the bigger ones. On one lap it got quite out of shape and it took me about half a mile to get the thing straight again – it scared the daylights out of me!
‘The problem was, you could drive it at nine tenths, then nine point one... then nine point two... then nine point three... and then whoosh! – it would bolt on you. With the Alfa Romeo GTAM I ran in 1971, you could drive at 110 per cent and when you reached the limit it just understeered or oversteered, then you could slow down a little bit and go quicker. The Alfa was quicker at Warwick Farm with its 2.0-litre engine in 1971 than the 2.3-litre Porsche was in 1970. You could press on without the fear that the thing would bite you, which was not the case with the Porsche.’ Time to offload it...
Jim Palmer buys it in 1971 to race in New Zealand
Jim Palmer was the next owner, which meant the 911S did a bit of an island hop. Says Palmer, ‘I had been single-seater racing for quite a while, but I had enough of it and wanted to get into Touring Cars. I thought about Toranas and Monaros, but at that time we had the Porsche franchise for New Zealand so I thought racing one might get us some interest in the brand.
‘We saw Mckeown and Foley were running them in Australia, then Alan Hamilton mentioned that Brian was selling his. I flew over to Sydney to do the deal. I didn’t know a lot about Porsches at the time; we were only allowed to import a few, so there weren’t many in the country. When I arrived in Sydney and saw the car I was very impressed. It was a horny-looking car with the flared wheelarches, decent wheels, stripped interior and little lightweight race seats. It looked like a real race car, which was just what I wanted.
‘The deal was done and it was loaded on a ship and sent back to New Zealand without me even driving it. I had my first drive weeks later in the back streets near our dealership. A few local car enthusiasts were there and they were impressed by its bark. It was fitted with little megaphones straight out of the motor which gave it a really crisp, distinctively Porsche sound.
The car was given a colour change and suspension tweaks to go racing in its new home country. ‘We changed it to red with the yellow stripe, because we raced for Shell. We shipped the car over to New Zealand very close to the start of the season so we didn’t have time to do any proper testing before the racing started. I found it didn’t handle very well, so we made a few changes. We tried a few different torsion bars and that sort of thing because it used to just sink at the back and lift what felt like two feet in the air at the front. Apart from that we didn’t change much from how Brian had it.
‘The little 911S was bloody rapid off the mark for a two-wheel-drive car; off the grid there was nothing that could keep up. You could be on the third row but by the first corner you would always be in front. It was were an incredible car really.
‘We had great fun with it in 1971 racing against Paul Fahey in the FVA Escort. We could race with him and the V8 Camaros and Mustangs at Ruapuna, Pukekohe, Bay Park and Levin. We were going to rebuild it for the next year, but we had trouble here with MANS [racing’s governing body in NZ]. Some of the other competitors claimed it wasn’t a true saloon. We got the MANS steward down from Auckland and it had the right amount of space in the back to qualify and so on, but it was outlawed anyway, which is why we didn’t keep racing it in 1972. I wish we could have run it for another season; I think we might have been able to get it to handle a bit better.
‘When I raced in the Tasman open-wheeler series everyone was friendly, and people never brought out rule books or lawyers, but when we got into the saloon cars that all changed. After that we decided “to hell with motor sport” and gave it away.’
‘Performance parts made it produce 220hp. It could run a full season without a rebuild’
This was to precipitate the car’s return to Australia, compounded by the situation with New Zealand’s import laws, as Palmer explains. ‘We had a small import licence and we could get about six cars a year into the country. There was a scheme where you could bring a car in on a bond for a limited period of time, and that is what we did with the 911S. So, with nowhere to race it and not wanting to consume one of our precious import permits, it had to leave the country. I had a lot of good cars over the years, but they all ended up going back overseas because while you could apply for a permit you couldn’t justify applying for the licenses and paying the duty to keep them. We ended up sending it back to Australia and asking Alan Hamilton to help us sell it. I believe in the end it was sold for AU$8000.’
Back to Alan Hamilton in 1972 for him to sell
Alan Hamilton adopted an unusual tactic to sell the car – he put it back on the race track, with himself at the wheel. ‘I had a rush of blood to the head and said to Jim that the car had all but been forgotten over here, so it probably needed to run somewhere to get some publicity. He agreed that I should run it.
‘I took the 2.4-litre engine from my 906 sports car and put it into the 911, because I didn’t know how Jim had left the engine. I didn’t want a smoking pile of wreckage which would be expensive if it blew up, and my 906 engine was a known quantity.
‘The race was at Sandown in Melbourne. I blew Alan Moffat in the Trans Am Mustang away at the start and had enough of a lead coming onto the back straight that I didn’t think he would be able to repass me. Much to my surprise he kept his foot on the throttle and overtook me, but couldn’t control it over the crest and hit the Armco on the inside of the Dandenong Road corner, leaving me to go on and win the race.
‘After that outing it was Reg Mort who bought the car from Jim Palmer, facilitated by our dealership.’
Sold for AU$8000 in 1972 to Reg Mort
Alan Hamilton summarises how the car was modified and run during the years it was owned by Reg Mort. ‘Reg got hold of the car and kept making it lighter and lighter and lighter. A standard 911S was just less than 1000kg, but Reg got this car down to under 680kg.
‘He got various people to drive it including Pete Geoghegan and his older brother Leo, Peter Brock and John Harvey. I remember he once took the car over to New Zealand to race and Pete Geoghegan was there to
‘Something broke and the car went into the wall. I walked away with not a scratch’
drive it when it started to rain. Pete asked Reg why the wiper switch didn’t do anything. Reg pointed out he’d removed the wiper arm “to save the weight” and Pete – who was 19 stone at the time – said, “Have you had a f***ing look at me?”’
John Harvey explains how he got to race the 911 under Reg’s ownership and how a major crash, which would debilitating the car until 2015, came about. ‘I’d known Reg for some time and chatted to him from time to time at race meetings. I was out of a drive, and Reg’s previous driver now had his own car, so he asked me to drive the 911 for him.
‘I drove it at quite a few tracks including Phillip Island, Albury Wodonga on Boxing Day, around Sydney and at the Adelaide International Raceway. Driving for Reg was a bit of a circus, he was always late to the track for example, but I enjoyed my time with the car. Reg was a hard worker, keen, and he did his own thing, which I admired.
At this point the car went on a serious diet. ‘Reg was very into weight reduction. He knew the beauty of power to weight and re-did the whole body in glassfibre. The bodywork was always a bit loose – instead of the ten screws it really needed he would have two or three. On the main straight at Adelaide the body was flapping as the wind got stronger when you went faster. I was worried one day the body would fall off, but it never did and it went like a rocket! I drove it on its limit – it was a bit scary, but that’s motor racing.
It was about to get very scary indeed. ‘Just coming down onto the oval from the road circuit at Adelaide International Raceway, something in the rear end broke and the car went into the wall. Luckily I got it turned a little so it hit side-on and I walked away with not a scratch on me. Because the floor was lightweight, the impact actually pulled the seatbelt out of the mount; there was a tear in the metal of the floor like someone had got a pair of scissors and cut it!
‘That was the last time I drove the Porsche. Shortly after, Harry Firth invited me to join the Holden Dealer Team with him, which I did, and that started my Touring Car career.
‘I kept up with Reg long after I finished driving for him. He always said he was working on the Porsche, but over the years I lost contact with him and didn’t hear any updates. He was a lovely bloke and a good bloke to drive for, he would do anything that made me go quicker. He really wanted to win, and we did win a few together.’ For all intents and purposes, however, the car disappeared for many years, only to be rediscovered well into the next century.
while working there. I drove it daily and took it to the US with me before bringing it home to Australia. I later replaced it with a new SC Cabriolet in 1984 which still sees everyday use. My main interest in Porsche has always been the competition cars, especially those with an Australian racing history, so that is what I have collected, restored and raced.
‘People often think there were more 911s racing in Australia in the Seventies than there actually were, because this car ran in so many different forms and liveries. Over its life, it had morphed from being a 911 Touring Car in 2.3-litre ST spec – the way it was run by Brian Foley in 1970 and Jim Palmer in 1971 – into being a hot rod that was almost an open-wheeler with a glassfibre body when, under Reg Mort’s ownership, it was raced in the Sports Sedan class by Leo Geoghegan in ’73/’74, and Peter Brock and John Harvey in ’75.
‘After the big crash at Adelaide in 1975, Reg “spat the dummy” with racing and the car was never seen again. It was rumoured to be at Reg’s mum’s house, in a back shed in Melbourne. I didn’t know the address, because I had never been able to contact Reg. Whenever I told people I was trying to find and buy the car they said, “Don’t waste your time – even if you find him Reg won’t talk to you about it.” I had wanted to buy the car for years and then Reg’s mother died. The bank foreclosed and I bought the car as a consequence of the house being sold. I’m sure if I hadn’t bought it the car likely would have been lost forever.
‘When the car became available I tried to contact the old drivers, and Brian Foley and Jim Palmer sent me old photos. John Harvey was kind enough to come and authenticate the car in person; he duly confirmed it was just as he had crashed it in 1975. He even had the original CAMS [Australian FIA authority] log book which he gave to me – he had taken it home in his back pocket after the crash in Adelaide!’
The purchase brought with it a difficult decision, for Henderson. ‘With the car home, we had to decide how to restore it – the way we found it or back to how it started its life. In the end, we made the decision to restore it to the 1970 Brian Foley specification, because there wasn’t a category for historic sports sedans to race in and I wanted the car to be able to race. As a side bonus, there were more photos of it in this trim than any other, which made the restoration easier.
‘Jason Carroll from Chequered Flag Restorations did a fantastic job on the bodywork and Spencer Harrison from Harrison’s Road and Track took care of the mechanicals and electricals. In its current form it makes 260bhp. One of the most challenging parts of the restoration was matching colours – they vary on the old photos. In the end we got old Chesterfield cigarette packs and matched them from there.
‘It is a very important motor car because it was raced over those six years by so many top-level drivers, and it was always a front-running car, which to me made it very worthwhile saving and restoring.’
‘To get the colours we got old Chesterfield cigarette packs and matched them from there’
Back in 1970 Foley spec with a 2.3-litre ST engine
John Harvey reunited with the 911 in 2007, 32 years after he’d crashed it
Reg Mort (left) and John Harvey (right) with the 911
The 911 in its final racing form in 1975 before it crashed at Adelaide
At Calder Park, Australia in 1972
The car raced in many different liveries. This is Peter Brock trim, 1975
Brian Foley racing the 911S in Australian Touring Cars in 1970