The 911 ST bridged the gap between the 911R and the 2.7 Carrera RS, making a significant contribution to Porsche's early 1970s competition history. Classic Porsche gets behind the wheel of a veteran of the Daytona 24 Hours
On the trail of a 911 ST that ran at the Daytona 24 hours…
We've come to Abbeville in northern France to feast our eyes on a rare 911 racing car – a 1972 ST, property of the Antwerpbased JFD Collection. This car 's main claim to fame is that it ran in the Daytona 24-Hours in 1973, entered by Reinhold Jöst (ex-works driver) and driven by veteran Sepp Greger, Kurt Hild and Dieter Schmid. It started 39th on the grid and, amazingly, it finished ninth overall.
That's a remarkable achievement for a one-year old 911, in amongst the works Matra and Gulf prototypes, Chevron and Lola sports racers. And don't forget all the big banger Chevrolet Camaros and Ferrari Daytonas – not to mention the 911 RSRS of the likes of John Fitzpatrick and Erwin Kremer – and, significantly, the Brumos car of Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg which won outright.
As our Abbeville host Johan Dirickx avers, 'It's very nice to see that a small 2.5-litre car, which didn't even have the biggest engine in its category, finished ninth after 24-hours' racing. That makes it a wolf in sheep's clothing in terms of results at Daytona, and that's why it's finished in the livery that it raced in there.'
Introductions made, some definitions of the family tree are in order. Flaunting its broad wheelarches and odd-looking Minilite rear wheels, the 911 ST is descended from the 1967 factory racecar 911R. The intention was to run the 'R' in sportscar racing, but homologation rules pitched it in with the prototypes, so in 1968, Porsche created the 911 TR, homologated as a Group 3 GT car: still highly modified, but less so than the R. Probably 36 TRS were built and campaigned by professional and amateur race and rally teams.
For 1970 and '71, the 2.2 'S' became the base model for tackling the touring car race and rally scene, identified as the ST. And while rally cars retained standard engines, racing versions were initially increased by 52cc, accompanied by a power hike from 180bhp to 240bhp, fired by twin-plug ignition and mated with the 901 transmission and LSD.
It's likely that 15 examples of the 2.3 ST were built in race and rally format, with a further 23 units of the 2.5 ST designated as racecars. In his Porsche Book, Jürgen Barth lists the chassis numbers of 15 special 911S race and rally cars from 1970 and '71, with 23 race cars from 1972. Like the TR, the ST designation was an in-house amalgam of the 'S' engine and the lighter 'T' chassis.
Legend has it that 25 bare shells, 'bodies-in-white', that were lighter than standard, were taken off the 911 line in 1969 and sent to Weissach to be built into racecars, so the first 2.3 STS might well have originated in these lightweight bodies. It's also possible that some of the 2.5 STS were also built on the white bodies, though this particular car wasn't one of them.
Evidently, there was far more going on with the ST than just an increase in cubic capacity. Wider wheels and tyres for enhanced grip required flared wheel arches front and rear, and the solution was a delightful and fascinating mélange of materials. On the early ST, the front wings were made of glassfibre, the rears steel, and the front lid and both bumper panels were in glassfibre, with aluminium doors and engine lid, and apart from the windscreen, all windows were Plexiglas.
The rear three-quarter panels, roof and rear seatpans were in thinner gauge steel, while all extraneous fixtures and fittings were left out, from glovebox lid and ashtray to front and rear lid locks, and door and
“THIS MAKES IT A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING…”
bumper trim strips. There was no sound deadening or floor mats, and the paint was even thinned down.
Apart from a competition fuel tank with central under-bonnet filler, front strut-brace and 908/2 brake calipers, the running gear was little changed. It's a purposeful looking machine, and visually, the most obvious indicator of the ST'S identity is the difference in wheel types. Since Fuchs did not produce any 9in rims at the time, Porsche had to look elsewhere, and they found what they needed at Minilite, whose eight-spoke competition wheels, ubiquitous in contemporary touring car racing, were made of sand-cast magnesium and therefore lighter than aluminium.
The Le Mans 24-Hours is a great barometer for gauging what racing cars are on the scene at any particular time, and in 1970 four of the eleven 911s running were ST spec. Just one was a classified finisher, the Erwin Kremer/nick Koob 2253cc car, placing seventh overall. A special lightweight 911S (featuring the swirling psychedelic red and yellow livery) was built for the 1970 Tour de France and driven to 2nd place by Gérard Larrousse. This was equipped with a bigger bore and stroke 2395cc flat-six (this car was featured in issue #43 of Classic Porsche). The following year was, arguably, the ST'S heyday, when there were nine STS out of eighteen 911s running at Le Mans, and Raymond Touroul/'anselme' came sixth overall and first in the GTS class.
The spec of the ST shifted for 1972. Appendix J permitted only the 911S's glassfibre front bumper with the embryonic spoiler to be used on the competition version, and ahead of the '72 season a number of 2.5-litre 911S coupés were built for racing under option M491, bearing the same chassis numbering as the standard 911S, though for this reason it's not easy to say exactly how many were created at the factory and how many were subsequently fettled to ST spec by private teams.
This particular chassis is #911 230 0987. It's only retrospectively that this group of cars has been known as STS; the management discouraged it at the time, though it was the engineers' reference term within Weissach. Jürgen Barth refers to the 1972 race cars simply as 911Ss, leaving the ST back in 1970–'71, but it seems fair enough to categorise the competition 911 as the ST up to the inception of the 2.7 Carrera RS.
As Johan says, 'the STS all came out of the factory as racecars, although you could drive them on a daily basis. After that you had the 2.8 RSRS, which were basically racecars, though you could drive them on the street, too. But the TR was
Above: Dual-plug2492cc engine is fed by Bosch MFI, and produces around 270bhp at 8000rpm and 191lb ft of torque at 6300rpm
Below left: Volkswagen Beetle turn signal is used as an identification light Below right: Hand-applied pinstripingis typical of many US race cars of the era