DOU­BLE TAKE

When Do­minik van der Hei­den dis­cov­ered just how valu­able his orig­i­nal ex-works 914/6 GT rally car had be­come, he de­cided it was time to re­tire it. In its place he built a replica that would al­low him to have fun in the forests with­out hav­ing to worry abou

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & pho­tos: Robb Pritchard

When you own a 914/6 GT that’s too valu­able to race, you build a replica…

In a ware­house some­where in the in­dus­trial belt of north west Ger­many sit two stun­ning or­ange 914/6 GTS. From a dis­tance they look pretty much iden­ti­cal but in fact they have di­a­met­ri­cally-op­posed his­to­ries and pur­poses. One is a price­less ex-works car driven over the years by such Porsche lu­mi­nar­ies as Franz Kon­rad, Bjorn Walde­gaard, Jür­gen Barth and Olaf Man­they. The other started life as an old road car bodyshell that has been stripped out and pre­pared for ral­ly­ing… And itʼs the replica weʼve come to see!

Af­ter win­ning the 2015 AVD Histo Monte some­one of­fered owner Do­minik van der Hei­den what he thought was a crazy sum of money for the car. But when he found out this was ac­tu­ally the go­ing rate for a Porsche with such a his­tory, sud­denly the thought of slid­ing through the snow to­wards trees and ditches filled him not with joy, but dread. ʻI knew that if I crashed I would­nʼt just be dam­ag­ing a car, Iʼd be de­stroy­ing a real piece of Porsche his­tory,ʼ he says. So at that mo­ment he de­cided to re­tire the orig­i­nal and build him­self a replica that he would­nʼt worry about thrash­ing through forests and snow banks.

The first plan was just to have a straight replica as af­ter hav­ing owned the orig­i­nal for fif­teen years he was well used to how it drove and han­dled. It did­nʼt take long, though, be­fore the project took on a slightly dif­fer­ent aim, as af­ter a while work­ing on the com­par­a­tively worth­less shell he re­alised he could do ab­so­lutely any­thing he wanted with it.

While study­ing the FIA his­toric reg­u­la­tions to see just what he was al­lowed to change, he started to won­der why Porsche had­nʼt done such easy mod­i­fi­ca­tions them­selves. For ex­am­ple, the orig­i­nal has its fully work­ing pop-up head­lights, which arenʼt a re­quire­ment. Do­minik sim­ply took them out and put some plas­tic blank­ing plates over

the holes, and that was a few kilo­grams saved straight away. All the body pan­els on the Walde­gaard car are steel but on the re­cre­ation theyʼre made of very thin glass­fi­bre, and the win­dows are Per­spex in­stead of glass. The bumpers are plas­tic and weigh half that of the steel orig­i­nals, and all the su­per­flu­ous chrome trim is gone.

But it was­nʼt just big and ob­vi­ous things Do­minik changed, and look­ing around the car the level of thought and at­ten­tion that has gone into it is in­cred­i­ble. In fact, it is fair to say that this is the 914/6 GT that Porsche should have made in 1970! The bon­net hinges have been ma­chined out as much as pos­si­ble with­out com­pro­mis­ing their struc­tural in­tegrity and now look like lit­tle works of art. To save 4kg, all the wiring loom was re­moved and re­placed with thin­ner gauge wire and a lighter type of in­su­lat­ing plas­tic, and any bolt or screw that was pro­trud­ing more than it ab­so­lutely needed to be was ex­changed for a shorter one… All in all an in­cred­i­ble 250 parts were changed for lighter, smaller or shorter ver­sions.

The works cars from 1970 stood at a not too portly 940kg. Do­minik man­aged to re­duce that by an in­cred­i­ble 140kg! With a 2000cc en­gine which does­nʼt have a great deal of torque, it makes a huge dif­fer­ence in ac­cel­er­a­tion times and the speed he can carry through cor­ners.

As well as the crash diet there were many per­for­mance up­grades to be done. Do­minik chose Man­fred Ru­gen to tune the en­gine and, as well as hav­ing ev­ery­thing cor­rectly balanced, the cylin­der heads, valves and camshafts were made to the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the works cars to give a power in­crease from the road go­ing 185bhp to a more use­ful 235bhp. The FIA reg­u­la­tions al­low for any gear­ing you want so Do­minik was free to choose the ra­tios and went for a long first gear so he could have more con­trol in the slow cor­ners.

All the other ra­tios were kept shorter as Tarmac ral­lies call for short bursts of ac­cel­er­a­tion rather than top speed. Do­minik knows itʼs a com­pro­mise, though. The main com­pe­ti­tion is 3000cc or more 911s, so where there are lot of long straights the 914/6 is left far be­hind. On the tighter stages, how­ever, with its low weight and mid-mounted en­gine, the nim­ble Porsche is as fast as any of its many ri­vals.

Be­ing a rally and race car driver since the 1970s,

in­clud­ing en­tries in the RAC and 1000 Lakes, and even a class win in the Nür­bur­gring 24 Hours, Do­minik knows how to set up a car to get the best out of its han­dling, but this 914 proved to be a lot harder to get right than he ex­pected it to be. ʻI never re­ally liked get­ting to the limit in the orig­i­nal car,ʼ he says. ʻWith most cars you can feel when it is about to break away and you can ei­ther come back from that point or, de­pend­ing on the car and what you are do­ing with it, con­trol the drift. But in the 914 there was a point where I was won­der­ing if I was get­ting close to the limit… and then I was go­ing back­wards. I wanted to find a way that I could drive it loose.ʼ

Con­ven­tional wis­dom, in­clud­ing the ad­vice of such mo­tor­sport lu­mi­nar­ies as Bjorn Walde­gaard and Franz Kon­rad, was to keep the sus­pen­sion rock hard and the sway-bars soft, but no mat­ter how much Do­minik and his me­chan­ics worked with it, it al­ways snapped around in­stead of hold­ing a power slide. One day, in ex­as­per­a­tion, one of the me­chan­ics had the idea of set­ting it up back­wards with soft sus­pen­sion and hard sway-bars…and sur­pris­ingly it worked straight away.

Cou­pled with the set of higher-pro­file tyres he had Dun­lop make es­pe­cially for the car, which have soft side­walls that al­low them to move around more on the wheels, Do­minic knew heʼd nailed it… And just in time, too, as they needed to

“THE NIM­BLE PORSCHE IS AS FAST AS ANY RI­VALS…”

get it on the trailer for the Mal­lorca Clas­sic Rally.

Al­though they got through scru­ti­neer­ing, there were a few things that they had­nʼt got around to fin­ish­ing, one of which was the hand­brake ca­ble. A piece of string run­ning from the cab to the mech­a­nism on the rear wheels meant that he could still do hill starts – but that lit­tle prob­lem was for­got­ten about when the throt­tle got stuck wide open in the first stage. To get around all the hair­pins, he had to turn the en­gine off on the ap­proach, coast around, turn it on again when he was point­ing straight and shoot up the next hill, with tyre smoke bil­low­ing be­hind.

He did­nʼt have any me­chan­ics with him so, in the time be­fore the next stage, he took the piece of string from the bodged hand­brake re­pair, tied it to the back of the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal and gave it to his co-driver to op­er­ate. It sounds like a des­per­ate ʻget it homeʼ so­lu­tion, but some­how they man­aged to fin­ish the stage with the sec­ond best time. And amaz­ingly, once theyʼd mas­tered the sys­tem, they won the next stage by six sec­onds. ʻGet­ting a stage win in the way we did was one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my lifeʼ.

The car will be out in earnest again in clas­sic events this year but Do­minik has a truly out­ra­geous plan for it, one that in­volves pa­per­work rather than engi­neer­ing.

When the 3.0 RSR came out in the early 1970s, a lot of peo­ple wanted to up­grade from their 2.8-litre en­gines, and in Cal­i­for­nia there were ap­par­ently many such blocks just sit­ting around out­side Porsche work­shops. Some­body had the great idea to put them in the back of the 914 and made 12 ex­am­ples, al­though no one knows what hap­pened to any of them.

The im­por­tant thing, though, is that Do­minik man­aged to lo­cate the road reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments for the en­gine change, and if he can find them heʼll be able to do the same con­ver­sion and get the tech­ni­cal pass­port for a pro­to­type clas­sic.

ʻI­mag­ine what an 800kg car with a 300bhp, 2.8 flat-six in the mid­dle of it would be ca­pa­ble of,ʼ he smiles.

ʻIn the right ral­lies this car can al­ready out­per­form any Porsche 911. With the ex­tra power, noth­ing would be able to touch it!ʼ CP

“UP THE NEXT HILL, WITH TYRE SMOKE BIL­LOW­ING BE­HIND”

The 914/6 GT was pre­pared for Group 4 cir­cuit rac­ing by the Hul­port VW Porsche deal­er­ship in Dort­mund and in 1970 was raced in Ger­man events by Willi and Alexan­der Nolte, but it was Werner Christ­mann who achieved the car ʼs best pe­riod re­sult when he won the 1971 2l DARM Diepholz race. In 1973 Porsche stal­wart Franz Kon­rad took over and raced it for the whole of 1974 tak­ing a high­est place fin­ish of 3rd at the 2l GT race at Zand­voort.

The car was re­tired from con­tem­po­rary rac­ing in 1975 and kept as a dis­play in a show­room for 10 years un­til Em­manuel von Ket­tler bough it and had it re­built to the full works spec­i­fi­ca­tion, but it was­nʼt raced in anger un­til 1993 when he brought it out of re­tire­ment for Bjorn Walde­gaard to drive in that year ʼs 500km of Nür­bur­gring Clas­sic race. The next year the 1979 world rally cham­pion took it to 2nd over­all in the fa­mous Köln-ahrweilier rally and in 1995 GT Porsche rac­ing guru Olaf Man­they en­tered the same event and went one bet­ter to win it.

An­other fa­mous name in Porsche his­tory to pi­lot this car is Jür­gen Barth who took it to 2nd on the 1995 Tour Auto. Do­minik bought the car in 1999 and his best re­sults in­clude 2nd on the ʼ99 Auto Tour and 5th on the Koln-ahrweilier, and a very big vic­tory on its last com­pet­i­tive out­ing, the 2015 AVD Histo Monte. With the replica now fin­ished it will en­joy a long and quiet re­tire­ment and, al­though it may be seen at some shows in the fu­ture, Do­minik wonʼt be do­ing any more timed events in it. CP

“THE CAR WAS RE­TIRED FROM CON­TEM­PO­RARY RAC­ING IN 1975”

Above: In­te­rior is stripped bare save for es­sen­tials. Note the fuses lo­cated ahead of the co-pi­lot for ease of ac­cess. Also note the hand­brake lever has been re­lo­cated from the left sill to be­tween the seats

Be­low: In ac­tion on the 2017 Eifel Ral­lye. 914/6 gets ʻair ʼ ahead of what we sus­pect was a heavy land­ing!

Be­low: ʻPur­pose­fulʼ is prob­a­bly the word that sums the car up best. Low-set front-mounted oil cooler looks vul­ner­a­ble but skid plate adds some much needed pro­tec­tion

Above: Kick­ing up the dust on the Eifel Ral­lye – the 914/6 GT has proved to be a very ef­fec­tive ʻweaponʼ – itʼs a shame the fac­tory did­nʼt see fit to de­velop the con­cept fur­ther

Be­low: Tyres were made to Do­minikʼs spec by Dun­lop. Front lug­gage bay is now dom­i­nated by ATL fuel cell and front-mounted oil cooler

Above: Bear­ing a few bat­tle scars af­ter a sea­son in the forests, Do­minikʼs rally-prepped 914/6 GT is clearly a car that gets used hard

Above: Ex-works orig­i­nal on the left was first pre­pared for Group 4 cir­cuit rac­ing be­fore it even­tu­ally em­barked on a rally ca­reer in 1979. Its in­creas­ing value was the rea­son for build­ing a replica

Be­low: Replica was built to the high­est stan­dard in Do­minikʼs work­shop. Its ex­is­tence means the orig­i­nal can now en­joy a well-earned re­tire­ment…

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.