RETURN TO MONTE CARLO
The Porsche factory built just five 911s for the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally, four in which to compete under the works banner, the fifth being sold to a privateer on the understanding that he competed in the famous rally. This is the story of that ʻlostʼ works
Tracking down the fifth works-built 911 from the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally…
By the mid-1960s, with the 356, 550 Spyder and the new 904, Porsche was already very successful in many different avenues of motorsport. The all-new 911, debuted in 1964, was expected to both continue and build upon that tradition, and for the press exposure the first major international event in which the model ever competed was the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally.
Driven by Herbert Linge and Peter Falk, the only modifications from the road car were Weber carburettors in place of the factory fitted Solexes and a spotlight mounted in the centre of the roof. The 911 is arguably one of the most recognisable competition cars in the world, and all the model has achieved in its over 50 years of history began with its fifth place here.
Porscheʼs sole objective was to win the rally, though, so for the following year – 1966 – the team prepared four cars all upgraded to the limit allowed by the ERC (European Rally Championship) GT class rules. As with the 1965 car, the factory Solex carbs were replaced with a pair of Webers and, coupled with modified camshafts that were soon to find their way into the forthcoming 911S model, the 110bhp of the road cars was increased to a much healthier 140.
For improved acceleration at the expense of top speed, a shorter-ratio type 901 gearbox was fitted which, for better traction on the challenging Alpine roads, was equipped with a limited-slip differential. Along with stiffer torsion bars, wider rims were used, as well as a special exhaust with straight-through pipes giving an extra 2 or 3bhp. A little secret weapon, an external temperature gauge, was also fitted in the wood-faced dashboard, which was intended to give a warning about possible ice on the road. It was a good idea but didnʼt prove accurate enough to be useful.
The cars were prepared for the works crews of Günther Klass/rolf Wütherich, Jo Schlesser/robert Buchet, Hans Walter/werner Lier and Henri Perrier/pierre De Pasquier, but there was a fifth, chassis #178, that was also built up
for use as either a rolling source of spares or to be rented out to a private driver...
At the end of 1964 one of Spainʼs foremost rally, hillclimb and touring car drivers, and good friend of the Porsche family, Juan Fernandez took his yearly road trip from his home in Barcelona over to Stuttgart to have his 904 Carrera GTS serviced by the official Porsche mechanics. When he saw the new 906 prototype in the workshop, he ordered one there and then. There was a slight problem, though, as the first 906 wouldnʼt be ready for privateers for another seven months. That wasnʼt any good for Juan, so he asked what he could buy to race while he waited for the 906. The only car available was the fifth 911 being readied for the Monte Carlo Rally. Ferry agreed to sell it to Fernandez on one condition; that he entered the rally in it.
Even though it was only a couple of weeks before the start and Fernandez had little experience of running competitively on snow, it was an offer a Porsche driver couldnʼt possibly refuse. Entered as number 54, without doing anything spectacular, he and co-driver Oliva Grifoll did well for four days, managing to keep the car on the road in the changing conditions and through the many night stages.
On the fifth day, though, the weather changed and in the deep snow high up in the mountains they hit a dog hard enough to damage the steering. In the treacherous conditions they decided that continuing in a car that wasnʼt handling correctly would be too dangerous, so they reluctantly pulled out of the event.
The event is remembered for the exclusion of the first four finishers which gifted Pauli Toivonen in his French Citroen DS the win…but Porsche escaped the controversy and dominated the GT class by finishing 1-2-3-4 with the four factory cars.
Although the outing in the new 911 ended with retirement, Juan liked it so much that when the 906 was ready he chose not to sell it and in the next two years competed in 29 events with the 911, which included a grand total of 17 wins in both hillclimbs and rallies. Two of note are Portugalʼs Refugio del
Migeal and the Course de Côte de Corsavy in the French mountains, which he won in the 911. In 1973 he sold both the 911 and 906 to upgrade to a 908, with which he went on to enter Le Mans, netting a fine fifth place finish in 1973.
The 911 was acquired by his friend Jorge Caton who wasnʼt anywhere near as successful in it as Juan, but he still won some small local events. But now, with the car getting older and easily outclassed by newer machines, he thought it needed a bit of a power upgrade, so he installed an engine from a crashed 911R, (chassis #9). It didnʼt make much of an improvement in his results and so sold the car to a friend, Francisco Gutierez. Gutierez entered a few events but retired from all of them because of problems with the engine, so Caton agreed to have the original engine refitted.
Reliable but less competitive, Gutierez didnʼt compete with the car again and he sold it in 1975. The next owner didnʼt want a competition car so took out the roll cage, added wider flares, painted it silver and fitted a huge stereo. For twenty years he used it as a normal car, and its history was sadly lost...
We first caught up with Carlos Beltran at the Tour Auto Rally in France where Derek Bell was apologising to him for wrapping his RSR around a tree. Carlos is a consummate Porsche lover, though, and knows that if itʼs Derek Bell who bends your Porsche it only improves its provenance. With workshops full of amazing Porsches, mostly his, and garages full of memorabilia, he runs Nou Onze Racing in downtown Barcelona and therefore knows a lot about Spanish classic and rally cars.
This is the reason why Fernandezʼs autobiographer asked him to keep a look out for the long lost 1966 Monte Carlo 911, chassis #178, as according to his information it had never left Spain. Carlos agreed to look but wasnʼt too serious as, by this time, the car hadnʼt been seen for forty years.
A couple of months later Carlos wanted to drive one of his Porsches but a customer ʼs car was blocking it in. This particular car had been owned for a long time by a friend of Carlos and had often been run in regularity rallies. It had been serviced at Nou Onze for a decade but incredibly it had been parked in the workshop for almost a year as the new owner hadnʼt even come to see it! With a charged battery at the ready, Carlos popped the hood and for some reason had
a quick look at the chassis number – a shiver ran up his spine as he saw that it was the ʻmissingʼ #178.
To be 100 per cent sure he needed to see the log book, which was in another workshop across the city, so he raced there with his heart pumping. Sure enough, it was definitely chassis #178. He still couldnʼt quite believe it so drove back with the documents and triple checked.
On closer inspection he could see the car ʼs original colour had been white and it had an outside temperature gauge mounted in the dashboard… For ten years heʼd been working on one of the very first factory-prepared 911s and hadnʼt had a clue! It had been parked right there in front of them when the autobiographer had been asking about the former rally 911.
Its current owner was a rich businessman known for making harsh deals on properties and big boats; heʼd bought the car as an investment rather than from a love of Porsches, so there was no sense of helping a friend claim his windfall. Instead, the next morning Carlos made a phone call enquiring about the possibility of buying it because, after looking at it in his workshop for so long, heʼd started to get quite fond of it. It was fair game, as he described it.
The owner, on the other hand, wasnʼt too interested in selling so Carlos tried another tack and offered to find him a car that he would enjoy owning and driving and then do a straight swap. There was a tentative agreement and Carlos found a 1967 Targa for sale. He doesnʼt even remember how much the Targa cost – after all, in the scheme of things itʼs not an important detail.
ʻFor a week I was just in shock,ʼ he explains. ʻI just couldnʼt stop staring at the car thinking about what an impossible story it was.ʼ But once it had settled in he contacted Juan Fernandez, as well as Caton and Gutierezʼs son, to get as many period photos, and as much race history
“SURE ENOUGH, IT WAS DEFINITELY CHASSIS #178…”
“FOR A WEEK, I WAS JUST IN SHOCK…”
and paperwork he could find – and then began the rebuild. The only option for a car of such historical significance was, of course, a full nut and bolt restoration. Amazingly Caton had kept the original wheels and special exhaust system for all those years.
From the start Carlos intended to compete with the car but, with something close to 100,000km (62,000 miles) under its belt, a few suspension joints and bushes needed renewing but, as originality is all important, if a component could be reused it was. As 911s are such popular cars sourcing the correct parts proved straightforward, meaning the restoration didnʼt take too long… which was a good thing.
Beltran, you see, wanted it ready in time to enter the 2016 Monte Carlo Classic, as it was a great opportunity to drive it in the same event exactly half a century after its first entry. His friend Antonio Zanini, the 1980 European Rally champion and multiple Spanish rally champion, was more than happy to be co-driver, although neither had ever done a regularity rally before.
With nothing but a road book, they had a steep learning curve trying to work out the speed and distance calculations, so were a long way from being competitive. On the positive side they enjoyed every single moment of the five days of driving on the high and twisty mountain roads. Driving over the Col de Turini in an ex-works Porsche at night is one of Beltranʼs favourite ever Porsche experiences.
In simple plain white with just the auxiliary lights bolted to the nose, it may not be the most dramatic-looking 911 in the world, but it certainly has one of the most fascinating histories of any of its kind! CP
Above: Carlos Beltran drove the 2016 event with his friend Antonio Zanini, the 1980 European Rally champion and multiple Spanish rally champion
Below, left and right: First owner Juan Fernandez already owned a 904 GTS when he purchased the 911. He competed in a total of 29 events in Portugal and France, netting 17 wins
Below: Weber carburettors replaced the standard Solexes, and the cams were swapped for ʻgrindsʼ that were to be used in the 911S
Above left: Fernandez entered the Rally Gerona in 1966, an event he had already won in 1962. He was victorious in both 1966 and 1967 in the 911
Above: Classic SWB 911 profile belies the history behind the car – thereʼs little to suggest it began life as a works rally car, or that it competed in several highprofile events
Below, left and right: Second owner, Jorge Caton, installed a 911R engine (from chassis #9) in an attempt to make the car more competitive. However, Caton never achieved the successes of the car ʼs first owner
Above: Pallas lamps for longrange driving, angled fog lamps for when the going gets tough… Rally preparation was far simpler in the 1960s
Below, left and right: Carlos Beltranʼs ambition was to drive in the Monte Carlo Classic, an ambition he achieved in 2016…