Classic Porsche


The coming together of technician­s from Porsche Cars GB’S network of Classic Partner Centres saw this early 911 wow fans of historic motorsport before the car underwent further transforma­tion in 2020…

- Words Dan Furr Photograph­y Chris Wallbank

Porsche Cars GB’S restored 911 SWB 2.0.

Back in 2018, Porsche was flooding social media with pictures and stories celebratin­g the seventieth anniversar­y of its time as a sportscar manufactur­er. To mark this milestone in the company’s history, Porsche Cars GB commission­ed the restoratio­n of no fewer than twenty legacy models, including a 914, a G-series 911, a 964 and a 993. Each car was finished in the same Liquid Metal paint covering the 918 Spyder PHEV, while mechanical and interior restoratio­n — the latter incorporat­ing a commemorat­ive plaque — preceded the appearance of the finished four-wheelers at the Lancaster Insurance Classic

Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham come year end.

Through its Porsche Classic Partner Centres

(Glasgow, Swindon, Hatfield and Leeds), Porsche Cars GB has restored a number of historical­ly significan­t sports cars in recent years. For example, at the back end of 2015, in a bid to highlight the existence of the rich pool of talented Porsche Centre technician­s well versed in the field of maintainin­g classic Stuttgart speed machines, Porsche Cars GB Owner Services Manager, Jonathan Mannell, arranged for 924 GTP chassis 002

— a participan­t in the 1980 24 Hours of Le Mans and the only factory race car ever to compete wearing the Union Jack — to be liberated from the Porsche Museum’s vault in Zuffenhaus­en and passed through each of the UK’S Classic Partner Centres for restoratio­n. Under the direction of Andy Wexham (previously a Porsche Classic Technician, now head of independen­t specialist, RSR Developmen­ts), the team at Porsche Centre Leeds took care of stripping and inspecting the car, as well as sorting its electrics, in readiness for its new lease of life. Porsche Centre Glasgow recommissi­oned the suspension, brakes and wheels. Meanwhile, Porsche Centre Swindon was tasked with the mammoth job of rebuilding the car’s engine. Last, but by no means least, Simon Coath, Porsche Centre Hatfield’s resident Classic Technician, worked with his colleagues at the Hertfordsh­ire site to refurbish the car’s reinforced fivespeed transmissi­on.


After the build was complete, the car was presented to an excited gathering of motoring hacks at Porsche Experience Centre Silverston­e, with one of GTP 002’s original drivers, Tony Dron, entertaini­ng the crowd by way of demonstrat­ion laps. Soon after, Derek Bell drove the wide-bodied 924 around the Green Hell as part of a Porsche-organised coming together of standout survivors from the manufactur­er’s transaxle range. Indeed, Porsche Cars GB’S restoratio­n of GTP 002 project proved so successful, an early 928 was soon being prepared for similar treatment — driven by former works driver and Le Mans winner, Richard Attwood, the V8powered ‘land shark’ was configured for entry into the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC)’S 2017 ‘70s Roadsport Championsh­ip, a move designed to draw attention to the 928’s fortieth anniversar­y. This time, the role of each Classic Partner Centre was to serve as trackside support whenever a round of the championsh­ip arrived at a local circuit. For many of the technician­s involved, it was the first time they’d participat­ed in the preparatio­n of a competitio­n car for practice, qualifying and racing — a huge challenge, but another example of how Porsche Cars GB is keen to bring its Classic Partner Centres ever closer to Stuttgart-crested retro rides, both in road and race trim, thereby adding to a knowledge base directly benefiting owners taking their air-cooled or transaxle models to Glasgow, Leeds, Hatfield or Swindon for maintenanc­e, servicing, repair or restoratio­n work.

The success of both the 924 and 928 projects relied heavily on the input of father and son Porschephi­les, John and Tom Bradshaw, the pair behind Manchester­based race car preparatio­n and premium marque bodywork specialist, Road and Race Restoratio­ns, one of only a handful of officially recommende­d independen­t Porsche repair shops. The company took care of all GTP

002’s bodywork needs (no mean feat due to significan­t damage inflicted on the car’s front clam, a condition requiring the part to be created afresh with nothing other than period photograph­s available as a point of reference) and John prepared the 928 for Attwood’s star turn behind the wheel after personally sourcing the 4.5-litre V8-powered Porsche.

“The 928 project worked well as a way of raising awareness about the existence of the Porsche Classic Parts service and the expertise of Classic Partner Centre technician­s at Glasgow, Hatfield, Swindon and Leeds,” reflects John. “What became apparent, however, is that changing personnel between each round of racing meant there wasn’t ever anyone with intimate knowledge of the car on hand come race day. Time spent with a motorsport machine across a season, or at the very least, multiple successive rounds of a championsh­ip, gives you detailed knowledge of how the car should be configured for varying weather and driving conditions. With this in mind, when Jonathan Mannell approached me with details of Porsche Cars GB’S next motorsport­themed restoratio­n project, I knew we needed to pull together a permanent support team to look after the car across an entire season of racing.”

The Porsche being pitched by Jonathan was a shortwheel­base two-litre 911 manufactur­ed in 1965. His request was for Road and Race Restoratio­ns to prepare the car for an attack of the track in time for Porsche’s seventieth anniversar­y celebratio­ns. “The car had been purchased by Porsche Cars GB many years beforehand, but unrelentin­g engine problems meant keeping it in good operating condition had been a prohibitiv­ely expensive exercise,” recalls John. “With Porsche’s anniversar­y on the horizon, not to mention the fact one of the 911’s previous owners had part-prepared the car for circuit use, a decision was made to hand it to Tom and I with an instructio­n for our team to strip and rebuild the car for a motorsport campaign intended to tie in with the manufactur­er’s full year of high-profile PR activities.”


“The Peter Auto 2.0L Cup was introduced in 2018 for early short-chassis 911s prepared in accordance with pre-1966 FIA regulation­s,” John continues. “The Le

Mans Classic also offered an attractive forum for the car to strut its stuff.” As tempting as these outings were, there was a huge amount of work to be done before any of the star drivers drafted in to put the diminutive Porsche through its paces could hop into the hot seat. “We stripped the shell bare and were delighted to find

a chassis in excellent condition, a characteri­stic partly resulting from the car spending much of its life on the sunny side of Italy. Even so, we had to repair the roof, rear quarters and sills where knocks had been picked up over the years. In fairness, these were minor complaints, but they needed to be addressed before a respray.”

The poorly engine was stripped and rebuilt in accordance with FIA Appendix K historic race regulation­s, essentiall­y a rulebook stating competing cars need to be built to authentic original specificat­ion to ensure a level playing field. This meant the 911 in John’s custody needed to make use of stock-spec ignition, its original Solex carburetto­rs (“a pain to work with compared to the Weber carbs Porsche fitted to later 911s”) and its small-valve head. New barrels, pistons and a new crankshaft were required, but the acquisitio­n and use of replacemen­t items sourced through Porsche Classic’s genuine parts catalogue highlighte­d how accessible genuine components for Porsche’s legacy models is today, a statement which was largely the point of the project.

In addition to the engine, the transmissi­on was rebuilt. Appendix K allows the use of any gear sets originally manufactur­ed for the host vehicle. This flexibilit­y afforded John the opportunit­y to pick from twenty different 901 ratios, enabling gearboxes to be built to varying specificat­ion to suit whichever circuit the car happened to be tackling. Finding available ratios was the first challenge, followed by a process of trial and error on the track. “Anyone with experience of a 901 gearbox will tell you it’s a tricky unit to operate quickly,” he warns. “Miss a gear, over-rev the engine and you’ll break a rocker valve. Follow this pattern of behaviour too many times and you’ll do serious damage to the bottom end. We were thankful to welcome a variety of experience­d drivers when the car hit the track, but while we did our best to improve oil flow, a lack of mechanical sympathy during shifting caused major problems, resulting in necessary removal of the engine after we landed for a round of racing at Spa.” Fortunatel­y, drivers and gearboxes didn’t miss a beat after the repaired engine was returned to its natural habitat, enabling hasslefree maintenanc­e every time the car was put to work thereafter.

The interior of the punchy 911 was painted matte black

(to eliminate the risk of glare), while the tired front seats and belts were replaced with a single Sparco bucket and a Schroth harness. A roll cage was installed, but it was rear seats and carpets which hinted at how close the car’s specificat­ion was to the standard roadgoing short-wheelbase two-litre 911. “Even the suspension is more or less what you’d find fitted to the Porsche street car,” stresses John. “That said, Appendix K allows for alteration to ride height and other suspension settings. While owners of competing cars in the Peter Auto series opted for a 30mm drop, we stuck with 15mm in a bid to avoid compromise­d handling.”

Brake calipers, suspension bushes, fuel equipment, wiring, dashboard instrument­ation and host of other parts were renewed in readiness for the car’s


participat­ion in the 2.0L Cup, the HSCC’S Oulton Park Gold Cup, the same organisati­on’s Guards Trophy and the Silverston­e Classic. The car also made appearance­s at Gentlemen Drivers events held across the UK, an important factor in promoting the project as a Porsche Cars GB initiative. Nonetheles­s, an invitation to compete in the Nürburgrin­g Oldtimer Grand Prix was not to be dismissed. “The 911 held its own all season, helped by having Derek Bell, Richard Attwood, Anthony Reid and Tom at the controls,” says a suitably proud John, acknowledg­ing Bradshaw the Younger’s experience competing in Carrera Cup GB. “Despite observing homologati­on requiremen­ts demanding a minimum weight of 1,002kg, the car took the fight to vehicles weighing as much as a damp bus ticket! It was a fantastic display of performanc­e highlighti­ng how impressive a 911 of any age is when carrying more or less standard trim at a track.”


In accordance with his wishes, the nucleus of the team travelling with the car was a fixed group of skilled technician­s working across all four Classic Partner Centres — continuity was key to success. “Every one of the guys who worked on this 911 knew it inside out, primarily because they were part of the project across an entire season of racing,” beams John. He also highlights Porsche Cars GB’S desire to involve its air-cooled classic in community projects, efforts which saw the car’s livery — then cream with green accents —designed by the winner of a competitio­n exclusivel­y open to school children. “It was amazing for the winning student to see their drawing come to life in the form of this special 911,” he smiles, rememberin­g the car drawing crowds when it was displayed at the Classic Motor Show in 2018.

That, we thought, was the end of that. Project finished, mission accomplish­ed, anniversar­y celebratio­ns done and dusted. On to the next restoratio­n? Kind of — when quizzing Porsche Cars GB’S Aftersales Business Developmen­t Manager, James Toye, about the eyepopping Salzburg-liveried short-wheelbase 911 taking up residence on the Porsche stand at 2019’s Classic Motor Show, we were bowled over to discover we were looking at the very same 1965 two-litre car we’d seen in action following John’s work in 2018. “We didn’t do much with it after the seventieth anniversar­y celebratio­ns were over,” he tells us. “Being a Porsche Cars GB restoratio­n meant any of this 911’s appearance­s in 2019 needed to focus on promoting the project in the UK, which is why Tom and Richard Attwood competed with the car at the year’s Oulton Park Gold Cup, putting in an amazing performanc­e to finish fourth quickest overall, a feat made more impressive by the fact it was achieved in the wet against V8-powered Chevrons!” Time racing in the aforementi­oned Peter Auto 2.0L Cup, however, had highlighte­d how the car’s beating heart — developing a respectabl­e 186bhp — wasn’t as strong as the twolitre flat-sixes propelling similar-spec 911s prepared by some of the industry’s best known marque specialist­s. Truth be told, the massive budgets being thrown at cars by participat­ing teams was simply out of the question for Porsche Cars GB, but John reasoned a ground-up rebuild of another two-litre boxer — keeping the old unit as a spare — at the hands of engine tuning specialist,

Neil Bold Engineerin­g, would deliver the desired results without breaking the bank. In readiness for planned visits to circuits in 2020, marking exactly fifty years since Porsche’s first overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Salzburg 917-inspired body decoration was applied at Road and Race Restoratio­ns while Neil set to work on the preparatio­n of a new engine.

“He’s known internatio­nally for his work preparing Formula Ford 1600 powerplant­s,” John explains. “Neil is much more than an engine builder, though. He’s a highly skilled tuner, working within constricti­ng race series regulation­s to extract huge power out of the engines he’s presented with, delivering enhanced performanc­e, but always with rock solid mechanical reliabilit­y.” With this in mind, and while adhering to Appendix K regulation­s, Neil selected a new camshaft (“not too wild, but we wanted to keep valves open for longer”) and worked carefully to manipulate oil and air flow inside the engine, allowing internal components to get more oil when they need it most, but reducing the amount of lubricant sent to the top of the engine, thereby helping it to breathe more easily. “When working with a boxer, you can’t rely on gravity to pull oil back down as it does in an upright engine, and too much oil at the top creates drag,” explains John. “In short, the feed was too generous, which is why the amount of oil going to the top of the new engine has been reduced. The way it drips back down has also been carefully considered.”


The original 32mm valve size had to be retained, but Neil was able to make alteration­s around valve stems and guides. Further fine tuning saw the stock manifold manipulate­d to extract gas as efficientl­y as possible from the two-litre engine’s small exhaust ports, while a stack of new hardware, including a fresh OEM crankshaft, formed an enviable parts pile in his Worsley workshop. “It’s a completely blueprinte­d engine, now pushing out 200bhp, with a crankcase as internally aerodynami­c as Neil could achieve. That output is really impressive when you consider the two-litre flat-six delivered approximat­ely 135bhp when it left the factory in period,” smiles John. “Neil spent time perfecting swirl in the combustion chamber, too. He’s used to all this stuff with his Formula Ford work, which is why he was the perfect partner on this exciting Porsche project.”

While Neil was working his magic, and while the body of the car was being painted red, John’s technician­s overhauled the chassis equipment. The arrival of the pandemic meant any planned outings for 2020 were now off the table, though the lack of a strict deadline enabled everyone involved to work free of pressure. “We’re hoping to see the car make a few appearance­s at circuits in the United Kingdom throughout the summer,” confirms John. “Silverston­e Classic looks possible, but overseas visits are in doubt, especially with recent news the Le Mans Classic has been postponed to the first or second weekend of July 2022. A return to Spa has been discussed, but for obvious reasons, nothing is set in stone right now. It’s a shame, because allowing Classic Partner Centre technician­s to look after the car during race weekends does them the power of good. It takes them out of the regular workshop setting and enables them to see how the changes they can make to a Porsche will alter its performanc­e in a real-world racing environmen­t. Working in a paddock, understand­ing the effect of corner-weighting, exploring chassis dynamics, swapping gearbox ratios to suit different track conditions — Porsche Cars GB understand­s how this experience helps to improve the day-to-day work being conducted in Classic Partner Centres. It makes for better technician­s.” Ultimately, racing improves the breed — we can’t wait to see this beautifull­y restored 911 back in action in the coming months. See you at Silverston­e!

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 ??  ?? Above Stunning Salzburg livery was applied in recognitio­n of the fiftieth anniversar­y of Porsche’s first overall win at Le Mans
Above Stunning Salzburg livery was applied in recognitio­n of the fiftieth anniversar­y of Porsche’s first overall win at Le Mans
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 ??  ?? Below Despite the obvious race car vibe, this 1965 911 remains surprising­ly faithful to its original specificat­ion
Below Despite the obvious race car vibe, this 1965 911 remains surprising­ly faithful to its original specificat­ion
 ??  ?? Above The Road and Race Restoratio­ns workshop is home to many exciting aircooled Porsche projects
Above The Road and Race Restoratio­ns workshop is home to many exciting aircooled Porsche projects
 ??  ?? Below Neil Bold worked wonders with the donor twolitre flat-six, extracting close to 200bhp from the unit by way of sensible modificati­on within Appendix K regulation­s
Below Neil Bold worked wonders with the donor twolitre flat-six, extracting close to 200bhp from the unit by way of sensible modificati­on within Appendix K regulation­s
 ??  ?? Above Restrictio­ns brought about by the pandemic put paid to many of the car’s planned public appearance­s
Above Restrictio­ns brought about by the pandemic put paid to many of the car’s planned public appearance­s
 ??  ?? Below It might be dressed in bright red race livery, but there’s every chance you’ll hear this wonderfull­y restored 911 before you’ll see it
Below It might be dressed in bright red race livery, but there’s every chance you’ll hear this wonderfull­y restored 911 before you’ll see it

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