Classic Porsche

SPLIT PERSONALIT­Y

Michael Wood’s personalis­ed Porsche mixes RSR 2.8 looks with Carrera 3.2 running gear to create his dream drive…

- Words Emma Woodcock Photograph­y Adrian Brannan

RSR looks with Carrera 3.2 running gear.

Ultimate. The term’s overused, but the 1973 RSR 2.8 deserves it. An overall race winner everywhere, from the 24 Hours of Daytona to the Sicilian roads of the Targa Florio, the all-conquering 911 took its Carrera RS 2.7 foundation­s to previously unimagined heights. A bored out flat-six displaces 1,808cc to produce 300 horsepower at a dizzying 8,000rpm (with the rev counter calibrated all the way to ten), while polycarbon­ate windows, a stripped interior and a lightweigh­t flywheel drop kerb weight to just 840 kilos. Thin gauge body panels, 917-style brakes and extensive chassis strengthen­ing all add to the intrigue.

For Michael Wood, it’s the appearance of the RSR which really stands out. The basics are familiar to the Carrera RS 2.7, with an arresting front chin spoiler, a ducktail rear wing and the availabili­ty of striking Carrera side decals, but the 2.8 drops hints with a twin-exit exhaust and chunky external bonnet release straps. Even more explicit are the front and rear wheel arches, which stretch far out from all four corners to cover giant fifteen-inch front and rear (nine inches and eleven inches of width respective­ly) Fuchs alloys. Model code M491 created arguably the first widebody 911 and a visual icon Michael has emulated with his pristine backdate.

Six years ago, this particular Porsche was a tired narrow-bodied 1984 Carrera 3.2 looking for a new owner. A top-end rebuild at 90,000 miles meant the engine was still in condition, but the body had been stripped back and the interior was entirely absent. First-time Porsche owner, Michael, wasn’t deterred — a veteran modifier who’s built everything from an exacting Ford Anglia van to a Toyota Starlet with Cosworth YB power, he was always going to get his hands dirty. “I prefer the cleaner lines of a pre-1974 911, but the 3.2-litre engine appealed,” he explains. “I knew I’d have to build a backdate. To my mind, it’s an approach combining the best of both worlds!”

He’s gone all the way back to the shell to create an Rsr-appropriat­e shape, using his welding skills to remove the original sunroof and install a set of 911 Turbo (930) wheel arches. Visually near identical to the RSR design, the metal extensions pair the required width with a mildly squaredoff shoulder. “An original RSR arch would be more rounded, but I think the sharper Turbo edge looks better,” he adds. In pursuit of period accuracy, he’s also stripped the anodised black finish from the window surrounds and polished the freshly exposed aluminium to a high sheen.

With the project foundation­s secure, the hunt could begin for an accurate set of RSR body panels. Internet research eventually led Michael to the Fenn Lane Motorsport workshop of late specialist, Chris Flavell. “He was a font of knowledge and enthusiasm,” Michael remembers. “A fifteen-minute visit to collect parts would often turn into a three-hour chat. Chris’s passing

MICHAEL LIMITED HIMSELF TO 1973 COLOUR CHOICES WHEN CHOOSING THE ICONIC PINSTRIPES

is a huge loss to the air-cooled 911 community.” Chris provided the RSR front and rear bumpers, bonnet and the engine lid, all finished in fibreglass to Fenn Lane’s own specificat­ion. Michael trialled each panel’s fitment, then sent his Porsche to the paint shop.

Replacing the original metallic maroon, the new colour creates another link to early Rennsport 911s. Grand Prix White was introduced in 1973 and more than a quarter of Carrera RS 2.7 production was finished in the warm-tinted shade. Scott and Mike at Nottingham workshop, ST Auto Bodies — themselves RSR replica owners — carried out the transforma­tion. Eager to maintain accuracy, Michael also limited himself to 1973 colour choices when choosing the iconic pinstripes, side decals and rear band Carrera RS motif. “The RS 2.7 options were black, blue, green and red,” he explains, “and of those, it’s the red that really pops.” Matching wheels work with the Fenn Lane sticker set to create an eye-catching finish, which Michael adores. “It’s the look I really wanted, so I decided to follow my personal preference over factory specificat­ion.” Red wheel centres aren’t technicall­y correct for an RSR — the original 2.8s wore polished rims, matching centres and painted black detailing — but the option was offered on the Carrera RS 2.7 and later Carrera 3.2 Club Sport, meaning the combinatio­n has plenty of air-cooled Porsche provenance.

Colour aside, the Braid BZ alloys are inch-perfect to the RSR 2.8 Fuchs originals, filling the arches with the correct widths, diameter and offsets. “I was adamant the dimensions had to be right. I’ve seen many replicas with sixteeninc­h alloys, which makes it easier to find tyres, but for me, the focus was authentici­ty.” The Braids are clad with period-correct Michelin TB historic racing tyres spanning 215mm at the front and a remarkable 295mm at the rear. Torsion bar re-indexing and geometry revisions at Fenn Lane Motorsport instil the RSR stance, too.

Elsewhere, specificat­ion strays further from the project’s Group 4 inspiratio­n and borrows heavily from

HE’S MORE THAN HAPPY WITH THE DEEP-CHESTED DELIVERY OF THE CAR’S ORIGINAL 3.2-LITRE FLAT-SIX

the Carrera 3.2 base car. New standard front calipers and refurbishe­d rears clamp original Carrera discs at all four corners and the 915 five-speed gearbox remains untouched. Additional­ly, Michael has retained almost all original suspension components, ensuring his RSR evocation remains a usable road car, though he couldn’t resist a pair of 930 solid-mounted tie rod ends to sharpen steering response.

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE

An RSR might scream beyond 8,000 revs, but you won’t find the same peaky shrill blaring from beneath this car’s ducktail — despite the car’s appearance, Michael doesn’t intend to use his Porsche as a track toy and he’s more than happy with the deep-chested delivery of the car’s original 3.2-litre flat-six. “The 2.8 was powerful for its time, but it revs like a food mixer,” he says. “I prefer the grunt of the 3.2. It brings the power in from nowhere and just keeps going.” With a high-flow cone air filter and a custom 2.75-inch dual-exit stainless steel rear silencer, his car matches an estimated 240bhp with a stirring soundtrack nonetheles­s.

In the cabin, evocation also takes the place of historical recreation, where lightweigh­t touches and motorsport-inspired additions echo those of the RSR

2.8 without devoting Michael’s car to absolute accuracy. Working from scratch — the car arrived with nothing more than the dashboard in situ — he has created an interior fitting his needs exactly. “It’s an aesthetic replica without being exact to the real thing,” he explains. “I didn’t need to go to extremes, and I prefer to make a car my own.” The original dash with its chrome-ringed dials is still in place (as are the electric windows and heater), albeit with a retrim in black leather.

Several larger components reinterpre­t the Rennsport theme. A three-spoke MOMO Prototipo steering wheel plays substitute for the larger four-spoke item fitted to original racers, while a full Safety Devices bolt-in roll

cage offers a safety conscious nod to the 2.8’s rear half cage. Bedecked with Gt40-style ventilatio­n holes and modern adjustable headrests, a pair of D’eser Sedile ST seats echo the lowback Porsche items and four-point Sabelt safety harnesses hold the occupants in place. “Though they weren’t fitted, the seats came with the car. I love them,” Michael smiles. “As six-foot-four, I’m pretty tall, but these buckets fit my frame like a glove.”

They’re joined by substantia­l sections of new upholstery, all courtesy of Fenn Lane and mostly fitted by Michael himself — flat door cards with long horizontal pull straps replicate the RSR exactly, as does the headlining and the grey Perlon carpeting. “Fitting it was like tackling a jigsaw puzzle,” he adds, “but armed with a can of spray glue, it only took a day.” The rear bench delete and absent radio match the theme of Porsche’s motorsport machines, while the rotated rev counter isn’t strictly accurate, but perfectly encapsulat­es the same competitio­n car spirit.

BEST OF BOTH

With the final pieces in place, Michael could finally get behind the wheel. Decades after he first lusted after a 911 and almost fifteen years since he passed up the opportunit­y to purchase a competitiv­ely priced 944 Turbo, he turned the key and fired up his very own personalis­ed Porsche. “I’d never driven a 911,” he admits.

“I’d never even been out in one as a passenger, but I knew they were iconic cars. Truth be told, the drive to the MOT station was my first ever 911 experience!” The trip out more than lived up to expectatio­ns and, today, he couldn’t imagine being without his pristine Porsche. “The more I spend time in this car, the more I absolutely adore it,” he smiles. “All classic cars have a soul, but there’s something about a 911 and having the engine behind you. It completely changes your perception about what enjoyable driving is.” From half-hour blasts to three-hour adventures in the Peak District, Michael won’t miss any opportunit­y to keep the wheels turning.

“I’ve driven this 911 further during my first year behind the wheel than I drove my previous project cars in a decade,” he continues. “I’m speechless about how it drives. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a car which likes to fight back, but it’s a wonderful machine and feels totally wired into you as a driver.” Despite an estimated 250kg weight saving over standard — the lightweigh­t panels and bare bones cabin drip this RSR homage to below 1,000 kilos — Michael isn’t compelled to recreate the Targa Florio. “It’s quite a bit quicker than standard, but it doesn’t beg you to hammer around. I get just as much enjoyment driving this car at low speed as I do from fast-paced motoring.” Blending backroad thrills with long distance comfort, this white wonder offers more flexibilit­y than a true-to-factory RSR replica could ever provide, and it’s all the better for it.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Above Braid BZ wheels are wrapped in period-perfect Michelin TBS — no wonder Michael looks so pleased!
Above Braid BZ wheels are wrapped in period-perfect Michelin TBS — no wonder Michael looks so pleased!
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Above Original 3.2-litre lump lives at the car’s rear end and delivers close to 240bhp
Above Original 3.2-litre lump lives at the car’s rear end and delivers close to 240bhp
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Above Super-wide rear wheels and tyres give this Carrera 3.2 restomod a serious amount of road presence
Above Super-wide rear wheels and tyres give this Carrera 3.2 restomod a serious amount of road presence
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom