GT Spirit 1974 Porsche 911 Car­rera RS 3.0

Zuf­fen­hausen’s Rad­i­cal Ho­molo­ga­tion Spe­cial

Die Cast X - - OUT OF THE BOX - BY MATT BOYD

No sports-car maker has a more pres­ti­gious rac­ing pedi­gree than does Porsche, but iron­i­cally, the car that would be­come the sin­gle most suc­cess­ful sports racer in his­tory—the 911—was not ini­tially ear­marked for com­pe­ti­tion when it was re­leased in 1963. But the suc­cess of nu­mer­ous pri­va­teer rac­ers was noted by the fac­tory, so Porsche engi­neers went to work help­ing hone the 911 for the track.

The first ma­jor devel­op­ment came in 1966 in the form of the 911S, which re­ceived sharper han­dling and a 30hp-en­gine up­grade. But Zuf­fen­hausen was also se­cretly work­ing on a pure­bred racer called the “911R,” an ef­fort which fo­cused on shav­ing the al­ready svelte

911 down to feath­er­weight by em­ploy­ing fiber­glass body pan­els, adding Plex­i­glas win­dows, and drilling holes in ev­ery piece of metal not struc­turally es­sen­tial. All the in­su­la­tion and ameni­ties were stripped out, re­sult­ing in a 911 that weighed less than 1,800 pounds—nearly 500 less than stock! And for good mea­sure, they bolted in the en­gine from the 906 sports racer, which made 210hp—30 more than the 911S. Ul­ti­mately, just 19 911Rs were built, so it never met the pro­duc­tion re­quire­ment of 500 units to ho­molo­gate it for GT com­pe­ti­tion, but the ex­er­cise would serve Porsche well in just a few short years.

Fast-for­ward to 1972: Porsche’s Le Mans–con­quer­ing 917K was forcibly put to pas­ture by a rules change, and the

908 that helped de­liver three con­sec­u­tive FIA World Sports

Car ti­tles had be­come ob­so­lete. Porsche de­cided to step back from pro­to­type rac­ing and re­turn to its roots in GT, but the 911S just wasn’t po­tent enough to com­pete for over­all wins against the pow­er­ful Fer­rari 365 GTB/4 Day­tona, so engi­neers went back to the 911R play­book. They stripped out the in­su­la­tion and in­te­rior ameni­ties, and in­stalled thin-gauge sheet metal and glass to save pounds, and bor­ing the mo­tor from 2.4 to 2.7L got 210hp—same as the old R. They flared the rear fend­ers to cover wider wheels and tires in back, and the now fa­mous duck­tail rear spoiler was added for down­force. The car was not as rad­i­cal as that first 911R. As it was some­where between a 911R and a 911S, Porsche log­i­cally named it the

“RS 2.7” and res­ur­rected the “Car­rera” name­plate, es­tab­lished back in 1955 to cel­e­brate vic­tory in the Car­rera Panamer­i­cana. The plan was to build the 500 cars re­quired to qual­ify for the FIA Group 4 GT class for the 1973 sea­son, but the Car­rera RS 2.7 proved so pop­u­lar that, by year’s end, 1,580 ea­ger en­thu­si­asts had signed up de­spite the nearly $14,000 ask­ing price. Porsche was shocked but thrilled be­cause that meant the RS had met the 1,000-unit re­quire­ment for Group 3 as well. That proved cru­cial as FIA rules stated that, af­ter a car had met the Group 3 el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments, a vari­ant could be ho­molo­gated by build­ing just 100 fur­ther ex­am­ples. That meant that for 1974, Porsche could build a much more rad­i­cal, ex­pen­sive, and race-ready ver­sion of the RS with­out hav­ing to worry about sell­ing 500 of them. En­ter the Car­rera RS 3.0.

One of the first things you no­tice when ex­am­in­ing GT

Spirit’s RS 3.0 is the huge rec­tan­gu­lar open­ing in the front air dam. The chunky front bumper with imbed­ded mark­ers was new on all ’74 911s, but the fiber­glass air dam was unique to the RS. The open­ing housed a large oil cooler, and GT Spirit does a nice job with the screen mesh that cov­ers it. The round open­ings to ei­ther side route air to cross-drilled rac­ing brakes that came straight off the 917. There’s a match­ing set of brake ducts for the rears just for­ward of the wheel open­ings. Rad­i­cal weight­sav­ing mea­sures dropped the RS down be­low 2,000 pounds and in­cluded the 2.7’s thin­ner body pan­els, to which they added a fiber­glass bon­net and en­gine cover, but those ob­vi­ously aren’t vis­i­ble on the model. Those fa­mil­iar with clas­sic 911s will note the wide fender flares needed to cover the 9-inch-wide rear wheels (2 inches wider than the RS 2.7’s). You’ll also note the larger, tray-style rear spoiler that re­placed the duck­tail on the 2.7.

Un­der that gi­gan­tic rear wing that ac­tu­ally over­hangs the rear bumper lives a slightly de­tuned ver­sion of Porsche’s 3.0L rac­ing flat-6. The block was cast in alu­minum rather than mag­ne­sium, used sin­gle in­stead of dual spark plugs, and had muf­flers in­stalled, but oth­er­wise was very sim­i­lar to the RSR rac­ing en­gine. It was con­ser­va­tively rated at 230hp, which was chan­neled through a rac­ing 5-speed to a lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial. Like all GT Spirit repli­cas, this one is a sealed­body resin model, so nothing of that glo­ri­ous mo­tor can be seen save some rudi­men­tary ex­haust de­tails molded in re­lief on the chas­sis.

The in­te­rior some­what makes up for that. To save weight, the in­te­rior was com­pletely stripped of car­pet­ing and in­su­la­tion—even the glove-box door and arm­rests are gone. The in­te­rior door trim was re­placed with plain flat

pan­els, and the door pulls and latches were min­i­mal­ist leather straps, which GT Spirit molds in re­lief. The seats are deep­bol­ster rac­ing buck­ets. The RS 3.0 was orig­i­nally equipped with 4-point rac­ing har­nesses anda fac­tory roll bar. The former have been re­placed on the model with 5-point belts, but that’s a rea­son­able up­grade, es­pe­cially since the wo­ven ma­te­rial and etched metal buckles look great. The thick three-spoke wheel has the Porsche crest on the cen­ter but­ton, and the gear lever has the 5-speed shift pat­tern on its chrome knob.

The gold spokes on the widened 15-inch Fuchs wheels match the “Car­rera” scripts on the rock­ers, and be­hind the gaps in the spokes, you can see the drilled ro­tors bor­rowed from the 917. OEM tires were Pirellis; GT Spirit’s have no side­wall mark­ings, but the tread looks pretty good. Be­cause the race-spec sus­pen­sion of­fered ad­justable cam­ber and sat on ul­tra-stiff Bil­stein rac­ing dampers, stance varies car to car. This one sits a lit­tle high to my eye, but I can’t say it’s wrong.

GT Spirit does a nice job with the mesh screen cov­er­ing the large oil cooler mounted in the front air dam, brack­eted by ducts to cool the brakes.

As a sealed resin model there’s no en­gine de­tail ex­cept for some rudi­men­tary ex­haust mold­ing on the chas­sis.

The RS 3.0 re­placed the duck­tail with this larger tray-style rear spoiler that pro­duced more down­force and less drag. Note the delicate work on the vent­ing over the air-cooled en­gine.

The gold-tinted Fuchs wheels on the RS 3.0 were the same di­am­e­ter (15 inches) as on the 2.7, but two inches wider, re­quir­ing en­larged fender flares. The cross-drilled ro­tors bor­rowed from the 917K are vis­i­ble through the spokes.

Deep-bol­ster rac­ing bucket seats have wo­ven rac­ing har­nesses and etched metal buckles. The gauge de­tail is ex­cel­lent, there’s a Porsche crest on the steer­ing wheel, and the shifter has the proper 5-speed pat­tern on its chrome knob (not pic­tured.)

There’s a fac­tory-in­stalled roll bar and the wo­ven rac­ing har­nesses are pinned to the rear deck—very real­is­tic!

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