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Published: 8th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Fancy owning a motorsport legend? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on rally stages and race tracks, and still provide fine drives today

Bold statement this, but no car other than the Porsche 911 can claim to have been such a consistent motorsport success. From its first appearance, the six-cylinder, rear-engine, sports car was winning on (just as it says in our introduction) race track and rally stage, and it has kept taking honours right to the present day. Little wonder then, it’s one of the most sought-after cars we’ve featured in this Sporting Heroes hall of fame. But although the current Carrera models can still trace their ancestry to the Frankfurt Motor Show of 1963, the car has moved with the times, and today’s 911 is a totally different fish from those early cars. However, it’s the original classic, the so-called pre-impact bumper cars built before 1974, that take the spotlight here. Dr Ferdinand Porsche was an automotive genius - the VW Beetle and the Auto Union racers of the late 1930’s are testimony - but it was left to his son Ferry (christened Ferdinand) to put the first car, the 356, to bear the family name into production. And it was Dr Porsche’s grandson Butzi (another Ferdinand!) who was responsible for the design of the 911. The first 911 engines delivered just 130bhp on carburettors, but it wasn’t long before the 911S had 160bhp on tap. Torsion bar suspension was used front and rear, disc brakes fitted all round, and the (usually) five-speed transaxle mounted ahead of the engine. Lightweight and an aerodynamic profile completed the package. With two-litre, air-cooled, motor hanging out beyond the rear axle, early 911s were considered by some to be a bit of handful. But this didn’t deter Monte Carlo Rally competitors: Herbert Linge and Peter Falk finished 5th on the car’s 1965 Monte debut and in 1968 the multi-talented Vic Elford took outright honours, with Pauli Toivonen in second place, whilst big Swede, Bjorn Waldegard, followed up winning the event in 1969 and ’70. By then the 911 had won almost every major rally you can imagine, and grabbed racing victories and championships throughout Europe and the USA. Also, take note of these facts: Vic Elford won the 84 Hours Marathon de la Route around the Nurburgring in 1967 in a 911 equipped with Sportomatic part-automatic transmission, and because of its tiny rear seats the sports car was also accepted as saloon car in many championships. Mechanical fuel injection used on early competition cars became a production item in 1969 and, at the same time, wheelbase was extended by 57mm to improve handling. Just like the 356, Porsche was not slow to produce special, limited production, versions – the 180bhp 911ST and 210bhp 911R being the first. The Carrera 2.7RS of 1973 is still considered the icon of the age. Safety and emission regulations, and a move to produce a softer, more luxurious, model put paid to the first 911 age. The impact bumper cars of 1974 onwards were more complex, uglier, and heavier, and in motor sport the factory moved further into developing and racing more specialist machinery. The 930 Turbo of ‘76 was the start of another era. But if you want to race - or especially rally – a classic car nowadays, the early 911 has to be high on the list. It’s no longer accepted as a saloon car (!) but can hold its own amongst historic sports cars, and has been the consistent winner in the British Historic Rally Championship. It’s also one of the few classics that can hold its own amongst modern traffic.

Porsche Summary


All models: 78,800


Engine: Rear mounted, six-cylinder aluminium (some magnesium) opposed, with single overhead camshaft per bank. Air-cooled. Dual triple choke Solex (then Weber) carbs, later replaced by fuel injection. 1991cc (1964-69); 2195cc (‘70-’71); 2341cc (‘72-’73); 2681cc (Carrera RS)
Power: from 130bhp to 210bhp
Gearbox: Four or five speed transaxle
Drive: Rear wheels
Suspension: independent all round with torsion bar springing and tubular shock absorbers. Strut front, trailing arm rear
Brakes: Disc front and rear
Steering: Rack and pinion

Claim to fame

Winner of almost everything: Monte Carlo hat trick in ’68, ’69, ‘70 (also in 1978); Tulip (’67); Geneva (’67); Swedish (’68, ’69, ‘70) San Remo (’68), Corsica (’69); Acropolis (’69); Arctic (’72); Race class wins at Daytona, Nurburgring, Spa, Targa Florio, Sebring, Le Mans, etc. European GT Championship 1972, ’73. Winner London-Sydney Marathon 1993; British Historic Rally Championship 1997, 2001-’05

Famous names

Bjorn Waldegard, Vic Elford, Gerard Larrousse, John Fitzpatrick, Sobieslaw Zasada, Claude Haldi, Claude Ballot-Lena, Erwin Kremer, Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood, Leo Kinnunen, Georg Follmer, Nick Faure, Pauli Toivonen, Dessie McCartney, Dessie Nutt, Nick Whale, Steve Perez, Steven Smith, Stig Blomqvist, Jimmy McRae, Francis Tuthill, Russell Brookes

Where to buy

Independent Porsche specialists, Classic Cars for Sale and Porsche one-make publications

What to look for

Apart from the rust, is the car what is advertised? There’s a minefield of models that need checking of chassis/engine numbers to ensure you’re getting what you think. Beware ‘recreations’. Consult experts

What to pay

Pre-impact bumper 911s are rising in value all the time, especially right hand drive cars. Expect to pay from £15,000 for a good LHD 911T (any car under this figure will need an awful lot of work) to £30,000 for a 911S. Carrera 2.7 RS can be from £70,000 (Touring) to £140,000 (Lightweight).


Porsche Club GB: 01608 652911; DDK (Die Deutscher Klassiker): 01603 473678; The Independent Porsche Enthusiasts Club 0845 6020052;

Classic sport

One of the best historic rally cars you can find and great for sprints and hillclimbs. Porsche Club GB has its own championship with classes for classics. Go navigational rallying in standard form, or bolt on some underbody protection and venture onto stages

Maintenance, tuning and sport

Preparation available from specialists such as Gantspeed (01507 568474; and Tuthill Motorsport (01295 750514; but first priority is to make sure the car is up to specification. Early911 (01892 88003; is restoration expert

Competitive Rating: 10

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