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This legendary Porsche race car is up for sale
Stuttgart’s behemoth of a 911 is going under the hammer at Amelia Island. For £6m
Look behind the sofa! Sell your kidney! Get into cryptocurrency! One of Porsche’s most legendary race cars is up for sale, and you need to find money, fast. Because it’s not just any race car, but a proper wedge of Porsche history: a big-winged, boosty, behemoth of a 911 that changed the game. It is, of course, the 1974 Porsche 911 RSR 2.1 Turbo. And we want it badly.
The RSR was a milestone moment for Porsche. It was the first turbocharged racing 911, one that took part in the FIA’s Group 5 category for the 1974 World Championship for Makes and came 2nd overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the hands (and sizeable cojones) of Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep. It also looks flipping fantastic. Mainly because it looks like a mutant 911. A 911 with a monster rear wing (apparently painted black to be less imposing), rudimentary aerodynamics (NACA ducts gauged out of the bodywork with the dexterity of spooning a knob of butter out of a tub) and a booze brand’s livery. It’s wonderfully bonkers. Risible, in fact.
It’s also a lesson in downsizing. You might believe small-capacity turbocharged engines are a new thing. But the RSR was doing it way before everyone else.To comply with the FIA’s regulations, Porsche had the shackling restriction of an engine size that could be no bigger than 3.0-litres. So they went with a 2.14-litre flat-six… then bolted a ginormous KKK turbocharger onto it.
See, the RSR was born in an era of motorsport where nothing could get in the way of progress and big budgets were there to be blown. It was a trick bit of kit that used exquisite materials for the time; the engine had a glitzy magnesium crankcase, polished-titanium connecting rods, large-capacity oil pumps, a twin-plug ignition, Bosch mechanical fuel injection, and sodium-cooled intake valves. Proved to be potent. 500bhp potent (this is 1974, remember), mated to a five-speed transaxle gearbox that was modified with an oil cooler, an 80 per cent locking differential, and 917-type half-shafts for increased durability. Safe to say it was a wild ride.
Without wanting to get too beardy, but actually getting quite beardy, the chassis was a complete departure from the production car to save weight. The torsion bar suspension was replaced with boxed-aluminium trailing arms, expensive progressive-rate titanium coil springs, Bilstein shock absorbers and anti-roll bars, saving 30kg.
The result? It’s quite bloated. A necessity to fit the fibreglass bodywork around the centre-lock 917 wheels and massive rear tyres, to get some of that power to the road.
Inside it’s pretty sparse. Anything that wasn’t needed was binned. Apart from a lightweight aluminium roll cage, and an adjustable boost knob. You dial that up depending on how brave you are. To make sure it went the distance at Le Mans, a massive 120-litre fuel tank was placed behind the seat (you’ve got to love seventies health and safety), while the oil tank was relocated to the front of the car to offset the balance.
Only four RSR Turbos were ever built. This, chassis ‘R13’, was the most successful. It’s also brilliantly, wonderfully original and well-preserved in its original Martini & Rossi colours and has an incredible patina. We want it. We want it really badly. Unfortunately, it’s set to fetch nearly £6 million when it crosses Gooding & Co’s auction block at Amelia Island on March 9th. Which we don’t have. But if you’ve got Bitcoins you need to cash in, there’s honestly nothing better to put them towards than this.
Images: Gooding & Company/Matt Howell/Mathieu Heurtault