A Tribute To Tributes: Spending Time In A Porsche RSR Homage In England
Photography by Will Broadhead
The original Porsche 911 RSR doesn’t really need much of an introduction, indeed it did a pretty good job of announcing itself with a triumph at the 1973 24 hours of Daytona, first time out. Not a bad way to kickstart the motorsport career of the machine that would eventually evolve across chassis and into greats like the 934 and beyond. Regardless of the racing pedigree, the car was gorgeous, every inch a fighter with those enhanced lines and flared arches. It still looked “cute,” but this was one boxer I certainly wouldn’t want to entertain in the ring or out of it.
I would, however, love to own one, along with countless other people I am sure. The thing is, there aren’t many about, even less that are for sale and the ones that are sold trade hands for money that would make my financial advisor weep or laugh. This of course leads to tribute models—replicas if you like—and the popularity of these in recent years has created an entire industry of re-imagined Porsches. It’s not a new thing. For any sector of the automotive market, petrolheads have been modifying their cars and bikes since the internal combustion engine became accessible, but to do it well and carry it off with class, therein lies the magic.
So, when I got the invitation to go and check out a 911 RSR tribute from my friends at the Classic Motor Hub I jumped at the chance, as even the most cynical of us couldn’t turn that down, surely? Now the car I was going to see wasn’t groundbreaking (this was no 911 modified by Singer), or indeed any of the other tuning houses or builders that turn out stunning examples of the Butzi design from all points in its history. What this car is though, is a tastefully done, nicely turned-out replica that is also, at a walk away price of just north of 50 big ones, affordable. With the ever more flamboyant, money-no-object designs coming out of the workshops of the world, this is an important distinction as unlike those fabulous creations (and they are), this car sits at a much more realistic level.
But is it mutton dressed as lamb or the real deal? Well, it comes from good stock, the donor car being the excellent 1985 Carrera 3.2, the mid-‘80s replacement for the 911 SC. The conversion of the base model took place in 2011 at the hands of an established Porsche engineer, using parts from Paul Stephens’ subsidiary RS-Teknic. Stripped out from the interior and rebuilt with uprated brakes and suspension and then housed inside a body that makes me go weak at the knees every time I see one in the flesh. Sure, it’s not an original, but it still looks jaw-dropping, and is there a better looking rear when sat on those expansive rubber boots and wide Fuchs? Possibly, but this one is very much the object of my affections today.
Looking the part is one thing of course, but the 911 in any dress has always been a driver’s car. It’s no good being all fur coat and no knickerbockers as our Bavarian cousins might say.
It sounds a peach of course, from the instant the ignition is turned and the accelerator blipped the unmistakeable tone of that flat-six, air-cooled lump gushes from the stainless exhaust system. It’s a great noise, and one many of us will have enjoyed bouncing off of tunnel walls when the opportunity has arisen (we’ve all had that moment regardless of car, let’s not be too cool for school now). Leaping off the gravel and down the road, the car doesn’t disappoint, with characteristic brilliant throttle response and bags of enjoyable but useable power from the original but tuned motor. The ride is just the right side of lively, with the suspension firm yet not overly uncomfortable on the road. The grin on my face is almost as wide as the car’s arches, and as the throttle becomes ever more depressed in this confidence inspiring 911 its probably good that we calm ourselves down and pull in to a farmer’s yard for to take some photographs.
It’s here that I’m reminded just what a beautiful automobile this is. There aren’t many 911s throughout the model’s lineage that got it wrong in the styling department (yes, we know the 996 headlights weren’t the best) and while an early E or if I may dream, an R model will always be my absolute favorites, there is no denying the presence in these bulging fenders. It’s photogenic from every angle I can set my camera to, perfectly proportioned and quite simply, it looks the business. Sure, it’s not the real thing and it’s probably one of the more low-key conversions that are out there, but to my eye it’s still a beautiful piece of auto-erotica. Regardless of your feelings on Porsche tributes, or any tributes, it’s undeniable that this one has been done well. But to sum up what has been another piece of commentary on yet another modified Porsche, I’ll leave you of the words of Ferry Porsche, as they are quite fitting in this case:
“I couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build it myself.”