Recreating A Rarity: The Flared, Ferocious Porsche 911 ST
Photography by Patrice Minol
Once upon a time in the ’70s
Sports car competition in the 1970s was a fierce affair; highly competitive, spanning circuit races to long-distance, multi-border-crossing rally raids, and featuring some of the most renowned marques duking it out with highly modified road cars and more bespoke prototypes, often in the same race.
Porsche was finding itself contending with a slew of cars from Fords to Alfas along with their countrymen at BMW, and though their reliability left the Porsches in good betting odds no matter where they went, they still needed to keep developing if they wanted to keep seeing the podium steps. So it was during this time that Porsche came up with a new race car based on their still quite young 911, a car that emphasized the philosophy of light, nimble, and importantly, reliable—the ST could withstand certain rigors that the more fragile prototypes simply couldn’t.
It was during a particularly lovely sunny afternoon at Bicester Heritage when I heard a flat-six engine’s music emanating from one of the old WW2 airplane hangars. At one point a piece of the Royal Air Force infrastructure, it now housed a high-performance German—how times change!
Walking into the starkly empty and mostly pale hangar, the orange ST was standing out and then some. In the cold and barren atmosphere of the location, I swear I could feel literal warmth coming from this thing. Perhaps that was just the heat from the motor of course, but I think it was a bit more than that. The shape too, was in contrast to the hangar: the interior is comprised mainly of straight lines, right angles, a grid-like patterning. The ST is a bundle of curves and sweeps, looking like a UFO parked before flight in this environment.
It’s debatable how many were made (some say 23, some say 24), but the 911 ST “production run” only lasted for about one year between 1970 and 1971, with Porsche saying that 24 cars were built for racing in places such as Daytona, in the Targa Florio, or the 1000km of the Nürburgring: the car also won the GT class at Le Mans, and famously beat the much faster prototypes in the Tour de France Auto at the hands of Gérard Larrousse.
Better Than Bier
You could put them on the street, but let’s forget about cruising, for this is a track weapon first and foremost I’d say; maybe some of you have noticed the difference of wheels between the front and the back? (That is, if you don’t already know the ins and outs of the ST.)
In the ‘70s, the FIA came out with new rules that allowed the wheel arches to be flared by two extra inches from standard to accommodate wider wheels, so Porsche obviously decided to take advantage of the extra space and set about putting broader pieces of rubber under their flares. However, they didn’t have deeper Fuchs wheels to put on the back, and this is why they used a Fuchs-front, Minilite-rear combination. Another interesting detail to see was the small light on the door which was used to flash the car’s racing number while it was out doing its job after the sun set.
As the car is made to be on a track, we used it as intended on the Bicester race track, and I was impressed to see how the car stuck to the road so well for something so old at this point; with only 960kg, but 270hp, it was like having a strong but refreshing German weisse beer, and of course—please excuse the pun—it was an intoxicating experience.
A Lesser-Known Icon
Design-wise, the car is wonderfully 911, that pure Porsche shape but still very unique, and quite far away from its relative, the 911 RS, which got the unforgettable ducktail spoiler but not the beefy rear end of the ST. The 911 ST is more on the purist side in my opinion: you need to be a Porsche geek to be aware of the existence of this version of the classic 911, and that’s why makes it even more attractive—perhaps the original 911 hot rod?
And don’t expect to find much comfort inside, as everything was done in accordance with the purpose of speed and just about everything in the way of that was chucked in the bin. Lots of exposed metal, with the occasional layer of material to create a door or a dashboard, and the doors don’t have “heavy” handles—you’ll need to pull a cable to open it in typical lightweight fashion.
The roof, parts of the floor pans, and the scuttles were made in thinner-gauge steel than used in the road cars, and cars retained and run by the factory also enjoyed thinner steel in their doors.
Delivered to a Canadian Porsche importer called Peter Mezel, this 911 started life with a limited-slip diff and a factory-installed roll bar (this is not an original ST), and was then used as a rally car before it was sold to Canadian Herman Lausberg, who decided in the early ’90s—after the car had been in storage for many years—to restore and modify it into its current ST guise using genuine factory wings and a 2.5L engine.
The car competed in the Tour d’Espana and Tour Auto, and over the time the car has been updated and restored further, currently fitted with original FIA ST flares, fuel tank, fiberglass boot and gearbox with “Nürbugring” gearing.
I had the chance to see this 911 ST recreation in action thanks to Pendine and the Classic & Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel (these guys are putting an event on this weekend at Bicester, if you’re keen to see cars like this in action). The Classic & Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel will take place on June 23rd at Bicester Heritage with a host of iconic cars set to participate, so if you’re nearby, perhaps you’ll have the same opportunity to see some history in motion.