This Pink 911RSR Is A Fully Custom Street Legal Factory Race Car
Photography by Ted Gushue
We’ve been slowly profiling Tim Pappas’ exceptionally fast car collection over the past year. You might remember his RUF Yellowbird, one of my all time favorite cars. He’s something of a Porsche psychopath, and his latest addition is nothing short of a mad hatter’s masterpiece cooked up by none other than Kevin Jeannette, of Gunnar Racing.
Every single element of the car was put together by Tim, Kevin, and Tim’s family. The interior fabric? Discovered by Tim’s sister. The seats are real rally seats from ‘74. The fuel cell in the front is a factory race option. The spare tire is a factory. The windows are factory 935 options that would have been available back then. There’s a factory PETO fan indicator light to keep the priceless 3.0L RSR engine from cooking itself if the fan was to lose a belt.
“We did every single thing you could have done to the car in 1975 if you had walked into Porsche Special Projects as a VVIP” explained Kevin Jeannette.
I went for a ride in it, needless to say I’m still shopping for new pants.
Ted Gushue: Tim, what is exactly is going on with this car?
Tim Pappas: The idea started in a conversation between Kevin Jeannette and me.
TG: For those who don’t know, who is Kevin Jeannette?
TP: Kevin Jeannette is the proprietor of Gunnar Racing. It’s a Porsche restoration shop based in Florida. Kevin has had a career involved in working on Porsches and racing Porsches starting back in early ’70s in southern California. He transitioned to Florida I think in the early ’80s. In any case, I met Kevin through racing in the year 2000. Over the course of a sixteen year relationship, I have sought his advice on car projects that I’ve been doing. I’ve bought parts from him, I have gone and hung out and gone Porsche crazy over the assortment of cars in his showroom at West Palm Beach, which rivals really any Porsche collection on the planet. Also an amazing collection of vintage Volkswagen, and one of the most comprehensive inventories of rare and unique Porsche parts.
Kevin has the distinction of having restored, I don’t know if it’s fifty cars now, but it’s a number that’s so significant and I’m talking about 917s, 962s, Carrera 6s, RSRs. Really, the guy raced many of the cars in period, saw the cars in their virgin state and has therefore made a career for himself restoring the cars to a level of detail and perfection that very few people in the world possess. I’ve just always loved Kevin because he’s sort of a mad scientist kind of a guy.
TG: How did the conversation around this car begin?
TP: Actually, the conversation was completely unrelated to us doing a project together. He was helping me with another project. I bought some amber molded Plexi windows for another old car that I have. When we started talking about the project that I was doing, he started telling me about how he was in the process of finishing up metal work on a car and his idea was to build a ’75 RSR for the street that would be totally period correct and would be the kind of car fitted with parts…all of which came from Porsche.
Such that if you went to Porsche in 1975 and you were Steve McQueen or Paul Newman or one of the VIPs that they built custom cars for, the gentleman that runs TAG Group had the 935 for the street for instance, this is the car you would have custom spec’d. They built crazy cars for different personalities. His idea was to build a car that would be authentic to the period with all of the coolest hot-rod parts that you could ever get from the factory.
It’s a 1975 Euro Carrera with a 3-litre RSR factory racing engine and 915 gearbox and limited slip differential. The drivetrain of this car is incredibly rare. They were parts and pieces that Kevin had in his shop, Bosch mechanical fuel injection, slide valves, slide valve throttle bodies, a real twin plug distributor. All together add up to basically the pinnacle of what the RSR motor became in that era. Nobody was really building street cars outfitted that way. This was the answer that he and I came up with to what is currently taking place in the arena of custom Porsches.
TG: Expand on that.
TP: I feel like, and he and I have had this discussion on a number of occasions, people are using terms like Outlaw very liberally. It used to be, my definition of Outlaw was a car that Gary Emory built. Now Rod and Gary have built cars. I always thought about Emory’s Outlaws. Then suddenly it just became when you took a 911 narrow bodied car and put a motor in it and suddenly it was an Outlaw.
There are really cool custom cars that are being built, don’t get me wrong. Often times you see a really well executed RSR or IROC replica and then you open up the engine compartment and it has a stock 964 3.6 L motronic engine. Which a lot of people put in there because they’re completely hassle free, turnkey, great performance upgrade for a lightweight 911, but they’re not really that outrageous.
TG: They’re also pretty affordable by comparison.
TP: Oh, completely.
TG: How much would it cost someone to go find that engine today in the current state?
TP: I don’t know that you can find one. I have no idea what that would be, how would it come about to find another 3L RSR engine. I don’t know enough about how many spare motors they built outside of the race car that they built. What I do know is if you had the opportunity to build the ultimate custom 911, this is what you’d do. I’ve had a 911 since 1991. I’ve never kept one stock. I’ve never, ever kept one stock. To me the most fun thing about Porsche is how infinitely customizable to your own personal taste that they can be. There is somebody out there that has remade every single part in the car.
The shift knob, the brake pedals, the seats, the fucking windows, the exhaust, everything has been changed and tweaked and modified. I think that’s so cool. I love that people go out of their way to build really outrageous stuff. Obviously Singer has taken it to almost an absurd level. They’ve taken bespoke and turned into something completely huge. I don’t think anybody imagined that there was a market like the market that Singer has created. It’s a very specific thing. They’re expensive and they’re catering to a certain market.
This project is just a whole different breed. If you gave somebody who is the race historian, restoration mad scientist guru of Porsches carte blanche, this is what you’d get. And I’m not going to say that Kevin is the only one that fits that description, there are guys like Kevin in every country where Porsche has had a history of racing. There’s people like Kevin in Europe, in Australia, in Asia. He just happens to be the guy that I know and respect and appreciate in the U.S.
TG: What’s it like to drive?
TP: The car is just, it’s sensational. The most fun thing about these cars is how connected you are to the experience of driving. There’s nothing in between you and the road. When you drive a lightweight 911 that has big brakes, you just can’t believe how much stopping force they have. We are so spoiled when we drive new cars, all of the electronic aids that have been developed in order to make the cars safer, faster, higher performance, there’s no question that this car versus a GT3RS on a race track, the GT3RS is going to walk away from it like it’s nothing.
The experience of driving this car is going to make you smile from ear to ear forever. I think that the GT3RS experience is fun, but it’s the difference between the analog and the digital. Do you want to take out a record and run it through the nitty gritty machine and clean it and make sure your needle is aligned and sit down in a comfortable chair and really listen versus the immediacy and the high tech experience of what the digital age has brought?
That’s really the difference between this car and the current factory 911 high performance hot rod. It’s analog versus digital.