Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Porsche Blogging: Driving an Antique 911

As the photos below show, I have been driving a forty year old Porsche 911 on the race track. The car was set up very well by one the best shops for such cars here in the US, Ecurie Engineering, of Mequon, WI. Due to the care that the car had in setting up the suspension it is a very stable race car. In fact the car is likely far more stable than when it was originally raced. It was raced during the ‘60s and the early ‘70s. When the car was raced it was set up as a 911 T/S with the wider tires and corresponding fenders; in addition, late in its career it acquired a now ubiquitous whale tail (the last tail it used was actually known among Porsche geeks as the tea-tray tail). The person I purchased the car from had restored it to its current configuration, as a 911R. The 911R was a very rare race vehicle that was mostly used in FIA Rallies. The car employed a twin-plug version of the 2.0 liter (1991 cc) 911 engine, the type 901/23; it is the 911 version of the successful 906 race engine.

Set up as a 911R the car is a handful. Unlike modern cars, even race cars, this antique does not have any boost in the steering mechanism; so the driver is essentially controlling a constant battle between the steering wheel and the accelerator pedal. Too much of either one will send the car into an immediate spin, a condition known as being “tail happy” or oversteer. The car currently has a small racing steering wheel, the better to stay away from the roll cage, but I can see why the car was originally delivered with a huge steering wheel, a little more leverage can’t hurt and the old-time roll cages weren’t in the way of anything. The difference between the ’66 race car and a modern sports car is like night and day, primarily because of the steering, you simply do not need to muscle a modern car around the track. It gives one a lot a respect for those old time race drivers; and I’m not even talking about the mortality rates that they faced.


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