Age is Just a Number for this Classic
The Porsche 911 is a timeless classic that has won over motoring enthusiasts from around the world. Considered to be one of the best driver's cars ever made, there's a seemingly endless selection of collector 911s which the motoring community has continued to drool over. This time round I got the privilege of experiencing a local classic with quite an empowering story behind it, and an even more impressive mechanic who brought it back to life.
The Porsche 911 ST Tour de France is a uniquely special 911 with a story that begins in 1970. Almost all manufactured models were different, as clients and race disciplines allowed owners to spec the car individually for private use and competition. On top of the differing nature of each model, few were made in the first place, making the ST a highly desired 911.
Rallying was a popular discipline in the 70s in which Porsche was deeply invested. It was clear that the ST was the car of choice; however the already light 911 was in need of more weight savings. So out came the drill, and everything that could be made lighter was punched with holes or removed. Porsche's biggest concern was the factory entered Matra prototypes, but they believed that the robust nature of the 911 would outlast the Matras on the rough roads of the Tour de France.
To Porsche's horror, they discovered that before the race, the French government had reworked the road for the rally, knowing that the Matras would struggle with the rougher surfaces. Unfortunately, the 911 ST driven by Gerard Larrousse finished 3rd overall and in truth, this car should have won.
Now what remains is a gorgeous 911 ST in a bold livery which speaks to the early 1970s, bringing us to this gorgeous piece of history which I got to experience. Because the 911 ST is so rare, it is no surprise that the model we are testing is a replica, but don't sell this car short. Jen Abbot, a youngster with a passion for racing, has brought this car back from what was once a rotting wreck of a crashed 911, into something worth talking about.
Jen is a mechanic by trade, working on restoring Porsches to their former glory, and this special model is just one of the many relics her team has brought back to life. Her 911 ST isn't a showpiece as it too has seen its fair share of racing, competing in events like the Simola Hillclimb earlier this year.
As Jen has made the 911 ST her own, she fitted a 2.9-litre MFI Magnesium flat-6 at the rear with a 5-speed gearbox bolted to it. This configuration allows for a lighter and more responsive drive, while making a fantastic noise. This hi-revving motor screams as it really opens up past 5,000r/min with a redline that seems to go on forever. This lightweight motor provides a linear, yet old-school, power delivery which has a strange ability to force a smile onto your face.
Handling is a big part of Porsche's identity, and I found this embedded in their history. This car is 53 years old, and even by today's standards it corners with precision with just a hint of a happy rear when you get overzealous.
The car was restored to closely resemble the original, from the wheel arches to the paintwork. The attention to detail is nothing short of impressive. Even the mini light rims in the back match the set of the original.
I've driven my fair share of classics, and it's refreshing to experience a car that so strongly represents its former glory in today's modernised industry. It's good to know that this iconic car is still driven exactly as intended 53 years ago and it's truly incredible to feel and appreciate how far Porsche has come over the years, and to recognise what makes the 911 special, both now and in the past.