Long before the Cayenne and Panamera, it was widely acknowledged that Porsche aficionados fell into either the air-cooled or water-cooled camps. And today that's further splintered into early- and late-model camps forming within the ranks of 911 enthusiasts.
The resurgence of interest in the earlier cars caused values of machines like the 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 to soar a few years back. The unobtainable price prompted an explosion of replicas of this iconic lightweight homologation model, with mainly 911 SC and Carrera 3.2 models being used as donor cars because of their relatively low value and galvanized bodyshells.
Although original 911 RS and RSR values have continued to skyrocket as people flee the banks as a place to park their cash, the RS mania has slowed down somewhat. Part of the reason is that many enthusiasts, keen on the smaller and lighter early '70s cars, have fixed their sights on earlier 'long hood' competition models like the 911 R, S/R and T/R for inspiration.
These late '60s and early '70s models are equally iconic thanks to competition glory. They made their mark in European race and rally events in the hands of drivers like Bjorn Waldegaard before the 911 RS was even conceived.
One man inspired by the pre-RS competition 911 models is enthusiast Robert Abbott. He decided to build this stunning 911 S/T replica from the fourth of his seven-car early Porsche collection, which also includes a 356 Speedster and '68 911 S.
Originally a '71 911 T that left the factory in the same Signal Orange it now wears, the car wore four Cibie Pallas lamps when he acquired it. "I was after a mix of 911 R performance combined with street comfort," Rob explained. With this in mind he visited early-911 specialist Dave Bouzaglou at TRE Motorsports in Van Nuys, CA.
David is a delightful guy who was one of the original Mulholland racers and remains an encyclopedia of Porsche knowledge. He began by stripping the car to bare metal in Fall 2010 to assess its condition. The car was in good shape and the pair agreed their goal would be to construct a car that could have been an interim competition model between the 1971 and '72 S/T.
To the expert, the visual difference between this car and a genuine S/T is the lack of the front lip spoiler fitted to the seven factory-built cars in 1972. Other than that, the external oil and fuel caps are an homage to the 911 R and ultralight '70/71 factory-backed S/T cars that competed in the Tour de France.
The shell was shipped to Kundensport in Camarillo, CA where the original steel bumpers were reworked to S/T spec. They then fitted steel S/T flares, an aluminum engine lid and balsawood-reinforced clear-framed, fiberglass front lid, all supplied by TRE Motorsports.
Kundensport would modify the hood and gas tank for the race-style filler system with bladed gas cap from TRE. They also installed the '72 oil tank supplied by the owner, as well as the cap and filler neck from TRE.
The 911 was then painted by Kundensport and reassembled with TRE-sourced weather seal kit, lights and lenses, lightweight chrome door handles and a weld-in S/T-RSR front strut brace. TRE further provided the competition-style front and rear lid hold-downs along with lightweight hinges, while the unusual Talbot 300 mirrors had been saved by Rob for just such a project.
The original 15" S/T forged factory Fuchs wheels are light, strong, extremely rare and hideously expensive. So a set of more available 15x8" Fuchs were sent to Harvey Weidman at Weidman's Wheels in Oroville, CA, to be turned into 15x9 and x10" replicas. The perfectly reworked wheels were then shod with expensive, sticky 18/60 R15 and 26/61 R15 Michelin TB Course intermediate compound tires to maintain the '70s theme.
With the shell away, the team could focus on the motor. While the original S/T was powered by a high-strung 2.5-liter flat-six, Rob chose the '80s Carrera 3.2L engine instead. With a swept capacity of 3164cc from a 95x74.4mm bore and stroke, the stock 3.2L has more inherent grunt and feels potent when asked to move a car almost 500 lb lighter than its original recipient.
Left internally stock, it received an aluminum flywheel and pressure plate, 2.7 RS distributor, re-jetted triple-throat 46mm PMO downdraft carburetors, SSI aluminum heat exchangers and a Dansk muffler that was modified by TRE to create three outlets like the rally version.
While the 240hp on tap may not sound like a lot by modern standards, remember this car weighs less than 2000 lb!
Once installed, the Carrera motor was visually complemented by TRE's clear shroud that replaces the factory tinwork in the engine bay.
The transmission is a period '71 five-speed 911 gearbox with dogleg first, reworked to handle the output of the new motor.
The suspension was uprated with period-correct Koni struts and hydraulic dampers. Then 930 Turbo 26mm rear torsion bars were paired with the stock 18.8mm bars at the front.
This set-up was used by the heavier 930 Turbo, so fine-tuning was done with a 22mm Weltmeister adjustable anti-roll bar on each axle to balance the relative front/rear roll stiffness. Finally, the brakes were uprated using 911 S calipers.
When embarking on a retro project like this you have to decide if the car is only going to look like an S/T from the outside or be a near perfect replica inside as well. As it happens, Rob chose a third way, which was to build a custom interior. After discussions with Dave, they decided to fit custom door panels with a German basketweave pattern, 356 chrome door pulls and armrests plus release handles from a VW Type 3.
North Hollywood Speedometer supplied custom LED-illuminated instrument gauges that allowed them to add a vent into the main instrument panel and move the clock over to the left side. The tacho now incorporates the fuel meter, while oil temp, pressure and level are all on one large dial.
The carpet is mostly original, apart from new sections replacing worn areas. A reproduction competition footrest was also fitted.
TRE supplied early Recaro-style race seats, with a deep bucket for the driver and with a less contoured navigator-style seat for the passenger.
The steering wheel is a vintage Abarth piece, again kept by the owner and more ergonomic that the skinny rim the factory supplied. Gear selection is via a Wevo classic short shifter, mounted on a black anodized 915 tower.
On a rally stage, the passenger's job would be to read pace notes and work the chronometers that sit where the stereo would normally be. The radio head unit is now hidden, as well as speakers behind the rear side panels with the basketweave perforated to allow the sound to travel.
Seatbelts were a new fad back in the '70s but this car has modern inertia reel belts and a aluminum TRE roll-bar behind the seats. Auto Foreign Services supplied the reproduction rear-seat delete and storage box kit.
Behind The Wheel
The advantage of fuel injection is the lack of carburetor jets that need constant adjustment. However, Dave and the team at TRE Motorsports are among a small group of 911 maestros who practically wrote the book on tuning carb-equipped cars like this. So it was no surprise when the flat-six burst into life and idled smoothly, its two triple-throat PMO carbs reminding me how sharp throttle response was be before single throat, plenum-based fuel injection.
A couple of blips to enjoy the induction noises and I was out on the road. The tall 15" tires helped soak up the worst of California's roads but it was obvious this lightweight car was stiffly set-up.
The suspension, its low weight and small physical size made the 911 a real weapon on-track and around town. The size and power allowed you to slip through gaps in traffic with an agility many modern cars simply don't possess.
The engine torque was immediately evident and meant you could drive in a higher gear than instinct tells you. And as you gain speed, the ride becomes smoother, coming into its own on fast canyon roads. And that was always its intended purpose. If you were able to take a crack at Mulholland, clear of traffic and cops, Rob's TRE 911 S/T would be a real blast.
However, it's unlikely you'll see this Signal Orange 911 anywhere near Mulholland because it's now at home with its owner in Maryland. But if you live on the East Coast, stay alert for sightings of this rapid 911. It sounds as good as it looks.
1971 Porsche 911 T-S/T
Engine 3.2-liter flat-six with 46mm PMO triple-throat downdraft carburetors, 2.7 RS distributor, SSI aluminum heat exchangers, modified Dansk muffler with three outlets, TRE clear engine shroud and surround panels
Drivetrain five-speed manual transmission, dogleg first, M, S, X gearing, Wevo short shifter, 915 tower, lightweight aluminum flywheel and pressure plate
Brakes 911 S calipers
Suspension Koni struts and dampers, 26mm 930 rear torsion bars, 22mm Weltmeister anti-roll bars, TRE RSR front strut brace, 911 SC adjustable spring plates
Wheels & Tires 15x9" f, 15x10" r Fuchs wheels with 18/60 R15 f, 26/61 R15 r Michelin TB Course tires
Exterior TRE steel S/T flares, aluminum engine lid, clear-framed front lid with balsa reinforcement, competition hold-downs, lightweight hinges, race-style gas tank under modified hood and race-style oil tank both with bladed caps, lightweight chrome door handles, Talbot 300 mirrors, Cibie Pallas rally lamps
Interior TRE bucket seats, inertia reel seatbelts, TRE aluminum roll-bar, Abarth steering wheel, competition footrest, custom basketweave door panels, 356 chrome door pulls, VW Type 3 door release handles, 356 armrests, custom dials with new cooling vent, rear-seat delete and storage box, hidden head unit and speakers
Thanks/Contact TRE Motorsports (tremotorsports.com), Kundensport, Weidman's Wheels, North Hollywood Speedometer, Auto Foreign Services