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May 30, 2011


White Knuckle Ride

by JHW

List great things that came from the 1970’s.  Really, give it a go.  Stumped, right?  It’s even harder when you restrict your list to the automotive realm.  Ahh, the years that gifted us with polyester, disco and the Mustang II.  It wasn’t all bad though… case in point – oh to be alive in the wondrous year 1973.  George Steinbrenner bought my beloved Yankees, Dark Side of the Moon hit record stores (for the younger folks, there were these places… oh never mind) and Porsche released perhaps the most iconic version of their iconic 911.

Being negative four years old at the time, I must admit that I don’t have much recollection of ’73, but as a Porschephile and life long Yankee fan – I give thanks for this year which would re-shape my two most beloved dynasties.  Flash-forward to Memorial Day weekend 2011… while taking a leisurely drive up the PCH, something caught my eye.  Something white, something Porsche shaped… something… ah yes, something special indeed.  A new European classics dealer had parked what must be a 73’ RS clone in their front window – they thought that might drive some traffic their way, and they were right.  I have always wanted one, and in I went to kick tires and tell them their price was a bit high.  I parked my modern 911, strolled in casually, and upon first sight, my jaw hit  black Converse.  Every detail was correct, there was patina around the mirrors…  IT. WAS. REAL.

 I walked around the RS a few times, absorbing in the details, restraining myself from taking the driver seat and making motor noises.  I have been car obsessed for decades, and have never wanted to drive anything more.  In my head, I was in Monaco, wait no… the Stelvio pass – yes, and it was a perfect day.  Blue skies overhead, just enough of a breeze to justify a leather jacket – I am Steve McQueen!  The RS oozes cool.  Park this relic next to its modern day counterpart, say a 4.0 GT3 RS, and the lineage is obvious.  However, whereas the 4.0 screams “HEY, OVER HERE! LOOK AT ME!”, the 2.7 gives e a steely gaze, and whispers something effortlessly cool.

The 2.7 and 4.0 are different cars for different times.  While I can’t admit to having driven either (sigh), I can say that while my own modern 911 crushes the ’84 Targa I learned to drive on in every measureable category – there is something to be said for the nostalgia any classic Porsche.  The weight of the controls, the whooshing of an air-cooled motor, and perhaps oddly; my favorite feature of classic Porsches – the “click” of those perfectly crafted doors.  On paper, the new car certainly asserts its dominance:


1973 2.7 RS

2011 4.0 GT3 RS


210 @ 6,300

500 @ 8,250


202 @ 5,100

339 @ 5,750


2,414 lbs

2,998 lbs


161.5 inches

175.6 inches


65 inches

72.9 inches


52 inches

50.4 inches


89.4 inches

92.7 inches


5.5 seconds

3.8 seconds

Top Speed

150 mph

193 mph

What cannot be extracted from numbers is the feel and experience of driving these cars.  While I  hope for a world in which both can    be parked next to my (also imaginary) Carrera GT, I would struggle to pick one.  This is a major  statement for me, someone who as  a  general rule isn’t into older cars.  As a performance enthusiast, give me the newer, hotter, more  reliable machine any day of the  week.  Of course, there are exceptions – and for me, the soul, passion and pedigree of the 2.7 RS is  too much to resist.   Why?  Two  words from the RS’ creation story.  Race homologated.  Like a few of my other all time favorites  (E30 M3, Ferrari 288 GTO,  Porsche 959), the 2.7 RS was built and sold so that it would be eligible for entry in the European GT Championship.  Rule changes in 1972 left the (amazing) 917 ineligible for further competition.  Porsche then took their production 911S, and readied it for racing with additions of a larger 2,687cc 2.7 liter motor, stiffened suspension, larger brakes, wheels and rear fenders, lighter body panels and glass… and last but not least – that beautiful duck tail spoiler.  All in all, 9 pre-production prototypes were built in 1972, and 1,580 examples were sold to the public between 1973 & 1974.

 I fear that the $270,000 2.7 RS will not sell quickly, and that my daily drive past its glass enclosed home will render my days  useless, as I sit and daydream about ripping up canyon roads in my perfect retro-racer.  A wise man once said, you can live in your  car, but you can’t drive your house.  I wonder how my wife would feel about… oh, never mind.

For now, I leave you with a man living such a dream – check out one of my automotive hero’s, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, as he tears it up in his gorgeous RS  

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