Let’s say for a moment that you came into an extraordinary amount of money and wanted to go vintage automobile racing. Of course, to prove your worth as an enthusiast, you’ll want to buy a historically significant car that will impress all the long bottom jaws, and few raise more eyebrows in the German realm right now than the 911. Truth told, the 911 is really the ‘new money’ of the vintage world – go try racing antique Bugattis or Ferraris, for example, and you’ll soon laugh at the budgets of Porsche racers…but I digress.
Ironically, there was a point in history where your scenario from today wouldn’t have been all that different from the past. Take the case of Diego Febles. Diego was born in Cuba under the notorious dictator Batista, but left in 1957 for “political reasons” you may have heard of at one point. Finally landing in Puerto Rico, Diego took to racing, and specifically racing Porsches. In the 1970s, this led him to be linked up with Peter Gregg’s Brumos Porsche group, and Diego proceeded to buy and build cars which mimicked Gregg’s famous liveries.
In his own right, Febels was fairly accomplished as a racer. He raced some of the most famous races in the world; of course the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring were naturals that Gregg and Brumos had excelled at, but he also raced at Road America, Mosport, Mid Ohio and finally even at Le Mans. This particular car is claimed to be his last ‘RSR’, but looks can be deceiving:
While the US market had to settle for the RS America, a lightened low-option version of the Carrera 2, other markets enjoyed the full-on Carrera RS. The Carrera RS used the tried-and-true method of more power/less weight, combining a higher output version of the 964’s 3.6 liter flax-six with significant weight reduction – coming in 155 kg lighter than a standard Carrera 2 – to provide the sort of no frills performance that 911 enthusiasts had long craved since the original RS. Under the rear hood was the M64/03 rated at 260 horsepower which doesn’t sound like a lot by today’s numbers. But the lightweight RS made good use of all of them, proving itself not only to be a class-leading sports car but also one adept at racing in keeping with the 911’s heritage. Suspension was lowered half an inch and stiffened, while the limited-slip differential from the Turbo was borrowed. Power steering was dropped for a manual rack, and while there were packages to add back in road-going manners, this ultimately was a bare-bones racer at heart.
Some 2,276 964 Carrera RSs were made, with a fair chunk of those heading to the track. There were a limited group of these cars imported to the U.S. for a failed race series and a few more since 911 mania took off, but the bulk of production still lies in Europe, just like this ’92 being offered today from France:
Recently I took a look at the ultra-exclusive 968 Turbo S. With only 14 produced as far as anyone can tell, they are just about as good as the 968 got:
1994 Porsche 968 Turbo S
I say “just about” because, of course, there was an even more special model – the Turbo RS. This was the ultimate front-engine 4-cylinder Porsche, and it was intended just for racing. Perhaps ironically, Porsche introduced the 968 Turbo RS first and then brought the Turbo S to market in order to homologate the RS for racing. They were intended to compete in the ADAC GT series, and Porsche developed two different models – one for sprints, and one for endurance. At least one car went on to travel to the famous races of Le Mans and Sebring, but although these Turbo RSs were the ultimate 968 they were never developed fully to win races. Four were produced; one red ’92, one yellow ’93, one blue ’93, and one black ’94. That’s it.
Almost completely forgotten by nearly everyone including Porsche, one of the four Turbo RSs is for sale today:
Update 3/1/19: This 944 Turbo Cup has a huge price drop for March, lowering from the original $149,995 ask to $109,900 today.
While Rob has left us, that doesn’t mean Porsche coverage will be! So I’d like to start the year with the counterpoint to Rob’s 911 Club Sport. I recently looked at a 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S, the details of which were sussed out by Porsche in the Turbo Cup race series. While the Club Sport purported to be track-ready, the Turbo Cup was a turn-key racer straight out of the factory.
Porsche built a limited group of 944 chassis each year which were heavily upgraded with lightweight parts, roll cages and turned up engines. Weight was dropped thanks to extensive use of magnesium for the intake and sump, along with deletion of most luxuries. Manual windows, no door pockets, no air conditioning or sunroof here! The engine was upgraded with more boost and a revised turbocharger, along with a strengthened gearbox. Inside a Matter cage reinforced the structure, a Recaro seat cradled the driver and of course the suspension was upgraded as well. Later Turbo Cup cars also featured magnesium Phone Dial wheels, alone saving on the order of 18 lbs, though early models were delivered with forged Fuchs. These cars were not only raced in the one-make Turbo Cup series around the world, but also utilized by Porsche and privateers in race series such as the SCCA Escort Endurance Championship in “Showroom Stock”. Each year only a handful were produced, making these cars some of the most sought transaxles out there:
I have yet to look at a Golf R32 in 2018. It’s not for lack of examples; any given day, there are usually about 10 or so for sale on eBay and plenty more via Volkswagen-specific fora. But it’s the crazy asking prices that usually put me off from the first generation. I just can’t get on board, especially as Golf R prices have dipped down in to the low 20s. Heck, there are two Golf Rs below $20,000 right now. It’s therefore pretty hard to stomach the high teen ask on many first-gen R32s even with many hundreds of thousands of miles. They’re not the E30 M3, after all. Not even close.
So how do you get into an affordable R32? One way is to consider the second generation. Perhaps it was the styling, perhaps it was the DSG-only transmission, but even a very clean 2008 Golf R32 comes to market generally under the asking prices of the first generation. Still not your bag? Well, then you could get into this no reserve first gen – but a warning, some assembly is required…
Very rarely do I check out Mercedes-Benz race cars because I don’t see many publicly for sale out there and just don’t have a ton of knowledge on them either. One does pop up for sale once in a blue moon and it usually is a pretty unique and purpose-built car. They also don’t come cheap at all. Today’s car, a 2017 AMG GT3, is all of those things. This car was built to go IMSA racing at the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship against other exotics that are built off production chassis that you probably recognize from Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Audi, Lamborghini, Ford and a few other brands. Not a cheap endeavor at all, but nothing is cheap when it comes to racing unless you buy a $500 car from Craigslist, spray paint some numbers on the door and go drive around on some dirt until the radiator starting boiling.
Update 7/30/18: After being listed for sale three years ago at $34,500, this BMW 700 racer is back – now listed as a 1961, oddly, and with an opening bid at $32,500. It still seems very unlikely to sell but is neat to see!
Though Germany has gained a reputation as a nation of drivers, the reality is that in both pre and post-World War II periods, the average German couldn’t afford many of the cars that are synonymous with German engineering. However, the “German Economic Miracle”, in part assisted by the Marshall Plan as an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of what had created World War II in the first place (thanks, Versailles Treaty!) put Germany at the forefront of European economies as the 1960s got rolling. It was then that we saw the growth of the German automobile industry into what we associate it with today. BMW also grew during this period, from near collapse in the 1950s to a viable – albeit small – company in the 1960s. At least part of that success is thanks to the development of the 700. Rear engine, air cooled and powered by a BMW motorcycle “twin” flat-2, the body was penned by Giovanni Michelotti – responsible for some of the most celebrated designs from Ferrari, Maserati and Triumph. However, he’s probably better known by BMW fans for developing the Neue Klasse designs including the venerable 2002. To my eye, though, the simple BMW 700 in Coupe form was the best looking of the Michelotti BMW designs:
The end of Summer has many traditions; the days wane as children head back to school. Temperatures fall as families head towards apple orchards and plan for haunted hay rides. Pumpkin spice is everywhere. But there’s one tradition I’ve particularly enjoyed for the last few years; the live stream from West Sussex, England of the Goodwood Revival.
For me, a lover of vintage cars and especially vintage race cars, it’s a special treat. Both of the events put on by Lord March are impressive in their own right, and if you want to see a little bit of everything the season opener Festival of Speed is probably the venue you should consider. But if you want to see cars and motorcycles from periods you weren’t even alive for race flat-out, the Revival is the one to tune in to. Heavily modified Jaguars, Ferraris, Aston-Martins, and just about everything in between head to the track as combinations of professional and amateur drivers (at least, those with quite deep pockets) take their prized possessions to the limit and sometimes beyond. You might be lucky enough once in your life to witness an original GT40 in person; head to the Revival, and you’ll run across a dozen or so of the model, many of which are driven nearly as quickly as they were originally. This is coupled with period livery and dress on one of the fastest circuits in England, filmed with some of the best cameras out there. The result, as a car lover, is one of the most evocative spectacles conceivable.
Each time I witness a Goodwood event, my love of these race-prepared vintage cars is re-inspired. And though this particular BMW 2002 is just a few years too new to be eligible for competition at the Goodwood circuit, it caught my attention because of the claimed IMSA link. This chassis, while not an original BMW factory racer, was originally constructed and raced in the IMSA RS series in the early 1970s, making it the perfect candidate for vintage racing today:
While the Porsche 986 Boxster might have been the car that saved Porsche with its massive popularity, the 987-derived Cayman was what made the mid-engine design popular with track enthusiasts. Especially in more potent “S” form, the Cayman is a giant killer with sublime vehicle dynamics and plenty of punch even without a turbo. The 987 refresh in 2005 fixed many of the perceived visual faults of the 986 Boxster design with a slant towards a more aggressive look. The Coupe added a smooth, flowing hatchback line to the 997-inspired exterior, creating a lightweight, 7/8ths scale mid-engine 911. That it was less expensive than the traditional flat-6 lineup didn’t hurt, either. It was, and remains, a hit.
It was no surprise then that immediately these Caymans became popular with track enthusiasts and racers alike, spawning their own race series in the PCA. But you don’t need to fork over $100,000 for one of the rare Napleton Interseries cars to have a lot of fun at the track, as Kachel Motor Company proves with this duo of Cayman S racers:
Porsche history has always been intrinsically linked with racing since before they were even a company. From Mercedes-Benz to Auto Union and later Cisitalia, Porsche offered world-beating designs prior to establishment of its own independent racing heritage. Since the 1950s, they’ve never looked back, and every successive generation has their own legends that were born. For my father, it was the 908 and 917, while I grew up with the turbocharged whistle of the 956 and 962 dominating race tracks. To capitalize on this nostalgia, coupled with more gentleman drivers heading to the track every weekend than there ever have been, Porsche’s lineup has increasingly focused on track-biased cars. But that hasn’t stopped some from going a few steps further, and Napelton Porsche launched an interesting idea just before the turn of the decade.
Why not create a race series of equal cars, slap historic liveries on them, and hit the track? The Interseries was just that, with door to door action pitting the iconic color combinations of Porsche history at the hands of mere mortals. From the Salzburg 917 that first took Porsche to the Le Mans title to the unmistakable Rothmans colors, each of these cars wore a bit of what made the marque a legend for so many people. Everyone has their favorite design, so this series offered Porschephiles a veritable cornucopia of visual pleasure. Today, one of these cars has come up for sale: