As glamorous and straightforward as this profession might seem to be, more often than not when I have to find words to describe a car I honestly don’t know what to say. Most of the time it’s difficult to find the words to use because I feel as though they’ve all been spent already, while other times I can’t find the words simply because the car has left me speechless. I think it goes without saying that encountering a Kremer K3 falls into latter category.
As we all know cars come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the economic appliance to the handcrafted supercar. But occasionally there is such a car that seems to defy any categorization, the sort of vehicle which causes full grown men to go into a tizzy whenever they think about it. While I’m by no means an expert on the car, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the K3 one of these fabled legends and that’s exactly why I chose to honor it on 911 day.
When it comes to an iconic sports car I can think of none more easily recognizable than the 911. At the same time I can think of no other single model with such history in motorsport, let alone so many wildly different varieties which have been morphed and sculpted to meet countless rule books over the years. Even still, I’d argue that the 935 K3 is one of Porsche’s most iconic altered silhouettes.
Ironically it’s only now, sitting in my apartment back in Los Angeles, that this experience actually takes. More often than not when we’re out there shooting these cars everything happens so quickly and we’re so focused that we miss some of the details. I’d liken the phenomenon to being in shock where your mind simply switches into survival mode.
Oddly enough this wasn’t the first K3 I’ve encountered. It was however the first time that I was able to really analyze the car. This time around I wouldn’t be subjected to the typical nuisances associated with such a machine: a noisy racetrack full of fans eager to get into my frame, closed up bodywork and a overwhelming sense of exhaustion after a day of trackside shooting.
No, this time things would be different, yet my foggy recollection remained more or less the same. This time I would be able to spend a couple hours with an original K3, at the newly built facilities of Kremer Motorsport, the very company responsible for constructing the mental beast. Had I not the photographs and trusty accomplice Jonathan Moore to prove it, I wouldn’t believe it to be real.
I can’t really think of any better place to start than the interior of the car, which is probably the most easily recognized as something which was once a Porsche 911. Built in the late ’70′s the K3 is a car from a time where technology and brute force were a delicate balancing act and this battle is clear in the cabin.
The heel plate for example, is a raw sheet of uncoated molded fiberglass. Not exactly beautiful but undeniably effective. It gives the driver’s feet a flat place to rest, out of harm’s way from the clutch linkage and miscellaneous plumbing. Looking back I can’t decide if this design is ingenious or insane. In fact if I were to drive it, I’m still not sure which side of the linkage I’d prefer my left foot to reside…
Elsewhere there are more mind bending pieces, beautifully simple but in hindsight date themselves quickly. There’s something mesmerizing about a crude meter long rod being used to engage gears, but it worked. This sort of hardware is fascinating in a strangely twisted way, like antique medical equipment.
While they might look quite similar to today’s turbochargers, the KKK units on the 935 were very much in their infancy. That said they were capable of delivering 800hp to the rear wheels, albeit nearly all at once a la a light switch. Kremer soon found that the factory water-to-air intercoolers quickly became heat soaked and found that an air-to-air replacement allowed consistent power output during long endurance races, often out performing Porsche’s factory teams.
They also discovered that the gearbox could be removed and reinstalled upside down, which had two significant benefits. The first of which being that the new layout would allow the crew to make gear changes without removing the entire housing from the car, saving precious time while at the track. The second benefit was that this allowed the car a further reduction in ride height.
Under the bonnet lies a rat’s nest of hoses, bracing and fluid tanks; all of which jockeying for precious real estate. Due to the Porsche’s unique engine placement, the front end of the car is essentially a lost and found collection of bits and pieces that simply have no where else to reside. While a fuel tank this far in the nose probably isn’t ideal, it’s never proved a problem for the 911.
But let’s not kid ourselves, the best part of the K3, and the reason why Rod won’t stop buying diecasts of them, is the body. As one might guess from the name K3, “K” stands for Kremer and “3″ indicates that this is the third generation of insane 911-derived Porsches built by the company. While the K1 and K2 were both beautiful and successful in their own right, it was the K3 that made Kremer a household name.
Built for Kremer by DP Motorsport, another Cologne-based workshop, the body imitates that of the later factory 935 Evolution – cars like the well-known “Moby Dick”. Since Porsche wouldn’t offer this bodywork to its customers, Kremer decided to do the next best thing and teamed up with DP to build their own. The result is a car that was not only better looking in my opinion, but a proven performer winning the 24h of Le Mans 1979.
There are no two ways about the demeanor of the car, it’s unquestionably intimidating. I’ll admit I didn’t used to much care for the K3, but over the years the shape, particularly that of the wing supports, has really grown on me. It’s strangely well balanced in terms of proportion – the rear fenders do a great job at concealing just how massive the BBS inside truly are.
The design is primitive compared to current technology and looking back it’s hard not to smile at the imaginative shape. It sort of reminds me of those futuristic drawings from the ’50′s of how people thought the world would be in the year 2000. In that sense it’s almost as if Kremer chose to give everyone a glimpse of where they saw motorsport going in the future.
Obviously many of the ideas applied to this and other Group 5 cars have been accepted, adapted and improved as time went on, but there’s no denying their contribution to the advancement of motorsport. Almost everywhere you look on the car there are little details waiting to be noticed. Having the opportunity to examine such a well kept time capsule was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity.
In what seemed like only a few minutes Jonathan was back to collect met for our visit to another of Kremer’s workshops for his shop tour story. And so nearly as quickly as it began, the shoot came to end. I thanked everyone at Kremer for the opportunity to photograph such an incredible car and all their hospitality while stealing a few final glances before driving off.
It’s been just over a month since that afternoon in Germany, but there hasn’t been a day that’s passed since that I haven’t thought of this car. Obviously some days made it a little harder to forget than others, but I would have to say it’s had a profound effect on me, one that is difficult to describe. Maybe that’s a fitting end to yet another article as I’m left in the same predicament from which it started… I’m lost for words.
This is pure automotive porn at its finest... And this is one of the most insane Porsches ever built. Such beautiful shape, but still a monstrosity lurking below with its insane build by Kremer.
Once again, amazing article Sean, very good read! Would love to see an article on the Group 5 BMW 3.0 CSL - another epic car from that age. :)
Two legendary brands, one racing legend !
Sean you nailed it again, and I am waiting for more 'orange' articles...
I REALLY want to. The guys at Kremer sponsor a race called "Night of the Legends" (decal on the hood of this car) which is supposed to be quite impressive!
Great car, great article. Love the way the turbos are just hanging out the back. Now to just get a feature of a Martini 'Moby D-i-c-k' ;)(Had to add the dashes to get around censoring)
Hotcakes Actually that might be more possible than you'd think... definitely on my to-do list.
Thank you Thank you Sean! This is definitley in my top five, but i cant even begin to name 4 other cars that stand up to this madness. It's genius and insanity occupying the same mind.
What an awesome machine :D The body is just the most intimidating thing I've ever seen. On another note, and I do not mean this is an offensive or rude way, please check over the grammar a bit more before publishing. I understand you all are just human and make mistakes and typos, but it made reading bits of the article a little confusing.
CrisCiunganu I read the articles I write several times before publishing, but as you say it's easy to make mistakes. That said I don't see anything glaringly wrong with this piece?
sean klingelhoefer CrisCiunganu I love the article, but i have to say I caught a few typos as well that threw me off. Try your opening sentence "find words to describe I car I honestly don’t know what to say" That said I notice Mike having the most typos.... u guys need a copy editor? :)
sean klingelhoefer CrisCiunganu That's too funny, honestly we do need copy editors. The problem with proof reading your own work, at least for me, is you absorb thoughts in chunks instead of analyzing each word. It's almost as if I stare at the sentence and since I know what I'm trying to say, I don't notice an "I" being where an "a" should be. I don't know if you've ever seen it but there are optical illusions where they remove certain letters from words but the subconscious brain will read them just the same with missing vowels for example. Regardless it's no excuse!
sean klingelhoefer CrisCiunganu
Wonderful article, loved your last sentence of the last paragraph. Must've been an awesome experience being in front of this machine all by yourself.
sean klingelhoefer CrisCiunganu it's really not that difficult to read through typos if you're comprehending the article at any point.
My. Word. What a machine. Those turbos hanging out the back look like the weapons that they are. I love these cars so much. I would love to see a whole series devoted to Group 5 cars as they are unspeakably awesome.
They are magnificent aren't they (the turbos)!? I'd love to shoot more Group 5 stuff, hopefully next time I'm in Germany I can get a hold of a Zakspeed Capri.
So the escort will be coming up then, without sacrificing your life, cool man
How different is the setup on the K3 than the FIA cars like the Group 4 934 or the Group 5 935?
MattAtDoyle Well the Kremer K3 is a Group 5 935, so I'm not sure how to answer this question? Do you mean how different was it when compared to the factory 935/78? If so, very - aside from the body being entirely different, Kremer made many additional tweaks to the car down to every bolt I'm told. Much of the Porsche customer components were left, but virtually all were tweaked.
MattAtDoyle Here's a two part article we published on the history of the 935 a few years ago...
You could have written more about it's racing history... but as you said: being "lost of words" is quite understandable in this case! :) But you have to know that this car didn't "just" win LeMans '79. Kremer was the dominating force in German/European endurance racing from '76 to '81. It's just an extraordinary racing car. Form follows function in an oldskool "Gatebil"-way (to use a seriously often heard term on this site). I use to race in Jägermeister-Suits myself but this is a totally different kind of cool. 70/80s kind of fucking-badass-rock'n'roll-Jochen Rindt-Jacky Icx-cool. You just have to adore it!
maxproof I believe we have another article in store for us today which will go over Kremer's history, which is why I didn't want to get too deep into that here... Keep your eyes peeled ;) I completely agree with you though, it's from a time in racing which we will never see again... makes me wish I were born a generation or two earlier.
Hey, love the pictures, but i'm not really a fan of the instagram-like filters, do you also have them with a more neutral color profile?
I didn't save anything that was neutral, I found that the car fell off into the background too much with more normal color grading. I definitely understand where you're coming from though!
gorgeous, glorious, nostalgia... after that i'm at a loss for words, too. thanks so much for historic coverage!
Rabbit key ring wtf? Awesome feature! Thanks again Sean. Loving jagermeister orange! How big are those bbs wheels ?
Curlytop The rabbit is the mascot of the company Vaillant, who was a major sponsor/partner for Kremer in their early years. Google "Vaillant Porsche" and you'll see what I mean ;)
One of the details I love about this car is how the FRP fuel cell is literally formed around the front part of the cage... just to get those couple extra liters of capacity in there... amazing car, great pics! thanks Sean...
the strip of canvas with the red and blue stitch which controls the amount the door swings out is pretty badass too.... love the high tech and low tech mix that was around back then...
ericbauer Yep the car is seriously fascinating, it's like it has just enough and no more. I love it.