Everyone should drive a good Porsche once in their life. Even better, you should drive a bad-ass classic Porsche. It’s always easy to knock ‘mainstream’ brands like this, but the truth is that reputations aren’t built on hollow foundations. Driving an old school Porsche is an art: it’s all round the wrong way, and the more power hanging out back just means more weight trying to swing you into an unfriendly hedge. But the challenge and, of course, that utterly iconic shape are like automotive drugs – once you’re on board the Porsche train, getting off is nigh on impossible.
So it was with Bruce Holder and his Porsche. Not this Porsche. The other one. This is Area 52 Bruce of the utterly bonkers, gravitationally-challenged Series 1 Land Rover, who a year or so back got his first tantalising whiff of possible Porsche ownership. Potential project cars frustratingly came and went away again just as fast, until he managed to persuade an online friend that he should sell his 912. Even though it was in Canada. And there was no bulging bank account to pay for all this dreaming.
Still, across the Pond Bruce went, taking in an epic road trip on the way (the full story covers 32 pages over on the Retro Rides forum), to pick up his new baby in Toronto. But then this happened. This mess of metal and flaking paint; this fire-bombed victim of a 911 that was hardly looking like Stuttgart’s finest hour.
Oh, but it is.
Already in possession of one 912 and likely out of his mind on clean, Canadian air, Bruce knew he had to have this 911 as well. It started with a picture, of this car, in this condition, going full pelt into a corner with the inside front wheel madly flailing in the air as the copious horses out back shoved the car around the track. It looks crazy. It looks awesome. It looks like crazy, awesome fun.
What about the little issue of money though, and the lack thereof? Bruce might have a hedge, but he hasn’t got a hedge fund. Time to ring our own resident mad-man, Bryn. Want to go halves on a car? “I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” was the surprisingly sober initial response. Then Bryn saw the car. Then Bryn was in, and Bruce was flying all the way across Canada to Calgary and into the welcome arms of Scott Sherman.
The car’s story is epic in itself. At one time back in the dim, distant past it was a beautiful little red number, innocent and pretty; a ’73 911T owned by the president of the Canadian Porsche Club. Then there was a fuel tank drain, a sparking ember… and a garage in flames along with three Porsches.
Everything changed. The 911 was sold into racing slavery, and on the exterior retained all the evidence of the conflagration. The thing is, fresh paint doesn’t make a car fast.
The exterior is a burnt husk. A big whale-tail spoiler had been added by Scott, mounting the oil cooler, and there was the impact rear bumper; but to say it’s no frills is an obvious understatement. There’s still a bracket for mounting a lighting cluster between the rusted headlight bulges.
When Bruce picked it up, there was no engine and the farmland it stood in went up and through the car. It had mulched down into the local agriculture – but it could be reborn. This 911 wasn’t the Team Phoenix car for nothing; Scott had run it hard in previous racing seasons before standing it down.
Underneath all the brutality is one hell of a Porsche. Out back is a 2.7-litre 7R race-spec motor in place of the original 2.4; it’s got a Megajolt running on EDIS with a switchable map available via a cockpit switch; there are modified S cams; opened-out intake ports; re-jetted Zenith carbs; Chrysler Voyager coil packs and various RSR upgrades.
The car is slung on ’80s SC suspension with uprated torsion and sway bars, with a homemade strut brace; it sports a complete 930 brake system and Pagid RS29 pads at all corners.
Inside the cockpit there’s an appropriately agricultural-looking rollcage that’s straight out of ’70s NASCAR; two-inch diameter bars that could survive a moon launch (and return).
Somehow after remedial work to kickstart it back into life (and an extension to that awesome road trip), the Porsche is now here in the UK. There’s obviously nothing about this car that says comfortable street cruiser – and it’s going to stay that way. Bruce and Bryn were grinning like the mad-men they are, as people’s jaws hit the ground at the recent Autosport International show. Left and right were gleaming supercars and pristine tuner specials – then there was this.
The rat look is nothing new, but there’s nothing deliberate here. This Porsche simply is. There’s such honesty; the Porsche’s hard life evident in the patina of the paint that remains and every single dent and bump. It’s why it’s so important, so raw.
The boys will leave it pretty much exactly as things are, and rightly so. They’ll be concentrating on the undersides and the interior, sort of the reverse of the short-cut brigade, whilst leaving that in-your-face blistered survivor look to fool the lazy onlooker. Shortly before it hands you backsides on track. If I could have a Porsche, I’d have one like this.
Next time Bruce, call me not Bryn?