If the entire back collection of car reviews we’ve consumed since preadolescence are true, then Porsche’s 911 is unequivocally the ultimate driver’s car.
That then begs the question: is it even possible to improve on the ultimate? Well, Porsche themselves certainly thought it was and set out to enhance the already highly-reputed 911. How do you label ‘perfected perfection?’ With just three letters: RSR.
People across the globe still celebrate the RSR legacy 47 years after the initial stamping of its homologation build plates, and of course, its later stampings in the motorsport record books.
An extremely low number of surviving cars and their sheer collectability makes a genuine RSR about as close to pure unobtainium as possible. I’d shudder to try to even imagine a post-COVID tax price tag…
So while a genuine RSR is outside of the realms of possibility for most of us, there’s no reason why one can’t apply the same ‘best of everything’ philosophy that Porsche ingrained within the RSR blueprint all those years ago. Indeed, with close to 50-years of technological advancements since the RSR’s debut, there’s plenty of room for some further enhancements and personalisation for those who dare.
I’m sure this idea will offend some – probably the guys who drive beat-up a Toyota Camry or their mother’s Hyundai – but thankfully some individuals still exist who possess the rocks to ruffle a few feathers and do the unthinkable: modify a car without fearing the opinion of strangers and internet buddies. Weird, right?
We should consider ourselves fortunate that people who prefer to celebrate their love affair with cars along winding B-roads rather than in stifling museums still exist. You know, the people who’d rather be counting kilometres driven instead of annual price appreciation; those who value corner speed over collectability;
custodians drivers who understand the true value of the right vehicle in the right setting.
You’ve already guessed it, but this story involves one of these rare specimens. He’s a slightly older gent than one would typically expect to find laying out their Hakosuka with airbags, hitting the drag strip, or thrashing across mountain roads at midnight, but that’s all part of his charm. Peter Landan is full of (mostly pleasant) surprises.A Surprise Getaway
Speaking of surprises, I was not expecting to see this ‘Gran Prix White’ 911 parked up inside Pete’s garage. When we discussed hitting some back roads and grabbing an overdue coffee and pie for lunch, he was adamant that my Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, AKA Project Nine, could take rest, while remaining playfully coy about which car we’d be taking. I’m pretty sure that “something European” was the limit of the information offered at the time.
‘European?’ I thought to myself… What a strange choice for a guy whose garage was literally full of only vintage Datsuns and very fast Nissans. Excluding bikes, of course.
Being familiar with the back catalogue of amazing cars Pete has tinkered with (almost everything between a highly-strung Mazda RX-2 and a blown Chevy Camaro), and given the pedigree of ‘fun cars’ currently residing within his man cave, I knew to expect something special.
A 911 was on my radar, but this pumped-out 1975 Carrera RSR tribute was an incalculable option.Get Out & Drive
The best way to experience what this Porsche offered was at speed, so very little time was wasted in the garage before Pete brought its grumpy-sounding 3.8-litre engine to life. The air-cooled motor was sourced from a 993 and has since been bored and stroked to produce a neat and reliable 400hp.
While I forgot to ask what it’d rev out to (the tachometer reads to an ambitious 10,000rpm), the dry-sump setup and a few clever modifications certainly suggest it’s ready to get up and party when required.
The 993 engine was essentially the first new motor for Porsche in over a decade, with over 80% of the components receiving some form of upgrade. This stronger, more reliable base was selected for its strength in Pete’s build, and on top of that it’s been retrofitted with a set of RSR era-correct 50mm PMO carburettors and an MSD twin-spark ignition system.
While I appreciate the accuracy and convenience of fuel injection, there’s a distinct sound and metric sh*t-tonne of additional attitude delivered from idle all the way across the rev-range that’s only possible with an effectively-tuned carb setup.
Pete rattled off the specs as we rolled out of his driveway and cruised towards a nearby fuel station.
A custom race-inspired 45-litre fuel cell is located up front, and with that freshly filled – without having to lift the bonnet – it was time to make our way off the main roads and really experience what this reimagined masterpiece has to offer.
On a side note, if you can’t look away from your vehicle while filling up, you’ve made some great some decisions about the car you’re driving.
We quickly peeled off the highway and zig-zagged our way across Sydney’s outer rural roads. Pete gave me a more detailed rundown on the history of the car and its current configuration, which was a far more visceral experience than a digital spec sheet hitting my inbox.
The open road is so much more expressive than any pen and paper when the subject is drivability. Bumps and squeaks, pops and crackles, sounds and smells, all offer an infinitely more in-depth understanding.
In this particular instance, the two most noticeable qualities noticed from the passenger seat were just how tight and firmly the suspensions clung on to the road even when under duress from many many lateral gs…
… And how ferocious a rear-mounted naturally aspirated engine can sound.
Pete’s car also has an authentic vintage feel; technology has only been used to enhance the experience, but not to change it.
The car maintains a level of simplicity that’d confuse younger drivers who’ve grown up with power everything, infotainment out the wazoo, and way too many acronyms.
Seat. Steering wheel. Pedals. Gauges. Gears. You know, just the important stuff.
And while we’re on the topic of importance, we spent way more time enjoying the offerings of Pete’s new steed than originally intended and as a consequence, the importance of lunch had been bumped up the priority list.
All in all, I’d rate it quite a successful afternoon. Not only had we road-tested the pinnacle of a golden age of motoring, but we’d also begun a new tradition. Sick of Cars & Coffee? Why not try Porsches & Pies?
I’m so glad that Porsche chose not to rest on their laurels and attempt to improve on what was already regarded as perfection. I’m even more thankful for the good folk like Pete who still see the value in modifying their ‘investments’ to suit a particular look, function, or desire.
As long as we have imaginations and remain bold enough to see an idea through, there’ll always be room for improvement. Even at the top of the field.