Do cars have souls?

By Lee Dean

Duck & Whale Magazine 911

We adhere to rules and boundaries in life, in relationships, at work and even out on the race track. The Porsche world is no different; we place significance on numbers and rarity, drawing a line in the sand over originality and origin.

How much fun could you have with a 911 if you forgot all that…? 
It’s a can of worms question, but in the case of this car, the answer is plenty!

You are looking at my classic 911 ‘73 RS, right? A Jerry Seinfeld one million dollar special. Errr... well hmmm… It didn’t start out life looking this way, hand on heart, it is a 1973 model but this Porsche was birthed as a US car. Its American history file is mainly lost in time. Somewhere along the line it was set up for track duties and made to emulate the RS of the same year. The 2.4-litre’s fate can be left up to your imagination; broken magnesium crankcase, swapped for parts or holding a boat in place maybe? Whatever happened, it is long gone and the much stronger casted aluminum 3.0-litre SC engine, paired with a free-flowing exhaust is now employed at the business end.

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Previous owners Paul and Richard from PR Technology in Sydney say they have been looking after the car for the past eleven years of its Australian tour for owners and as custodians themselves. Richard says, “It was designed to be a fun track car, it’s a 3.0-litre engine which produces similar power to the 2.7 Carrera it emulates. The performance is quite good, it’s an un-distressed engine with a tight ratio gearbox and LSD, which is all pretty easy to maintain. With the extra torque the driver is not revving it to 10,000 revs to get it to move. The car produces reliable power and it’ll do that for a long time. It’s not a proper life span 20 or 30-hour race engine, this one could go ten years doing club stuff without the need to pull the engine apart. Provided it doesn’t get over-revved, or anything like that.”

So for the last few decades this hard as nails no-nonsense 911 has been stuck in high school and in the gym teacher’s bad books! Track laps and lots of them is the order of the day. It is set up to pound around circuits, break hard into corners and fly down straights with a wide open throttle. It’s purposefully simple in its approach.

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This ’73 911 T originally wouldn’t have had the slightly bigger rear guards it sports now, while the fronts are factory. Richard says, “We put the half cage in the car which suits doing track days but it’s not imperative, it’s not adding substantial stiffness to the chassis but it’s good for harnesses. It ‘s nice to have your harnesses attached close to the seat. We also put the low mounted seats in, we’ve maintained the car for a long time, pretty much everything for the last 11 years, we’ve rebuilt the gearbox twice and destroyed it twice, it’s half-destroyed now. It’s had some rough driving in the past; gearboxes are the single biggest maintenance item on any race car. It’s not engines it’s gearboxes that cost, synchros etc. Some drivers will have a gearbox for years without destroying it; some will destroy it in one session. The driver of this ‘73 before us used to destroy the gearbox in probably 3 sessions.”

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Paul adds, “As a track car it’s perfect and you can drive it to the track, it’s not ideal for being on the road as it is so stiff but it does the job it was designed for. It’s manageable, I mean you can go on drives with it; it’s not out of control. I drove it up to the Hunter Valley and drove back via the Putty road and into Wakefield Park and all the way back into Sydney on the freeway and I didn’t really want to drive much further. It’s all ‘at you’ the whole time with no rest.”

After spending a couple of days with this car you can feel it’s lived a life and you can sense its history when you are around it.

Do cars have souls; can human emotions and memories fuse to steel, fabric and leather?

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When I parked the car in my driveway my kids came running out of the house to greet it like they would a grandfather, zero inhibitions they just seem to know it.

The driving experience of this ’73 from a Porsche guy’s point of view, honestly, I love it. Rolling out of the driveway at four am with its grumpy ‘why the hell did you wake me?’ idle and race equipped interior I said to myself, “This feels like home.” The mix of tight trackability and 43 years of Porsche nostalgia just oozes cool. It’s intentionally stiff suspension setup is made for long track smooth sweepers, so you must give it some latitude on the road. We found just such a piece of tarmac where the 911 was deep in its element showcasing the talented Porsche’s abilities. On normal roads, you see flashes of brilliance that keep you searching for the next drivable section. It’s buzzy and alive in your hands and the steering is agile and sharp if a little heavy at low speeds. The fairly standard 3.0 litre punches above its weight with responsiveness and it sounds a treat high in the rev range! The sweet spot is between four and six thousand rpm, it sings a raucous flat-six symphony and rewards you for pushing hard.

This ’73 911 is not matching number but it is a car that you cannot get out of without looking back.

 

Duck & Whale Editor - Lee Dean

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