Black Sheep

When it comes to production cars, there are few that are more rare and desirable than homologation specials, road-going cars built by manufacturers in small, limited runs in order to satisfy requirement to race in certain classes. Some of the more well know and lusted after cars that belong in this elite category are the Lancia Stratos, the Ferrari 288 GTO, the Ford RS200, to name just a few.

Porsche of course has made numerous homologation specials. Models that may immediately come to mind are the ’73 911 RS 2.7 and the stunning 1997 911 GT1. But one that is often overlooked is the 924 Carrera GTS Clubsport, based on the 924 Carrera GTS. The Clubsport version of the GTS is arguably the coolest iteration of Porsche’s early transaxle cars. Porsche rolled a scant 15 of the Clubsport out of Weissach that were intended for road use but were for all intents and purposes full-blown racecars. Visually, the Carrera GTS Clubsport crackles with intent, thanks to the wide, 7 and 8-inch Fuchs straining out of the flared fenders, a low and purposeful ride height and hints of the aluminum roll bar glinting out of the interior. Despite being based on humble 924 roots, the Clubsport is a special car in just about every regard.

To trace the car’s history, you have to go back to the early 1970s, when the 924 was conceived as a flagship sportscar that would bolster not Porsche’s, but VW’s reputation as a manufacturer of serious performance cars. Porsche was enlisted to handle the engineering, so the company cherry picked the best components from the VW and Audi parts selection. VW abandoned the project due to high production costs and the rise of gas prices, the latter of which made it difficult to justify building a sportscar.

Porsche however saw promise in the 924 project and decided to put it into production. Minor changes were made to make it more like a Porsche and in November, 1975 production began. By early 1976, the 924 was also being sold in the U.S., with a price just under $10,000. With a modest 110-hp from the front-mounted 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder Audi engine the 924 was met with rather tepid reactions from the press. The engine was unrefined and the 4-speed gearbox and primitive rear drum brakes seemed outdated. Porsche upped the 924’s performance in 1979 with a KKK turbocharger, an approch it had put to exceptional use with the 930 Turbo. The 924 Turbo put out a far more usable 143-bhp, which was backed with a 5-speed gearbox. The Turbo also boasted better build quality and more modern disc brakes at all four corners. The 924 Turbo was also expensive though at just over $20,000.

The 924 Carrera GT and later GTS and Clubsport versions were the result of Porsche’s decision to homologate the 924 for Group 4 competition. With LeMans in its crosshairs, a larger hood scoop was fastened to the 924’s hood and the front bumper was peppered with slots and intakes. The front fenders were widened with striking looking, boxy fender flares that would be carried over to the later 944. At the rear, fiberglass fender flares were simply fastened to the existing 924 bodyshell, further continuing the competition ethos. The doors and hood were made from thin aluminum. The revised exterior styling was rounded out with a larger rear spoiler. Under the flares were larger 16x7-inch front and 16x8-inch rear Fuchs alloys.

Underneath the restyled exterior, the GT had a powerplant and suspension to match the boy-racer styling. Turbo boost was increased, which when matched with a higher compression ratio for the engine, resulted in 210-bhp, a number that mirrored that of the landmark ’73 911RS. A front mounted intercooler was also added to the equation, ensuring that engine’s supply of air remained cool. With a 0-to-60 dash of just 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 150-mph, the 924 was a world class performance car.

Porsche continued to refine and improve the performance of the 924 Carrera GT, which led to the lighter and more powerful GTS version. Where there were 400 or so versions of the GT built and sold, only 50 GTSs were made. Power from the 2.0-liter inline-4 climbed to 245-bhp at 6,250-rpm thanks to an increase in turbo boost (up to 1.0 bar). Torque was increased to 247 lb/ft at 3,000-rpm. The front suspension utilized the same MacPherson struts as the GT. At the rear however, the GT’s old school torsion bar setup was replaced with a more modern and better performing coilover design. The brakes remained standard GT parts.

Visually, the GTS featured fixed, Perspex-covered headlights rather than the pop-up headlights of the GT. This not only shed weight but added more room to the engine bay to help accommodate the larger air-to-air intercooler that the more powerful motor relied on. A Plexiglass rear hatch replaced the GT’s glass one and the sliding side windows were made from the same material. As well, the front fenders, engine lid and doors were made from reinforced fiberglass. Even the front windshield was thinner. Porsche produced 59 examples of the GTS, making it an extremely rare bird, particularly in the U.S.

The nadir of road-going 924 performance was without question the Clubsport version of the Carrera GTS, of which a scant 15 were made. The Clubsport took the precedent set by the GTS a step further by increasing power to an impressive 275-bhp at 6200-rpm and 365 ft/lbs of torque at 3600-rpm. The interior of the Clubsport was a tantalizing mix of hardcore track car and everyday usability. Open the door and you’ll see that the floors are covered in carpeting and the dash is standard issue Carrera GTS. On a more serious note is the bolt-in aluminum rollcage. More nods to the Clubsport completion pretensions are the Heinzmann fire extinguisher mounted behind the passenger’s seat and the blue handle coming out of the center console that actuates the kill switch in case of an emergency. A small, 3-spoke steering wheel, lightweight door panels and 935 “lollipop” seats rounded out the interior changes. All told, the Clubsport tipped the scales at 2,472-lbs, which was about 400-lbs less then the standard 924 Turbo.

The changes resulted in a 924 Carrera GT that was ready for the track about the moment it rolled out of the factory. The car picture here, Carrera GTS #WBOZZZ93225710047, is one of the few GTS Clubsports that has ended up in the United States. Originally sold through Bob Hagestad Porsche in Denver, CO the car was purchased by Denver ophthalmologist and Porsche enthusiast Bill Jackson. The car next ended up as part of the extensive Matthews Collection in Denver, CO, owned by Harry Matthews. In 1994 the car ended up with Dennis Asse of Assco Motorsports, who had been enlisted to sell the car for the Matthews Collection. That’s where Porsche collector Jim Edwards came into the picture. “The 924 Clubsport is such an overlooked and underappreciated car,” says Edwards. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s something special.” We can’t really disagree with him on that point.