There are few machines that embody the “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra as comfortably as the Porsche 911. Porsche's rear-engine wonder has been successfully raced from its introduction in 1964 and its on-track prowess has not diminished at all since then. But it has also become one of the most iconic road cars ever produced, in large part because of the direct connection street legal versions of it share with race bred examples. Take the 1975 911 Carrera featured here and owned by Santa Fe, NM resident Harold Williams. While the Porsche has spent many years setting fast laps on California racetracks, its currently seeing street duty on the winding, dusty streets of William’s Northern New Mexico hometown.
Unsurprisingly, Williams has been into Porsches just about his whole life. “I got my first Porsche, a ’73 Targa, in ’79 after graduating from college,” he says. “I’ve always liked the look of the early 911s. I prefer the targas to the coupes.” While he currently does not actually own a Targa, he does own two 911 coupes, the silver one pictured here and a 1979 DP 935 slantnose, based on a more common 930 Turbo.
Williams and his wife spent many happy years autocrossing a ’73 Targa in the San Francisco Bay Area, eventually graduating to club racing. Around the same time they started wheel to wheel racing, Williams came across an interesting 911 Carrera for sale at The Racers Group. “It was in good condition and had an interesting assortment of parts installed- not quite a street car or a race car," he says.
The body had been modified with wider 911 RS 3.0 fenders and bumpers, the interior had a welded-in rollcage and motivation came from a race-spec, carbureted 2.8-liter engine. In general, the car was peppered with upgrades, from the WEV0 shifter to bigger brakes and an RSR suspension, all of which made it an ideal candidate for a serious racecar. The Porsche still had its factory sunroof and Carrera tail as well, and retained much of its connection to street use. “It’s a U.S. spec Carrera, #282 out of a total production run of 395 coupes,” says Williams. “The previous owner had been in the process of turning the car into a street/track car and we never considered restoring it." Williams saw the potential in the car and soon enough it was parked in his garage. Before he could begin tracking it, he installed as many performance parts from his 911 Targa as he could, including the Targa's upgraded 930 brakes, Smart Racing sway bars and Recaro seats.
Initially, the Carrera was used in drivers events at nearby California racetracks as well as at time trials but Williams also began prepping the car for full on, wheel-to-wheel racing. “Since I planned on occasional street driving we kept the car licensed and registered for the street," he says. Before long, the car's 2.8-liter motor was upgraded to a larger engine. Based on a 3.2-liter Carrera case, Mahle pistons and cylinders with a 9.5:1 compression ratio bring the replacement motor's displacement up to 3.4-liters. Hotter camshafts increase power, while fuel delivery is handled by dual 50mm PMO downdraught carburetors and a Mallory fuel pump. An Electromotive crankfire, twin plug ignition system provides plenty of spark.
The air-cooled, flat-6's crucial oil system has been upgraded with a later 964 oil pump and 993 oil console and filter. A Fabcar-modified, baffled oil tank has additional two quarts of oil capacity over the stock tank and works with an Elephant Racing oil cooler located in the left front fender. A stock Carrera cooler was installed behind the right front fender. “To get better airflow I made fiberglass housings to fit the front of the oil coolers," says Williams. "I fiberglassed scoops into the back of the turn signal housing and added a three-inch inlet into the lower part of the bumper. Two-inch hoses run from the back of the turn signal housings and three-inch hoses run from the back of the inlets to the oil coolers.”
The 3.4-liter six in William's Carrera fires with with a surprisingly restrained burble, not surprising when you consider the fact that Williams detuned the motor for its new life on the streets of Santa Fe. “The race muffler puts out 92 db on the track, which I found a little too loud for the street,” he says. “I modified one of my other race mufflers to be quieter. With that muffler the motor still retains a nice rumble on the outside. Inside the car what you hear is the gear whine and the carburetors.”
The smooth, deep burble the engine makes at idle though quickly transforms into a more aggressive howl as RPMs rise, which they invariably do very quickly. Driven slowly and conservatively, the 911 feels like an impatient thoroughbred straining at the leash. This car is much happier being driven at wide open throttle. On the twisting roads just outside of Santa Fe, the Porsche’s built motor is extremely involving but also easy to manage. Plant the throttle and the car rockets down the road on a nice wedge of mid-range torque. From 4,500-rpm to redline the motor goes pugilisitic, the rate at which the engine responds climbing exponentially with RPMs, with a rip-saw wail pouring from the exhaust. This is a quick car too, the acceleration pushing me back in the seat as the car squats on its rear suspension and rockets forward. The engine picks up revs so quickly that a shift light comes on sooner than I expect, signaling that it’s time to dip the heavy clutch and select the next gear. Lift off the throttle for a corner and the engine burbles and pops on overrun like a true race built motor.
The suspension on William’s Carrera has been upgraded for track and aggressive street use as well modified as well. The original and somewhat primitive front torsion bar setup has been replaced with an E.R.P. 935 suspension with Fox adjustable nitrogen shocks. These use 350-lb springs and have height adjustable spindles. Wevo Camber King camber plates allow the suspension to be setup precisely, while a carbon fiber strut bar reduces chassis flex and sharpens up steering response during hard cornering. A Smart Racing 31-mm anti-roll bar goes a long ways towards reducing body roll. At the back of the car are 911 RSR-spec coilovers with 500-lb springs and E.R.P. spring plates. There is also a 27-mm Smart Racing sway bar bolted in place with reinforced mounts. “The ride is taught and very responsive,” says Williams.
On the stopping end of things are 930 calipers and Zimmerman rotors at the front, mounted to 930 hubs. Two-inch diameter hoses channel cool air to the front brakes. 930 calipers and rotors were installed at the rear as well. “For the brakes I built a dual master cylinder brake pedal assembly using a ’73 pedal assembly as a starting point,” reveals Williams. “Tilton master cylinders, a brake balance bar assembly and a balance knob was also used. I made a two-piece aluminum gas pedal which has three axis adjustments for heel and toe and two different throttle rod positions which lets you change the pedal travel.”
The 911 rolls on generously-sizedDP Motorsports 15x9-inch Fuchs at the front that are wrapped with 215/55-15 Michelin TB vintage race tires. At the rear are a set of aftermarket 15x11-inch Fuchs that wear 295/40-15 Michelins. Though the suspension setup and race tires are pretty firm for street driving, they also provides the car with extremely high cornering limits and more than enough mechanical grip. Around tight turns as well as faster sweepers the Carrera is terrifically stable with no bodyroll to speak of. Accelerating out of bumpy corners on a wave of torque from the 3.4-liter flat-6 causes the front end to go light, the wheel writhing around a bit in my hands, all of which would be familiar to anyone who has driven a 911 as it creator's intended. The quick-witted chassis and generous traction out of corners thanks to those gargantuan rear tires combines with the instantaneous response from the engine to add up to up to an unadulterated 911 driving experience.
The most obvious change to the Porsche's interior are the trick dash gauges that Williams designed and fabricated himself. The primary motivation for the custom gauge faces arose from the installation of the smaller MOMO steering wheel. “Using a smaller diameter steering wheel cuts off the oil temperature and oil pressure gauge,” he explains. William's unconventional solution was to build a center gauge in place of the tachometer that incorporated four gauges rather than just one. “I also wanted to use the Porsche gauges to keep the old school look,” he says.
“I machined a plate to mount the 911 oil temp, oil pressure and 914 gas gauge," he reveals. "I used a Stewart Warner 3 1/8-inch tach and had a numerical overlay made to match the Porsche font.” There was even enough room for an LED shift light and a full throttle light wired to the gas pedal. These are all contained within the stock Porsche tachometer bezel and glass. The interior has Recaro race seats for the driver and passenger, a padded rollcage and on the more civilized side also features a lightweight carpet kit.
Other than a respray in the factory Metallic Silver in 2006, the exterior of the Porsche has remained basically the same as when it was purchased by Williams, which includes the fiberglass front and rear fenders and bumpers. Williams has made a handful of changes to car's body, including a rare carbon fiber roof made by Wevo that was bonded to the 911s body after the metal roof was cut out. The change not only sheds weight but lowers the Porsche's center of gravity. Further contributing to the car’s impressively low 2350-lb weight are plexiglass side and rear windows. Visually, William’s prefers a stock and understated Carrera tail to the larger rear wings frequently seen on 911 racecars. However, the rubber lip on a Carrera tail tends to flex at high speed, potentially reducing stability enhancing downforce. The solution was to fabricate a solid fiberglass lip that is 1.5-inches taller than the stock one. The lip was painted with black wrinkle paint to emulate the stock appearance and a metal grill installed to finish off the custom tail. “I also fiberglassed the lower part of the rear bumper to follow the shape of the center, twin muffler pipes I had made earlier.”
Since retiring it from racing, Williams has made a few concessions to retain the Carrera’s streetability. The camber was adjusted, the rear shocks re-valved and the front shock’s settings were softened. Other than the quieter exhaust though, the 911 terrorizes Santa Fe denizens pretty much in its as-raced state on a regular basis. When it comes to representing the 911's dual-purpose breeding, this car is about as good as they come.