Story and Photos by Zach Mayne
Taking a Porsche 911 and modifying it to look and perform like a period racecar is nothing new. Hundreds of these models have had this done to them over the years, with varying degrees of success of course. Some are not very well done, some are average and others, like the 911 ST homage pictured here, are virtually undetectable from the real deal.
Built by Dave Bouzaglou and his crew of Porsche specialists at TRE Motorsport in North Hollywood, CA the 911 is a beautiful machine inspired by privateer 911 STs that were raced in 1970 and 1971 in the Tour de France rally. Though the event was a non-championship event, there was a large array of cars, from Porsche 911s to Alfa Romeo GTVs, Mini Coopers and Ford Escorts. One of the 911s was campaigned by French racer Gerard Larrouse, and the car he raced went up against other privateer teams as well as factory efforts, making it all the more impressive that he won the 1970 event outright. “It was an amazing accomplishment against the other full factory efforts and prototypes,” says Bouzaglou.
In 1971 Larrouse entered an even lighter and faster 911 ST that was an ex-factor prototype and was therefore not limited by the homologation rules that applied to production racers. Rumor has that Larrouse promised his mechanics a case of champagne for every kilogram they could remove from the Porsche. Whether that’s a true tale or not, the car supposedly weighed a bantamweight 800-kgs by the time they were through drilling and cutting off unnecessary sheetmetal. The car has enough performance to finish the rally a respectable third overall. It was this car that Bouzaglou set out to emulate by emphasizing a Spartan approach to the build. The Porsche was built for Porsche enthusiast and collector Stuart Zeh, who describes the outcome as “an ultra lightweight sport purpose long wheelbase car that Porsche never built.”
The starting point was a 1972 911S that had been modified with ’73 911RS rear flares and round R-style taillights. With a stated goal of reducing the 911’s weight down to 1950-lbs, a figure that would need to include a oil and fuel as well as a passenger’s seat and fire-retardant system. Extensive reinforcing was done as well to the rear shock towers, torsion bar tube, jacking points and even the center tunnel overlay brace. Kundensport, a vintage Porsche specialist, was entrusted with the paint and bodywork. The shop is owned by Ed Palmer and car designer Hans Lapine, son of famed Porsche designer Tony Lapine. The sunroof-equipped top was chopped off and replaced with a slick-top and the body modified with handmade, steel ST-style fender flares. Wherever possible, unneeded tabs and pieces of sheetmetal were removed to shed weight. Aluminum door skins were installed on the original steel doorframes.
Getty Design fabricated a custom front hood and engine lid from lighter than standard materials. These were also drilled and then reinforced with balsa wood, while a 911R front bumper was fitted to complement the light rear ST bumper. Kundensport than sprayed the Porsche in Light Ivory using period correct single stage paint without a clearcoat. “This wasn’t a ‘bling’ car that had to have every last accessory, map pocket and widget that may have been used sometime, somewhere in a ST. The focus was on being real,” notes Bouzaglou. “This is what the competitors would start the season competing with.”
The 911 is peppered with real factory Porsche race parts that the owner has collected over the years. “Stuart was heavily involved with the build of the car,” says Bouzaglou. “The enthusiasm was to high that me and Stu would be trading ideas back and forth, sometimes until midnight. He would fly out for the weekend and bring the rare factory race parts that he sourced in Europe.” Lighting consist of rare Cibie Biode headlamps mounted in early 911 headlight buckets, with NOS clear lenses. At the rear are round-lens 911R taillight housings tinted in a dark rose shade. The engine grill is another bespoke item made of black aluminum mesh with a steel frame. Lightweight 911R-style stainless steel hinges hold the engine lid in place.
Power for this period correct beast come from a 2.7-liter that TRE built that was based on a durable factory 7R case. The motor offers quite a bit more displacement than the 2.5, 2.2 and 2.4-liter engines that were used in the actual racecars. The 911S 2.7-liter crank was balanced and blueprinted before it was installed in case. Balanced 911S connecting rods actuate Mahle pistons with a 10.5:1 compression ratio. ARP fasteners were used throughout for added strength. On the oil side of things, the air-cooled motor uses a 4-rib oil pump from a 911 Turbo, and two oil coolers- one in the engine bay and one in the front fender. The heads use stock 911S valves along with heavy duty valve springs. A set of DC 60 camshafts were sourced from Dougherty Racing.
A twin-plug dizzy from Burns Brothers in Fallbrook, CA works in concert with dual 6-pin Bosch ignition boxes and Bosch coils. Matt Blast at Eurometrics supplied a NOS high butterfly fuel injection system that originally came from Vasek Polak’s vast hoard of Porsche parts. The mechanical injection pump for the fuel system is a custom built RSR race unit. The exhaust consists of headers and a “Rennsport” style muffler that empties out of a pair of megaphones. Shifting all of the newfound power is the standard 915 5-speed gearbox that was in the car, but traction has been improved with a ZF LSD. The stock (and vague) shifter was replaced with a black anodized Wevo shifter paired with a Wevo shift rod.
Up front the Porsche’s suspension consists of revalved Koni 911S struts, 21-mm torsion bars and a 22mm adjustable anti-roll bar from Tarett Engineering with RSR-style end links. There are also Elephant Racing poly-bronze bushings wherever possible, mono-ball upper strut mounts and 911 Turbo tie rods. Open the lightweight trunk and there is a TRE upper strut bar mounted with 911 RSR weld-in support plates. At the rear are reinforced tailing arms, A Tarett anti-roll bar, Wevo swaybar mounts, poly-bronze bushings and 28-mm torsion bars.
In order to properly fill out the wider ST fender flares, a set of factory Fuchs were sourced that measure 15x8-inches up front and 15x9-inches at the rear. Finished in a period correct frosted RSR-style, the wheels are wrapped with treaded Michelin TB race tires. The brakes have been upgraded with dual master cylinders and a custom pedal assembly. The stock calipers were retained all around and clamp Porterfield R4S brake pads.
Inside the 911 are more era-correct touches. Replica ST made by TRE were covered with German vinyl and the correct German corduroy at Autobahn Interiors in San Diego. Other nice touches are vintage Repa harnesses, an ST steering wheel from from Zuffenhaus Racing and Fabrication and a dash top that was recovered in lightweight grey perlon. Custom fiberglass 911R door panels, leather pull straps and 911R-style plexiglass windows add more eye candy. with the same treatment given to the opening and closing of the windows. Authentic Heizman stickers adorn the tank that holds the retardant for the fire-extinguishing system, while the system itself is all custom but painted to look like a factory job.
The dash holds rebuilt S gauges with LED lighting, while the fascia now contains a kill switch and a bevy of authentic factory race switches that perform a variety of functions. Behind the seats is a TRE replica ST roll bar. The only thing more impressive than the sheer quality and authenticity of the build is that fact that project took a mere five months from start to finish. Impressive indeed.