1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7: The Legend Starts Here

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Thomas Haas has an issue: He has too many Porsches. The person answerable for sustaining the gathering of the Porsche Museum has a superabundance of riches in his care. There are greater than 700 automobiles on this automotive archive, with round half residing within the large warehouse/workshop within the Stuttgart suburb of Kallenberg that Haas is displaying us round. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of riches: race automobiles, prototypes, ideas, one-offs, plus drivable examples of virtually each automotive Porsche has ever produced.

Some fashions appear clearly over-represented, with one aisle that includes half a dozen 918 Spyders, for example. “It’s laborious to say no to anyone who provides you a 918 Spyder,” Haas says, wistfully. “I might not say we’ve got too many. However we definitely have many.”

We have come to Germany to have a good time an precedent days of Porsche’s historical past, nevertheless. This yr marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 911 Carrera RS 2.7, one of many firm’s most well-known fashions and one which pioneered what would later turn into the GT and RS highway automobiles produced by the corporate’s Motorsport division proper as much as the current day. Porsche supplied the possibility to drive two immaculate examples as a part of a hands-on historical past lesson involving each the corporate’s complete archive and the possibility to speak to one of many males who labored on the pioneering undertaking.

Humble Origins

Though it has lengthy been thought to be considered one of Porsche’s pinnacle merchandise, the RS 2.7 was developed on a shoestring price range. It was additionally born from failure—particularly, the issue that the common 911 was having being aggressive on racetracks. The FIA’s Group 4 rules supplied the possibility to create a extra aggressive model, however there was little cash and no potential to make main modifications. The largest concern for the usual automotive was aerodynamic elevate, the 911’s gently sloping rear making a low-pressure space that created instability at excessive speeds. So, in 1972, an aerodynamicist named Hermann Burst who had beforehand labored on the all-conquering 917 racer automotive was requested to discover a method to enhance issues.

“The issue was that we weren’t supposed to vary the unique form of the 911,” says Burst, now 81 and nonetheless completely satisfied to speak about his well-known undertaking. “So, we have been in search of the best method to enhance each drag and elevate.”

The answer arrived at by his tiny crew was a cleverly formed rear spoiler, the well-known duck tail. Working along side a entrance air dam, it produced rear-end downforce, decreased drag, and—one other helpful aspect impact—improved the cooling for the air-cooled flat-six hung behind the rear axle. Germany’s regulators weren’t proud of the thought, fearing any motorcyclists hitting the sharp fringe of the spoiler can be badly injured, so Porsche agreed to restrict the peak of the wing and stated manufacturing of the roadgoing model can be capped on the 500 models essential for homologation. (This latter promise was quietly forgotten; 1580 examples of the RS 2.7 have been ultimately made.)

Porsche made another, much less radical modifications too. The automotive acquired wider rear tires, bodywork created from thinner-gauge sheetmetal, and thinner glass. Sound insulation was eliminated too. The suspension was upgraded with stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars, plus new rear management arms and upgraded crossmembers. Curb weight for the totally decontented Sport model—which did with out carpeting, rear seats, a dashboard clock, or perhaps a glove compartment lid—was claimed to be simply 2116 kilos.

Engine upgrades have been extra restricted. The enlarged 2.7-liter engine used the identical valves and compression ratio as the present 2.4, however with an even bigger bore boosting capability and growing energy to a peak 207 horsepower. (Extra sizable energy will increase arrived with the primary 911 Turbo three years later.) The two.7-liter 911 was one of many quickest sports activities automobiles on the planet, with a probable conservative declare of 5.8 seconds from zero to 62 mph (we achieved 5.8 seconds to 60 mph with a lower-powered and heavier 1974 Porsche 911S Carrera) and a 152-mph high pace.

Lastly, there was the necessity to discover a identify for this range-topping model. The Carrera identify had beforehand been used for range-topping variations of different fashions, impressed by Porsche’s successes in La Carrera Panamericana within the Fifties. A younger Dutch designer known as Hurt Lagaay—who finally turned Porsche’s head of design—was given the duty of making an appropriate typographical emblem for the identify, creating the well-known silhouetted script that spanned the wheel arches on the aspect of the automotive. The RS branding got here from Renn Sport, or “racing sport,” an encapsulation of the automotive’s transient.

Taking the Wheel of a Legend

Fascinating because the RS 2.7 is on a theoretical degree, the sensible demonstration of the automotive’s skills is what’s actually particular. Persuading anyone to let you have got a go in an unique RS 2.7 goes to be tough. Costs of even a median instance of the Touring model will run nicely previous $500,000, with essentially the most cossetted and lowest mileage Sport variants stepping into seven figures. The museum truly let me drive two from its assortment, a yellow Touring and a white Sport.

Each are in immaculate situation. Driving older automobiles normally means experiencing the foibles that point has launched in addition to those they have been made with. That is not the case right here—each automobiles really feel as if they’ve slipped by means of a five-decade time portal and arrived in manufacturing unit contemporary situation. There are not any seen blemishes inside or out, and so they drive with none of the knocks or creaks that normally include age.

The RS feels tiny. The cabin is slender sufficient that the shortage of electrical home windows is not a difficulty: I can simply attain throughout to function the winder on the passenger aspect. The ground-mounted pedals really feel awkward and are positioned with a large offset between brake and fuel, one which along with the restricted legroom makes it virtually unimaginable to handle easy heel-and-toe rev matching. The unassisted steering feels low-geared in comparison with any trendy sports activities automotive however is fantastically weighted as quickly because the automotive began to maneuver and is wealthy in suggestions. The shifter for the five-speed transmission lacks the resistance and tightly corralled gates of a contemporary Porsche guide however is finger-light and correct.

Do not Drive It Too Gently

Upshifting with the deference due a museum piece made the RS initially appear underwhelming. The engine has a pleasant, metallic concord at decrease revs, but it surely lacks midrange muscle, and its apparent want to rev quickly persuaded me to push tougher. Doing so made it clear that the perfect is reserved for the very high of the rev vary, the place acceleration turns eager even by modern-century requirements because the central tach’s needle closes in on the 7200-rpm redline.

Whereas the modest grip produced by the 15-inch Pirelli Cinturato tires felt nearer to that of a Miata than the Velcro adhesion of a 992-generation 911 Carrera, the RS flags its limits clearly and encourages the motive force to attempt to discover them. The steering lightens perceptibly as front-end grip begins to fade, with the rear axle’s angle simply altered by gently easing the throttle. You may be unsurprised that I did not attempt to provoke any of the lift-off oversteer that early 911s have been notorious for, however on the sleek, dry roads there was no sense of snappiness.

Switching to the RS Touring proved that dynamic variations between the 2 automobiles are barely perceptible, but additionally that I truly most well-liked the marginally plusher automotive. Whereas the Sport’s bucket seats gripped aggressively, the Touring’s supplied much less lateral assist, however their higher flexibility allowed a helpful improve in legroom. Plus, it has a clock, and who does not wish to inform the time?

Older automobiles typically really feel like a museum piece when seen by means of the prism of recent expertise—gradual and mushy and imprecise, even when replete with the cultural associations we love them for. However the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 is a museum piece that has each large cultural resonance and a compelling driving expertise. The varied light-weight 911 derivatives which have adopted, by means of GT and RS incarnations, have been quicker and grippier. However none has possessed the importance of this early pioneer.


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