The Strenger Six

A rare M471-optioned 914-6.

May 20, 2010

Also from Issue 184

  • 997-2 Turbo hits 60 mph in 2.6 sec.
  • Stunning restoration of a '53 356 cabrio
  • Chatting with Tony Lapine, father of 928
  • Three great used Porsches for $12,000
  • First race for GT3 R & GT3 R Hybrid
  • 911 Carrera 3.2 Club Racer
  • 944 Header Installation
  • Modified track/street 964 Carrera 2
  • 911 SC Tales of Woe
  • M96 IMS failures and fixes, Part 2
  • Market Update: 1974–89 911s
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Strong passions sometimes lead us in strange directions. Some­times, the result is an action we later wish we could undo — like the pimply-faced sophomore who, in crackling falsetto, professes his love for the head cheerleader in front of the whole school. Sometimes, the result is an action that society deems eccentric, like the woman with the “My Poodle is Smarter than Your Honor Student” bumper sticker, whose pup rides on her lap, its perfectly-coiffed pompadour blowing in the wind. And sometimes, the result is a little of both: Steve Gaglione wrote a poem to a car.

Nine stanzas, four lines each, nice cadence, meticulously rhymed in a-b-a-b format. He attached it to a box of Godiva chocolates and sent them both to the car’s owner. To be fair, it wasn’t just any car he was writing poetry to. It wasn’t just any Porsche, either.

“I finally lost touch with reality,” admits Gaglione of his then-eight-year attempt to purchase a neglected 914-6 M471. “My delusional theory was to do something outrageous to get (the owner) to think about the car and how much I wanted to save it.”

It didn’t work. The car remained partially disassembled, pushed to the back corner of a warehouse. Gaglione was at wit’s end; three years earlier, he thought he had an agreement to buy it. “I even advertised my 7,000-mile 1985 Carrera and sold it to the first person that called.” A few days later, he was on a plane, cashier’s check in hand to purchase the 914-6 at the agreed price. “I presented the owner with the check only to hear, ‘Steve, I’ve changed my mind. I have decided not to sell the car.’”

After the subsequent failed attempt at purchase-through-poetry, it would be another decade before Gaglione made one final attempt to acquire that Porsche. “I sat in my living room thinking, Should I call him? Of course, to my regret, I made the call, and he didn’t even remember who I was! I knew right then the car would never be mine, and I hung up wondering if he was laughing at me.”

That was March 2006, and after 18 years, his quest to own one of 23 factory-optioned M471 914-6s seemed to have reached a dead end. However, patience and perseverance are often rewarded in surprising ways. Almost a year to the day later, a more desirable M471 was delivered to Gaglione’s Tampa home — an M471 with a unique and significant history.

Soon after the late-1969 introduction of the 914, Por­sche put the mid-engined sports car on the track. In North America, Por­sche+Audi Com­petition Manager Jo Hoppen successfully lobbied for the approval of the 914-6 in SCCA’s C Pro­duction class for 1970. Factory backing of some significant talent — including Brumos’ Peter Gregg — led to victories and other podium finishes.

Overall, though, the results were mixed. So for 1971, Hoppen pushed to allow the 914-6 GT to race. A factory-developed race car, the box-flared GT had proved its mettle a year prior in Euro­pean rally and endurance competition, and Hop­pen wanted to take it into battle against the powerful Datsun 240Z contingent that dominated the 1970 SCCA Nationals.

The SCCA’s production requirement of 500 units was a wet blanket on his plan, as only a couple dozen GTs had been built. A plan was hatched to utilize the Com­petition Option Group M471 to help approve the 914-6 GT for C Produc­tion. The M471 added some visual cues of the GT (though none of its mechanical upgrades) including steel fender flares along with matching flared rocker panels and front valance. Also included were 21-mm wheel spacers front and rear and six-inch Fuchs wheels with 185/70VR15 tires. Further, dealer-available kits to convert any 914-6 to near-GT spec were to be used to buttress the C Production claim.

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