The Strenger Six

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In June 1971, documentation detailing 914-6 GT production was prepared by Porsche’s Jürgen Barth and telexed to Hoppen. The two-pager detailed 48 factory-built “GTs,” 13 of which were M471 cars (though one chassis was listed twice and one “M471” didn’t actually have the option, leaving a true 46).

Mention was also made of the 400 GT kits being sold to dealers, though Por­sche admitted there was no way to know which chassis got those kits — if they had been installed. Under­standably, the Datsun crowd balked at Porsche’s attempt to slide the GT into C Production, not only because 48 plus 400 fell south of 500, but also because of significant uncertainty involved with the GT kits. The fact that M471s had GT aesthetics but lacked the GT’s sports-purpose mechanicals probably didn’t help. The SCCA responded by elevating the 914-6 GT to the highly competitive B Production class.

Hoppen had the prescience not to put all his eggs in one basket, though, and shifted primary focus to the nascent IMSA series where Gregg and Hurley Haywood were already busy dominating the GTU championship in their orange Brumos 914-6. On the road-going front, a handful of additional M471s were produced later in 1971 and through 1972, bringing the total to 23. Thus, the 914-6 M471 remains quite rare among Por­sche’s special-optioned production cars.

On October 3, 1971 — seven weeks before Gregg and Haywood collected their IMSA championship trophies — 17-year-old Steve Gaglione drove north to the U.S. Grand Prix. Recalls Gaglione: “I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania, so I never got to see exotic cars. And there I was at Watkins Glen, seeing Ferraris and Maseratis and Lamborghinis and Porsches everywhere.”

Among all the exotics, a 914 caught his eye. It was the first he’d seen. Sub­sequently, the 914 dueled with the Lotus Europa for his attention. In March 1973, the 19-year-old and his father trekked to the nearest Lotus dealership, “…but the salesman wouldn’t sell me one. He told me, ‘This is not a car for a 19-year-old kid.’” To the Porsche dealership they went, where Gaglione ordered a 1973 914 2.0. “Funny, I’ve had eleven of them since, and that’s the only one I bought new,” he adds.

Since then, at least one 914 has al­ways occupied Gaglione’s garage. His first was sold in 1979 to make way for his first 914-6. Eight years later, he became acutely aware of the factory’s 914-6 Competition Option Group. “I was living in Atlanta at the time and I got to know George Hussey,” explains Gaglione of the Automobile Atlanta founder and 914 enthusiast. “I used to take his cars out and exercise them periodically. One time I got to drive his M471 — and I’ll never forget how much I loved the way it looked and the way it felt because of the wider stance.” In fact, he liked it so much that he didn’t take his normal route. “I drove it home to show my wife and I said, ‘We’ve gotta get one.’”

Unfortunately, only five M471s were sent to the U.S. in the early 1970s. Says Gaglione: “I wasn’t interested in a clone. It was going to be a factory car or nothing.” From the get-go, Gaglione’s passionate pursuit wasn’t going to be easy.

After a two-year search, he was able to locate all five U.S.-delivered cars. The only problem? None were for sale. “I started my own version of an M471 registry, keeping in contact with each owner and maintaining the status of each car.” He focused on one neglected example and, in 1988, began his ultimately fruitless 18-year pursuit of it. “I would call the owner a couple times a year and send letters…I even sent him annual Christmas cards.” The poem would come later.

When the pursuit reached its nadir in March 2006, Gaglione pushed the M471 to the back of his mind. But the passion was quickly reignited when, one day in early 2007, he returned home from a tennis match to find the telephone ringing. “It was George Hussey. He was talking even faster than normal, telling me something about a car that was advertised on pca.org, a factory M471 formerly owned by Erich Strenger. That part didn’t register as much as the words ‘factory M471.’”

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