“I decided to stick with the Koni front suspension and 911 brakes,” he says of the mechanicals. “Also, the car had the 7 and 8 by 15 wheels, which is exactly what the GTs used. That’s one modification I really like, not only the look but the way the car handles with wider tires.”
Gaglione had the car repainted at Mirek’s European Auto in Oldsmar, Florida. Adding the distinguishing front, rear, and side stripes to the new tangerine/blood orange paint was a difficult decision. “After contacting Ursula Strenger and Paul Ernst Strähle, however, there could be only one choice,” says Gaglione. Both confirmed that the car with the stripes in archive photographs was the one Gaglione purchased — the “Strenger GT.” Adding the stripes back to the car would approximate, at least visually, the state it was in during the filming of the Nürburgring commercial, the way the car looked when Strenger first purchased it.
A month after taking delivery of 0233, Gaglione received an email from 914 expert Wolfgang Scheicher in Austria, notifying him that the car’s original engine — 6410162 — was for sale on German eBay. Gaglione hurriedly sent an email to the German engine builder who listed the freshly rebuilt flat six, only to learn that he had agreed to sell it to a valued customer who also owned a 914-6 M471. The customer needed the engine for an upcoming car club event, and there was insufficient time to build another.
Still, Gaglione offered the customer a deal: “I told him to go ahead and install it and enjoy it until a new engine was ready — and I would pay all related expenses to have the new engine installed in his car, pay him substantially more than he paid for ‘my’ engine and pay to have (6410162) shipped to the U.S.”
Then, tragedy struck: A few months later, the two men were killed in Finland while rally training on ice, a two-car incident that also claimed the 914-6 M471 and its powerplant. “It was a devastating thing to read that they were both killed. So sad,” laments Gaglione.
Today, he’s philosophical about the engine in the 914: “It’s the engine that Erich evidently wanted in the car, so I’m going to take it forward that way. It’s part of the history. Someday I’ll take it apart, find out what it really is, rebuild it, and put it back in the car.”
Driving the streets outside Tampa, what’s immediately clear is that it’s not a stock 125-hp 901/38. It clearly puts more power down than that, delivering it in a strikingly linear manner that evokes the 2.2- and 2.4-liter 911E-spec sixes. The car is beautifully balanced on its Koni suspension, precise up front and surprisingly taut; there’s little sense of tipping during aggressive cornering. Considering the car’s age, its chassis remains remarkably flat on its widened stance through braking, transition to throttle, and corner exit.
“I always dreamed about having a very rare Porsche,” says Gaglione after our drive. “I saw the M471 — which hadn’t really been discovered by the masses back in the late 1980s — as my opportunity. Back then, we were talking maybe $30,000. And for a car that only 23 were made, that was a very reasonable price — it was something that I could afford. (Now) the car is not for sale at any price. It has nothing to do with money. It has to do with the passion for the car.”
When it’s pointed out that his 19-year pursuit yielded a “better” car than the one he eyed for 18 of those years, Gaglione smiles. “If I had the two sitting side-by-side, both finished, which one would I choose? By far, I’d take the Strenger car. I’m just so proud and happy with the history of it. For me to own a piece of that, it’s icing on the cake.” And certainly worthy of a few well-thought-out rhymes.