The latter group bemoaned the perception that the 911 had become too much of a luxury GT and had drifted from its lightweight, high-performance roots. Following the Loudon event, Elford sent a note to Brian Bowler (head of PCNA prior to Schwab) noting the feedback. Bowler asked Elford to draw up a proposal for a no-frills version of the 911.
Elford’s original specification eliminated much electric equipment: sunroof, windows, mirrors, speed-actuated rear spoiler, air conditioning, high-end stereo. In an effort to save weight, he also proposed elimination of the “unnecessary” rear seats and sound insulation and the substitution of simpler interior door panels. On the other side of the equation, his spec keyed on several performance-oriented items: 17-inch wheels, M030 sports suspension (same as the Turbo’s standard suspension) and a return to the fixed, and recently discarded, Carrera 3.2 tail.
With the purpose of improving on-road feedback to the driver, Elford suggested the elimination of power steering. He consulted with Hartmut Kristen (today the head of Porsche Motorsports, then director of Marketing at PCNA) throughout this process before sending the completed proposal to Bowler, who forwarded it to Porsche AG.
Upon receiving it, the factory engineers noted a couple issues which centered on U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. Dashboard padding requirements made it impossible to fit manual window cranks, and the absence of a rear seat would not be permitted if there was any possibility of people sitting there with no safety restraints. Thus, electric windows could be retained, and simple storage bins could be devised for the area that formerly held the rear seats. Beyond that, response from Germany was positive, and the project was ultimately green-lighted.
During model years 1993 and 1994, 701 RS Americas were produced. Most of the 84 1994 models differed from 1993 models only by the inclusion of rear seats. True to its “simpler is better” objective, just four options were available (versus four dozen for a standard 964): limited-slip differential, air-conditioning, sunroof, and radio/cassette player. Also, the RS America was offered in only five colors: Black, Silver Metallic, Grand Prix White, Guards Red, and Midnight Blue Metallic. Or, like the first owner of Verlaque’s car, the buyer could specify color-to-sample.
Three days after our Latigo Canyon run, Verlaque and I meet near Valley Center in San Diego County for a photo shoot of his immaculate 964. He suggests I move my camera equipment to the RS America for a short drive to the “pretty stuff.” I oblige. Soon, he’s hustling the yellow coupe up Couser Canyon Road with me as passenger.
The presence of a Hot Lap Timer, harness bar, and Recaro SPD seats are not always indicative of driver aptitude. In this case, they are: Verlaque’s smooth but quick inputs and adept car control allow me to concentrate on potential photo locations rather than obsess about the cliff to my right. He’s happily amenable to my needs, but it’s clear he has a side agenda. Asserting Couser Canyon is among the top five roads in the San Diego area, he implores, “You really must drive this road on the way back.” Again, who am I to argue?
“Everyone in this area who likes to drive knows this road. We’ve done PCA tour drives here,” Verlaque continues as I slide behind the wheel. He quickly adds that varied skill levels of club members means that four-tenths of maximum pace is the rule for those events.