Olive Tart

Also from Issue 202

  • F.A. Porsche, 1935-2012
  • 1958 550A Spyder: Badly burned car restored
  • 1984 911 Turbo: 700+ hp ethanol conversion
  • 2012 TechArt 991S: First drive
  • 1962 356 Carrera 2000 GS
  • 1970 914
  • 1982 924 Turbo
  • Smart Buy: 1984-86 Carrera
  • ACC InnoDrive: Driving an autonomous Porsche
  • Meet the man who founded IMSA
  • Hydro-Pneumatic
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I’m still thinking “race-car” when I twist the ignition key for myself.Within a couple of revolutions, the 2.9 fires up and—gasp!—settles into a smooth idle. Easing the shifter over and back to select first,

I make a mental note on how the clutch isn’t significantly heavier than a stock unit.

The flat six may idle nicely, but throttle response is lightning fast.With a lightweight flywheel, an aluminum clutch, and those titanium connecting rods, there’s no masking the 2.9’s ultra-light reciprocating assembly. This is a good thing, unless you are trying to pull away without stalling the engine or slipping the clutch mercilessly. With a couple of blips of the throttle, I get a sense for where the engine’s sweet spot and clutch take-up meet and then pull away, smooth as ’80s jazz.

The car’s lack of mass leaves an impression, as well. Every input is fed through the factory-original, thick-grip 380-mmsteering wheel with sparkling clarity.Acceleration, braking, and turn-in are quick, precise, intuitive. The more I drive, the thing that sticks out is that nothing is really sticking out. There are none of the overt characteristics you expect from what is essentially an old race car.

One example is the tires. I was looking forward to forming an opinion of the Dunlop race tires mounted on 15×7 911R Fuchs up front and wider 15-inch Minilite magnesium wheels out back. However, I’m so caught up in the glorious noise from the rally exhaust and mighty tug of the engine that I never end up giving the tires any conscious thought because they’re a non-issue. Tom will later tell me that their square edges occasionally get caught on grooves in the road.Aside from that, he says they simply do what they’re supposed to, which is provide plenty of grip.

The same holds true with the engine. The high-butterfly induction, with ports big enough to swallow small woodland creatures, shouldn’t be a tractable setup, but it is.Despite the sharp throttle response, I was expecting the usual soggy midrange And gurgling combustion under load. Wrong.With an apology to Tom, I lugged the engine below 2000 rpm, rolled into the gas, and got instantaneous response.

So, nearly four decades later, Tom has a conduit to his youth. The Olive Tart may not be a pseudo period race car, but it accurately reflects what the mechanical artists at Porsche were doing 40 years ago—and does so appropriately. There’s just something to the feel of this car.Beyond all its details, the fit and finish are spot-on without being overdone.There are no rough edges or shortcuts, yet one would never look at the car and think “garage queen.”

No, this is a car meant to be driven, and while I have driven faster early 911s, few ended up satisfying as “the complete package” like this one.But, to be absolutely sure, I think I need another hour or two behind the wheel. Tom, are you listening?

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