1967. A TIME OF WAR. A SUMMER OF LOVE. A YEAR DEEMED BY MANY as the most groundbreaking in pop culture, film, and music. Screaming Yellow Zonkers was first with a snack to feature wild pop art on its packaging. A movie called Bonnie and Clyde lit up drive-in screens, paving the way for graphic Hollywood films like The Godfather. And, when Light My Fire by L.A. rock group The Doors topped Billboard’s popularity chart, it forever changed the sound of conventional pop songs.
Far from California, in Stuttgart, Germany, more lights were burning late into the night. A young Austrian engineer named Ferdinand Piëch was pushing for an ultra-light 911 variant. Grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Piëch was the head of Porsche’s R&D department at the time, and the sleek and sexy “911R” he envisioned would eventually serve as a template for every racing 911 ever made.
The R stood for Rennen — German for Racing. The 911R would never be homologated for GT racing, though, because that would have required a production run of 500 cars — and Porsche’s sales department declined to approve production. A mere 24 911Rs were made in an exercise to find out just how light a 911 could be made. The target was 1,800 pounds.
An all-out assault was launched. Fiberglass panels were used everywhere: hood, rear decklid, bumpers, front fenders, and doors. Epoxy door handles, lightweight hinges, and rubber hood latches were chosen. Tiny indicator lights were fit in place of larger housings. Window winders and door panels were absent. Plexiglas was used instead of glass for all but the windshield, itself thinner than stock. No sound deadening, underseal, or trim was applied to the stripped bodies. Paint was minimal.
Inside, the lightest possible seats were used, the floorboards were drilled, and the bare-metal panels were painted black. An external oil filler leading to an aluminum tank just ahead of the right rear wheel was specified. Subtle flares accommodated race tires mounted on 15×6-inch Fuchs up front and wider 15×7s in the rear.
Of the 24 911Rs made, four were prototypes configured at Porsche’s experimental department, and the other 20 production models were built at the nearby Karl Baur Company. The majority of 911Rs were painted Light Ivory, although examples were made in red, orange, yellow, gold, gray, and blue. Production 911Rs weighed 1,810 pounds when completed (the prototypes were about 45 pounds lighter), and most had a Type 901/22 motor.
The 901/22 was a high-compression, twin-plug, 1991-cc flat six similar to the racing 906’s. With larger than stock valves, race cams, and a smaller fan, this powerplant had the potential to develop 210 hp at 8000 rpm thanks to 46 IDA Weber carburetors and a straight-through exhaust.