Most folks would look at an old, beat up race car like that and run in the opposite direction. English felt compelled to investigate further. “The shell was sitting on four flat tires, in primer, and covered with a thick layer of dust,” he says. “It had a 912 VIN, 458886, but the engine, transmission, interior, and glass were long gone. On closer inspection I could see where a roll bar and 911 motor had been. There was a dead pedal, a 100-liter gas tank, and 911R-style rear flares. Additional parts to be included were a pair of dusty Recaro race seats with corduroy insets, a smashed factory roll bar, a 10K tach, and 150-mph speedo. For $5,000, everything could be mine.”
Knowing the parts alone were worth more than the car’s asking price, English struck a deal and hauled everything back to his shop to begin work. Of course, he still needed an engine, a gearbox, wheels, and all the parts that make up a 911R replica. He also needed to do all the body modifications and paint the car.
English’s goal was to be done with the car in time for the R Gruppe Treffen in May 2012. Since the club was named for the 911R, it only seemed fitting. He had six months and $20,000 left.
Once he stripped all the primer off the car, English could see where the new roof, front end, and rear flares had been neatly welded in. Considering what it had been through, the body was remarkably rust free and straight. From there it was just a matter of inserting a 911R-style oil filler into the right rear quarter panel, closing up both rear fenders to accept 911R taillights, and adding the appropriate fiberglass doors, front fenders, hood, rear decklid, bumpers, and dashboard. Easy.
Fortunately, English already had several of the fiberglass pieces, having collected them at swap meets over the years. He had even traded one of his vintage surfboards for a pair of plastic 911R doors that fit perfectly. The front fenders would prove more difficult: Hard as he tried — and English has years of experience shaping fiberglass surfboards — he couldn’t get them to work. He finally resorted to grafting metal fender material into the fiberglass pieces for the surfaces and gaps to appear correct.
Fast and frugal were the project’s watchwords over the next five months. English didn’t have the budget for a 901/22 motor or a five-speed 901 with a 904 mainshaft, ZF limited-slip diff, and special gears. But he did have access to some affordable alternatives. Luckily, when he sold his 1970 911T to fund his new project, the buyer didn’t need its engine, transaxle, or wheels.
English’s 911R tribute motor would be a hopped-up, single-plug 2.2 with 911E camshafts built by Bill Adams of Burbank. 40 IDA Weber carburetors were supplied by Brian Lum, rain shields came from Greg Young, and the muffler would be a B&K with dual outlets painted gray. 160 hp was the conservative estimated power output. Joe Schneider at Schneider Autohaus in Santa Barbara had already rebuilt the five-speed 901 transaxle, and the “Deep 6” and “7R-style” 15-inch Fuchs came from Harvey Weidman of Oroville, California. Factory aluminum lug nuts were used after their ends were machined off.