Persistence of Vision

A 911S 2.7 Prototype Clone

March 3, 2016
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For the sporting enthusiast, the normal progression of the privately owned Porsches is as follows: you purchase a completely street legal sports car with ride height set to pass U.S. Department of Transportation headlight requirements. You immediately lower the ride height, stiffen the suspension and upgrade the engine for increased output. All these measures prove detrimental to the car’s factory-bred comfort, real world drivability and emissions legality.

When this path of “improvement” reaches its apogee, your modified Porsche is no longer fit to be driven on the street or enjoyed in conventional usage. Hence, you relegate it to track contests requiring trailer transportation. The final step in this inevitable downhill trajectory is consignment to disuse and permanent garage status. How many temperamentally tweaked Porsches, having outgrown their intended competition role, serve as shelters for homeless mice?

By 2011, 1972 911T Serial Number 9112100753 had become one such candidate for recycling. When new, this Aubergine (Kunstharzlack 024 9-1) coupe represented a significant breakthrough for the 911 model range. With its new-for 1972 mechanically injected 2,341-cc flat-six engine producing 157 hp at 5,600 rpm and 166 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, the ’72T offered a significant 11 percent increase in torque over its 2.2-liter predecessor. In fact, it proved to be such a strong performer in Patrick Bedard’s Riverside Raceway test for Car & Driver that he stated, “The new 911T has exactly the same acceleration in the quarter mile (15.1 seconds at 91.7 mph) as the 2.0 liter 911S of 1969, and is a whole lot less fussy about the way it’s driven.”

But back in 1992, even an 11 percent bump in torque was inadequate for racing technician Craig Watkins to get excited about. He had discovered the eggplant colored coupe languishing in the want ads of the San Francisco Chronicle: “’72 911T needs clutch $4K ofr.” Back then, comparable 911s were going for $11,000, so Watkins thought the purple T presented the perfect opportunity for a track car makeover.

Way ahead of his time, Watkins had just completed an RS replica which he and I profiled in “The Poor Man’s RS” (Excellence #22, August 1990). Two decades before Porsche had a clue about the cult status their duck-tailed RS would ultimately achieve, Craig Watkins was already turning out replicas. When a friend of his, Edwin “Win” Seipp, spotted the newly acquired purple 911T, he commissioned Watkins to transform it into a club racing mount for Seipp to campaign.

The Build

Watkins pulled the motor and sent it down to FAT Performance in Orange, California, where the VW/Porsche specialists employed by Ron Fleming and Greg Aronson converted the T’s original 2.4-liter engine to 2.7-liter RS specification by retaining the stroke while increasing the bore to 90 mm. FAT dynoed their build at 220 hp. For comparison purposes, the first U.S. legal 2.7-liter 911S engine, which Porsche introduced for model year 1974, made just 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. Even the vaunted 2.7 RS motor, which was unavailable in the U.S., made 210 hp at 6,300 rpm.

Also from Issue 236

  • First Drive 2017 911 Carrera & Carrera S
  • 1955 356 Speedster-based Devin
  • Market Update: 1974-1989 911
  • Blue Chip 996 Turbo
  • Porsche Plane Engines
  • Jägermeister RSR
  • Turbocharging the 917
  • Porsche Water Cooling Systems
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