When discussing fun and exciting cars, it’s pretty easy to use superlatives to describe them. From time to time we can all get a bit carried away when laying on the accolades. But in the case of San Diego-resident Dave Kealoha’s tribute 911 to the Porsche 911 RSR of 1973, words sometimes do fall short—no matter how much you try to extol their virtues. His car is a stunning example of what can be done when a person pours their heart and soul into a project.
A few decades ago, Kealoha’s first car was a well-used Chevy Corvair that cost a paltry $150. From there, he took interest in Volkswagen’s air-cooled, rear-engined machines. As is the case with many eventual air-cooled Porsche owners, when Kealoha was looking to upgrade from his VW, he desired a sports car from Stuttgart. “Porsche had all the racing heritage back in the ’70s,” said Kealoha. “When I got my license everybody wanted one.” And he’d eventually get one just how he wanted it…even if it meant creating it himself.
Building a Dream
The orange machine you see on these pages began its life as a 1984 911 Carrera 3.2 with the M491 Turbo-Look option, which included bulging 911 Turbo (930) fenders, a massive rear spoiler, bigger brakes, and an uprated suspension. But by the time Kealoha acquired it from a friend in 2015, the Porsche had seen better days. It was in need of some serious TLC as well an interior and brakes, which had both been previously stripped. While other potential buyers may have been put off by the car’s condition, Kealoha saw this 911 as the perfect candidate to become the 1973 RSR of his dreams.
The Carrera was disassembled down to its bare shell and sent over to Abe Mena at San Diego Rod and Custom to handle some of the planned bodywork. First, the sunroof was removed and a piece of sheet metal was welded in its place. After that, Mena filled the holes for the door mirrors, front radio antenna, washer nozzles, rocker trim and fuel filler door, which was moved from the front left fender to near mid-center of the hood. He then fabricated an oil cooler panel.
“Abe also made the stock short-hood into a long-hood by fabricating a piece of steel, wrapping the edges and welding it in place,” explained Kealoha.
Next, Kealoha’s father-in-law, Benny Flores, modified the stock fenders to be the earlier, long-hood style for him. Flores also applied the gorgeous Signal Orange paint to the car. So, to a degree, the creation of Kealoha’s RSR clone was a family affair.