It always feels faster from the passenger seat, when you’re not the one in control. So when this 911’s owner, Robert Friedman, braced himself with a stiff arm to the headliner and two feet planted firmly on the floor as I started to work my way through a tangled series of switchbacks, I asked him, “Is this too much for you?” He replied, “No, I’d go twice as fast.” Not wanting to disappoint him, I picked up the pace with a little extra throttle out of the corners.
Friedman’s car, a Carrera RS homage based on a 1969 912 chassis, responded willingly, becoming sharper with the extra velocity. Each turn of the heavy, unassisted steering resulted in clean, laser-guided arcs towards the apex, with the Bridgestone tires staying glued to the road. Roll, dive and squat are kept in check by a set of adjustable Fox shocks and Smart Racing Products anti-roll bars.
Getting on the throttle for short bursts between corners, the 3.5-liter in back had that enviable combination of low-end torque and top-end ferocity that everyone wants but not everyone has. It also had an impressive 8,000-rpm redline, which let me hold second or third gears between the corners. But it didn’t fully reveal itself until our test route stretched out onto longer straights.
On the first straight, I shifted early, just before 7,000 rpm, trying to be careful with the owner riding shotgun. Friedman, disappointed that I didn’t take it closer to redline, encouraged me to stay on it until the tach needle hit 7,500 rpm. And while the short shift at 7,000 was impressive enough, those few extra angry revs made it exponentially more exhilarating.
Shifting into third gear and hard on the throttle once again, the front end got just a smidge lighter as the rear end squatted from the weight shift and the ducktail’s downforce. Into fourth gear until around 115 mph, the suspension had a hard time keeping up with minor irregularities on the asphalt, causing the car to jiggle. Good thing, though, because we were running out of road.
You look to benchmarks when comparing cars, to get some perspective. The one car that came to mind as I wound it down from those high-speed blasts was the 996 GT3. Both cars were motivated by rev-happy powerplants that felt best near redline and had an uncanny smoothness and precision about them. And both cars were suspended on taught underpinnings that focused on getting the most out of the contact patch, not concerned about whether it would spill your coffee over taller bumps. They were also both Spartan and unencumbered by dead weight.
As I made the comparison in my head, Friedman told me that his car had a comparable power-to-weight ratio as his 2004 GT3. Some quick math later would prove him partially right. This Carrera RS clone has a power-to-weight ratio of 7.1 lb/hp (2,385 lb/330 hp), which is better than his GT3, which calculates out to 8.1 lb /hp (3,050 lb/375 hp).