In 2013, San Diego enthusiast Ed Muscat searched for his next Porsche project on Craigslist. As he scanned the local listings, his interest was piqued by an ad titled: “’74 Porsche 911 Euro Carrera.” The body of the listing read, “911/83 MFI project car. Car number 126 of 1026 with 37,000 original miles.”
Muscat admits he is no Porsche historian. When he moved to San Diego in the ’80s, he was amazed at the number of European cars he saw on the road. That led him to search for and buy his first Porsche, a red 944. That front-engine coupe handled beautifully and was pretty quick, but Muscat soon traded it for a 911. He went on to own several more air-cooled 911s and was always on the hunt for projects. That’s how the Craigslist search turned up the car you see here.
“I didn’t have a clue what that meant,” admits Muscat about the “126 of 1026” description. “But it sounded special.” The car was located in nearby Murietta Hot Springs, California. Although Muscat hadn’t committed to buy the Porsche, he hooked his trailer to the back of his truck…just in case. He and his wife Michelle arrived at a nice house with a not-so-nice Porsche in the driveway.
“The car was clean and was ready to show,” Muscat recalls. Clean being a relative term, of course, if you don’t take into account fire damage, severe rust, and extensive modifications. Upon closer inspection, it was evident that the mid-year 911 had experienced a pretty rough period in its life.
When it left Stuttgart sometime in late 1973, the Carrera was one of the most elite cars you could purchase. Now it had been relegated to life as a torched lawn ornament. At some point, the bodywork had been modified with wider 930-gen 911 Turbo fender flares on all four corners. A poorly done black respray covered the original Grand Prix White paint.
“Years earlier, it had a minor engine fire that melted all of the plastics on the motor,” says Muscat. The heat from the fire had also melted the rear window and warped the left rear quarter panel and even the metal under the rear jump seats. Its owner parked the car in his parent’s backyard under a tarp, where it sat for many years. The interior was shot, and moisture had begun eating into the Porsche’s metalwork.
It was a sad sight to behold, a fact that was corroborated by Muscat’s wife, who failed to see much potential in the pile of flaking paint and scorched and corroded sheet metal. But Ed was undeterred and began negotiating with the seller. Then, his wife politely asked him to step to the side of their trailer to talk in private.
“Michelle said, ‘I thought you said you were not going to buy any more junk?” recalls Muscat. He couldn’t argue with her logic, so he resorted to being blunt. “I responded, ‘There is something different about this car.’” He wasn’t wrong. Though he may not have realized it at the time, this Porsche was a rare impact-bumper 911 variant commonly referred to as a European Carrera.
Euro Carrera Background
In 1974, Porsche had introduced the G-body 911, which featured distinctive-looking impact bumpers and a shorter front hood than the previous long-hood 911s, a stronger bodyshell, revised lighting, and other updates. The design and engineering changes were mainly due to more rigorous U.S. crash safety standards. At the same time, more stringent U.S. emissions laws were being rolled out, which in turn influenced—not for the better—the flat-six that powered this new breed of 911s.
Carreras delivered to the States in 1974 were powered by the same CIS (Continuous Injection System) fuel-injected, 150-horsepower 2.7-liter flat-six found in that year’s 911S, rendering them Carreras mostly in name. However, these cars still got flared rear fenders and a ducktail spoiler.
The 1974 Carreras sold outside of the U.S., on the other hand, were powered by the same 2.7-liter engines found in the tremendous 1973 911 2.7 Carrera RS. That Type 911/83 engine pumped out 210 horsepower and was fed fuel with cutting-edge MFI (mechanical fuel injection) from Bosch. Like the ’73 RS, the ’74 Carrera featured 15 × 7-inch Fuchs wheels in front and flared rear fenders to accommodate 15 × 8-inch rear Fuchs alloys. It also got the ’73’s ducktail rear spoiler. The Euro Carreras were strong performers in their day, running the zero-to-60 mph dash in 5.5 seconds. Handling was improved thanks to 20-mm (0.8 in.) front and 18-mm (0.7 in.) rear anti-roll bars paired with Bilstein Sport dampers.
These European-spec Carreras are rare beasts. Only 1,026 were produced in coupe form, making them rarer than the benchmark, 1,590-built 1973 RS, which commands a sizable price premium despite sharing the same drivetrain. As unlikely as it seemed, Muscat had found one during a casual Craigslist search.
Shortly after purchasing the Carrera, Muscat talked to Sean Steele, the owner of Autobahn Dismantlers, specialists in Porsches and BMWs.
“I told him what I had bought and what the ad said,” recalls Muscat. “Sean asked for the serial number…then he freaked out. Within a week, I had numerous calls from people wanting to buy the car.” Muscat considered selling it, but then changed his mind and decided to restore the car. He admits he was unaware of the extent of the work it would take to restore the car at the time. But as the old saying goes, ignorance is bliss.
Muscat decided to tackle the bodywork first because of the car’s extensive fire damage and rust, so the 911 was handed over to a shop he was familiar with. Eventually, it became apparent that the shop was in over its head with the project, even after a couple of years had passed and a large amount of money had been spent. Needless to say, Muscat was feeling deflated and more than a little despondent about the seeming never-ending restoration. Around the same time, he met Bill Follmer, the nephew of legendary racer George Follmer.
“I had heard good things about Bill and the builds he did,” says Muscat, so he visited Follmer’s small Orange County garage. “Upon arrival, my jaw dropped. He had just received a blue 911 back from his painter, and the quality of the work was stunning!” He left Follmer’s shop and went straight to the other body shop to retrieve his stalled Carrera project.
Any Euro Carrera is considered a high-water mark for impact bumper 911s, but the early ones like Muscat’s are rarer. For the 1973 RS’s wider rear fenders, Porsche had hand-welded the flares to each side of the car. While this was an effective method to fit wider wheels and tires, welding on each flare by hand was not very efficient.
Follmer explains that this technique was carried over for a handful of 1974 Carreras before Porsche realized welding on each fender flare took too much time, so they switched to stamped quarter panels that integrate the fender flare. The change in manufacturing technique also accompanied a styling change. While the ’73 RS flares have a more rounded shoulder, the flare design was refined early in the 1974-model year Carreras and carried on through 911 3.0 SC and the later 3.2 Carrera production.
Due to the extensive rust and body damage, fully restoring Muscat’s car meant it had to be stripped down to its unibody. This was done by Andy Elsener in Huntington Beach. The rear quarters, sheet metal under the back seats, and parcel shelf were all cut out for replacement. The chassis was bolted to a rotisserie to prevent deforming during this process. Though the first shop had welded on new fender flares, these were removed along with both rear quarter panels. New sheet metal was sourced along with factory RS fender flares, which were then butt-welded in place.
During the restoration, Follmer says he came across many reinforcements unique to these very early impact bumper Carreras that were a carry-over from the 1973 Carrera RSs.
“One of the interesting things about this car was that it had a lot of factory welded gussets that did not come on any of the U.S. cars,” says Follmer. He cites reinforcements in the shift tunnel near the shifter assembly and additional steel welded to the rear bulkhead. Another thing he has never seen on other Carreras was the torsion tube in the back welded to the chassis for added rigidity.
With the rust removed and the rotten metal replaced, the Carrera was delivered to East Auto Body, where it was painted in its original shade of Grand Prix White.
“While the car was there, they were working on another ’74 Carrera that was more original, so we were able to use that car as a reference,” says Follmer.
According to our feature car’s records, it was originally delivered to Porsche’s distributor in Italy. Follmer says that explains why it came with clear parking lights and taillight lenses. Follmer thinks the Carrera was imported to the U.S. in the 1980s.
According to the car’s Certificate of Authenticity, the interior had been finished in the relatively rare color known as Blue Black, a shade that, as the name implies, looks black in some light and blue in others. So Follmer visited his friend Tony Garcia at Autobahn Interiors to hunt for the rare leather.
“He had just enough Blue Black leather to re-cover the front seats, dash, and door panels,” says Follmer. He also supplied the carpeting in the same shade. In a concession to originality, Muscat decided to delete the rear seats and finish the area behind the front seats in the same manner as a 1973 Carrera RS Lightweight. Follmer adds with a chuckle that the modifications drive purists nuts.
Perhaps the most incredible thing about these early impact bumper Carreras was the engine and transmission from the ’73 RS. Luckily this example’s driveline was still largely intact, though the fire hadn’t done it any favors. The flames had destroyed the original intake stacks and all the components made of rubber or plastic. Even the magnesium throttle bodies had turned to dust.
“Fortunately for us, the MFI pump was good, and we found some throttle bodies and a set of NOS stacks,” says Follmer. AASE Motors in Fullerton was enlisted to rebuild the engine and transmission. Once the drivetrain was carefully bolted into the freshly restored chassis, AASE Motors fine-tuned the whole setup.
As originally equipped, the Carrera rolled on ubiquitous Fuchs alloys in the same staggered 15 × 7 and 15 × 8-inch fitment made famous by the ’73 RS. Unfortunately, the original wheels were long gone, so a used set of alloys were sourced and restored by Ed McNamee of Fuchs Restoration in Silverado, California. The freshened rollers were then fitted with Pirelli P-Zero tires.
Drive & Verdict
As expected, this Carrera presents like a virtually brand-new car from stem to stern thanks to its thorough and painstaking rebuild. What sets this 911 apart from later cars is the 2.7-liter RS engine and the ultra-responsive mechanical fuel injection. With 210 horsepower, it has a bit more grunt
than the 1984 to 1989 3.2-liter Carreras, which put out about 207 horsepower. But the most significant advantage this early Carrera has is that it weighs a few hundred pounds less.
This Carrera’s acceleration is very strong, with its RS flat-six letting out a hard-edged howl throughout the power band. Its handling is relatively flat, but its ride remains comfortable and supple, thanks to the generous sidewalls of the tires. Overall this machine is more lively, responsive, and more fun to drive than any stock Carrera 3.2 I’ve driven. It’s a sentiment that Muscat agrees with. He’s happily breaking the car in after a long journey to get it to where it is now.
“It’s as fast as a ’73 RS and lighter than the ’73 RS Touring,” he enthuses. “Needless to say, after a very long road getting here, I’m a happy guy. The finished car is a blast to drive. And it’s kind of a sleeper, too.”