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Thread: U Can't Make Up History

  1. #1

    U Can't Make Up History

    I've recently had a bit o correspondence with one of the Registry members....In my missive I made a comment on some recently published pictures of some 356 Speedsters, and my fondness there of. I said that while a 911 will kill a 356, it isn't just about speed but style....and how you get there is as important as how fast

    I further said that in many of my threads I have harped on that very subject, and have ragged on the R Gruppe boyz, because it seems that all they are interested in is speed. They tend to forget the qualitative aspect of the ride. They tend to forget they are driving a piece of automotive history.

    That one thing an R Gruppe clone can never a piece of simply did not exist in time... It has no glory of it's own.
    Master of the Buffet

    Voice of Reasoned Conservatism

  2. #2
    this post opens a can of worm: what is the general feel of the regulars here about the R Gruppe concept?

  3. #3
    OK, I'll bite.

    I prefer original vintage cars, such as my 1950 split window VW. Yet I have a soon-to-be 3.0 liter 1970 911E. It's lowered more than usual, and has the deco trim removed. Othwise, it's stock and I won't do anything to the car that's isn't easily reversible. I bought the car with the trim mods, and at first I wanted to restore it back. Then, I got to like the look. I have a feeling I'm going to like the new engine, too.

    I generally have no problem with the RGruppe concept, but it does pain me to see a 911S modified too much, with fender flares, etc. Just as there are zoning regulations when building a house, maybe there should be regulations on modifying an early P-car, or any vintage car for that matter. Only a rust bucket S can be modified, and for a T, anything goes. Who wants to be the first to sign up for the P-car "mod" squad?
    '66 912
    '50 VW Bug
    '89 VW syncro Tristar Doka
    '83 VW Westfalia

  4. #4
    An Rgruppe style mod. is usually "period correct" and/or is something that the owner thinks would be the way the 911 might have evolved if newer technology is used.

    I don't like to see an S hacked up. But I have no problem with modifying my T.

    The real question is who owns the car? Does the public have a property interest in rare cars? We generally feel -- as a society -- that great and rare works of art belong, in some sense, in the public domain. To me, a rare car qualifies also.

  5. #5
    I don't often click on the Tabs posts. But this one asks a legitimate question.

    First off, to Tabs' specific jab at the R Gruppe: R Gruppe members are hardly interested in speed. We'd all buy modified Supras, Vipers, or classic American muscle cars if that were the case. By any contemporary yardstick, the cars in R Gruppe (mine included) are pretty slow. They're six-cylinder cars, after all.

    But to the broader question of what should be done with the surviving 1965-1973 911's? Well, there are obviously no rules, only opinions. At the two extremes, you'd have a meticulous restoration/preservation project that sits in a museum, and is never driven, or -- on the other end -- a tub that's hacked up and covered in fiberglass in order to run as a full-tilt lightweight track car, right up until the moment it's thrown into a wall, destroyed, and replaced with another early shell.

    And of course, there's also everything in between.

    Which is better? No one can say. If you asked the engineers who designed the cars, I'm sure they'd lean toward the use of the cars, rather than static preservation. Oil paintings are designed as museum pieces. Porsches are designed to be driven.

    And they're a hell of a lot of fun to drive.

    And viewed against the whole canvas of automotive history, early 911's honestly aren't all that rare or all that special. They were originally configured as the result of a whole bundle of different compromises. They had to be sold to rich people (and worse, Americans ), who demanded all sorts of luxury add-ons, right from the get-go. They had to be de-tuned in order to meet emissions and sound restrictions, and also to create a multi-tiered product line -- since most consumers weren't interested in paying for the best of what the engineers could come up with. (If you judge history by what the people chose to pay for, the 912 would be at the top of the 911 pyramid.)

    There's really nothing more to history than how the Present chooses to interpret it. Personally, I'd say that the early 911 is best defined as a road-going sports car that is also comfortable (and capable) on a racetrack. To me, this seems to be what its creators had in mind (although I'm sure others would offer a number of different opinions than this). The 911 is not the most beautiful car ever made. It's not the most technologically brilliant car ever made. It's not even (with the exception of models like the S and RS) particularly rare.

    Did anyone at Porsche intend for the cars to be preserved, forever, as they left the factory? The special models made for particular members of the Porsche family and company executives were rarely pristine examples of anything. They had pieces from every different different bin (sometimes not very tastefully put together, even). And the factory itself eagerly updated and modified cars for favored customers from the moment the 911 started production. The designers kept updating the design of the 911 itself, as materials and technology advanced, for over 40 years. This was partly because they are a company that needs to keep up with progress and improve on its product. But I don't think the engineers at Porsche would have been happier if they stopped the improvements in 1965, and simply banged out thousands more of one 'perfect, historically accurate' model.

    In the same vein, many R Gruppe members work to improve on the shortcomings of what came out of the factory -- just as the factory did back in the day. The compromises required by legislation and market realities in the sixties and seventies don't make these cars more appealing to us, today. Just the opposite. We like the design, the nimbleness, and the 'sense of purpose' of the cars.

    And R Gruppe members generally even stick to period-correct modifications, which allows them to savor the 'style' (as you call it) of the early cars, even as they tear around the countryside in them. If speed were the priority, we'd all be fixated on 930 models (if we paid any attention to Porsches at all).

    Some R Gruppe members utilize technology that came after the F series cars. Is running a later model's air-cooled flat six substantially different than running one with the displacement of the era? For some of us, the answer is no. If the engineers at Porsche in 1973 had access to a warehouse filled with air-cooled 3.8-liter electronically-fuel-injected race motors, would they have wanted to drop them into any of their shells? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious.

    I love seeing perfectly-preserved early 911's. It's hard not to get excited about the amount of work and dedication that goes into those kinds of projects. I'm blown away by some of the R Gruppe preservation pieces.

    But call me crazy -- I also like seeing a heavily-modified 1969 911 beating up on late-model Vipers in a race out at Willow Springs.

    Is one better than the other? I don't think so.

    If you offered to use a time machine to take the sixties-era employees of Porsche forward to the year 2004, and gave them the choice of going to see Mike Gagen race at the California Festival of Speed or to see the 901 prototype sitting at the Petersen Museum, I'm sure you'd get takers for each option -- but a lot more would want to see their car out on the track.

    I don't know where you find the 'glory' in frozen moments in history, frankly. I personally care more about the great cars history has made available to us. What we do with those cars (and for that matter, what we do with history) is up to us.

  6. #6

    I'm on the fence

    how I resolve the issue is to buy two cars. I try to keep one original and I try to squeeze every ounce of performance from the other.

    example, I have a 71 911e targa that I'd like original, but my 70 911t coupe is getting all the mods I desire.

    similarly my 1973 bmw 2002tii I try not to modify, so I got a 72 bmw that is really modified and surprisingly FAST and agile.

    paul schuster
    santa cruz

  7. #7
    Time Bandit Jens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003


    Thanks Jack.

    Zitronengelb R1012 the RatBasterd
    RGruppe #183

  8. #8
    basicly... I tend to lean toward preference of seeing any car that has lasted 20-30+ years having everything done to it that would allow it to survive if possible.... strip it down... treat all the rust... add special coatings that didnt exist back then... and put it all back together... major changes to the body isnt what I really wanna see... except for some minor trim changes... so in the case of porsche... say add a whale tail.. no whale tail..whatever floats your boat... but when you start changing things to put things on the car that are more then a few years out of being "correct" and never was an option until say 10 years later or something I tend not to like seeing that... dont want to see anything chopped out of the car either...

    I'm more ok though with if you wanna rip out the old motor and stick a bigger one in it from a later year... well by all means go for it... but people that do evil things like stick a standard VW motor in a old 911 cuz they "cant afford a real porsche engine" or something like that is pretty sad... I saw a 911 drive by the other day and it didnt sound right.... it sounds like an old beetle it was depressing...

  9. #9
    I think the different views expressed so far shows that the approaches to these old cars are multi-faceted...some like them original, some tricked out.
    But overall i get the sense that we all like them to be driven.

  10. #10
    Damn Jack, that was almost poetic! I think that factory history is ripe with examples of 'scrounging the parts bin' from one model to improve another, particularly for at the track. I think that modifications are certainly with the spirit of Porsche history, even if they aren't 'on the Kardex'. It's all about taste, which is purely subjective. Frankly, its the richness of the choices, and the uniqueness of what you can create with these cars that keeps me interested and motivated.

    Tabs - you're still on my ignore list, but this one was good and constructive. Well done.
    Chris Purpura @civilizedmisfit
    Member #479
    Current Cars:
    1972 911T aka The "Civilized Misfit" Build
    Miss February - EarlySRegistry 2023 Calendar
    1968 911S Ossi Blau/Beige Corduroy

    Past Cars:
    2019 911 Carrera GTS (sold, no regrets)
    73S - #1100 (restored and now somewhere in Europe)
    1997 993 Carrera 4S Black on Black (sold)

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