The 911 Carrera Club Sport was Porsche’s attempt at rolling back the years and once again, stoking the fires of high performance, lightweight motoring. Porsche Road & Race pulls back the covers to reveal the origins of the 911 Carrera CS.
Originally created on the core building blocks of lightweight, high performance and superb engineering quality, the early 356 model did much to establish the Porsche name back in the early 1950s. With the introduction of the 911 model in 1963, however, this newcomer was without a top performer in the range and it would be another ten years before the legendary 911 Carrera RS 2.7 would break cover.
Membership of the exclusive ‘RS’ club would initially be limited to just 500 lucky buyers made up of both racing drivers as well as sports driving enthusiasts, but when the Stuttgart sales boys saw how popular the RS 2.7 was, production was quickly doubled and then trebled. The Carrera RS 3.0 followed in 1974 but apart from the Turbo a year later, there was little else to quicken pulse until the arrival of the SC/RS in 1984, but only twenty of this latter, highly sought-after model, were produced.
However, behind the scenes, work had begun on a model (M637) in the autumn of 1984 that would see Porsche returning to its lightweight roots with the 911 family. The final production car, namely the 1987 Carrera Club Sport would serve as the model on which future amateur racing versions of the 911 would be based.
The 1987 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show was significant for Porsche in that the 911 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the model’s introduction, and what better way to mark the occasion than with the launch of a new variant, the 911 Carrera Club Sport, or CS as it would be known. Based on the principle of ‘less is more’, the CS had the same price tag as its standard Carrera sibling, namely DM80,500 which was something only the Porsche sales department could explain. The Club Sport was basically the same car mechanically as the Carrera but it offered fewer comforts and a greater driving experience but with better acceleration than the standard car.
As is common in the automotive industry, following its introduction, a model is routinely increasingly fitted with more equipment and driver comforts. The vehicle usually grows dimensionally and becomes heavier as a result because of the additional features such as air conditioning, electric seats, electric windows and exterior mirrors, and much more. The CS was an attempt to ditch many of these creature comforts, and in so doing create a 911 that could be used with a reasonable degree of competitiveness on club track days or as an everyday runner without incurring the harsh ride of a hardcore racer.
“You know what it was built for don’t you?” prompted Mark Sumpter, Porsche racing driver and dealer. “At the time, it was actually built for club sport racing, so they didn’t market it much because they weren’t looking to sell it as a model in the  model range,” he added.
Not wanting to go for the full Weissach-built RSR racer and entering in high-profile demanding events such as the 24-Hours of Le Mans and other similar international events, some amateur motor racing enthusiasts wanted rather to participate in club races in a vehicle that did not require the professional skills of a fulltime racing driver, nor the high costs associated with that level of racing. It didn’t take much head-scratching in Stuttgart to come up with the same successful recipe that they cooked up each time the factory wanted to customise a 911 for competition, and so the engineers put the standard Carrera 3.2 on a strict diet.
The starting point was the reliable 3.2 boxer engine, as Sumpter explains, “They actually lifted the rev limit by 500rpm, and you could also opt for a blueprinted engine, which wasn’t offered as standard. The engine wasn’t any different at all mechanically. It was a sort of lightweight model, a stripped-out car, but it wasn’t massively special on spec.”
Porsche stripped out certain components such window winders and even removed the rear seats. But as Sumpter points out, “Some of the stuff they did was a bit odd, for instance they took the passenger sun visor out but left a full-size battery and a metal bonnet and wings, as well as the heavy bumpers. They even left in the standard radio.”
911 Carrera RS 2.7 and Carrera CS production:
|Model||Production 1973||Production 1987-89|
|Carrera RS 2.7 – M471||217*|
|Carrera RS 2.7 – M472||1308|
|Carrera Club Sport 3.2||190|
*figure includes homologation vehicles
Of the total 911 CS cars produced, 54 right hand drive cars came to the UK, all of which were painted white with red lettering. All except one, that is, which was painted in the reverse being all red with white lettering. In order to retain the CS’s street character, the model was offered in all the standard colours available on the 911 (including optional colours), but in reality, most CS models were painted white. Due to the fact that the CS had lost its underfloor protective coating, the model was offered with a reduced two-year warranty against body corrosion.
Oddly enough, the 911 CS was fitted with 6J wheels at the front with 8J on the rear (same as the standard Carrera), while the 911 SC/RS which predated the CS came fitted with 7J/8J wheels front/rear, further confirming this CS model as a lightly modified standard car. Based on the standard 3.2 Carrera and built on the 911 production line in Stuttgart, the CS was aimed at the motor sport-minded enthusiast and was constructed in such a way that it would make a perfectly capable track day car.
Porsche had no intention of homologating this model for racing, but the 911 Carrera CS did usher in one very welcome mechanical improvement, the new G50 short-shift, close-ratio gearbox. Club Sport owner and racing driver instructor Mike Wilds said, “All I can say is that it is one of the sweetest cars that I have driven, and I certainly would never ever sell it.”
The difference in weight between the Carrera Club Sport and the standard Carrera 3.2, is just 50kg. Introduced in August 1984, the Carrera weighed in at 1160kg but by 1987 the standard car had grown to 1210kg. But as Sumpter says, “By the late ‘80s the 3.2 Carrera was not amazingly fast so to take out 50kg didn’t make it much faster, so I don’t think Porsche ever marketed this model as the ultimate [lightweight] car.”
Comparing the Club Sport with the 1973 Carrera RS 2.7, its lightweight ancestor, it would only be fair to consider the markets and the year of introduction for each car. Fourteen years separate the two models, but it may just as well be a whole lifetime as the Carrera RS came into the world offering 210bhp, 155mph and at around 1000kg it had race car-like performance that no other manufacturer could match at the time. Despite the bigger engine and almost a decade and half more technology, the power-to-weight ratio of the ’73 RS (78.2hp/l) was still more than the ’87 Club Sport (73.0hp/l).
“The RS was a pure homologation race car, it was a special car with lightweight glass with thinner panels. It was really, really special. And I think another clue with these cars is, if it is homologated to go racing that’s one thing, but with the Club Sport that is pretty much what it is, it is for club racers to go racing. No-one ever entered a Club Sport in a famous race, so there is no famous Club Sport,” Sumpter pointed out.
Looking into why they decided to produce the Club Sport in the first place, it would appear that Porsche were ‘nagged’ into producing a lightweight version of the 911 for those who wanted ‘to do a few Nürburgring and Spa events’. Track days as we know them today had not yet caught on in the Eighties, but Stuttgart must have detected a desire within 911 enthusiast circles to produce the lightweight CS model. But as Sumpter added, “They could have gone a step further if they had wanted to and taken another 150kg off and added 20-30bhp, and then I think the CS would have been a little bit more special.”
What’s in a name?
Well, frankly, a lot. But as names are translated from one language to another, over time some of the original intention is lost. In the same way, the 911 Carrera Club Sport has also suffered from different interpretations and some German publications spell the name as one word, Clubsport. However, the correct form is two words, Club Sport.
For Mike Wilds, his introduction to Porsche could not have been more ‘real’. Still in his early 20s, Mike was trying to cut a path in the highly competitive world of motor racing, and as a competitor in the Targa Florio in the late-Sixties, he was offered a ride in a Porsche 911 – the driver, none other than Porsche factory driver, Jo Siffert. Wilds picks up the story, “Jo had a company car from Porsche which was a 911 and after having had a ride in the car, it made such an impression on me that it became an ambition to own a 911.”
Wilds had another close encounter with a 911, “I was racing in 1972 in Formula 3 and Lord Hesketh had a 2.7 RS which he used to let James Hunt drive around in. I was racing down at Paul Ricard at the first ever French Grand Prix at that circuit, and James gave me a lift back to the hotel in the 2.7, and it was just an awesome thing.”
It would be almost another two decades before a 911 purchase could be considered, and at the time the Club Sport seemed to offer good value for what it was. “You had that nice feeling that the car was reasonably unique, it drove beautifully and it really ticked all my boxes and I didn’t consider anything else,” Wilds recalled. As it belonged to a Porsche Club GB member, Mike had no hesitation when he was contacted by the owner who needed to make space for a race car purchase, and so a deal was struck.
When prodded about the Club Sport’s alleged lack of performance over the standard Carrera, Mike really comes alive. “If you were to drive a standard Carrera and then parked it up next to a Club Sport and then drove the Club Sport, I think you would understand,” he assured me. Wilds’ voice lifts another octave as he explains, “Why would I want electric windows, I love winding the windows up and down. Why would I want a sunroof, why would I want a rear windscreen wiper, why would I want rear seats, why would I want soundproofing? The car is more raw than the standard Carrera, and it gives me so much more. I like noise, I can hear the gearbox because there is no soundproofing and I can hear everything the engine is doing. I have never turned the radio on in the car – it still has the original Blaupunkt radio, but I don’t know why they even fitted a radio. It only has one sun visor for instance – this used to drive my wife mad,” he laughs. “But it is all these little things that make it very special.”
This may be a good stage to mention that Mike is a professional racing driver instructor, who spends his time teaching other people how to drive fast. Mike continued, “If it is a beautiful day, I can’t tell you the joy it gives me to know the Club Sport is in the garage. I can get in, start it up and drive it out on a sunny day to Silverstone or wherever I am going to work, and all day I am looking forward to driving home. It’s not a case of, ‘oh no I have got to drive that home’ afterwards.”
“The Club Sport feels sharper to me than a standard 3.2 Carrera, it is certainly noisier. Even starting the engine, when you turn the ignition on, the starter actually ‘rat-a-tat-tats’ it is so loud because there is no soundproofing. I like to drive a car that is talking to me all the time, that’s telling me what is going on and sings to me. When this car gets to about 4500 revs, from then on up the car just sings and it comes alive and it … its brilliant,” he added enthusiastically.
Mike uses his car as it was intended to be used and has even taken his Club Sport around the ‘Ring. Although he does not take it out in winter because it does not have the underbody sealant protection, he added, “Yes, I’ve driven it in the wet because you can never guarantee the weather, but it’s not my everyday car.”
A magazine published a feature on the Club Sport around the time of the model’s introduction, and the headline caught Mike’s attention – Buy now or regret it! – Mike remembers thinking how right the author was and this review actually helped him to decide on getting a Club Sport.
Some years ago, Wilds also had a 964 RS in the garage, but when the decision had to be made as to which one to sell, the Club Sport won the contest hands down. He sums it up this way, “I have a passion for my Club Sport because it is the first one I ever managed to buy, so it is that special that I would never ever sell it.”
When asked by his customers, which Porsche would be a good investment, Mark Sumpter usually responded, “You should buy the car thinking that you won’t lose any money, but over time it will creep up in value.”
Commenting on the Club Sport in particular, Sumpter says, “I don’t see them doubling every five years and I don’t think it is ever going to be an icon, but I think it will be a cult car.” Asked if he sees many Club Sports on the open market, Sumpter replied with an emphatic, “No. I think most of these cars now get sold to track day type drivers either at an event or between owners at club meetings.”
A few Club Sports were entered in club championship races but no 911 Carrera Club Sport was ever entered in a famous race or international competition. This is a significant factor, which sets the Carrera RS 2.7 apart from the Club Sport in that the former was actually homologated for competition. Sumpter made the following comparison, “If you look at the air-cooled GT2 with all its race history, it was homologated with bolt-on rear arches and it was a real, raw car. A 996 GT2 however actually outperforms an air-cooled GT2, but it isn’t thought of as a serious car because no one ever raced it. A big clue with future values I think, will be whether that car raced in international competition.”
Prototype 911 Club Sport
Authorised for build in July 1984, the 911 Carrera Club Sport prototype was completed by the end of that year and is therefore listed as a 1985 model factory prototype. The prototype is fitted with a Sport Package II option.
It would be a fair question to ask why the prototype Club Sport, which was completed in the autumn of 1984 and based entirely on an existing production model, was only launched onto the market in the autumn of 1987, three years later. Surely, with no additional development to be carried out on the Club Sport, with the exception of the G50 gearbox which had undergone its own development cycle, the introduction could have been made much sooner.
Jürgen Barth, Porsche engineer and factory racing driver explains, “It was quite normal that a new model could come to market later than planned. Three factors are important in this process: The decision of the head of the company takes time; then the parts which will be necessary to build the car must be ordered (and the component manufacturers may have their own production cycle to implement from new); and finally, a response from the different markets around the world must be analysed, to establish whether the new model is suitable for those markets, and this also may take time.”
It was customary, when the factory commenced a small production series, that the Porsche Museum would hold back the first prototype for display purposes. This, too, was the case with the 911 Carrera Club Sport prototype fabricated back in 1984. But the car languished in storage for many years and was hardly ever used or seen in public, which resulted in a very low usage (less than 25,000 km!) since its manufacture. All of this made it an obvious selection as a viable Museum Workshop project as this prototype required only a part restoration to bring it up to pristine condition once again.
Engine wise, no work was required except to have the mechanicals checked over as the vehicle had seen little use, but the gearbox was split open and rebuilt. With the CS prototype completely stripped, it offered the Museum Workshop Supervisor, Kuno Werner, an opportunity to check the whole car over and replace perished rubbers, and to update some components to current safety requirements.
It is interesting to note that whenever the factory produced a prototype, the traditional five-dial dashboard was dispensed with, and a simpler three-dial dash was used instead. There were several considerations which led to this break from tradition, namely; when tested on the road the prototype would be fitted with on-board and more complex measuring equipment, or when the engine was being tested in the workshop, this would have been hooked up to static dyno and monitoring systems. The other reason was simply down to cost.
This prototype was obviously a German-spec car and as that is where the car would undergo it’s testing, it is logical that it would be fitted with the specifications for that market. The ‘CS Club Sport’ decals on the right rear fender and left front fender were specific to the German market, whereas the UK models had the scripting along the bottom of the doors with a more discreet ‘CS’ logo on the front left corner of the luggage compartment lid.
Some key dates for comparison:
|August 1972||911 Carrera RS 2.7|
|August 1973||911 Carrera RS 3.0|
|August 1974||911 Turbo|
|August 1983||911 SC/RS|
|July 1984||911 Carrera Club Sport prototype|
|September 1987||911 Carrera Club Sport|
|August 1991||911 RS (Type 964)|
|Production dates||September 1987 to July 1989|
|Total production||190 units|
|Maximum power||231bhp at 5900rpm|
|Maximum torque||284Nm at 4800rpm|
|Brakes||Hydraulic, dual circuit with brake booster, ventilated discs|
|Brake discs||Front: 282.5 x 24mm discs; rear: 290 x 24mm discs|
|Suspension front||Independent suspension with wishbones and McPherson struts with torsion bars, dual-tube gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Suspension rear||Independent suspension with light-alloy semi-trailing arms with torsion-bar springs, anti-roll bar, dual-tube gas-filled shock absorbers|
|Wheels & tyres||Front: 7Jx15 with 195/65 VR15 tyres. Rear: 8Jx15 with 215/60 VR15 tyres|
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & Porsche Werkfoto