The Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 broke cover in October 1972, being revealed to the public for the first time at the Paris Motor Show. Porsche’s marketing department considered it a big risk for such a small company to make such a high performance and specialised model. Although the Carrera RS was a more-than-capable racer, the marketing team insisted that the bulk of the cars should be prepared as roadgoing models, to ensure that they did not sit with parking lots full of expensive unsold cars. A production cap of 500 units was duly applied, to limit any potential losses.
As it happened, almost the entire production of 500 cars was sold out two weeks after the Paris Motor Show closed its doors in 1972, and so a second batch of 500 units was approved for manufacture. When they too flew out of the showrooms, a third and final batch of 500 cars was authorised. Although the purists will always hanker after the ‘first 500’ batch of cars for their collection, this final batch benefitted from feedback given by customers and Porsche’s own tests, and the last 150 cars were the best handling cars as a result. The Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 and the car it was built to homologate, the Group 4 RSR, was immediately successful on the track, and became the weapon of choice in the hands of both professional and privateer drivers.
Our feature car, chassis #9113601501, was one of seventeen RHD Carrera RSs supplied with Sport ‘Lightweight’ equipment in 1973, and was the last such model imported to the UK. It therefore had all the new homologation features of the later cars that included RSR short trailing arms.
Registered first as a British car OM 77, it was entered in the RAC Rally, round eight of the 1973 World Rally Championship and finished as the highest placed Porsche, winning the Team Prize. It is one of only eleven RSs known to have entered the RAC Rally in period, of which only six finished this gruelling event.
In 1974, now registered in Northern Ireland with its famous number AUI 1500, it won three international rallies outright against the toughest opposition found anywhere in the world, fourteen other RSs! Nowhere else in the rally world was there such intense competition from fifteen of the same cars. The events were also quite diverse: one five-day two-night event, a three-day event and finally a 24 hour format with night driving. Porsche never won an international rally in their works backed 2.7 RSs, managing only a second place.
Porsche’s wins with the Carrera RS broke the domination of the works-backed Ford Escorts in the 1970s beating their best driver Roger Clarke in the process, and starting a period of intense competition between the two companies that lasted for six years.
This remarkable car is a living legend and its success has turned it into something of a media star featured on film and a song dedicated to it. Its exploits were captured on rare period film by the BBC on a 1973 RS rallying and is available today on several DVDs containing this footage. Sponsors Dunlop and Porsche have used its image in period advertising campaigns. A pop song was written about the car and its driver by Eurovision song contest winner Phil Coulter and released in single and album formats on vinyl in 1974. The title of the song, Hey CB, is named after it’s driver Cathal Brendon Curley. The car was recently filmed for a national TV program at the Brands Hatch Circuit in Kent broadcast in September 2016.
Chassis #9113601501 is the only surviving 911 RS that has won the Circuit of Ireland International Rally, the third oldest rally in the world. It finished with a record breaking 5m 48s, a time that can never be beaten by another RS, now that it has changed into a three-day event. No other surviving RS has won a five-day two-night rally. The car was sponsored by official Porsche importers, Porsche Cars Great Britain, and after he won the Circuit of Ireland, Porsche AG Stuttgart awarded the driver a cheque to the equivalent value of £1000.
In a return to the RAC Rally in 1978, chassis #9113601501 was one of two cars used to develop a new rally aid, an electronic trip meter invented by navigator John Cartwright, called the Terratrip.
When homologation for the RS as a rally car ran out in 1979, the car was exported to South Africa where it was converted, with parts supplied by the Porsche factory, into a 3.4-litre RSR. In South Africa, this car competed in the Rolo Motors Historic Championship under the watchful eye of Roger Pearce, as well as Porsche Club SA events which were sponsored by Lindsay Saker, the official Porsche importers in South Africa at the time.
Following an accident after achieving pole position at the old Kyalami race circuit in 1987, it was stored for 23 years until 2010 when it was purchased by RS specialist Mark Waring and restored. The restoration of the car set new standards as each panel was carefully unpicked to facilitate preserving original welds, just as it came out of the factory. It then spent two years on a factory jig and rebuilt using parts supplied by Porsche Classic.
Once fully restored, the car returned 40 years later to celebrate its wins by being photographed on the start/finish ramp of every rally it had won in 1974. Sporting the same livery that it had worn on each of those victories, it is the only Porsche ever to have done this.
When attending a charity event at the Loughgall Festival of Motorsport in Armagh in 2014, Cathal Curley and the two navigators that accompanied him on the winning events, Austin Frazer and Terry Harryman, were in attendance. All three signed the bonnet of the car. The navigator, Terry Harryman, went on to partner Finnish driver Ari Vatanen through his greatest years of rallying.
The car was reissued its missing supplementary ID plate by Porsche AG Germany, confirming also in writing that all criteria had been met in full prior to doing so. The current Managing Director of Porsche Cars Great Britain and the Register Secretary of the Porsche Club Great Britain, wrote a letter to the DVLA supporting the reallocation of its Irish number ‘AUI 1500’ it had when it won the rallies in 1974.
The car has been on display at Porsche OPCs Belfast, Guildford and Mid Sussex since 2014. The PCGB Brands Hatch Festival of motorsport was attended by Porsche AG with a selection of their museum cars, and #9113601501 was included as the only RS in the two sessions of display laps.
The car recently returned to a special ‘Circuit Déjà vu’ reunion event in 2016 with 172 Circuit of Ireland rally cars, and took pride of place in a display outside the hotel headquarters for the event. Cathal Curley and Austin Frazer drove in the car, reliving Ireland’s infamous Mols Gap Stage, and Cathal Curley was filmed driving the Healy Pass from inside the car. Commentating on his experience he confirmed the car was “mechanically perfect” although he could do with “more grip from the front tyres” then admitted they always ran with wet tyres on the front. (Well it seems you cannot totally please this historic rally champion!)
|Model||911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight|
|Vehicle registration||AUI 1500|
Probably one of the most comprehensive collection of research material and memorabilia has been assembled to accompany this unique car, including reports on every event, plus many rare period photos and genuine period instruments and lighting. It is finished as it was when it competed in its most demanding rally, the Circuit of Ireland but with the provision of another bonnet. All the rally modifications can be removed including the period bolt-in RS roll cage to return the car to just as it came off the showroom floor. What is unique about this car is that all its successes came in its unmodified showroom condition, save for the addition of safety equipment. This was proof to Porsche and to the rest of the world, that the 2.7 RS was a winner in the most demanding of all disciplines, international rallying. After 1975, most RSs were entered as 2.8s benefiting from the larger displacement engines that had been homologated.