Street To Race: Going The Distance In A Porsche 914
Tim Abbot by no means supposed to construct a race automotive when he received his palms on this 1970 Porsche 914.
As the person behind Abbot Cars, a highly-regarded unbiased Porsche specialist restoration workshop in South Africa, Tim is aware of his means round all of the basic fashions from Stuttgart. He’s additionally squarely within the ‘find it irresistible’ camp on the subject of the 914.
Tim’s curiosity within the opinion-dividing mannequin was initially introduced on throughout a concours-level restoration of his father’s 914 within the mid-Eighties. That automotive was in the end offered and shipped off to the US, however Tim promised himself that he’d sooner or later construct his personal.
That alternative got here in 2005, when certainly one of Tim’s prospects determined to half along with his automotive – this 914, then powered by a 2.0L Sort 4 engine. At first, Tim’s concept was to reinforce the Porsche for quick highway use and the occasional monitor day. That form of path isn’t unusual, however neither is having a venture evolve into one thing a lot larger.
It was in 2008, when Tim, his son Douglas, cousin Donovan, and brother Anthony, who on the time headed up Purple Bull Racing’s F1 engineering software program division, all travelled to France for the celebrated Le Mans Traditional. It was at this occasion that the 914’s future path was written.
Watching basic vehicles duke it out round Circuit de la Sarthe was all of the inspiration that Tim – spurred on by his household in attendance – wanted to construct the 914 up for the very occasion they had been all spectating.
On his return to South Africa, Tim wasted little time researching 914 manufacturing unit race vehicles, with the thought to construct one thing comparable from his highway automotive. He didn’t have to look any additional than the three vehicles Porsche constructed for the 1970 Marathon de la Route – a mammoth 84-hour endurance race held on the Nürburgring’s mixed north and south circuits – a whopping 28.3km per lap. By the tip of the gruelling three-and-a-half-day occasion, the three works 914/6s crossed the end line 1st, 2nd and third. The primary automotive, pushed by Claude Haldi, Gérard Larrousse and Helmut Marko, accomplished 360 laps, clocking up over 10,200km within the course of. It’s little marvel that some producers used this occasion to distance-test their new fashions.
The automotive you see here’s what Tim calls his ‘914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute’. As anticipated with a reputation like that, lots of the modifications are based mostly off these used within the works vehicles, however Tim additionally seemed to the ‘M471′ particular tools bundle that Porsche supplied with the intention to homologate the 914/6 for SCCA manufacturing racing within the US. This tools included large metal fender flares and entrance valance, fiberglass rocker panels and Fuchs wheels amongst different issues.
Marathon de la Route laws allowed for the 914/6’s engine capability to be elevated by 10%, however the manufacturing unit block needed to be retained. After sourcing a 2.0L six cylinder Porsche engine, Tim elevated its capability to 2.2L by sleeving the block and becoming outsized high-compression pistons. A strengthened crankshaft was added, and the cylinder heads had been ported and fitted with bigger valves. The result’s 10.0:1 compression.
When carburettors are used for any such setup, it’s usually twin 45s that get the nod, however Tim opted for barely smaller twin Weber 40mm models. The exhaust is much like the system utilized by the works Marathon de la Route vehicles, the place two branches could be capped.
Lastly, with a twin-spark ignition system in play, the Porsche 2.2L engine setup revealed a stable 180bhp and the flexibility to rev out to 9,000rpm.
To take full benefit of the engine output, the 914’s 5-speed gearbox was modified with close-ratio gears suited to most of South Africa’s circuits. A light-weight flywheel and racing clutch equipment had been additionally fitted.
Though Tim hasn’t neglected any space of the 914, particular consideration was paid to the chassis preparation and weight with the intention to excellent the dealing with. The total chrome-moly roll cage ties into the 4 suspension factors, which Tim says has stiffened up the automotive considerably. It solely ideas the scales at 890kg too, so the power-to-weight ratio is somewhat wholesome.
For suspension, the entrance finish options MacPherson struts with Bilstein shocks and torsion bars, whereas the rear advantages from Bilstein-based coilovers. And for brakes, Tim has specced the 914 with Porsche 930 Turbo rotors in any respect corners, with 930 entrance callipers and 911S rears. Twin brake grasp cylinders are additionally fitted, with an AP Racing bias controller contained in the cabin.
When it got here to the wheels, Tim needed to run a staggered setup, which works some strategy to clarify the mismatch. The Fuch fronts measure 15×7-inch with 205/50R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11S tyres, and the Efficiency Superlite rears are sized 15×8-inch with the identical semi-slicks tyres however in a 225/50R15 fitment.
The 914’s bodywork is likely one of the few elements of the construct accomplished exterior of the Abbot Automobiles workshop, however Tim knew that handing the automotive over to Anton Dekker at Unique Conversion was the precise factor to do. Flaring the Porsche’s metal arches in fibreglass, and utilizing the composite materials to re-skin the doorways, bonnet, boot and bumpers was all the time going to be an enormous job, however it’s been executed completely.
The ultimate exterior contact got here with a full respray in Porsche Sign Orange and a livery impressed by the #3 Porsche 914/6 that completed second within the 1970 Marathon de la Route with drivers Björn Waldegaard, Åke Andersson and Man Chasseuil.
There’s not a whole lot of house within the 914 cabin, particularly whenever you add a full roll cage into the combination, however the house is used nicely with all the pieces you’d count on to see in a race automotive and never a lot else. That mentioned, Tim was eager to make the cabin as snug as attainable, therefore the carpet – a light-weight kind in fact. One neat improve is the usage of 911 gauges, which means there’s a tachometer that reads to 10,000rpm – excellent given the engine virtually sees that quantity – and a 300km/h speedometer.
Though Tim’s 914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute was constructed to compete on the Le Mans Traditional, he by no means fairly received there with it. Nevertheless, it has seen loads of historic racing motion in South Africa, together with the Kyalami 9-Hour Retro and Ardour for Pace occasions. Higher nonetheless, Tim has shared driving duties along with his son Douglas and daughter Jennifer, so racing the 914 has been a real household affair – becoming given how the automotive happened within the first place.
Images by Stefan Kotzé