Profile - Porsche Carrera 2.8 RSR

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The word Carrera has come to be of special significance to Porsche enthusiasts for over 30 years, the name applied to the company’s faster models since the 356.

It was in the mid-Seventies that it became of real significance in the motor racing world when at first the 2.8 Carrera RSR and then the 3.0 Carrera RSR took to the race tracks.

Announced at the 1972 Paris Motor Show, the model’s debut was at Daytona at the beginning of the following year as a Group 5 car prior to its homologation into Group 4 in March. For the next three years the model was to be the backbone of the company’s racing activities garnering a huge number of race wins in both 2.8 and 3.0-litre form.

The 2.8-litre belonging to Michael Fisher is one of 49 examples built and is believed to be the only one presently in England. Examples of the model in its original form, as this one is, are rare as many were updated to 3.0-litre RSR ’74 spec.

A standard crankcase, crankshaft and con-rods were used and mechanical fuel injection retained, but it was the four-bearing racing cams and the twin plug head which were at the heart of the matter enabling the engine to produce approximately 300 bhp. A deep air dam at the front housed a large oil cooler while cross-drilled, ventilated disc brakes from the 917 provided powerful anchors.

The body was extensively lightened with expensive material and glass replaced by perspex except for the windscreen. Stripped out inside, the car was fitted with a long range fuel tank for long distance events. The result is basically what Porsche engineers decided they needed to do to the 2.7 RS to make it a pukka competition car.

This particular example is the ex-Ray Thackwell car which was collected new from the factory in Stuttgart and sent direct to Australia. Indulging in overkill, he entered a number of local races and wiped out the opposition and in the process walked away with the championship in 1973.

Following its retirement from the track, it was stored on the premises of local automotive parts dealer Bob Jane for sometime before being bought by a Queenslander who rebuilt it and then registered it ‘HOT 911’ for road use.

Even when I saw Michael Fisher putting plugs into his ears prior to starting the car, I had no idea just how loud the car would be, but strangely enough if one ignored the full race harness, one could be forgiven for thinking you were sitting in a truck at tickover, such was the sensation. Up to 3500 rpm, however, it was noisy, but nothing prepared me for the mind-rattling racket when the throttle was pushed hard down. As the din mounted, the car simply rocketed away from rest. As we whisked along country roads, the engine screaming, the tyres scrabbling for grip and the ever-present fear of the rozzers on our mind, this magnificent black Porsche illustrated just what a rear-engined sports racing car is all about.

Touch sensitive throttle, beautifully balanced brakes, light clutch and delicate gearbox reminded me of an athlete of the calibre of Steve Coe being graced with the poise and precision of Margot Fonteyn. Corners were not so much steered around as flowed around, the wheels coursing their way along the tarmac. Being wide, they had the tendency to feed too much information back to the driver, and indeed they would often nudge against the steering wanting to follow their own particular line. It was surprising, though, just how light the steering was.

Mine was just a short drive, and at moderate speeds, but it was enough to understand Fisher’s sentiment that once driven, forever smitten. He has not raced a Porsche since 1977, but 13 years later, behind the wheel of ‘HOT 911’, all the old memories came flooding back. This was a car which brought the little boy out in everybody.

Porsche 911 Carrera RSR. Chassis numbers 9113600386 to 01549 (49 built). Engine type: 911/72. Capacity: 92 x 70.4 mm. 2806cc. 300 bhp at 8000 rpm. 217 lb ft at 6500 rpm. 900 kg.

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