A few years ago, 911 & Porsche World magazine had the idea of Ultimate Porsche. Each editorial contributor would bring their Ultimate Porsche to Bruntingthorpe, for compare and contrast, and a verdict.
For me, the ultimate Porsche is the 917: no contest. 917, then 908, then the choice gets controversial: I thought maybe latest 911 Turbo. The first two made Porsche the über-brand of the 1970s: a halo it still wears now, though it hasn’t put anything like that level of personal, authentic effort in for many years. Nor can it have, as the men behind 917 and 908 were Porsche, and the family was out of management in 1972.
Not thinking of third position, I went on a hunt for a 917. I only knew of two: one was David Piper’s car (below), which Porsche World had featured in a joint thing with Octane, someone had blown up David’s gearbox on the shoot, there was a big fall-out over the pics and I would not ask the great DP to take part in a repeat fiasco. The only other English 917 I knew had just come back from Classic Le Mans. The 917 and same-stable 908 had raced hard (despite the wrong gearing in the 908) and both were apart for a post-race refresh.
So no 917.
Two cars were in my garage: my Continental Orange Carrera 3.0 Coupe, and a friend’s 964 RS (he’d asked me to sell it). I didn’t want to use my car – ‘ultimate Porsche is the one you own’ was not the way I saw it. The 964 RS had very little history but was the real thing, had been used by Walter Röhrl for Bilstein damper development and was much cheaper than what else was out there, but not one virtual tyrekicker came to see it.
I took the 964 RS to Bruntingthorpe and it made my day. The RS resolved my belief that this was the ultimate air-cooled 911, and was the journos’ road car choice on the day.
Someone brought a 997 Turbo. The latest, greatest 911 was fabulous to drive but a price tag to match, depreciation like any other and hardly maintenance-free. One day, it would be yesterday’s news. The 964 RS was up for less than £40K so was well priced and drove the best of everything there. It was only getting dearer. You could take it ten miles down the road and come back with 100 on the clock. It really was addictive. Not the one that would win Top Trumps, just my favourite.
Eventually, the owner tired of silly offers on the car and it left my care. Another friend’s 964 RS is now for sale at JZM Porsche for almost twice that price. Way beyond what I can afford but, If you’ve got the money they are worth the effort: runner-up to a 908 and 917 is a hell of a place to be.