Friday, 26 July 2013

London-Sydney 911T

Words & photos: Daniel Bevis

What do you get if you cross a roof-rack with a cow-catcher? Er, this.

The Porsche 911 has enjoyed many disparate uses over the last half-century - race track dominator, status symbol, forced-induction pioneer, Filofax holder - but perhaps the most eyecatching is its success in international rallying. The idea of taking a 21st-century sports car, jacking up the suspension and bouncing it through some forests might seem absurd (imagine if Lotus suggested it for the Exige, or Chevrolet for the Corvette, or even if the 911 was launched as an all-new model today), but back in the sixties it was all part of the motorsport package. It was clearly a good idea too, 911s were extremely successful.
This particular one, a 1967 T - not a '66 as the signs state - was used on some pretty extreme terrain. The unmissable scaffolding exoskeleton sort of gives that away. It was officially campaigned by Porsche in the Acropolis Rally as well as the Nürburgring 84hr Marathon and the Spa 24hrs (a diverse skillset for one car!), before being sold in 1968 to Edgar Herrmann for competition in the Safari Rally; it was subsequently returned to Porsche for preparation of the London-Sydney Rally, and this is the spec you see it in now.

The unique features of this 911 are manifold and intriguing. That front cage, designed to deflect kangaroos and so forth, acts as a clamshell, hinging forward to allow access to the front compartment. The car wears sturdy steel wheels rather than lightweight mags - better for thudding over rocks without shattering - and flexible hoses on either side of the roof allow the attachment of diverter pipes to the upswept exhausts so the Porsche can drive through rivers. The frankly overloaded roofrack carries a full set of spare wheels and three 20-litre fuel containers, one of which can also double up as a spare oil tank, with hoses that attach to the engine's oil inlet system; another of the fuel cans can be used as a spare fuel tank using a similar setup. All very ingenious.
The car also carries a full tool-kit, hacksaw, a two-man wood saw and an axe, as well as a winch and cable. The spare fuel pump, coil, battery and switch box are all fastened next to their working counterparts, largely because the car was running out of space!

It's amazing that the 911 was able to travel with any pace at all while carrying all of that weight, but Herrmann and Schuller took the 'best private entry' prize, coming 15th overall. (The sister car, driven by Zasada and Wachowski, came 4th.)
The car had a long and, as you might imagine, diverse career in later years, before being restored to its London-Sydney attire in the late eighties. You can read more here.

Snapped at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed - click here for more photos

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