Road to Race: Going the Distance in a Porsche 914

Tim Abbott never intended to build a race car when he got his hands on this 1970 Porsche 914.

as the man behind abbot carsTim, a highly-regarded independent Porsche specialist restoration workshop in South Africa, knows his way around all of Stuttgart’s classic models. He also joins the ‘love it’ camp when it comes to the 914.

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Tim’s interest in the opinion-segmentation model was initially brought about during his father’s restoration of a concurrent level of 914s in the mid-1980s. That car was eventually sold and shipped to America, but Tim promised himself that he would one day build his own.

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That opportunity came in 2005, when one of Tim’s customers decided to part ways with his car – this 914, which was then powered by a 2.0L Type 4 engine. At first, Tim’s idea was to increase the Porsche to faster road use and the occasional track day. That kind of direction isn’t unusual, but neither is a project developing into something big.

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It was in 2008, when Tim, his son Douglas, cousin Donovan, and brother Anthony, who was then heading Red Bull Racing’s F1 engineering software division, all traveled to France for the prestigious Le Mans Classic. It was in this event that the future direction of 914 was written.

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Seeing the classic cars out of Duke around the Circuit de la Sarthe was all the inspiration that Tim – inspired by his family in attendance – needed to make the 914 Up for the same event they were all looking forward to.

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Upon his return to South Africa, Tim wasted little time researching the 914 factory race cars, with the idea of ​​making something similar out of his road car. He needed to look no further than the three-car Porsche built for the 1970 Marathon de la Route – a massive 84-hour endurance race held on the Nürburgring’s combined north and south circuits – at 28.3 km per lap. By the end of the grueling three-and-a-half day program, three works 914/6 had crossed the finish lines 1, 2 and 3. The first car, driven by Claude Haldi, Gérard Larousse and Helmut Marko, completed 360 laps covering a distance of over 10,200 km in the process. It should come as no surprise that some manufacturers use this event to test-drive their new models.

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The car you see here is what Tim calls his ‘914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute. As expected with such a name, many modifications are based on those used in work cars, but Tim also saw the ‘M471’ special equipment package that Porsche designed the 914/6 for SCCA production racing. was introduced to match. America. The equipment featured, among other things, elaborate steel fender flares and front valance, fiberglass rocker panels and Fuchs wheels.

The Marathon de la Route regulations allowed the 914/6’s engine capacity to be increased by 10%, but the factory block had to be retained. After sourcing a 2.0L six-cylinder Porsche engine, Tim increased its capacity to 2.2L by sleeve slewing the block and fitting a sizable high-compression piston. A sturdier crankshaft was added, and the cylinder head was ported and fitted with larger valves. The result is 10.0:1 compression.

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When carburetors are used for this type of setup, it is usually twin 45s that are approved, but Tim opted for slightly smaller twin Weber 40 mm units. The exhaust is similar to the system used by Marathon de la Route cars, where the two branches can be capped.

Lastly, with a twin-spark ignition system in play, the Porsche 2.2L engine setup revealed a solid 180bhp and the ability to put out 9,000rpm.

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To take full advantage of engine output, the 914’s 5-speed gearbox was modified with close-ratio gears suitable for most circuits in South Africa. A lighter flywheel and racing clutch kit were also fitted.

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Although Tim did not overlook any areas of the 914, special attention was paid to the preparation and weight of the chassis to correct handling. The full chrome-moly roll cage ties into the four suspension points, which Tim says have stiffened the car considerably. It tips the scales at just 890kg, so the strength-to-weight ratio is rather healthy.

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As for suspension, the front end has Bilstein shocks and MacPherson struts with torsion bars, while the rear has Bilstein-based coilovers. And as for brakes, Tim specifies the 914 with Porsche 930 turbo rotors with 930 front callipers on all corners and a 911S rear. Inside the cabin, there are dual brake master cylinders along with AP Racing Bias Controller.

When it came to the wheels, Tim wanted to run a staggering setup, which somehow goes to explain the mismatch. The Fuchs measures 15×7-inches with the front 205/50R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11S tyres, and the Performance Superlites are sized at the rear 15×8-inches with the same semi-slick tires but in a 225/50R15 fitment There are.

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The bodywork of the 914 is one of the few aspects of the completed build out of Abbott Cars Workshop, but Tim knew it was the right thing to do to hand over the car to Anton Dekker on the exclusive conversion. Shedding the Porsche’s steel arches to fiberglass, and using composite materials to re-skin the doors, bonnet, boot, and bumpers, was always going to be a huge task, but it has been perfectly executed.

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The final exterior touches came in the Porsche Signal Orange with a complete rework and a livery inspired by the #3 Porsche 914/6, which finished second in the 1970 Marathon de la Route with drivers Björn Valdegaard, AK Andersen and Guy Chesuil.

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There’s not a lot of room in the 914 cabin, especially when you add a full roll cage to the mix, but the space is well used for what you’d want to see in a race car and not much else. That said, Tim was keen to make the cabin as comfortable as possible, hence the carpet—a lighter kind of course. One neat upgrade is the use of 911 gauges, which means there’s a tachometer that reads up to 10,000rpm – that’s right the engine clocks that number – and a 300km/h speedometer.

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Although Tim’s 914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute was built to compete at the Le Mans Classic, he never arrived with it. However, it has seen several historic racing action in South Africa, including the Kyalami 9-Hour Retro and Passion for Speed ​​events. Better still, Tim shares driving duties with his son Douglas and daughter Jennifer, so racing the 914 has been a true family affair – seeing as how the car came to be in the first place.

Brad Lord
Instagram: speedhunters_braid

photos by Stephen Kotze
Instagram: stephancotzmedia
www.stefankotze.com

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