Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7: joyride in the “ducktail” Porsche

You like to drink coffee, but espresso is too weak for you? Then order a ristretto! Less water and more caffeine increase the hello-awake effect. It tastes stronger, and on top of that it’s not quite as bitter.

50 years ago, Porsche brewed the 911 RS using a recipe similar to that used by Italian baristas to brew their “shots”, with which the nickname “Carrera” was reintroduced to the model range after a break of a good nine years. “Weight down, performance up” was the motto – and the result was a driving machine for all those to whom even a 190 hp 911 S seemed like bland filter coffee.

“Only 500 men will drive it,” whispered the advertisement. This reminds us of two things. First: Emancipation was still a foreign word in 1972. Second: The lightweight 911 should initially be no more than a limited homologation model.

Ernst Fuhrmann, father of the legendary vertical shaft boxer from the 1950s and newly appointed Porsche boss, is said to have initiated the development when he had to watch in Hockenheim how the Ford Capri and BMW CS coupés drove around the ears of the 911.

Boxer in the 2.4 liter version of the 911 S

What he had in mind was a competitive Group 4 racing Porsche. “How do we do that?” he asked his engineers.
The regulations and technical options quickly made it clear that the key to increasing performance would be an increase in displacement.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

The tighter tuning enables higher cornering speeds and shifts the limit range upwards.

It just so happened that Porsche’s air-cooled boxer in the 2.4-liter version of the 911 S still had enough “meat” between the cylinders to easily increase their cross-section.

A radical diet took care of the rest: barren seat tubs instead of comfortable armchairs, none at the back. The door panels flew out in favor of imitation leather-covered cardboard, for opening there were thin loops instead of handles.

Wherever possible, the thickness of non-structural sheet metal was reduced from 0.88 to 0.8 millimeters, plastic bumpers replaced those made of steel, and thin glass replaced the normal panes. (This is how you recognize fake rump carriers!)

Even passenger sun visors, coat hooks and clocks were on the cross-off list – but found their way back when it turned out that Porsche customers wanted a ristretto, but in a porcelain cup and not in a paper cup.

Noticeably louder interior noise level

With the slimmed-down sports version, the engineers fought for every gram. “We drove to the city scales in Zuffenhausen to document the target weight,” recalled Wolfgang Berger, a member of the development team. “There were some who weighed only 885 kilos, some up to 905 kilos” – 170 less than a standard 911 S.

Ultimately, Porsche owed it above all to the touring model, which is more compatible with everyday use, that instead of the planned 500 homologation cars, three times the number of RS could be sold – albeit at the price that the weight advantage over the 911 S was largely gone again and the Driving performance only benefited from the 20 hp additional power.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

The 2.7 liter boxer was created from the 2.4 liter of the 911 S by expanding the bore from 84 to 90 millimeters. The power increased from 190 to 210 hp.

Touring buyers enjoy the advantages of the reasonably comfortable standard interior instead of the atmosphere of a torture chamber. However, thin sheet metal and glazing remained, and thus, despite the insulating material, a noticeably louder interior noise level compared to the standard 911.

The stiffened chassis also causes collateral damage: “Much too hard”, the boss found it after a short test ride with prototypes. However, Ernst Fuhrmann did not yet know that the harsh rolling characteristics improved with increasing speed, which inspired car tester Klaus Westrup, alluding to the muzzle velocity of a firearm projectile, to the quip that the RS had “a V-zero of 100”. In plain language this means: This is a fast driving car, under 100 you don’t even need to start.

210 hp and 240 km/h

But what about the invigorating effect of that Carrera, whose striking rear spoiler (the first ever on a 911!) earned it the nickname “ducktail”? 210 hp and 240 km/h no longer sound as exhilarating as they did 50 years ago, when they were enough for the title “Germany’s fastest production car”.

With a zero to 100 km/h time of 5.8 seconds, the lightweight Porsche left even the likes of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (6.1 seconds) behind. But today?

Local appointment at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen. An extended anniversary tour is intended to clarify whether the RS still has what it takes to become a pulse accelerator in 2022, or whether it, outshone by its own legend as a coveted collector’s item with a high six-digit value, is only as invigorating as decaffeinated coffee.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

In contrast to the decidedly puristic sports version, the Touring has the right door panels, carpets, better soundproofing and full-fledged seats.

The glowing “light yellow” dazzles the eyes. The rear spoiler made of GRP looks like a work of art, not like vile, functional industrial design. In fact, it was probably a compromise, because after the young aerodynamicist Tilman Brodbeck had calculated its shape in the wind tunnel at the TH Stuttgart, the designer Anatole Lapine pushed for concessions. “The spoiler wasn’t quite optimal,” admitted years later Porsche’s former race manager Peter Falk. “The styling also played a role.” Today we say: luckily!

But what are we waiting for? Get in! The key is already in, between the seats the right hand feels for the small hand throttle that helps with cold starts. One twist and the fuel pump starts humming. Then: ignition. Hello! The boxer is on the spot, barking and wheezing like a smoker coughing the tar from his lungs after waking up.

Waiters are moderate

Let’s go. The Porsche fans in front of the museum entrance reflexively throw up their camera phones, because they know that almost half a million euros are just rolling past them. Surprisingly, the serving staff is moderate. Neither the clutch foot nor the shift hand are put under excessive strain in the stop-and-go traffic of Stuttgart.

Even the servo-free steering does not require an extra training session in the gym. You don’t have to tell the boys at home who still think the 911 is a tough man’s car…

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

“Light yellow” was one of the standard colors for the RS at no extra charge. The lettering on the flanks was foiled and available in blue, red or green with color-coordinated rims for white cars.

Although: He’s tough. If you roll over a cigarette butt, you can deduce the cigarette brand. The RS stalks bony over manhole covers and tar patches. It’s a good thing we saved the chiropractor’s phone number on our cell phone. Only later do we realize: actually everything isn’t so wild.

The 13 liters of engine oil are now at the right temperature, soon the B 10, which is studded with speed cameras, is behind us, the traffic thins out and we head towards the Swabian Alb. Time to let the RS off the leash and take the letters in the license plate literally: “GO”.

What was already clear at the slow pace: The 2.7-liter boxer is not a sophisticated sports engine – at least not only. The maximum torque of 255 Newton meters is only reached at 5100 tours. But even at 3000, with 215 Newton meters, more than 80 percent are available, which makes the machine wonderfully flexible and also allows lazy shifting. Of course, the music plays, as it should, really only in the upper third of the speed.

The RS wants to be forced into the curve

In the small gears, the Boxer literally explodes, so that you can hardly keep up with shifting. And between 5000 and the 7300 rpm where he hits the limiter, it becomes clear what Ferry Porsche meant when he said: “If you step on it, he has to shoot.” The way he screeches and angrily storms forward: suspicious of goosebumps!

A flow quickly sets in, communicative mechanics, a sawing sound and focused driving behavior ensure that the pilot releases permanently increased endorphin.

In the serpentines up to the Alb, the advantages of the dry suspension set-up also become clear. Body roll: almost zero, at least it feels like it. The photos later say otherwise.

The RS wants to be forcefully forced into the curve. But it allows adventurous lateral acceleration. For a long time he remains an understeerer. The dreaded wedging of the rear can be provoked with strong load changes, but it requires almost willfulness. In any case, driving safety and the limit range are higher than with any other 911 from the early 1970s. And it’s fast, even today!

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

The folding bike saves space and weight. Cars intended for the German market were delivered with a filling bottle, export models had a small compressor on board.

The lightweight coupé breaks the 100 km/h mark in just over six seconds. Almost ten pass before the speedometer needle rushes past 140. In the extended canter, the initially experienced weaknesses in comfort are put into perspective. The propulsion remains energetic. Only beyond 200 does he slowly become tougher. In the meantime, however, the pilot has his hands full keeping the Carrera on course.

Despite the “calming” effect of the rear wing, which increases contact pressure by 20 percent, directional stability is not one of the core competencies of the 911 RS either. From around 170 km/h the front end becomes light, the car begins to trundle around its longitudinal axis and sniffs out ruts like a hound following a fresh track.

While a fast-paced country road ride feels almost stress-free in comparison, because the chassis, steering, gears, the greedy engine and the biting-proof brakes are in perfect harmony, fast straight stretches on the motorway are hard work – apart from the fact that you start at 150 km/h has to yell to hear his own word. Relaxing is different.

But the R in RS doesn’t stand for “relax”. If you want to relax, order camomile tea, not a ristretto.

Specifications and price: Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

engine B6, rear longitudinal, air-cooled, mechan. Gasoline Injection (Bosch)
displacement 2687 cm3
perfomance 154 kW (210 hp) at 6300 rpm; max. torque 255 Nm at 5100 rpm
drive Rear wheel, 5-speed manual
L/W/H 4147/1652/1320mm
curb weight 1110 kg (DIN)
0-100km/h 6.3s
Top 240km/h
consumption 15.0L/100km
Price 34,000 marks (1973)
value 450,000 euros (classic data, condition 2)

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