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The ultimate 911. There is no more iconic silhouette than that of the early 911 and of all the variations and differences in these cars, the shape of the 2.7 RS with its Aerodynamic ducktail is the most instantly recognisable. It captured the imagination like the Jaguar E type had a decade before, and the initial run of 500 sold out almost immediately. Porsche had to reinstate production to build more – another 1,090, in fact – in order to meet demand.
RS stands for Rennsport in German, meaning "racing sport". The Carrera name was reintroduced from the 356 Carrera which had itself been named after Porsche's victories in the Carrera Panamericana races in Mexico in the 1950s. These sensational cars also achieved great success on the race track, RS both in touring and in lightweight spec were raced in almost every sports car race, the lightly modified RSR examples scored victories in the Targa Florio, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring all in their first year.
The Carrera RS was essentially available in three specifications. M491 - the RSR version, purely meant for track use; M472 - the Touring version with the full standard 911 interior package, trims and bumpers, and M471 - the lightweight road/race version.
Of the 1590 Carrera RS's produced, only 200 were the highly sought after M471 lightweights. These cars have, more than any other version, come to epitomise the ethos of Porsche's greatest ever road car.
The lightweights, as their name suggests, were designed to give the ultimate performance while still being road legal, and were generally bought by the most hardened of sporting drivers for road use or racing drivers for use on the track. In this last respect the car became nigh on unbeatable in the production car category on racetracks all over the world, and indeed was the car of choice in production Porsche racing well into the 1990's, when it still outperformed all subsequent Porsche products.
It is not difficult to see why. In addition to the magnificent qualities of the standard RS Touring, the lightweight went further again in the quest for performance. The rear seats were deleted, as were the door lockers and armrests, exterior decorative trim, clock, and other items considered superfluous. Lightweight RSR bucket seats were used up front, fibreglass bumpers instead of steel, and lightweight glass substituted the production panels. This resulted in a 100 kg weight reduction, with the consequent benefit to handling, acceleration and braking.
To make the RS as competitive as possible in all forms of racing, it was vital to homologate it at the lowest possible weight. 500 cars had to be produced to this end, and the 'first 500' series of cars are even more special than their subsequent sister cars. They used specially ordered thinner gauge steel for wings, bonnet, roof, doors and rear panels. Even the rear ducktail engine cover had a specially made alloy frame instead of a steel item. As Porsche only ever expected to produce 500 cars in total, by the time the second and third series of cars were made, these special items had run out and production items generally utilised instead.
Chassis 0397 is a very special car indeed. It is one of only 17 RHD lightweights produced, but even more importantly it is one of only 4 "first 500" RHD lightweights - truly the ultimate road/race RS. It's combination of the M471 spec and the special lightweight body parts results in this extremely rare version weighing in at a mere 920 kg on the scales. It is worth considering that a late series RS Touring with a wealth of often specified heavy extras such as a sunroof and automatic windows, will tip the scales at nearer 1075 kg. It really was these early, lightweight specification cars that created the RS legend with their truly magnificent performance.
Whoever ordered chassis 0397 new certainly wanted the maximum performance that his money could buy in 1973. The only extras requested were of a performance enhancing nature; a heated rear window, limited slip diff, outside driver's door mirror and yellow tinted front mounted fog lights. No heavyweight additions were to dilute 0397's ultimate make up. That only left the colour to be chosen, and the original owner decided on the most iconic of 1970's Porsche colours - gulf blue. Made famous by John Wyer's 917s, this colour looks simply magnificent on the 2.7 RS, and is very rare. Only 18 cars out of the total of 1590 produced were produced in this shade by the factory. This is the only RHD lightweight so finished.
The car is fully matching numbers retains its original matching numbers engine and gearbox, with all correct lightweight panels still. It has lived a charmed life since its production in January 1973 and has a clear and well known history. It has remained for the last 25 years with the same owners and has rarely been seen in public.
During 2016 0397 has benefitted from a "bare shell" restoration by one of the finest Porsche restorers in the UK, who took great care to preserve its originality and specification. Chassis 0397 is a unique car, the best of the best being a "First 500" M471 lightweight in RHD and the ultimate colour.