For the 1974 season, Porsche produced yet another evolution of the 911. Developed around the 3-litre RS homologation special, the 3-litre RSR which would become the most successful Group 4 car of its era. In its early years, the RSR swept all before it in IMSA, Trans Am and the FIA World Championship, production beginning in late 1973. Just 56 cars would be built.
They were equipped with Typ 911/75 engines featuring high-lift camshafts, Bosch slide injection and twin plug ignition. There was also a large capacity dry sump oil tank and dual megaphone exhaust from the 2.8 RSR. Displacement remained unchanged from the RS at 2992cc but the compression was upped from 9.8 to 10:3.1, the result having been 330bhp at 8000rpm.
Visually the 3-litre RSR was enhanced with special five-spoke centre-locking 15-inch wheels, these having been 10.5-inches wide at the front and a massive 14-inches at the back. Ultra-light glass-fibre panels were used for the ventilated wheel arch extensions, bumpers, front lid, engine cover and rear spoiler. Weighing in at a mere 900kg, the RSR was obviously a very quick car, speeds in excess of 170mph were possible and 0-60 took less than five seconds. For two years, the RSR swept all competition aside, providing Porsche with its most successful customer racing car.
Owing to their success, many of these 56 cars had very long racing careers, some were upgraded to 934 or 935 Spec and a great number were crashed or re-shelled. Very few cars still remain unmolested with so many have been re-shelled over the years, fewer still retain their original “matching-numbers” engines. Chassis 9072 is the exceptional to this rule. Despite a stellar racing career, this car’s identity, history and provenance is undisputed, as is its original shell and remarkably, its original engine.
RSR chassis #9072 was ordered new for the famous Belgian Ecurie Francorchamps Racing Team by Jean Blaton aka ‘Beurlys’. Ecurie Francorchamps which had been known as Equipe National Belge had been founded by the legendary Jacques Swaters in the 1950s and had great success at the very highest level of Sportscar racing and two decades later ‘Beurlys’ was still flying the flag high for the team. This RSR was ordered with the one purpose; to put Ecurie Francorchamps back on the Le Mans Podium.
Entered by Ecurie Francorchamps with drivers Richard Bond, Hughes de Fierlandt and Patron “Beurlys” the car qualified well and started even better, by nightfall they were 3rd in Class and in the top ten overall Classification and by half distance they were sat 2nd in class and 7th overall following the RSR of Jurgen Barth. Devastatingly in the 19th hour, a clutch failure ended the Belgian teams race and the car was withdrawn from 7th Overall and 2nd in Class. A devastating outcome.
A few months later Richard Bond and fellow Englishman, Nick Faure, would contest the British round of the World Sportscar Championship, the 1000kms of Brands Hatch. Disappointingly gearbox trouble ended proceedings again. Despite good showings in 1974 at Le Mans and at Brands Hatch, for 1975 Beurlys had only one objective for 1975. Le Mans.
Despite the financial loss of key sponsor ‘Fisons’, Jean had taken his Le Mans entry and enlisted the help of the young up-and-coming British Journalist Nick Faure who had impressed at Brands and with a British Championship in the AFN owned 2.7 RS’s and another Englishman, John Charles Cooper.
Blaton had asked each of the driver’s to bring with the one thousand pounds in Sponsorship money, something which Nick Faure didn’t have at the time. However Faure made friends with a young American by the name of “Clayton Day Jnr” whom he mad met in a bar in London. Mr Day happened to be the new President of a certain motorcycle manufacturer called - Harley Davidson and as a result Nick secured the sponsorship of Harley Davidson for Le Mans, the beginning of the most unlikely and iconic combinations in Le Mans History.
Nick Faure, who was, in fact, a graphic designer by trade, immediately began designing the car’s new livery, the drawings of which (as well as his Pilote’s armband and hotel reservation!) remain with the car today.
1975 was the 43rd running of the Grand Prix of Endurance Le Mans 24 Hours. The race was won at the front by Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell, two of Le Mans most successful drivers, piloting a Gulf Mirage and winning by just over a lap from the all-French Ligier team. Due to regulation changes, the number of Sports Prototypes was down to just Gulf & Ligier, leaving the real battle in the production bases GT and TC classes which comprised 32 entries.
Team Beurlys had decided on a livery with their new high profile sponsor and the yellow car had hurriedly been given an exterior colour change to white, the stars and stripes livery, designed and orchestrated by Nick Faure was to be applied to the car along with the Harley Davidson logos and branding in a small garage in Arnage overnight before first practice. A design which has since gone down in legend.
Team Beurlys/ Harley Davidson had their work cut out; the underprepared privateers would be up against some of the biggest names in GT endurance racing. The car to have that year was the Porsche RSR and serious entrants in the form of Team Joest with their German driver line-up, Team Jägermeister, Kremer who had flown Billy Sprowls from the USA and the undoubted favourites Team GELO - George Loos’ Quasi Works Team who fielded a three-car entry to be driven by almost entirely professional ‘works’ drivers including John Fitzpatrick, Tim Shchenken and Howden Ganley all current Formula One Drivers.
Beuryls, Faure and Cooper had qualified the RSR a respectable, mid-field, 30th but within the first hour of racing they had climbed to 15th overall and 6th in class. By midnight, the three privateers were sitting 3rd in class but with a long way to go, consistent and fast the Englishmen almost single handedly drove the car. In the penultimate hour, they overcame the Team Kremer RSR and climbed into 2nd in Class and a remarkable 6th overall, a position they would hold to the end by which point Jean Blaton had jumped in the car for his stint across the line . Coming home behind only the GELO “Works” RSR of John Fitzpatrick and dutch Formula One driver Gijs van Lennep. The first privateers home by some 22 laps. A Hugely Impressive Result.
Following the race the car was to South America and after a four year spell in Ecuador, this special RSR returned to Germany in 1981 where the car would be owned and cherished by the same collector for around 25 years. In c.2006 the car was entrusted to Manfred Freisinger for a restoration back to original Le Mans specifications. No-one has seen and restored more of these cars than Freisinger, during restoration it was noted that without doubt the car retained its original shell and even more remarkably, that the car’s original numbered RSR motor was still fitted. The car was restored exactingly as per Le Mans in 1975, yellow but with a white exterior, a very fitting nod to both Harley Davidson and Ecurie Francorchamps the two teams for which the car ran.
The car was purchased in around 2008 by the current UK based owners, both very serious Porsche enthusiasts and aficionados. Both racers themselves the car was entrusted to Maxted Page and Prill to be readied for the highly competitive CER series, run by Patrick Peter’s Peter Auto organisation, crucially fitted with a second motor to preserve the cars original engine. The car was competitive for a number of seasons, eventually becoming CER Champion in 2013.
Since then the car has seen competitive use only on a handful of occasions with it last being seen in 2016 at the Le Mans Classic, an event which the car has participated in a number of times and will be gladly invited to again owing to its history at the most famous race in the world.
Having not been offered for sale in well over a decade this car represents a very special opportunity; a 5 owner from new RSR; with an unbroken chain of ownership and history, A car with double Le Mans history, including a Podium finish and 6th overall. Whilst this provenance is special indeed for it to be found on a car with its original shell and its believed original motor is virtually unrepeatable.
We recently reunited Nick Faure with the car, creating a fascinating mini-documentary on the car ahead of its sale. It can be found below.
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