Modified 245bhp 1969 Porsche 911 S/T Evocation 2.8
Rare, special and possibly the best sounding 911 ever… Total 911 gets behind the wheel of a special S/T build. Written and photographed by Steve Hall.
We experience an incredibly rewarding drive in a special S/T build
As I inhale my Big Mac and fries after a busy day photographing and driving on the surrounding roads, the distant sky works through a post-sunset colour pallet of ochre and magenta before finally turning deep purple and blue; even the wind farm on the horizon somehow looks quite pretty. Maybe it helps that it’s several kilometres away, giving the giant power generators typical of this mid German countryside an appearance more akin to cute windmills. But it’s not the rolling countryside nor the wind farm on the horizon that are captivating me here; it’s the simply lovely shape of a beautiful 1970 911S – long since updated to S/T spec – a few metres in front that’s capturing my attention.
My burger tastes all the better after a day’s hard work running around the aforementioned countryside capturing this fabulous car, culminating in the kind of gorgeous sunset us photographers dream of (but despite forecasts promising as much, often don’t quite happen). It’s not every day you get to shoot a car this pretty, this rare, this special, so of course you want to do it justice. You, dear reader, can be the judge of that, but right here and right now I’m feeling happy with the day’s work.
I’m sure the debate could rage for a very long time over which of the eight generations of 911 is the most aesthetically pleasing, and that’s discounting the multitudinous iterations within each generation – literally hundreds to choose from, all the way back to 1963. Revisiting the pictures as I write this piece, I’m at a loss to name one better than this. As if to prove how many variations exist within each 911 generation, I’d pass on the early 2.0-litre model, which is fundamentally the same shape, but with its narrow body and inset wheels is just a bit too delicate, a little effete for these tastes. 1973’s 2.7 RS is perhaps the iconic 911 shape for the ages and it’s definitely right up there. But for me there’s something about the juxtaposition of that delicate, elegant glasshouse, the lack of spoilers or any other accoutrements, whilst also leaving the viewer in no doubt as to the fact this car has some attitude thanks to those gorgeously flared wheelarches, the whole car sitting lower so the wheels only just fit. You can thank the FIA for the latter, as their ’70’s rule change allowed an extra two inches of bodywork across the axles to accommodate larger wheels; this also explains the mismatched Fuchs up front and Minilites at the rear: in period, there were no Fuchs wide enough, a true case of form following function in the best Porsche tradition. Nevertheless, it’s a fabulous looking 911 – indeed it’s a fabulous looking car, period.
Starting life in 1969 this car was delivered to Spain in December as a factory 911S, endowed with a 168bhp 2.0-litre flat six – a power figure short of many other sportscars of the day perhaps, but then most of those weighed considerably more than the little 911’s lithe 1,020kg kerbweight. Nonetheless, the owner barely had it a year before it was sent back to Stuttgart for a factory upgrade to S/T spec, the new 2.2-litre motor delivering an altogether more exciting 227bhp – surpassing the magic 100bhp/litre, in 1971. The fact its maximum torque was a more manageable 225Nm, delivered at 6,300rpm, says everything you need to know about the peaky delivery an S/T engine brought – after all, factory S/Ts were largely intended for sportscar racing categories right around the globe.
I’m sure the powertrain alone would have given this car a new lease of life, but the owner also ticked the box for the factory option bodykit; after receiving its new heart it made its way to the bodywork department in Zuffenhausen where it would be transformed with those lovely rear arches, expertly welded in, whilst the front fenders were replaced along with new front and rear bumpers, all manufactured in fibreglass to save weight. Here’s a fun fact – the lightweight nature of the existing aluminium bonnet meant that the final part of an S/T conversion was to add balsa wood strips to the underside of the bonnet, this to account for the extra top speed and associated additional aerodynamic load which could otherwise deform the hood at speed. Naturally, new wheels – 7x15 inches up front, 9x15 inches rear – completed the package with period sports tyres to contain the added performance.
The purist in me would love to be driving the car as it was then, to all intents and purposes identical in spec to one of the original 21 factory 911 S/Ts (or 23, depending where your data is from – the extra two being pure racing cars). The combination of a kerbweight now well under 1,000kg, 35% more power, the wider track helping accommodate wheels and tyres that deliver grip and agility commensurate with the motor’s attitude. That’s a pleasure that fell to the original owner for over 20 years whereupon it went from one sunny clime to another, landing in San Diego, California, where it resided until 2008, before returning to ‘der vaterland’.
Now well beyond its 40th year, between 2012 and 2018 it was subject to what was presumably a well-deserved restoration; a full nut and bolt job with no limit to budgetary constraints. On the contrary in fact, this is where things take a turn to their current iteration. With the engine out – in fact the whole car in pieces – the owner thought ‘why not look at some tempting upgrades…’ and what could be more tempting than more power?
And whilst the aim was more power, a keen eye was kept on driveability; the original S/T motor is an exciting and intoxicating thing to use, but its torque light, high-revving nature was always better suited to the racetrack than the street, where this car is intended to be enjoyed. So the S/T’s 2.2-litre flat six was supplanted by a 2.8-litre motor which brought in twin spark heads, Magneti Marelli double ignition distributor and twin coils. Fuelled byWeber 46mm carburettors the sharper cams, freer breathing manifolds and race exhaust help this engine turn fuel into power, torque and… noise. Oh, the noise… We’ll return to that.
The headline figure is 245bhp at 6,600rpm, so you can see that it’s nothing like as ‘peaky’ as the engine that previously inhabited the engine bay, whilst still delivering more power – there ain’t no replacement for displacement, as our Stateside friends like to say. But the real headline is 280 Nm of torque, arriving at 4,700rpm – fully 1,600 revs earlier than before. Of course, those figures still tell the story of an engine that loves to rev and is exciting to use, but it reveals the philosophy of dialling back that race style delivery just enough to make for a more pleasurable road car. Fundamentally, the idea was to enhance power and retain the driving character, whilst making performance that much more useable and accessible. Transmitting that power to the road is the usual Type 901 five-speed dogleg gearbox mated to a ZF limited slip diff, which we won’t be troubling on today’s bone-dry open sweeping roads, largely because the whole thing is so well tied down by its Koni suspension, firm enough to press those relatively fat, lightly treaded Yokohamas into the surface. But on these roads at least – which are all billiard table smooth, as is the way with rural roads in this part of Germany – it’s not in the least bit harsh, demonstrating pliancy via moderate amounts of roll in tighter bends.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; you’ve read the history of this fascinating and unique car, perhaps I’ve hinted at what’s to come with the race exhaust and 245bhp in a 962kg car. Hours spent in the countryside capturing images provide the opportunity to hear it from outside – an aggressive, serrated bark as it accelerates away, a booming crackle on the overrun as it slows into a bend. The sight and sound of this car is utterly beguiling and I can’t wait to drive it.
I have to admit, I’m feeling a little bit cautious given its value (it’s currently for sale just short of €400k), rarity and aggressive nature – despite being assured to ‘just go have fun’. Climbing inside only accentuates how simple and focused this car is; the fully caged rear is a reminder that S/T spec is very much for racing. The fixed back buckets are heavily bolstered from the midriff down, holding your torso tightly in place whilst the lack of upper bolster means using your core to keep shoulders upright when building lateral load. I’d like the seats a smidge more upright – like a touring car racer – because the seat is on the back of the runners for a workable hip to pedal distance, making my arms a bit straighter than I’d prefer. Still, its driving position is miles better than most contemporaries.
Slot the silver sliver into the ignition, hidden just behind the left side of the wheel. Rotate clockwise and the engine catches almost immediately, the electronic ignition and already warm fluids doing their bit. The noise, even at idle, is aggressive, immersive and in your face. There’s no sound deadening – none – so if it sounds like the motor is in the cabin with you, that’s because it pretty much is. Naturally, you give the throttle a blip – just to gauge response you tell yourself, fibbing – and the shriek from over your right shoulder is something else. You need to hear this thing under load.
So you push the left pedal, it’s pretty heavy and doesn’t give much feedback. You crank the longer than expected gearlever towards your knee then down to slot first, hoping you won’t need it again once rolling. You ease out the pedal… and stall. Well, I did say I was going to be careful. Next time I give it more rpm, the engine flares as I let the clutch out quick and smooth; we’re rolling. Straight away I can tell this car prefers to be grabbed by the scruff and driven as trying to ease my way into things results in driveline shunt, revs dropping sharply as I’m too slow on the upshift. So I do as the car is imploring me to and, well, give it some.
Bloooody hell. The sheer volume and quality of noise that arrives from behind shouldn’t really be a surprise, but for a moment I’m like a rabbit caught in headlights, the limiter chiding me to grab another gear. Remember that external sound I described earlier? Well that, times ten. Then add in all kinds of other mechanical music depending where throttle and revs are, from the baleful moan as you back off the gas, to the richly layered competition between induction noise, mechanical meshing and race pipes, finally melding beyond 6,000rpm into a sound so good I’m not sure I’ve heard anything better from a flat six. And forgive me for stating the obvious, but it’s really rather brisk. Not punch in the guts quick, but enough to get your attention, the short gearing keeping you on your toes; it’s probably on par with a 996 at road speeds, but the diminutive size and sonic assault would have you believe it’s miles faster.
It corners beautifully too, as much I could tell on these mostly fast open roads. I don’t feel inclined to probe the limits in fourth gear whilst piloting somebody else’s unique, €400k 911, but what I can tell you is the chassis feels absolutely nailed down, the front crystal clear in its response, the rear following faithfully whilst displaying typical classic 911 ability to change line via throttle. It’s so immersive and responsive that you derive a huge amount of pleasure just driving without needing to have your arse on fire. The S/T Stops well too, as sub tonne cars tend to, whilst the gearshift is undeniably a little vague across the gate – like all these early 911 ‘boxes, time would have you dialled into its ways. It makes those occasionally well-executed rev matched downshifts all the more rewarding, indulging yourself in one more flare of revs from that sublime engine. What a machine this S/T is.
Returning to our muster point for sunset shots, I’m absolutely smitten and buzzing with adrenaline, wondering what it must be like to drive this thing hard over an Alpine pass or – even better – a racetrack. Truth is, from our all too brief meeting, I already know it’d be utterly life affirming. But then, for a fully concentrated triple espresso hit of classic 911, you’d expect nothing less…
“The richly layered competition between induction noise, mechanical meshing and race pipes beyond 6,000rpm melds into a sound so good I’m not sure I’ve heard anything better from a flat six”
- Model 1969 Porsche 911 S/T Evocation 2.8
- Year 1969
- Capacity 2,800cc
- Maximum power 245bhp @ 6,600rpm
- Maximum torque 280Nm @ 4,700rpm
- Transmission Type 901 5-speed manual, dogleg
- Front McPherson struts, torsion bar, anti-roll bar
- Rear Trailing arms, torsion bar, anti-roll bar
- Wheels & tyres
- Front 7x15-inch Fuchs; 205/55/R15
- Rear 9x15-inch Minilites; 225/60/R15
- Length 4,163mm
- Width 1,661mm
- Weight 962kg
- 0-62mph 5.5secs (est)
- Top speed 150mph (est)
ABOVE Factory S/Ts left Zuffenhausen with a spartan interior, close-ratio gearbox and thinner glass windows.
BELOW Iconic S/T arches shroud 9-inch wide Minilite rear wheels. ABOVE Originally a ’69 S, this 911 returned to the factory to be upgraded to S/T spec