An RS-influenced 1983 Porsche 911 SC restomod

An RS-influenced 1983 Porsche 911 SC restomod

This once derelict 1983 911 SC is now sporting an RS-inspired exterior and is developing close to 275bhp from its freshly tuned three-litre flat-six…


Words Dan Furr

Photography Dan Sherwood


SUPER CARRERA

An RS-influenced 1983 Porsche 911 SC restomod


When it comes to hot rods, the mantra ‘less is more’ is often at the forefront of a modifier’s mind. Less weight means more pace. Less spend means more bang for your buck. Less displacement, though? Surely, on the basis of engine size alone, the Carrera 3.2 is a more desirable G-series 911 than the more readily available three-litre 911 SC? Not so, says Mike Champion, founder of Oxfordshire-based independent classic Porsche specialist, MCE Porsche. “The Carrera 3.2 is heavier than the SC,” he explains. “When people decide they want to get hold of an air-cooled 911 and turn it into a hot rod, one of the first things they think about is ditching weight from the car. A hot rod has no need for electrically adjustable mirrors, power seats, electric windows, heated windscreen and the other raft of comfort equipment we commonly associate with the Carrera 3.2. It’s also worth remembering this stuff comes accompanied by heavy wiring. Rather than shell out your hard-earned cash on a comparatively expensive Carrera 3.2, it’s better to save money by getting hold of a good SC as the starting point for a hot rod project, thereby giving you a 911 already free of many supplementary toys and their associated weight.” You’ll also be freeing up vital funds to spend on the build.


An RS-influenced 1983 Porsche 911 SC restomod

BY THE END OF PRODUCTION, A SHADE UNDER 58,000 EXAMPLES OF THE 911 SC HAD ROLLED OUT OF ZUFFENHAUSEN

An RS-influenced 1983 Porsche 911 SC restomod

What about the loss of engine capacity? “Hot rod engines are traditionally short-stroke,” Mike continues. “You’re better off taking the SC’s three-litre flat-six and equipping it with 3.2 barrels and pistons, resulting in a more free-revving engine than the Carrera 3.2 powerplant, which makes use of a heavier crankshaft and is designed to deliver increased torque at lowerrevs.” Add a few choice upgrades, such as the PMO carburettors, venturis and the punchy exhaust system seen at the rear of our 911 SC feature car, and you’re well on your way to 275bhp. But wait! We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we delve into what makes this twintone coupe so special, let’s remind ourselves of the 911 SC’s colourful history.


CAST THE NET

Upon release, the SC’s main job was to broaden the 911’s appeal. It usurped both 2.7-litre and three-litre Carrera versions of the 911 to become the only naturally aspirated 911 you could buy in dealer showrooms. At the heart of the new Porsche lay a detuned three-litre flat-six. It may have been 20bhp down on the 200bhp Carrera 3.0, but with new camshafts, a stronger crank and larger main bearings, grunt was more accessible lower down the rev range. And, thanks to the introduction of an eleven-blade fan, the new 911 was quieter, too. A pollution-reducing air pump made the 1,160kg SC cleaner than its predecessor. Changes less pronounced concerned the car’s bodywork — at first glance, unaltered ‘impact bumper’ looks made the new arrival virtually indistinguishable from the outgoing Carrera 3.0. Initially, the motoring press wasn’t entirely won over, but sports car enthusiasts lucky enough to spend meaningful time behind the wheel of the SC were encouraged by the peachy, free-revving engine and the sprint from rest to 60mph taking just 6.5 seconds. Before long, buyers were turning slow sales into busy dealer showroom activity. Bosch K-Jetronic Continuous Injection System (CIS) fuel injection and a more reliable aluminium crankcase proved to be popular technical highlights. It’s also interesting to note the SC was the first 911 with a brake servo. Cog-shifting enthusiasts delighted in five-speed manual 915 gearboxes, while lazier drivers could try their hand at mastering Porsche’s then ridiculed (but now respected) Sportomatic transmission.


An RS-influenced 1983 Porsche 911 SC restomod

Importantly, SC bodies were galvanised, promoting the idea of a Porsche not only being dependable, but a car capable of lasting a long time. Around eleven thousand examples were sold in 1979, at which point the model took on more of the earlier Carrera’s visual cues, most notably when headlamp surrounds were painted body colour and the remaining brightwork was anodised black. The 911 SC Targa’s Nirosta steel rollover hoop also gained a black coating, while a small hike in horsepower delivered a claimed 188bhp.

As a response to the second global oil crisis in less than a decade, the updated SC featured optimised ignition timing to cure what some considered to be a drinking problem. Sadly, as was the case with many Porsche products, SCs destined for North America missed out on the slight bump in bhp. In 1980, the SC was dropped from the US market altogether, leaving the $32,050 Weissach Edition to fill the gap. Fortunately, Autoweek magazine was impressed. “The Weissach Edition coupe is a hot car. It goes like hell, stops just as quickly and can turn on you as unpredictably as a rattlesnake!”

Porsche boss, Ernst Fuhrmann, envisaged the beginning of the end for the 911 ahead of the 944’s launch in time for the 1982 model year, but his plans were binned — as was Fuhrmann himself — with the arrival of new Porsche President and CEO, Peter Schutz, who was more than happy to plan 911 production long into the future. What better way to celebrate this reprieve than another boost in bhp?! SCs for 1981 saw their outputs increased to a Carrera-eclipsing 204bhp with 197lb-ft torque developed at 4,300rpm. Top speed rose to 146mph, but thanks to a change in compression ratio to 9.8:1 and a necessary switch to 98 octane fuel, the SC needed a stiffer drink. While official factory performance figures remained conservative, UK motoring magazines reported the 60mph dash to be achievable from rest in a scant 5.7 seconds.

Side repeaters on the front wings provided a visual clue to the new, more powerful SC, a machine put through its paces by two-time World Rally Championship victor, Walter Röhrl, and his co-driver, Christian Geistdörfer, during the 1981 San Remo Rally. Sadly, a broken driveshaft forced retirement. Interestingly, the SC received few changes in readiness for the 1982 model year, although the alterations were clear to see. Blackcentred Fuchs with polished rims were made standard, Turbo-look body styling gave the SC the air of its forcedfed sibling, while two-hundred special editions (seventy of them Targas) named after Ferry Porsche arrived to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his founding of the Porsche Design Company. Demure on the outside, the Meteor Grey exterior revealed a more startling burgundy leather interior, complete with Ferry’s signature stitched into the head rests. The famous Flachbau (slant nose) debuted in SC form around the same time.


LONG TIME COMING

The 911 SC Cabriolet — the first Porsche Cabriolet since the drop-top 356 —was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1981. There’s no denying how rare the 911 SC Cabriolet is today, but the scarcest of SCs is a steel-bodied factory Flachbau. Rarer than the Martini-striped Grand Prix White SC or the Fuchs-rimmed, Bilstein-shocked, spoiler-equipped, UK-only SC Sport, slant-nosed cars were supremely expensive and hand-built for high-worth Porsche clientele by the team stationed in Porsche’s Sonderwunsch (Special Wishes) department. By the end of production in 1983, a shade under 58,000 911 SCs had rolled out of Zuffenhausen. Such relatively high-volume production brought with it a perceived lack of exclusivity, meaning the cost of 911 SC ownership today is attractive, certainly when compared to the price of acquiring a less numerous 911 or, indeed, the more refined Carrera 3.2. “The SC has all the basic architecture you want for a 911 hot rod build,” says Mike. “Crucially, it’s also free of many things you won’t want for a project like this.”

The distinctively styled SC you see on these pages rolled off the Porsche assembly line in 1983. Its owner, Simon Barker, acquired the car almost two decades ago. Back then, it was still exhibiting its Guards Red paintwork, but was incomplete, missing many of its vital organs. Simon was also the owner of a 1975 Carrera 2.7 in a similar state. “His plan,” Mike reveals, “was to combine the two cars into one, using the newer SC chassis and picking the best bits from both 911s. He also decided to introduce elements echoing the aesthetic of the Carrera RS 2.7.” That’ll explain the fibreglass front end and ducktail, then.

The car arrived at MCE earlier this year. “Simon was working out of a single garage,” Mike tells us. “The Slate Grey paintwork, including the Gulf orange detailing and the white pinstripes, had been done to a very high standard by a third-party body shop, but the rest of the car was left wanting.” A part-built 1979 SC engine and the Carrera 2.7’s magnesium-cased 915 transmission, for example, had been installed, not because they were operational, but simply because Simon didn’t have the room to store them separately from the car. “He struggled with limited space and the availability of time to take of the work, which is why I was called upon to put the car together for him. Our aim was to get it on the road in time for this summer.”

When Mike first laid eyes on the car in Simon’s garage “the Porsche’s front end was pointing up to the heavens and its back end was resting on its bump stops.” How things have changed! The flat-six and gearbox were swiftly removed and installed on workstands in the MCE workshop, where Mike proceeded to strip and rebuild both units, installing 3.2 barrels and pistons in the process. The CIS fuel system was ditched, making way for 46mm PMO carbs, while a ‘hot’ GE60 camshaft and a trick exhaust in the style of 1980s ANSA Ferrari mufflers joined the party. “It’s a great system,” Mike smiles. “It features multiple small-diameter pipes and small expansion volume, not too silenced.

The resultant throaty roar sounds absolutely epic high in the rev range, but not too noisy on idle. There’s no low bass frequency when you’re sitting in traffic, for example. At high revs, though, when combined with the effect of the GE60 camshaft’s encouragement of intake and exhaust valve overlap, plus the tuned primary manifolds and a shot of induction noise, the noise is simply supersonic!”

Revs are limited at 7,200rpm to preserve the health of the engine for the long term — the lack of lightweight valvetrain means MCE can’t warrant going any higher. At the time of writing, Simon’s SC hadn’t visited a rolling road, but Mike is confident output is knocking on the door of 275bhp, based on his evaluation of the car’s performance and his experience building similarly specified air-cooled flat-sixes stamping this figure on dyno printouts. “The RSR engines I build feature slightly hotter cams and reach 300bhp, but on the road, the power of Simon’s 911 is perfectly adequate, especially considering the engine is propelling such a light classic Porsche.” There are further improvements to be made to the top end, though — Mike alludes to extending venturis as a next step.


THE THICK OF IT

The ride has been vastly improved by the appointment of Bilstein clubsport oriented dampers, delivering a more progressive damping rate than street-spec shocks and ideally suited to the drop in ride height Mike has introduced to the car. Along with MCE’s in-house chassis tuning and alignment, these brilliant ‘Billies’ contribute to a firmer, tauter ride, aided by a super-stiff rear anti-roll bar and the fat Pirellis wrapped around genuine Fuchs staggered sixteen-inch wheels. All in, it’s a bespoke configuration ideally suited to Simon’s driving style, how he intends to the use the car and, importantly, reflecting the massive 150 kilograms dropped over the standard SC’s kerb weight. Needless to say, you shouldn’t expect the luxury of electrically operated windows if Simon ever offers you a ride.

Speaking of application, Mike has been sympathetic to Simon’s intention to use his resurrected SC as a fast-road car, rather than a 911 likely to engage in an attack of the track. For this reason, the standard, perfectly adequate SC brakes remain in place, though Mike dismissed the servo. “People will tell you a servo improves braking capability, but what they really mean is that a servo affords the driver less effort at the pedal to achieve the same level of stopping power. The brakes themselves are no more effective. It’s a matter of personal preference, of course, but deleting the servo provides a more direct connection to what the car is doing when you slow it, reinstating pedal progression and greater control over deceleration.” Removing the servo and its supporting equipment gets rid of unwanted weight, too. In the spirit of a hot rod, the car’s cabin is sparse. Mike remade and rerouted the wiring harness, prepared lightweight carpets, RS-style door cards and installed a quintessentially ‘classic Porsche’ MOMO Prototipo drilled three-spoke steering wheel, which is perfectly at home alongside the leather-trimmed sports seats keeping Simon comfortable.

MCE is experienced in all aspects of personalising air-cooled Porsches. In other words, it’s unlikely Mike will be fazed by any job he’s asked to take care of an old 911, whether it’s mechanical, paint or interior work. Nevertheless, we wanted him to reveal the biggest challenge he faced working on Simon’s brilliant ‘bitsa’. “To be honest, it was diving into a project half-finished by third parties,” he confirms. “You never really know what you’re going to encounter until you’re into the journey of discovery, at which point you’re faced with taking bits of other people’s work and adding your own, combining everything into a cohesive finished car.” In truth, for a Porsche specialist such as MCE, the challenge of taking on an already started project is less about difficulty of the work and more about trying to achieve the original brief whilst managing customer expectations regarding the potential for extra manhours, which can be necessary when dealing with poorly executed past toil. The consequent impact on restoration or recommissioning budgets is obvious. That said, Mike is adept at involving MCE clients at every stage of a build, an approach enabling them to get to know their car better and encouraging them to feel even more invested in their personal Porsche project. It’s one of MCE’s calling cards. Proving the point, Simon first got in touch with Mike following recommendation from a mutual acquaintance who had instructed MCE to restore a classic 911. “Need someone to sort your SC? Speak to Mike!” came the instruction.

On the road, this sensational SC is every bit as unadulterated as it looks. The soundtrack under load is phenomenal. Moreover, the overall driving experience is best described as ‘raw’. Throttle, braking and steering sensitivity is noticeably enhanced, making you feel as though you’re travelling at high speed, even when you’re sticking to the speed limit. The RS-aping looks are, frankly, an aside. This is a seriously sorted 911 SC — a Super Carrera in more ways than one. Maybe it’s time to rethink that Carrera 3.2 purchase?

Above Exhaust system makes a fantastic noise and follows the design principles of the ANSA Ferrari exhausts popular in the early 1980s. Above Mike stripped and rebuilt the engine and gearbox, as well as the suspension and braking systems, bringing the car back to life with a bespoke tune on all fronts. Above Gulf orange accent and white pinstriping was painted over Slate Grey, replacing tired Guards Red. Above and below Following many years half-built in its owner’s single-garage, this 275bhp RS-influenced restomod is now ready for a summer of hard driving

ON THE ROAD, THIS SENSATIONAL SC IS EVERY BIT AS UNADULTERATED AS IT LOOKS

Above Mike confirms the finished restomod tips scales at 150 kilograms less than the kerb weight of a standard SC

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