The Road to the Race: Porsche 914 . Going the Distance!

Tim Abbott never intended to build a race car when he got his hands on a 1970 Porsche 914.

As the man behind Abbot Cars, South Africa’s most prestigious independent specialist Porsche restoration workshop, Tim knows his way around all the classics from Stuttgart. He’s also squarely in the “I love it” camp when it comes to the 914.

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Tim’s interest in the split-opinion model first began during a concour-level restoration of his father’s 914 in the mid-1980s. This car was eventually sold and shipped to the United States, but Tim promised himself that he would one day build his own.

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That opportunity came in 2005, when one of Tim’s clients decided to abandon his 914, then a 2.0-liter Type 4 engine. At first, Tim’s idea was to promote Porsche for quick use on the road and on the occasional track day. This type of trend is not uncommon, but no project develops into something much larger.

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It was 2008, when Tim, son Douglas, cousin Donovan and brother Anthony, who at the time headed Red Bull Racing’s F1 engineering software division, traveled to France to attend the prestigious Le Mans Classic. At this event, the future direction of the 914 was written.

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Watching classic cars drive around Circuit de la Sarthe was the inspiration that Tim – spurred on by his family to attend – needed to build the 914 at the same event they were all watching.

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On his return to South Africa, Tim wasted little time researching 914 factory race cars, with the idea of ​​building something similar out of his road car. He needed to look no further than the three cars Porsche built for the 1970 Marathon de la Route – a gigantic 84-hour endurance race held on the combined North and South Nürburgring – a whopping 28.3 kilometers per lap. By the end of the grueling three-and-a-half day event, the three business 914/6s had crossed the first, second and third finish line. The first car, driven by Claude Halde, Gerard LaRose and Helmut Marko, completed 360 laps, clocking more than 10,200 km. No wonder some manufacturers used this event to remotely test their new models.

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The car you see here is what Tim calls the “914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute.” As would be expected with a name like that, many of the modifications are based on those used in works cars, but Tim also looked at the ‘M471 Special Equipment’ package offered by Porsche for its 914/6 homologation for SCCA production racing in the US. This equipment included wide steel flares, a front curtain, fiberglass swing panels, and Fuchs wheels, among other things.

Marathon de la Route regulations allowed the 914/6’s engine capacity to be increased by 10%, but the factory set had to be retained. After acquiring a 2.0-liter six-cylinder Porsche engine, Tim increased its capacity to 2.2 liters by capping the block and installing oversized high-compression pistons. A reinforced crankshaft was added, the cylinder heads were oriented and fitted with larger valves. The result is a 10.0:1 compression.

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When using a carburetor for this type of setup, it’s usually the 45s twin that gets the nod, but Tim opted for the slightly smaller 40mm Weber twins. The exhaust is similar to the system used in Marathon de la Route cars, in that two branches can be covered.

Finally, with the twin ignition system on, the setup of the 2.2-liter Porsche engine revealed 180 horsepower and the ability to accelerate to 9000 rpm.

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To take full advantage of the engine’s power, the 914’s five-speed gearbox has been modified with close-ratio gearing that fits most South African circuits. A lightweight flywheel and clutch assembly were also installed for racing.

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Although Tim didn’t overlook any area of ​​the 914, special attention was paid to body and weight setup in order to perfect the handling. A full chrome chrome cage is attached to the four suspension points, which Tim says has tightened the car significantly. It tips the scales at just 890kg, so the power-to-weight ratio is fairly healthy.

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For suspension, the front end features MacPherson struts with Bilstein shocks and torsion bars, while the rear benefits from Bilstein-based coilovers. And for the brakes, Tim specified the 914 with Porsche 930 turbo rotors at all corners, with the 930 calipers front and 911S rear. Dual brake master cylinders are also fitted with AP Racing bias control within the cabin.

When it came to wheels, Tim wanted to run a gradient setup, which explains the mismatch somewhat. The Fuch fronts are 15×7 inches with 205/50R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11S tires, while the super-sized rear is 15×8 inches with the same semi-slick tires but in a 225/50R15 setup.

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The 914 chassis is one of the few aspects of the completed build the outside From the Abbott Cars workshop, but Tim knew that handing the car over to Anton Decker at Exclusive Conversion was the right thing to do. Flaring the steel Porsche arches made of fiberglass, and the use of composite materials to re-leather the doors, bonnet, trunk and fenders was always a big task, but it was executed to perfection.

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The exterior finish came with a full respite in Porsche Signal Orange and a paint job inspired by the #3 Porsche 914/6 that finished second at the 1970 Marathon de la Route with drivers Bjorn Valdegaard, Ike Anderson and Jay Chaswell.

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There isn’t much room in the 914’s cabin, especially when you add a full cage to the mix, but the space is well used with everything you’d expect to see in a race car and not much else. However, Tim was careful to make the cabin as comfortable as possible, hence the rug – a lightweight kind, of course. One cool update is the 911’s use of a gauge, which means there’s a tachometer that reads up to 10,000 rpm – ideal since the engine sees that figure roughly – and a 300 km/h speedometer.

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Although Tim’s 914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute was built to compete in the Le Mans Classic, it never made it to it. However, it has seen plenty of historic racing events in South Africa, including the Kyalami 9-Hour Retro and Passion for Speed ​​events. Even better, Tim shared driving duties with son Douglas and daughter Jennifer, so racing the 914 was a true family affair — fitting given how the car looked in the first place.

Brad Lord
Instagram: speed hunters

photo Stephen Coetzee
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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