PORSCHE 911 Performance
by Mitchell Sam Rossi
At the outset, let it be said that this is a performance handbook and not a guide to restore a Porsche 911 to show car condition. While the subject of the book, a 1970 911S, has won awards in concours'd elegance competitions, it has always been entered on a whim and only in the modest wash-n-shine category. I am a firm believer that there is only one place to truly enjoy this kind of car -- on the race track. The sole purpose of this project was to take an early 911 and create a high performance racer that would be appraised by a stopwatch and not a concours judge.
Also understand that this book differs from most how-to performance handbooks on the store shelf in that it was not written by an ex-factory mechanic, a Sports Car Club of America autocross champion or technical engineer. By trade, I am a novelist. Even my entry into automotive journalism comes late with respect to my wordsmanship career.
On the other hand, I proudly consider myself amongst the legions of dedicated aficionados who place the Porsche marque upon the highest of pedestals. The cars of Zuffenhausen, from the 356 coupes onward, are to be lauded for their engineering wizardry and their legendary performance. More than mere machines of speed and grace, these cars exude an intangible beauty, a quality that radiates beyond their sculpted fenders and leather-bound cockpits.
So why read a technical book on upgrading the early 911 from someone who, on the first page, admits to not being the end all authority on the subject? Simple. While the 911 is not my occupation, it is the focus of my lifelong passion. Porsche experts are a rarity. And rarer still are those who take their beloved cars to the race track and thrash them about a black ribbon of asphalt testing their work, their theories and themselves.
The insight I have gained by creating this racing 911 was imparted to me by the real authorities. What I have tried to do with this handbook is pass this knowledge on in a non-technical, understandable, and hopefully, engaging manner.
Through the book, where I turned the wrench, I will explain exactly what I did and why. Where I sought out the help of specialists, you will be presented with their opinions and reasons behind what they advocate.
From body enhancements to suspension upgrades, from fire suppressant systems to seat position, I consulted people for whom getting the most from a Porsche 911 is more than just a livelihood, it is an obsession.
You will find that the book is divided into two parts. Phase One deals with rescuing the 911S after too many years of neglect. While the car was in dreadful shape, it was not hopeless. But simply getting it running and on the street was not enough. I had been seduced by the racing bug early in my driving career and thus, the very reason for the Porsche=s resurrection was to get the old S on the slalom track again.
Phase Two begins with the assembly of a new engine. This may seem out of step, but this was the actual sequence of events. The more powerful motor opened up the possibility of wheel-to-wheel racing. This promise of heightened competition, of course, required additional improvements to the car.
If you upgrade the suspension, you certainly must upgrade the brakes. Upgrade the brakes then you have to improve the....well, you get the idea. Competition is a wanton mistress. I have included "Up Next" and "Better Yet" sections. The "Better Yet" pages represent corrections or additional information on procedures done to the S that were either unnecessary or wrongly implemented. They are meant to minimize or eliminate frustrating and usually costly errors. This section also introduces the newest aftermarket equipment for the 911, components that were not available during the initial reconstruction.
The "Up Next" section reveals what further changes are planned for the car. As every competitor knows, race car development is never done. Here, too, experts on a planned improvement were interviewed and their suggestions passed along.
Regardless of what level of competition you want to run, there is no better way to learn and understand the engineering wonders of a 911 than to tear one down and then build it back yourself. It sounds like an enormous undertaking. It is not. It requires only time, patience and a lot of garage space.
As I have stated, I will not peddle myself as an authority on these cars, but by dismantling and reassembling my 911S, not once but twice, a great deal of information was amassed about this particular German sports car from a myriad of very experienced people. It is all here. The good and the bad, what worked and what did not. What I should have done and what I had to do over. Thus, my experiences, I pass on to you.
This may not be the only way to build a highly competitive 911, but it is one that ultimately proved its worth.
Mitchell Sam Rossi © 2006