It's been said a man is only as good as the company he keeps, and on that score, I am very proud to number Walter Dawydiak among my friends. Often, it really isn't what you know, it's who you know. And nowhere is this more true than in the world of vintage sports cars.
If you've ever driven down San Francisco's Franklin Street, you know Cars Dawydiak consistently features some of the choicest examples of automotive athleticism anywhere in the country. Dawydiak routinely stocks his store with a broad variety of highly significant sports cars. His Euro spec 1973 Porsche 911 Carerra RS 2.7 we're about to experience is a perfect case in point.
On the move,
Number 1,108 of 1,580 examples of the car Porsche built to satisfy homologation requirements to enter the FIA Group 4 sports cars class for competition at venues like Daytona and LeMans, the RS or Renn Sport (Renn is German for racing) is based on the 190-horsepower, 2.4-liter, 1972 Porsche 911S. To get to RS specification, the S was stripped of all excess weight and the engine’s bore was increased by 6mm to make 210 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at 5100 rpm. Now before you dismiss that as ordinary, recognize the Carrera RS only weighs 2,414 pounds. The equivalent of the RS 2.7 in Porsche’s contemporary lineup is the 911 GT3.
Out where spirited driving gets done, the experience is as pure as it could possibly be. All control falls to the driver—there are no electronic aids whatsoever. Even the fuel injection system is mechanical, which is basically one step above carburetion. If you’re used to getting into a cold car and simply turning the key to start the engine, you’ll sit there wondering why the RS won’t start. You have to blip the throttle as you turn the key to dump fuel into the cylinders to incite combustion. When you do, you’re greeted almost immediately with that characteristic Porsche WHUMP, accompanied by the high pitched shriek of the fan and the intake as you gently blip the throttle to keep the flat six spinning as it warms.
On the move,the Porsche gulps distance with a display of acceleration that is elastic, dynamic and enormously addictive. The ride is on the stiff side—every undulation in the road's surface is transmitted directly to your butt and the palms of your hands—but it's more informative than uncomfortable. Neither steering nor brakes are assisted, so you have to apply your control inputs in a firm fashion, and when you do, the response is amazing. As the car goes faster, the steering lightens in a linearly progressive manner, which, considering there’s no computer adjusting the resistance, is quite remarkable.
The shifter is a bit stiff until its fluid warms. After that, the gearbox is the very model of efficiency. Shifts are short, if somewhat notchy, and the gearbox willingly guides you to the next gear. Pedal actuation is awkward at first, as they hinge at the floor in these older 911s. But with a bit of time and acclimation, I was ripping off beautifully rev-matched downshifts—rewarding both in their ability to help slow the car and in the absolutely intoxicating sound they made.
In the corners, the RS 2.7 took a firm set and stayed as flat as the horizon. Arcing through bends and twists in some instances at as much as 60 mph, I never got a threat of the potentially deadly old-Porsche oversteer. I'll admit I didn’t push the Porsche extremely hard in that regard. In deference to the Carrera’s age, rarity and value, I stayed just south of the limits of the 911’s cornering abilities.