I have driven a Le Mans racer on a public road. Now, there’s a sentence I thought I’d never write. Having said that, if there is a manufacturer that has built race cars that can, with some effort, be road registered, it’s Porsche. Let’s start at the beginning of this incredible story. This 1973 Porsche 2.8 RSR (chassis number 911 360 0636) has a rather illustrious racing history. Tipping the scales in full race trim at just 917kg, it was built in February 1973 and delivered to Max Moritz Racing a month later.
During the following few years the car had a busy racing schedule: in May ’73 it qualified tenth for the Targa Florio, but unfortunately it did not finish the event following a crash. In June it was time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but after 103 laps, it crashed early in the morning after more than nine hours of racing. As was customary for the period, the car was upgraded to 3.0-litre RSR specification in 1974, while the 2.8-litre engine found its way to Australia to be installed in the Porsche EBS Prototype race car. However, the chassis itself continued to be raced from 1974 to 1976, after which the RSR received a specially-built, 3.5-litre, flat-six engine. In 1987 the car was bought by UK specialist Autofarm for £25,000 but only a year later it was sold to racer Siggi Brunn, who decided to restore it back to its former glory.
From 1993 to 1995 and 1997 to 1999, this RSR also took part in the prestigious Tour Auto. The current owner campaigned the car in those latter rallies, as he purchased it in 1995. Since then the car has undergone another restoration. This was more of a refurbishment than a full restoration, but when a friend of the owner began researching the car’s history, he found more than 50 pictures that detailed the car’s racing life. It was subsequently decided to cover the car in the exact livery and stickers that it had during the 1973 Le Mans race. Incidentally, the EBS Prototype came up for sale, but its owner didn’t want to part with the engine. Fortunately, the prototype’s new owner agreed to sell the engine, making it possible to have a matching-numbers 1973 RSR, which is rare. However, the owner of chassis 0636 decided to keep the 3.5-litre engine in the car, partly because it was by now such an integral part of the car’s racing history.
The characteristics of the engine were also similar to that of the original unit; he’s kept the precious 2.8-litre in storage, should he wish to reinstall it one day. The car itself resided in South Africa for a while, but unfortunately the country didn’t host the type of events that the RSR could compete in and be appreciated for, so the car was shipped to Switzerland. But there was one problem. No other 2.8 RSR had been road registered in the Alpine country. What followed was a year of “jumping through several hoops.” First of all, the owner had to prove that the car was a genuine RSR before the volume of the otherwise characterful noise emitted by its exhaust system was to be muffled. In Switzerland the decibel test is conducted when the car drives by at 100km/h and the driver who drove the car for that test admits he capped the two main exhaust pipes, allowing the gases – and sound – to exit from the single side exhaust. He also selected fifth gear to keep the revs as low as possible. To cut a long story short, they succeeded: the RSR was road registered just a few weeks before the key to this rare Rennsport was handed to me.