The 911R was developed out of a need to go quicker; to go racing. But the Porsche factory was slow offthe start line to develop a hot version of the 911. Only in 1965 did the factory field a works 911 in the Monte Carlo Rally. Prior to 1965 it was left to privateers to fly the 911 flag and they continued to do so thereafter, with Günter Klass winning the European GT Rally Championship in 1966, and Eberhard Mahle the European Hill Climb Championship.
1966 proved to be a good year, as Jacques Dewez and Jean Kerguen secured a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in their 911S which, incredibly, they drove both to and from the track. Then came the 911R, the brainchild of Porsche’s head of R&D, Ferdinand Piëch. Piëch’s 911R would become the Porsche that put the ‘R’ into Rennsport. With the hope of competing in GT racing, several power units were considered, Piëch eventually settling on the Type 901/22 six-cylinder, as used in the 906 and 910 race cars. Advanced for its time, it comprised of aluminium alloy cylinder heads with twin chain-driven over-head camshafts, titanium connecting rods, two electric fuel pumps, dual ignition and triple-throat 46mm downdraft Weber carburettors. Attention was then focused on lightening the 911; even the unibody steel frame was constructed out of thinner gauge metal in certain places. All the appendages, including the doors, front fenders, bumpers, engine and boot lid were constructed from glass fibre reinforced polymer.
The windscreen was reduced to 4mm glass, with 2mm Plexiglas everywhere else. All opening appendages were fitted with aluminium hinges, shaving offmore weight. In fact, Piëch and his team went to the absolute extreme to ensure the 911R weighed the bare minimum; carpets, rooflining, sound deadening, door cards and window mechanisms are obvious omissions. But there’s more; two of the five instrument clusters, ashtrays and front passenger’s sun visor were also removed. Simple plastic straps replaced the inside door-handles and most of the metal surfaces inside were perforated to reduce weight On the exterior, gone were the horn grilles and fog lamp covers, forming air intakes in the front fenders. Miniscule indicators and marker lights were placed in the front and small round taillights at the rear. The oil filler cap positioned in the rear right fender, housing the dry sump oil tank, was stationed there for better weight distribution. All the arches were flared to accommodate the wider Fuchs wheels, making it more agile around corners. In the end, the 911R tipped the scale at around 800kg, 230kg lighter than the 911S – it remains the lightest 911 ever constructed.
The engine produced 210bhp at 8,000rpm and it did the 0-62mph sprint in 5.9 seconds. It could cover one kilometre from standstill in just 24.2 seconds – a second faster than the 904 Carrera GTS. Early testing at Hockenheim produced a lap time of 2:17.5, only 12 seconds slower than the lap record set by the Group 4 906 Carrera 6. In August 1967 the 911R achieved a spectacular victory, winning the Marathon de la Route, an 84-hour race around the Nürburgring. Drivers Vic Elford, Hans Herrmann and Jochen Neerpasch raced the 911R, with a new Sportomatic gearbox, to victory. The intention of racing the 911R was a fundamental reason why the project was started, however, 500 vehicles were required to meet the homologation target for GT Racing. With an asking price of 45,000 DM, twice the cost of a 911S, it was always going to be a tall order to sell 500 units.