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Le Mans Legend: 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo to be auctioned

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1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo. Photo by Mathieu Heurtault, copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

It’s not often that you can point to a specific vehicle with the knowledge that it created history, but this is what Gooding & Company can do with one of its high-profile offerings for its forthcoming Amelia Island 2018 auction event. While the firm has numerous Porsches consigned to this auction, this one can take credit as having established the German automaker’s race-proven, turbocharged legend: the “R13” 1974 911 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo.

This 911 represents a sea change for Porsche, as new rules and homologation requirements in the early 1970s would limit engine displacement and require improved fuel economy. Porsche executives wanted a racer that looked much like the 911s available in showrooms, and with the production 930 — marketed as the 911 Turbo Carrera — being readied for 1975-1976 production, the RSR 2.1 would establish its legend.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo

Photo by Mathieu Heurtault, copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

Developed alongside 1973’s roadgoing Group 4 homologation-special 2.7-liter Carrera RS was the naturally aspirated 2.8-liter, 300-hp Carrera RSR racer; that RSR would be further developed into the turbocharged 1974 RSR 2.1. Famous racer and Porsche historian/author Paul Frère explained in Porsche Racing Cars of the 70s why this automaker had to limit the Group 6 racer’s displacement: “Supercharged engines of any kind used for any sort of racing, except Formula 1, were considered to have a capacity 1.4 times actual swept volume (in Formula 1 it is twice), it also meant that the engine capacity had to be reduced to no more than 2,142 cc in order to fall within the 3-liter capacity limit.”

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo

At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1974. Photo courtesy The Revs Institute.

Porsche’s racing division developed the turbocharged 2.1-liter Type 911/78 SOHC flat-six, which in its original form, made 450 hp at 8,000 rpm. This air/oil-cooled, magnesium-crankcase engine featured Bosch mechanical fuel injection and was fitted with a KKK-brand turbocharger and intercooler; as installed in the RSR 2.1, it made 500 hp at 7,600 rpm and 405 lb-ft of torque at 5,400 rpm. The engine would be paired with a five-speed transaxle sporting its own oil cooler, an 80-percent locking differential, and heavy-duty 917 racer-type half-shafts.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo

Remaining 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR images by Matt Howell, copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

That mechanical package lived under a skin that, for the most part, was recognizable as a 911, although it was drastically modified from stock. The RSR would wear fiberglass fenders, doors, front and rear valances, and front and rear decklids — all engineered for weight-savings — and tubular framing supported the engine and suspension. As built, the RSR 2.1 weighed just over 1,800 pounds. It also sported widely flared fenders to cover the massive center-lock wheels (10.5-inches wide up front, 17-inches wide rear), and a huge rear wing required to keep the inherently imbalanced car (30:70-percent front/rear weight bias, despite moving the fuel tank to where the passenger seat would be!) stable at more than 190 mph.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo

Just four Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbos (“R5,” “R9,” “R12,” and “R13”) would be built for the 1974 racing season, and all would be factory-entered examples that sported the famous Martini Racing red and blue livery. They would be campaigned at that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with three driven by French teams (finishing 12th, 13, and 14th overall), and this one — driven by Porsche Works teammates Gijs van Lennep and Herbert Herbert Müller — would place second, despite losing the car’s fifth gear.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo

In addition to its historic Le Mans finish in June 1974, “R13” took second in 1974’s 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, seventh in the 1000 KM of Le Castellet, and fifth at that year’s 1000 KM of Brands Hatch. It got a short break, then ran twice more in 1977, at the 24 Hours of Daytona (where it DNF’d) and 3 Hours of Mid-Ohio (coming in 26th overall). R13 would be the most successful 1974 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo.

This 911 has had just five owners after it left Porsche AG’s stable in 1975, and, in the past 20 years, it’s been exhibited both in the USA and overseas. It received an engine rebuild in the early 2000s, but remains in largely unrestored, original condition, still bearing its as-raced patina.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo

According to Gooding & Company, “The RSR Turbo, introduced just a decade after the 911 entered production, is now recognized as one of the most fascinating, influential models in the history of the Porsche marque. These state-of-the-art machines successfully competed against prototype sports racing cars during the 1974 racing season and were instrumental in the development of subsequent turbocharged 911 racing cars. The RSR Turbo was also the first turbocharged car to run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, ushering in an exciting new era in motor sports. Every Porsche that has won Le Mans since this model’s introduction in 1974 — from the 936 to the 919 Hybrid — successfully utilized turbo technology.”

1976 Porsche 934

1976 Porsche 934. Photo by Brian Henniker, courtesy Gooding & Company.

Now this Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo won’t be the only 911 Turbo variant to cross the block at Amelia Island; no fewer than 11 roadgoing and racing Porsches in the catalog can trace their lineage to this  RSR. The list begins with the original 911 Turbo, aka “930”: 1976 “934” racer, 1977 “930”, and 1988 “930” ; the revised “964” chassis’ 1993 Turbo S Leichtbau, and 1994 Turbo 3.6; the final air-cooled “993” chassis’ 1996 Turbo1996 GT21997 Turbo S, and 1997 Turbo S; and a water-cooled “997” variant, the 2011 GT2 RS. Indeed, even the twin-turbocharged 1987 959 Komfort being offered can trace its lineage to our feature RSR.

This Le Mans veteran could represent the perfect storm of desirability, thanks to its originality, racing results, famous livery, owner pedigree, and historical significance. It’s estimated to bring between $6 and $8 million when it crosses the block on March 9. Visit for admittance and bidding information.