Thursday 15th November 2012


PH BLOG: RACE CARS FOR THE ROAD

It should be the pinnacle of all PHness but is a 'race car for the road' really what you want? Dan's not sure


I was going to run this Porsche 962 currently for sale at Specialist Cars of Malton as a Spotted, or maybe even a You Know You Want To. And then I started thinking, actually, maybe I wouldn't want to.

Now that IS a race car for the road
Now that IS a race car for the road
No mistake, it is a very, very cool thing. And with its racecar style bodywork at least a lot easier on the eye than some of the 962 roadcars that sneaked out of the paddock and onto the street in the 80s courtesy of Koenig, Schuppan and others. The carbon body looks beautifully finished and there's no doubt it'll be fast as fu ... ry. 580hp and 950kg are favourable numbers by any stretch.

'Race car for the road' is up there in the book of motoring hack's clichés with 'corners on rails', 'stump pulling torque' and the rest. But, like the other metaphors, it's not meant to be taken literally.

A real 962, like the one Harris drove recently, is a racing car and, with the right provenance like the one he had a go with, rightfully worth millions. A car like that 993 GT2 discussed last week is crazy money at £324K but as a rarity with exclusivity and clear desirability on its side almost understandable.

But even with the Derek Bell connection and no doubt a stunning, raw experience at the wheel I worry if this suffers from being neither one thing nor the other. And once over the novelty of taking it to the shops - Rothmans livery or not - would it actually be much fun to drive? I have a nasty feeling it wouldn't be but each to their own.

Stunningly realised but would you really?
Stunningly realised but would you really?
This flatnose 935 up for auction later in the month, built from a 1973 donor car in 1997 and fitted with a genuine 935 engine, is a similar story. Elements of it have real provenance. Maybe I'm being a snob but at the same time it's neither a nice, original 70s 911 nor a proper 935 racing car.

Road going Group B cars would appear to be a similar story. I remember reading contemporary reports of driving these things with clammy palmed excitement back in the day. Only to feel a sense of utter betrayal when the apparent reality of driving a detuned competition car with a scrap of carpet and a misplaced radio you couldn't hear anyway failed to live up to the flame-spitting, mud flinging monsters that transfixed this impressionable petrolhead back in the 80s.

There are cases where the formula has worked
There are cases where the formula has worked
And that's just it. We're talking barely civilised versions of the most focused competition cars from an era of extremes of power and speed. I can't imagine a turbocharged F1 car from the same period would be any fun on the road either, speed bump friendly ride height or not.

Maybe I just need to MTFU and embrace the lunacy but when you look at some of the classic road cars true homologation specials have resulted in I think I'll take my 'race car for the road' just a little more on the civilised side. This'd be my choice. What's yours?

Dan

 

Author: Dan Trent
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