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Thursday 9th February 2012


PH Heroes: Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Clubsport

Porsche never made a proper RS 3.2 but this prototype Clubsport is a hint of what might have been


A true PH Hero car is an inspiration, a memory jog that might, if it really gets to you, have you browsing the classifieds and maybe even going out and buying one. Futile in the case of this particular car because there's only one, it belongs to Porsche and it isn't about to sell it.

Ultra-rare SC/RS provided some inspiration
Ultra-rare SC/RS provided some inspiration
Some hero then. But the production car it inspired, though diluted a tad, does exist and can be yours.

Recently restored with the help of visitors to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart (their signatures can be found on the underside of the luggage compartment lid) this car was the prototype for a run of 340 3.2 Clubsports. Completed in 1984, it wears the graphics applied to non-UK market Clubsports, 'ours' sold exclusively in a more distinctive combination of white paint, red Fuchs wheels and matching 'Carrera CS' graphics along the sills.

Common consensus says just 53 of these cars were sold here and today fetch serious money, Specialist Cars of Malton selling a low mileage example for £65K last year.

Lack of weight really shines in the bends
Lack of weight really shines in the bends
That's two or three times the price of a mint 3.2 and though still not up in the stratosphere like 2.7s - and some way behind the 964 RS - indicates recognition is growing. Super rare Group B homologation 911SC/RS aside it's the closest the G Series got to a roadgoing RS model, Porsche Museum man Dieter Landenberger describing it to us as the GT3 of its day.

One of a kind
Production Clubsports kept the heavy impact bumpers of standard 3.2s, but this prototype has fibreglass skins like those fitted to the SC/RS, saving around 20kg each end according to Landenberger.

Aesthetically it's a subtle change, but it instantly marks this Clubsport out as something a little more hardcore. Clean and mean, even with the whaletail it's about as pure a look for the G Series as you'll have ever seen and, better still, an authentic vision rather than the contrived retro makeover so commonly inflicted on these cars.

Clubsport less extreme than SC/RS
Clubsport less extreme than SC/RS
Inside it's familiar 3.2, with a few nods to its more minimalist ethos with no rear seats and blanked off auxiliary dials outside of the regular central trio of rev counter, speedo and fuel gauges. Production cars were less extreme but still deleted the front fog lights, electric operation for seats and windows and the undersealing, reducing the anti-corrosion warranty from 10 years to just two. On the plus side the 0-62mph time dropped from 6.1 seconds to just 5.9, the top speed matching the standard car's at 152mph.

Cheaper, lighter, better
In its day it cost £34,389, £1,187 less than a standard Carrera and cheaper even than a 944 Turbo. Read that and weep Boxster Spyder and Cayman R buyers - this was a relatively naïve time when Porsche actually charged less for its lightweight, stripped out models rather than more.

Production Clubsports had higher redline
Production Clubsports had higher redline
As befits a prototype this car has an ugly, chuntering idle, the like of which fruitier 911s often have. Engine mods for production Clubsports included hollow intake valves and tweaked engine management, raising the redline from 6,500rpm to 6,850rpm. The crankcase and cylinder heads gained 'SP' markings to denote the change, this prototype's engine bay in Landenberger's words looking 'almost homemade' and the engine allegedly pushing out as much as 250hp against the production version's 231hp.

Fresh leather on the steering wheel remains unpolished by human hand, lending the prototype an odd new car patina at odds with the vintage. But you quickly relish the complete lack of slop or play.

Blanked off dials signal lightweight build
Blanked off dials signal lightweight build
Good as new
The gearbox, a 915 unit in this prototype rather than the G50 used in production versions, is more direct and positive than most, too, as you'd expect of a factory restoration, and there's a wonderful purity to every control that offers a rare sense of travelling back in time to when this car really was fresh off the line.

Production Clubsports were a claimed 50kg lighter than the standard car's 1,210kg dry weight but in a recent story on the same car in Octane Tony Dron asked the museum to put it on the scales and it reportedly weighed in at just 1,071kg.

However you play the wet/dry weights that's significantly less than standard and the prototype feels it, the steering immediately a lot lighter than that of a standard 3.2. It's not quite fingertip effort but it feels eager and quick to change direction and wonderfully alive and alert.

Pure as the virginal white paint would suggest
Pure as the virginal white paint would suggest
The Clubsport prototype isn't fast by modern standards, but as the revs build the lumpy idle is forgotten and above 5,000rpm it turns a good deal more savage. There's a rawness but the surroundings are still civilised - this is no stripped-out racer, but rather a delightful mix of hardcore and everyday.

Get inspired
Off the boring Interstate and onto the dramatically cambered and twisting Californian backroads, the real delights of the Clubsport package reveal themselves. That lightness is just so compelling, the bite from the front end seemingly much more tenacious and turn-in super direct. And even with fat seven-inch rear wheels and the apparently modest power you straighten the wheel with your foot rather than your hands. Which sounds like typical motoring hack dab of oppo hyperbole but is, instead, as natural as can be.

Clubsport is beautifully balanced
Clubsport is beautifully balanced
It's a lovely, lovely car this prototype and the ability to drive it a rare privilege. It's also tantalising that the production Clubsport didn't quite take the prototype's lightweight ethos to such extremes. It's still more than a set of stickers and set of red Fuchs wheels and a deservedly desirable limited production 911. But this prototype is another car altogether and as pleasing a demonstration of less is more than you could ever wish for. Forget bastardising that rusty 3.2 into a 2.7 RS clone and try this as your inspiration instead.


PORSCHE 911 CARRERA 3.2 CLUBSPORT*
Engine:
3,164cc flat-6
Power (hp): 231@5,900rpm
Torque (lb ft): 209
0-62mph: 5.9 sec
Top speed: 151mph
On sale: 1987-89
Price new: £34,389
Price now: c. £50-60,000
*All figures relate to production version







 

Author: Dan Trent

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Last comment was by LWT RSR
on 21st February 2012