Is a quarter of a million for an RS really that silly? Supply and demand, simple as that. And once a car reaches a certain level of desirability it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy and - ta da - a car that seemed pricey at half this amount just a year ago can still double its money in the blink of an eye. That this has happened to a car completely shunned and overlooked when new just adds to the rags to riches mystique. Unless you're my neighbour, for whom the platitude 'better to have loved and lost...' may seem a little raw.
Is the RS really that special though? Annoyingly yes. You can try and rationalise it and say building a ground-up replica from a ratty old 964 Carrera would give you just as much fun. But even suitable donors for that kind of project are getting expensive now. And, loath to admit it, the exclusivity of having a 'proper' one is the kind of hoop the likes of us will jump through. They don't get much more proper than this one either, apparently the first factory built lightweight to ever be sold. According to Silverstone Auctions it was originally a gift from Porsche to loyal racer Ulrich Richter as enticement to return to the competition fold. He obliged, taking a podium in a 911 RSR at the 1994 Daytona 24-hour having moved the car on the previous year. That it was supplied to its owner outside of the regular retail network and - it's claimed - is the first production N/GT Clubsport (full club racer spec rather than the road-oriented Touring and standard cars) is aiding that burly estimate but even without it's not hard to see why the auctioneers are rubbing their hands.
In this league originality is of course paramount but this RS has the patina of a car that's been enjoyed by those lucky enough to have spent more time behind its wheel than me. The paint is fresh and the magnesium wheels look perfect. But the 888s they wear, the aftermarket air filter in the engine bay and the sweat-stained harnesses all suggest a car that's been used properly. Whatever it sells for you have to hope the new owner does the same.
Chuntering away to warm the fluids I pace around, chivvying snapper Tom to hurry up with the details so we can crack on and drive. Like all serious 911s the tickover is lumpy and off-beat, the car seemingly quivering with similar impatience to hit the road. Clambering through the cage and into the minimal Recaro seat there are the remnants of a familiar 964 interior in terms of a dash, basic switchgear and regular gearshifter and spoiler switch. But everything else is gone, leaving bare painted metal, exposed wiring and ventilation ducting in the footwells.
No distractions whatsoever, in other words.
The fact the RS is one of the most hardcore roadgoing 911s the firm has ever sold and yet appears deliberately as similar as possible to a plain vanilla Carrera is likely one of the reasons it was so misunderstood when new. Back in the day Carrera stickers, ducktails and engorged arches set ruder models apart from regular 911s. And there's little chance of mistaking a modern RS for a boggo Carrera. But even the 964's steering wheel looks like a standard item, albeit smaller and with its own RS logo in the centre.
The illusion doesn't last long when you drive it though. The diff clanks and protests as you manoeuvre, the clutch feels stiff and the lack of inertia in the single-mass flywheel makes it very easy to stall. The smaller wheel means the unassisted steering is He-Man heavy at low speeds and if the exterior looks like a road car the interior is pure racer. So far so predictable.
What about that ride, pilloried as borderline undriveable on the road back in period? Maybe tastes have changed but it doesn't feel it now. Who knows, maybe we'll be saying this about the Alfa Romeo 4C in a few years time but that infamous stiffness and camber sensitivity feels like a beacon of sensitivity and communication compared with modern performance cars. The front wheels do like to sniff out the textures of the road and the wheel requires a firm hand but it's nuanced feedback rather than hysterical shouting. And for all the slammed ride height there's a pliancy in the (I'm told) standard springs and dampers that I'd describe as firm but fair.
The cloud of that six-figure value never quite leaves you be but as a car to enjoy it's simply wonderful. Who knows, maybe those who had them when they were 25-grand cars that could be ragged without thought to future investment value really did have it better? I'll ask my neigh- ... actually, no I won't.
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA RS (964)
Engine: 3,600cc flat-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 260@6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 240@4,800rpm
0-62mph: 5.4 sec*
Top speed: 162mph*
Weight: 1,230kg* (Lightweight version; Comfort 1,300kg)
Price: £250,000 (auction estimate)
*Figures for road-spec car
Photos: Tom Begley