The key to an enjoyable freelance career is realising one’s most exciting ideas. Saving ideas – good or bad – for future reference is crucial, and a solid notebook habit soon becomes one of the most important practices in a freelancer’s life.
A notebook is not just a writing space: it is also a thinking space. My pile of colourful A5 moleskine notebooks dates back to the mid-2000s, when I first starting writing about Porsche. Their contents are interwoven with several thousand voice memos and tens of thousands of iPhone images shot over the last twenty years.
I therefore regard my notebooks with great affection and appropriate respect and so I was delighted to get an email from my friend Guy Allen last week about a new range of notebooks he has designed in collaboration with German publisher, Dingwort Verlag.
The A5 notebooks contain 176 pages of sustainably sourced 120gsm Munken paper, with a subtle dot grid printed on each page. The recycled leather covers are screenprinted with some of Guy’s most iconic print designs. The covers have a soft-touch coating and a smooth textural finish. Solid thread stitching and a round spine allow the books to lie flat when open. Rounded corners and black edges help to protect against wear and tear.
Guy sent me a notebook to experience the quality. He chose to send his 911 print – one of my favourites and in my Guy Allen collection. It arrived just in time, as I was on the last two pages of my most recent notebook, so today is my first day using this one. My Lamy Al-Star workpens seem to agree with the very beautiful paper and I have several big classic car valuation reports to get through this week, so I will enjoy filling this with thoughts, ideas and conversation notes and whatever else sparks my awareness.
The Guy Allen Art notebooks are available to buy direct from Dingwort Verlag and no doubt they can ship in time for Christmas. I am tempted to add the Col de Turini and Salzburg 917 designs to an order. Guy’s work is beautiful, so I am delighted by the prospect of having it in my hands and on my desk every day.
The beautiful Porsche collection of Steven Harris is about to go on show at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York. Running through to autumn 2021, the exhibition includes many significant models in original factory condition, but also some cars that were modified to match the owner’s intentions. The list of air-cooled Porsches on show includes:
1956 356A Carrera Coupe
1957 356A Carrera Speedster
1958 356A Carrera GT Coupe
1959 Carrera GS Cabriolet
1960 356B T5 Roadster
1963 Carrera 2 GS Cabriolet
1964 356C Couple – Peking to Paris Rally car
1973 911T “SHTang”/RGruppe
1973 911 Carrera RS
1974 911 Carrera RS 3.0
1984 911 SCRS
1992 964 911 Carrera RS Lightweight
1992 964 911 RS N-GT “Macau”
1994 964 911 RS 3.8
1995 993 911 Carrera RS
1995 993 911 GT2
As part of the exhibition’s preparations, my long-time friend and creative partner, James Lipman, flew to NY and shot the collection in studio, for an accompanying book that will document the collection at this moment in time. The photos seen here are by James.
Steven was responsible for introducing James to the profound effects of immersion in the social scene that surrounds air-cooled Porsche life across North America, particularly in California, where the light hits just right. James’ enthusiasm for a trip to the Baja California taken with Steven sometime in early 2009, and the wonderful images that came out of that trip, led to his selling me on the idea of doing some work out there in May of that year. This was our first R Gruppe Treffen, where we shot the two SWB 911s of Bob Tilton and Chris Nielsen that inspired a raft of work over the next two years and forged lifelong friendships.
Combining an achitectural vision with a deep understanding of air-cooled Porsche culture and history (not to mention a keen awareness of market activity) has created to the collection that is partly shown at Saratoga, including several Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance winners. I urge anyone local to the museum to visit and experience Steven’s cognitive precision as expressed through his collection, and to enjoy what blending true passion for these cars and a genetic understanding of what great design looks like can accomplish over time.
About the Saratoga Automobile Museum
The Saratoga Automobile Museum is located within the 2,500-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, in the heart of historic Saratoga Springs, New York. Famous for its legendary one-mile thoroughbred track, the Museum’s facility is the fully restored and renovated New York State Bottling Plant, a beautiful neoclassical structure completed in 1935.
The Saratoga Automobile Museum was chartered in 1999 and officially opened to the public in June 2002, with a mission to preserve, interpret and exhibit automobiles and automotive artifacts. The museum celebrates the automobile and educates the general public, students and enthusiasts to the role of the automobile in New York State and the wider world. In addition to technical and design aspects, the educational focus is on past, present and future social and economic impacts of the automobile.
The online classic car auction scene has taken off since the first lockdown and I’ve been kept busy inspecting auction cars for sale, including all sorts of classic cars offered through On The Market and Collecting Cars. Now there’s a new online auction seller – Manor Park Classics – whose first sale on April 27th includes a pair of longhood Porsche 911 Targas.
I don’t know much about Manor Park Classics, but their web content appears to be the polar opposite of my taste in content, so it’s no surprise that the name is new to me. The debut auction currently stands at 137 lots: five motorcycles, various items of automobilia and number plates and around 92 cars if my maths is correct.
The sale includes several lots from the Vauxhall Heritage Collection, which will be offered at no reserve, including nice examples of basic Vauxhalls such as the Nova and original Viva. The other lots run the gamut, from Bentleys and Rolls-Royce to low mileage Jaguar XJS, several MGs and classic Minis and a handful of other run-of-the-mill bits and pieces that caught my eye, including a low-ish mile E28 520 at a fairly chunky guide price of £8-10k. I had quite a few E28s back in the day and I do love these cars. My mother began her driving career in a 1974 Renault 6 similar to the LHD 1972 example on offer with another perhaps optimistic guide of £5-6k, but we’ll see how that one does.
The first Porsche for sale is a 1973 RHD Porsche 911 E Targa in Gold, retaining its original tan leather trim but with a recent engine and gearbox rebuild costing some £8.5k. This is a decent engine out service on an MFI car atsome specialists so it is worth knowing what this rebuild entails. The 911 2.4E is my favourite longhood variant so that is a positive if the rest is up to scratch. Auction cars rarely are, so inspect things carefully before bidding.
The other 911 for sale at auction is a 1967 LHD Porsche 911 2.0 Soft-Window Targa in Golf Blue with black trim. In the UK since 1999, this car appears to be quite a good example, having come from its original owner with a huge pile of provenance and offered with body restoration bills for over £21k in the last few years. No mention of who this was with or what panels were replaced and that is important to know. Guide on the soft-window Targa is £90-110k. Bear in mind that there is a 15% Buyers Premium payable on all bids.
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It was good to hear from many R Gruppe friends after my recent post on the late Cris Huergas. One name that popped up in my inbox was Hayden Burvill at WEVO, who is about to put his 1972 Porsche 911 up for sale.
The car in question is Kenny: a 1972 911T built in May of that year and finished in rare Gulf Orange. The ‘oil klapper’ side oil-flap 911 now runs a 2.4S engine, rebuilt by Jerry Woods, but the matching numbers engine comes with the car.
Kenny has been owned by a handful Porsche enthusiasts in San Francisco’s Bay Area since it was new in 1972. It’s the car that inspired the Aussie engineer and product designer to begin modifying 911s – initially for autocross competitions – and develop a range of chassis and drivetrain products to sharpen the air-cooled 911 driving experience.
Products developed on Kenny include the famous WEVO shifters, engine and transmission mounts, anti-roll bars and suspension parts. Kenny is also fitted with several prototype parts that never went into production, such as the WEVO brakes that I vaguely attempted to buy several times but could never convince him to sell.
The WEVO brakes remained in prototype due to projected retail price against the value of air-cooled cars at the time. The numbers would probably make more sense nowadays, but life has moved on and there are other products out there. Hayden instead developed his 5-speed conversion for Porsche 356 models and that has been going well since launch.
Kenny has been part of my world since 2008, when I took my first trip out to San Carlos to meet Hayden and Tracey at WEVO. They could not have been more welcoming and our friendship continued when Twinspark Racing became WEVO’s official European distributors. I was a partner in Twinspark at the time, along with my friends Leonard Stolk and Lex Proper, so we did a fair amount of business together.
Hayden’s exploits in historic rallying on events like the Peking to Paris alongside Steven Harris and more recent rallies with Alastair Caldwell have kept us in touch. Our last time together in person was when Ciara and I joined H and the EB Motorsport guys for dinner on the beach at Zandvoort after the Masters Historic Grand Prix in 2018. Great times.
The world has turned on its head in two years and the pandemic has shifted life goals for both of us. Hayden’s responding by selling some cars and doubling down on a sustainable lifestyle. His 993 daily driver has already departed and Kenny is next on the block. The cool blue 912 is also likely to go.
Long-time followers will remember our feature on Kenny, which ran in one of the Porsche magazines back in the day. Jamie and I took the car to Pacific Grove near Monterey before sunrise and shot it on the coast as the sun came up. It was an unforgettable experience.
I’ve driven a lot of miles in this car, incuding down through the redwoods from San Francisco to Laguna Seca (above), where the car has seen many great days on track. As Hayden was an early R Gruppe member, Kenny was one of the earliest R Gruppe cars, attending all sorts of group events over the years. There is an air of authenticity about this one that later R Gruppe creations can’t hope to match. The aim is to place it with someone who will appreciate the history and keep piling the miles on, enjoying the car while we are still allowed to drive them.
Hayden wrote up a great spec on the 911 and you can download a pdf of that here. I’ll put the main points below. This is a special 911 with room for cosmetic detailing if you want to go that way. I would probably just run it as-is (with one of Jonny’s electric air conditioning kits, of course).
1972 Porsche 911 for sale – Specification
That original engine was replaced by the current engine, a 2.4-litre MFI engine from a 911S that was dressed using the original yellow “T” fan shroud and a combination of 2.4S intake system, recalibrated MFI pump and the highly regarded Elgin “Mod-S” camshaft grind. The engine made ~195hp at 6750rpm on the Jerry woods dyno with airbox, filter and Abarth muffler installed.
The engine was detailed when it was installed in 2004 and the installation is otherwise stock. There is no external oil cooler, it has the stock MFI fuel pump mounted in stock location, stock fuel filter and fuel cut-off valve all mounted and functioning.
WEVO SS engine mounts are fitted. The current exhaust is stock MFI heat exchangers (cabin heat connected) and a stock MFI muffler with the period correct ribbed outlet. The accessory package that comes with this car includes a rare Abarth 4-outlet muffler, an equally rare and unique 6-outlet muffler (for when 4 is not enough!) and a rare, unused 2 x 2 muffler with a pair of chrome outlets exiting wide; one on each corner of the rear bumper.
The engine has a WEVO 915 Streetlite Clutch kit using a spring-centre friction disc. The low inertia and added performance of this clutch kit is especially noticeable at full throttle in second and third gears.
As one would expect given WEVO’s unique expertise, the transmission has been through a variety of revisions, at times running a WEVO super lightweight spool instead of an open differential. It currently has a Porsche factory ZF limited slip differential. It has a very deliberate build suited for easy street driving, or aggressive track driving. 80% build configuration giving the maximum friction surfaces, then carefully shimmed to have a very light pre-load of only 10 ft/lbs.
This configuration gives a high locking action during aggressive driving and easy rolling and steering at low speeds. The transmission has a suite of WEVO products, including XT 100 Side Cover, WEVO 915 GateShift kit and XT 032 bearing retainer plate. The gearbox is in great operating condition and needs no repairs.
Hayden’s interior spec goes into quite a lot of detail but, in short:
Fitted factory sports seats
Abarth 360mm sports steering wheel
WEVO 915 shifter with +40mm lever (my 911 also has this: perfect mod)
WEVO PSJ shift coupler and XT 147 clamp
Accessories package includes bespoke carbon fibre seats with custom rear cage
Again H has added a lot of detail to the bodywork section. In summary:
Sunroof 911 finished in original Gulf Orange
Rust-free car that has lived in California for almost fifty years
Distinctive WEVO-logo graphics
Presented as RS with SC/Carrera rear arches
Fibreglass bumpers and ducktail
Bespoke front brake cooling ducts
H1 headlights with Euro rear lenses
Accessories package includes original steel rear bumper and deck lid, and an early S steel front bumper
See the full pdf for details of this. One could hardly ask for a better suspension setup on a sports-purpose early car:
21/26 torsion bars
RSR raised-spindle front struts with Bilstein inserts
WEVO Camberking top mounts with Teflon monoballs and carbon fibre cross tube/strut brace
Weltmeister 19mm front ARB
WEVO Spring Plate system rear end (now unobtanium)
’76 trailing arms with SRP monoballs and WEVO E-Z pins
Designed to fit inside 6×15 wheels with a nod to 930 brake performance
315 x 28mm front brake disc
standard 930 rear disc with handbrake bell
930 pads for ease of replacement
Accessory package includes set of new discs and all brake servicing literature
Wheels and Tyres
Kenny runs on nicely restored 7 & 8×15″ Fuchs, with Avon CR6ZZ Classic 185/70 front and 215/60 rear tyres. The spare is a 6 x 15″ Fuchs with a 185/70 tyre.
Enquiries and Price
It can be difficult to price cars like this and would be all too easy to get that wrong. Setting the mods aside, we have a low-owner ’72 oil flap 911T with sunroof in a relatively rare colour with a matching numbers engine and the original panels ready to be refitted. The only major change is the SC arches.
Adding in the mods we have a Jerry Woods 2.4S MFI engine making circa 200 horsepower, custom WEVO transmission with pretty much everything you could pick from the catalogue, custom suspension, custom brakes, simple but desirable period trim that one could improve and so on. It also comes with a ton of additional parts, including the original engine.
The key to this car for me is that it is not fake. It is not a poser. It was forged at the centre of air-cooled 911 culture and has been driven and developed over twenty years of ownership. What was created specifically for this car may now be found on thousands of 911s all over the world. But there is only one original. Does that story add any value? Well, the buyers will decide. What price romance nowadays?!
So to the price. Hayden is open to offers circa $150,000, which is £114,000 or €126,000. To find a similar rust-free 1972 911 and fit it with an S engine with the WEVO bits one can still buy would easily exceed this. And that car would not be built by WEVO. Add in the unobtanium, the spares bits and who knows what else the boss will include and you have a unique piece of air-cooled history.
The car is located in San Francisco, but can of course be shipped anywhere in the world. I am helping out with this one should it make its way across the pond to the UK or Europe, so you can contact Hayden via WEVO.com or drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org – or give me a call on +44 7565 348453.
The cool thing would perhaps be to quote Groucho Marx (“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member”) but, when the late Cris Huergas sent me an email in 2007 to ask if I wanted to join the R Gruppe, it caught my attention.
Founding R Gruppe member, Gib Bosworth, owned several air-cooled 911s including a very original Carrera 3.0 (super rare in America as never sold new there) and found my 1976 Carrera 3.0 through impactbumpers.com. He liked the community spirit I was building on the impact bumpers forum, with a focus on driving the cars, learning more about them and doing one’s own maintenance.
Gib’s view of what worked carried weight, and impactbumpers presented by Gib resonated with Cris. The fact that I was writing for pretty much all of the British Porsche magazines at the time didn’t hurt my case either, as Cris was into his car magazines. He overlooked the minor technicality that, although I did own a ’71 project bought from the Gruppe’s ‘Dutch chapter’, my ’76 was not a longhood – a membership must at the time. In any case, I got the email, paid my dues and was member number 466.
I remained with the Gruppe for more than ten years and spent lots of time with Cris on our California visits. He was a working guy who’d been through a few ups and downs, so 911 ownership was behind him by the time we hooked up but, as the Gruppemeister he always had shotgun, and many friends would happily lend him cars on events.
He also loved to come out on shoots: the energy around these things was ridiculously infectious and Cris loved being in the thick of it. He usually knew much of the story behind the cars we were shooting, so period voice recordings invariably feature a high-pitched Huergas prompting the owner on something they forgot.
Our first meeting was at the Fogcatcher Inn on the Pacific Coast Highway in Cambria, California in 2008. Jamie (James Lipman) and I made our first trip from the UK to CA to see what went on at an R Gruppe Treffen and I decided we should shoot Bob Tilton and Chris Nielsen’s SWB 911s.
It is difficult to explain to recent arrivals to air-cooled Porsches just how unloved short-wheelbase cars were at the time. Super cheap and often scrapped, here were two guys who had invested heavily in two SWB 911s, spending well over market value to realise their individual visions in very different, but equally convincing ways.
Tilton and Nielsen were more than just 911 guys; they were tastemakers. Tilt was fastidious about every tiny detail and Nielsen matched his microscopic focus to the miligram. What I found within each of them was that they looked back for inspiration, but were not driven to mimic. They interpreted their influences rather than imitating them. This is what made their cars special and the two we had to shoot on that first trip to America.
In the years that followed, 911 prices took off into the stratosphere and R Gruppe became quite the sensation. Cris loved grass roots enthusiasts and would make an effort to talk to new faces. Someone with a cool 911 who came to a few meets and showed they were not a complete pain in the arse was generally given a number, but Cris would also occasionally slip numbers to people who maybe didn’t have the grass roots background, but turned up in a serious car. Maybe they didn’t build it, but they had a vision of quality that worked for him, and they had a clue about cars. Cris also brought in the occasional trophy member – which was not a bad thing.
Huergas was a serious petrolhead and, while he liked old 911s with patchwork-quilt provenance, he also knew a proper car. He and his brothers were all into cars, and the crew around Cris was similarly knowledgeable. It’s no accident that Cris started R Gruppe (so called in a play on words around “Our Group” and the underdog history of the 911R) with Freeman Thomas, one of the most respected car designers of the 20th century. Cris could hold his own in that sort of company and his inner circle were serious geeks when it came to details on more than just Porsches.
Still, it was always the garagistes that did it for me: home builders who had a vision and didn’t really care whether it fitted what has since become a fairly prescriptive early 911 recipe book. My favourite Cris quote is “everything you do is right” – meaning that, if you liked it, then who cared what anyone else thought?
Whether it was Bob Aines’ orange E that was driven from Texas to California every Treffen, Rolly Resos’ famous red and white car, Harvey Weidman’s Martini 911 or Gib’s beautiful Tour de France recreation, the early R Gruppe cars were incredibly elegant. The cars were my air-cooled royalty and their drivers were true elder statesmen, in every sense of the word. We never wrote features on any of the cars I mention above and I do not regret that: a magazine splash would have spoiled their allure. Better to shun such vulgarity.
That’s not to say that the Gruppe 911s we did shoot were anything less than superb. With so many great cars to choose from, and only four weeks a year to gather the material, we shot what we could get to and saved a few others for later. Not all of our cars came through the R Gruppe, but it was the main portal for some wonderful times and I remember them fondly. In the centre was Cris: always on the hunt for 911 fans to add to the cocktail shaker he called R Gruppe membership.
In the same way that Tilton and Nielsen expressed their 911 visions as a unified blend of countless influences, Huergas delivered his vision of the car park dinner party everyone wanted to be at in the shape of the R Gruppe. Now that Cris has left us, things are likely to change.
It is fortunate, therefore, that German photographer, Frank Kayser, captured the last months of R Gruppe under Huergas for The R Book. A look through some of Frank’s photos shows many familiar faces, all of whom were devoted to Cris for bringing them into the fold.
“I had complete creative freedom for this book,” says Frank, “so I got to document the things that inspire me: beautiful landscapes, cool dudes and loads of awesome cars. The old air-cooled Porsche is the connecting link of it all. The book is not just another coffee table book about cars, but my statement for analogue values such as freedom, friendship and the fun of experiencing the real world together.”
The R Book website describes this as a “10 x 13” coffee-table book of 580 pages that’s filled with 840 brilliant images of awesome cars, candid visits of member’s private garages, and beautiful Californian landscapes. Well written essays about the history and the attitude towards life of America‘s cult Porsche car club”, but to those who experienced the Gruppe under Cris, it will be more than that.
Beautifully presented, the R Gruppe book is not cheap at €180, and it’s no substitute for being part of Huergas’ R Gruppe before the world went crazy for air-cooled but, for 911 fans looking for something to evoke memories of good times with friends and old Porsches, it is worth a look.
I leave the last word to my R Gruppe compadre, Guenter Kehr, who I climbed many Alpine passes with on the epic Twinspark Racing 2010 Bergmeister Tour: “More a piece of art than just a book, but great stuff for any Porsche guy and a great memory to the late Cris Huergas.”
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Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:
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