Part seven of our 2019 Twelve Builds of Christmas details the restoration and updating of one of the first Tuthill Porsche SWB 911 rally cars. Built at a time when the earliest 911s were amongst the least desirable models, this 1965 911 was converted for rallying by Francis in the mid-1990s and used on events including the 1998 London to Cape Town Rally, the 2001 Inca Trail and the 2012 New York to Alaska “Trans-America” Rally (below).
Built in Stuttgart in July 1965, this Porsche was originally finished in Light Ivory with black leather trim. Supplied new by Otto Glocker Porsche Sportwagenzentrum of Frankfurt, the car left Germany for the USA early in its life in the hands of a returning US serviceman.
After spending almost twenty years in California, it came home to Europe in 1990. The odometer showed just over 40,000 miles on import into the UK and the vehicle was described as totally original. It remains a matching numbers example of the early short-wheelbase cars.
Our history with this car began when a new owner bought the 911 from Autofarm and brought it to us for conversion to rally spec. The shell was media blasted and strengthened in a similar way as we do today. A roll cage was welded in, along with the usual package of belts, seats, timers and so on. We fitted our long-range fuel tank and modified the front section to accept two spare wheels. The engine and transmission were rebuilt.
The car was successful in competition, finishing the 1998 London to Cape Town Rally and winning both its class and the marque award on the 15,000-mile 2001 Inca Trail Rally. After an early run of successful eventing, it was then maintained by other specialists, covering fewer than fifteen thousand miles in the intervening years until it appeared at auction in early 2019.
The car was purchased and brought to us for inspection and updating with a view to a rally return. Our inspection uncovered some corrosion and other issues which needed to be corrected. The decision was taken to strip the car and invest in its future reliability and competitiveness with a complete overhaul.
We stripped the chassis and mounted the shell on a frame for media blasting. Once the bare shell returned, it was wheeled into fabrication, where a long list of work commenced. All rust was replaced with new metal, including welding in new floor sections, removing layers of old patch repairs and fitting a brand new front panel.
The outdated roll cage was removed and replaced with a full bolt-in cage. We retained the original sump guards, as they had served the car well. A larger factory fuel tank was fitted and we also made some other improvements to the shell: things we have learned in the years since this car was first converted at Wardington.
With the metal work complete, the was sent to our bodyshop for a full repaint in original Light Ivory. The project was to build the car as a multi-purpose 911, ready to be rallied or used on the road or perhaps even on track.
While sound deadening may not be the route to ultimate 2-litre performance, covering thousands of miles in these cars is made much more pleasant with improved sound deadening in the rear: not to mention reducing the heat transfer from the engine compartment. We added a good coat of Dynamat Xtreme to the re-trimmed cabin, which was also fitted with new carpets, headlining and competition seats.
The engine and transmission were refreshed and the car was reassembled with a host of new parts to prepare it for its first event in almost two decades: the Southern Cross Safari through Kenya and Tanzania from February 15th to March 5th, 2020.
The car is now back together and is simply pristine. We’re excited by the return of this very cool SWB rally car: a significant part of the early history of our company and are looking forward to seeing the new owners travelling the world in their new 911!