This pretty Stone Grey air cooled Porsche 911 belongs to Steve Schofield. Having owned twelve Porsches across the years, the car is the result of a casual chat with the technicians at Specialist Cars Malton. Steve dropped into a conversation about how he fancied something lightweight for track days, with the Lotus Elise on his mind.
“They soon talked me out of that and pointed me towards a 1981 Carrera 3.0 SC that had just arrived.” The car was basically sound, but needed the usual kidney bowls and other areas sorting, so Steve discussed the best specification that would work. “I wanted it to be reliable, drivable every day and above all, good fun at all speeds.”
That was more than five years ago now and in this time, Steve’s driven the car regularly on road and on tracks across the UK and Europe and it’s been utterly reliable. I’ve driven Steve’s car and sat alongside him around circuits such as Spa Francorchamps. The car is great fun to drive, with simply the original 200 bhp to play with, you have to drive to the car’s strengths in braking and handling. Which makes it an incredibly satisfying car to spend time driving.
And Steve was quite happy with his car. Then came a call and the voice on the phone says, “Would you like a set of Webers for it?”
The voice was Steve’s mechanic friend Sam. Sam built the car whilst working for Specialist Cars of Malton. In 2017 he set out on his own with the intention of specialising in classic car work. And he knew a man who was selling Webers. Original Italian ones.
As we all know, there’s something about the feel and sound of a really well balanced set of Webers. The original Italian units are now much sought after, so he was never going to say no.
Steve kept me updated on the progress, culminating in the car’s re-emergence from the workshop just in time for a road trip to Spa Francorchamps and Nurburgring where it ran without missing a beat.
Today we’re at Croft Circuit on the annual Porsche Club GB track day and I have a chance to experience Steve’s new induction setup.
Just like me, Steve always starts his 911 with the door open. We both agree that there’s a sense of occasion when starting air cooled Porsches that should be enjoyed this way. The buzz from the fuel pump before twisting the key and that aroma of hot oil and fuel wafting through the doorway is something I never tire of.
As Steve accelerates out of the pit lane, the addition of the Webers is instantly apparent even from the passenger seat. Apart from that lovely induction note, the car is also pulling from a lot lower down in the rev range with that musical intake note adding very nicely to the stainless steel exhaust.
I’ve driven Steve’s car previously at Spa Francorchamps. It’s one of my personal favourite 911’s and I enjoyed every second of the laps he was generous enough to gift me. I can imagine that with the extra mid range power the areas of the Spa lap where the car’s weaknesses were exposed are now eradicated.
I can recall the end of the Spa lap into the new ‘bus stop’ chicane, third was a little too long and second far to short. The result was a compromise, either waiting in third for the revs to rise, or screaming out in second, needing to take a tricky shift across the gate of the 915 gearbox whilst still unwinding the lock with the other hand through that unassisted steering rack. Steve confirms that third is now definitely the gear for that corner.
A couple of years ago, air cooled Porsches were abundant on track days. Today, with the escalated value of the 911, Steve’s is one of just a handful of air cooled cars seen regularly on track. In all probability, that’s because he created it with driving in mind, rather than any future investment potential.
The donor car wasn’t a concours example, it was simply a generic, basically sound 911. The base car was completely stripped back to bare metal. Everything that didn’t really need to be there was removed. Carpets, standard seats, side glass, electric window motors, all removed. The heavy impact bumpers of the G Series car were taken off and lightweight early model replicas added.
Competition seats, a half roll cage and a Momo steering wheel went in, together with perspex door windows. The whole car was then painted in Stone Grey, a Porsche 356 racing colour, with some Mark Donoghue Can Am inspired Porsche door graphics, before sitting the car on period Fuchs wheels running Khumo track tyres. Brakes are 3.2 discs, running Boxster brake callipers with race pads and Castrol SRF brake fluid.
Engine and horsepower? Until Steve fitted the Weber carbs this year, you may be surprised to hear it was almost standard. Simply a stainless steel exhaust and some minor ignition timing tweaks give the car a few BHP more than standard after a top end overhaul. Even the 915 gearbox is standard. “Everyone said I should put a Wevo shifter into her, but I like the period feel to the shift, it suits the car. Once you get used to it, it’s not a problem.” Suspension is also standard, simply resetting ride heights, corner weights and the overall stance to similar settings used for racing are the only changes.
With a kerb weight in the area of 1,000kgs, it’s a light and nimble car on track, great fun to drive and everything that Steve wanted in his quest for a Porsche 911 that can be used every day, driven to the track, enjoyed and then driven home.
Which is exactly what Porsche designed them for.
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