Vic Elford On Balance…

Driving the Porsche 911 for many can be an acquired taste. They aren’t a car that appeals to all and indeed most people need to drive one more than once to understand the unique handling of the Porsche 911. “If you try to bully a 911, it will bite you.” Who better to describe the unique qualities of the Porsche 911 and how best to drive it than Vic Elford, a man whose success in both racing and rallying is unheard-of in the highly specialised world of motorsport today?

This is a great short video featuring the legendary Vic Elford simply dispelling that rear engined 911 myth in the space of ninety seconds. Forget the ‘rear engined death trap’ reputation of old. as the man says, it’s about balance…

“The real secret of driving an early 911 is balance. When I first rallied one, in the 1960s, that rear engine meant the weight distribution was around 40/60 and the car had a dreadful reputation for spinning. The balance of those early cars can be altered by the tiniest adjustment to the throttle and steering – but if an inexperienced driver feels the rear end getting out of line, the risk is that he will simply lift off the throttle. And that, of course, is a recipe for disaster. Lifting off too abruptly unloads the rear wheels, transfers the weight to the front, and the extra grip on the front wheels means a spin is inevitable.

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“By the time the average driver feels the rear end sliding, it’s probably too late to catch it because the rear-heavy car ‘accelerates’ into the slide. But I discovered that the 911’s fearsome reputation was a myth. Once you understand the balance and dynamics, the car becomes predictable – and genuinely safe. It’s a car that needs to be gently coaxed, and persuaded, and seduced: but never bullied. Treat it with finesse – everything smooth and gentle, because if you try to bully a 911, it will bite you.”

We’ve written elsewhere about our own initiation into the art of Porsche 911 driving. If you don’t enjoy a Porsche on your first drive, don’t give up. It’s worth the perseverance in the end.

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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

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