I met Michael at a local autocross event and we grew to know each other battling it out in STX. Once we got to talking I found out he had a vintage Porsche to go along with his awesome STX Mini. Once I laid eyes on it, I had lusted after it’s details. Most of these cars have rich histories and Michael’s car is no exception to this. For the month of November we have something a tad bit different from the slew of BMW’s we’ve seen in this section. Welcome to the November 2015 Euro edition of the apexjunky Garage Files.
What type of car do you have?
1969 Porsche 911RSR Clone(ish) — Owned by Michael O’Neal
A lot of people give their cars nicknames/actual names. Do you have one for your Porsche?
Someone else named it the “Grey Ghost”, due to the subtle monochrome touches throughout the car.
Is this car your daily driver? If not what is your everyday car?
I drive an 07 Mini Cooper S (that I also autocross) on the street.
Mod List! Let’s have it!
Original Chassis: 1969 911T Polo Red Rustbucket
Engine: 1995 993 3.6L Conversion done at Mirage International by Jae Lee, and rennch™
Exhaust: Bursch headers and sport muffler. (It sounds pissed off all the time)
Cooling: Setrab Oil Cooler in front Fender, Earl’s cooler in front.
Suspension: Revalved Bilstien Front, Koni Yellow Rear, Smart Racing Front Thrubody Swaybar (Suspension by Steve Weiner at Rennsport Systems)
Brakes: Carrera Brakes Front, Stock Rear
Wheels + Tires: Accumoto “Fuchs” 15 x 9, 15 x 11 3 piece. Type III Hard Anodized Matte Grey, centers “dipped” RSR style until the proper depth of petals was achieved. Avon slicks 290mm front, 330mm rear, hand-carved into vintage pattern by Roger Kraus Racing.
Body: Color is…grey. Just “grey”. Neutral, midtone grey I picked at a paint shop. Same color as a rental van, but with 4 shiny clearcoats. Steel Turbo flares. Front fenders fiberglass.
Story: Intention was to pay homage to the original RSR in a monochrome fashion. I did all the work myself except for the final paint and some of the hardcore engine conversion. Every choice on the car was carefully considered for period-correctness and aesthetic impact. The “Porsche” logo on the rear decklid and wheels are a mashup of my podcast’s (The Solopreneur Hour – solohour.com) logo and Porsche. It’s a way I combine my interests.
What was the biggest “surprise” obstacle you faced when you worked on the car (as in what was maybe supposed to have been an easy task but ended up being a pretty huge undertaking)?
Not totally car related. While I was building the car, both of my parents passed away, so I mixed their ashes into the primer. They now surround me at all times.
Have you always wanted to build this genearation 911? If not what other cars have you built/modified?
Yes, I have a REAL passion for the 69-73 911’s. I had a 1972 911 before this, but I bought a real lemon of a car, and sold the chassis to someone. Now I wish I’d kept it and it was sitting on a rotisserie in my garage. Alas. I built a 73 Karmann Ghia in high school and I LOVED that car. I was rear-ended at a stoplight by a drunk driver, and it went to the junkyard. It was heartbreaking.
Tires are always a challenge for these vintage cars. What made you go with the Avon’s?
If you want a true, period correct tire (9 X 11 by 15” wheels) you have two choices in the world: The Avon historic (which are slicks that I had hand carved into the vintage tread pattern) or the Michelin TB. Both are expensive choices, however!
A lot of people build their cars for a power goal. When you set out building this car, was power one of your objectives or was it more of a balance to retain the Porsche characteristics?
I didn’t originally build it with power in mind. The original RSR had about 300 HP from a hot rod 2.8 liter engine. Building a similar engine today would run over 60k, so I ran a 3.0 with 180 hp for a while. But last year at the Coronado Speed Festival, I got a chance to ride in a real RSR and feel what 300 hp was like. So, I sold the 3.0 and recently installed a 300 hp 3.6L engine from a Porsche 993. Now it has the power the original car had, and it’s an absolute blast to drive.
Let’s talk suspension. Do you feel as though you need to address the shocks or are you happy with the way behaves across the board?
I just raced it today, and I definitely need to up the spring rate. It’s got too much body roll, and my transition time is too long. It also hasn’t been corner balanced yet, and that can make a huge difference for an early 911.
What would you say the car’s primary strength is?
Corner exit is ridiculous. It’s 2160 lbs with 300 hp, and the engine in the rear. It screams out of corners.
Recently you went to Buttonwilow. Describe the event and what you had to do to get the car there.
There’s not enough space on the Internet to describe the amount of work that had to be done to get the car ready for Buttonwillow, then the Rennsport Reunion in Monterey. LOTS of late nights.
Modifying a modern engine for a vintage chassis was a ton of work. The bulletproof Porsche engine prevailed however, and we installed it and fired it up on a Tuesday at noon. Few odds and ends later I drove 3 hours to Bakersfield from San Diego starting at 7PM and did not encounter any issues.
Wednesday I did 60 miles of hot laps at Buttonwillow.
Thursday I drove to Monterey, then around Monterey for 4 days.
Sunday and Monday I drove down to San Diego.
The engine didn’t even drip a single drop of oil. It was unreal. Jae Lee and his team at Mirage International are miracle workers. (Jae built about 40 3.8 L engines for the Singer 911, so he knows my engine well)
Do feel as though brakes were adequate for the track?
They are fine; the car is light. But, if I get more serious about DE’s, I’ll upgrade.
What’s your favorite track to drive? What is the time goal that you want to set for yourself and achieve in 2016?
I haven’t driven enough tracks to make the call. I enjoyed Buttonwillow, and I’m looking forward to exploring more SoCal tracks.
Are there any sponsors you would like to acknowledge for their assistance in getting your car to the way that it is?
Absolutely Jae Lee and Mirage International for countless hours of engineering and expertise. Patrick Motorsports helped a lot, as did Rothsport. Lots of parts from Pelican Parts. Clay Watson of Kustom Kar Audio in Boulder, CO for his shop and expertise, and of course, my own company, http://rennch.com
As most of raced cars undergo continuous changes, what are the next plans for the car?
I’ve got a couple of minor mechanical bits I’d like to get working. There’s always work on a 45 year old car. Racewise, it’s time to re-think the suspension to match the power of the new engine. I’m going to stiffen the torsion bars, and look into some double adjustable shocks. I might switch to an RSR Coilover suspension, but we’ll see how it goes.