The German performance car company started developing the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 almost 50 years ago. “The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 was intended as a homologation special. It was to be a very light, fast sports car,” recalls Peter Falk, who was then the Head of Testing for series production cars at Porsche.
Despite the fact that the model variety was based on the 911, it evolved into a unique racing and rallying base car with several technological advancements.
The first 911 to be named ‘Carrera’ – the crowning jewel of the Porsche line – was the most powerful model of the first generation of 911s. Weight, aerodynamics, the engine, and the chassis were all heavily scrutinized. From May 1972 forward, a team of about 15 engineers worked on the automobile, which was supplemented by manufacturing employees.
Table of Contents
An unexpected and pleasant surprise
In order to homologate the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 for Group 4 Special GT vehicles, Porsche originally intended to construct 500 units. It was made a road-legal vehicle for customers who also wished to compete in races. The redesigned model was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, which was held at the Porte de Versailles, on October 5, 1972.
By the end of November, all 500 cars had been sold. Porsche was taken aback by the car’s popularity, and by July 1973, sales had tripled. The Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 was homologated for both Group 3 and Group 4 when the 1,000th car was produced.
Porsche built 200 lightweight ‘Sport’ variants of the vehicle with the optional M471 equipment package. A total of 55 racing models, 17 basic cars, and 1,308 touring models (M472) were produced.
According to the customer’s specifications and the manufacturing date, the interior of the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 ‘Light’ (M471) was reduced down to the basics. The back seats, carpets, clock, coat hooks, and armrests, among other things, were left out. Two lightweight seat shells replaced the bulkier sports seats at the customer’s request.
Even the Porsche crest on the hood was glued on at first. The ‘Sport’ weighed 115 kilograms less than the ‘Touring’ equipment package (M472), with a curb weight of 960 kg. The cost was 34,000 German marks. The Sport package (M471) cost 700 German marks and the Touring package (M472) cost 2,500.
As a result, the 911 Carrera RS 2.7’s version was determined by the equipment package selected.
The 2.7-liter flat-six fuel-injected engine generated 210 HP at 6,300 rpm and 255 Nm at 5,100 rpm in the automobile. This allowed the Sport version of the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, making it the first production vehicle to break the six-second barrier established by the German trade newspaper ‘auto, motor und sport.’
The highest speed was 245 kilometers per hour. (Touring time: 6.3 seconds, speed: 240 km/h) The RS 2.7 achieved the perfect balance of weight, performance, aerodynamics, and handling.
The body’s only purpose was to shed pounds. Thin sheet metal, thin windows, plastic components, and the removal of insulation all contributed to the racing vehicles’ total vehicle weight being less than the 900 kg necessary for homologation.
The Porsche 911 Carrera RS and its signature rear spoiler
The aerodynamics were also enhanced at the same time. The goal was to provide more neutral handling by reducing lift on the front and rear axles at high speeds. Engineers Hermann Burst and Tilman Brodbeck, together with stylist Rolf Wiener, created a rear spoiler for the first time, testing it in the wind lab and on test tracks.
The goal was to keep the 911’s formal closed body style, compensate for the sloping rear’s disadvantages with acceptable and artistically appropriate measures, and increase the 911’s aerodynamics.
When driving at high speeds, the redesigned duck tail pulled the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 closer to the road and provided more cooling air to the rear engine. The impact was accomplished with no increase in drag; in fact, the vehicle’s peak speed rose by 4.5 kilometers per hour.
“During tests, we found that with a taller spoiler we could increase the top speed due to the decrease in drag. So we kept raising the rear spoiler upward by millimetres with sheet metal at the tear-off edge until we found the reversal point at which the drag increased again,” explains Peter Falk, then the Head of Testing for series production cars at PorscheFalk.
The engineers began work on the chassis as well. Porsche had already raced with bigger rear wheels at this point, so the development team tested it out on the 911 Carrera RS 2.7.
“We wanted to improve traction and handling with wide tyres on the rear axle because the greatest weight is found on the rear axle,” recalls Falk.
A Porsche series production vehicle utilized distinct tire sizes on the front and rear axles for the first time. The front wheels were Fuchs forged 6 J 15 with 185/70 VR-15 tires, while the rear wheels were Fuchs forged 7 J 15 with 215/60 VR-15 tires. Porsche had to enlarge the body by 42 mm around the wheel arches to make them fit.
“When this worked well in development, production and sales, all subsequent models were fitted with this combination,” Falk continues.
Porsche concluded a highly successful period with the change in rules for sports prototypes, which hindered future development due to the new three-liter displacement restriction.
After making its racing debut at the Tour de Corse in November 1972 with a 911 Carrera RSR (racing-sport-racing) with a dramatically expanded body, Porsche chose to start a new chapter in the 911’s success story in 1973. An RSR is driven by Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood crossed the finish line with a 22-lap lead in the 24 Hours of Daytona in early February of that year.
It had been a fantastic start to the new season. In May 1973, Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep won the Targa Florio.
“The victory was important for us because it showed that the RSR with the larger rear wing was very fast on circuits and rally stages,” recalls Falk.
The 911 Carrera RSR won three international and seven national titles in its maiden season, laying the groundwork for the 911’s long-term success. Roger Penske of the United States entered 12 identical 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 cars in the International Race of Champions (IROC) in October 1973, in which drivers from various racing classes fought against each other.
Porsche, on the other hand, was not only constructing a race vehicle for the track but also a car that consumers could use as a daily driver as well as for racing with the 911 Carrera RS 2.7. The grand touring automobile was driven to the racecourse by it. It was characterized in contemporary advertisements as follows:
“Its repertoire: by road to the race and home again. Monday to the office. Tuesday to Geneva. Back in the evening. Wednesday shopping. City. Traffic jam. Creeping traffic, but no soot on the plugs, no complaint from the clutch.
Thursday country roads, motorway, switchbacks, dirt roads, construction sites, Friday only a short distance and repeated cold starts. Saturday with holiday luggage to Finland. Carrera RS – full of inexhaustible reserves in sprints and marathons.”
Carrera designation appears
The ‘Carrera’ lettering decorated the side view between the wheel arches on the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 for the first time. RS on the rear spoiler stands for ‘Rennsport,’ meaning racing, while the Spanish term translates to ‘race’ in English.
The new name was inspired by the ‘Carrera Panamericana’ for Porsche. With the 550 Spyder, Porsche won the endurance event for the first time in 1953. Then, in 1954, it finished third overall, causing such a stir that the name was changed.
Porsche adopted the term Carrera for the most powerful cars with the 1954 four-camshaft/Fuhrmann engine, such as the 356 A 1500 GS Carrera and the 356 B 2000 GS Carrera GT, in the years that followed.
The Carrera script was present on the wing behind the front wheel arch of the Porsche 904 Carrera GTS from 1963, and on the wing behind the front wheel arch of the Porsche 906 Carrera 6 from 1965. Carrera was also thought to be a “quality predicate for a technological delicacy that had established itself on racetracks and rally circuits,” according to remarks made at the time.
In summary, it was the perfect moniker for 911’s future top-of-the-line model.
“We wanted to assign the already famous name ‘Carrera’ to a production model and thought about how we could best represent that,” recalls Harm Lagaaij, who was a designer at Porsche at the time.
The location between the wheel arches was chosen.
Porsche had various eye-catching design aspects to offer in addition to the Carrera lettering: There were 29 paint tones available, some in bold colors, and 27 were made, including Bright Yellow, Red, and Blood Orange. Porsche also complied with specific color requests from customers.
The rims matched the body color or the Carrera writing on the sides of white automobiles with red, blue, or green letters, for example. The font, like the long-famous RS abbreviation, has retained its primacy until this day. It may be found on the most sporty 911 cars, just as it was over 50 years ago.