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Who is the father of the

by: Keith V of CA

Vic suited up at Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Do you recognize this man?He is a motor racing legend, one of the last of the true “gentleman racers”
.............. and the father of the .


Who fathered the ?

There seem to be numerous differing theories regarding the origins of the and why Porsche brought it over to the USA. Some claim it was purely a plan to import a lower price 911 to boost car sales that were flagging in the early nineties. I have even heard those who don't know what the car is, describe it as an entry-level “stripper” car, devoid of options to reduce factory costs [NOTE: the 964 C2 had 48 options whereas the had only four]. While the reduced number of options did mean lower manufacturing expenses - which dovetailed nicely with the cost reduction efforts at the Porsche factory - in this article you will see that this was far from the primary rationale for its inception.

The intent of this article is therefore to clarify where the idea to create the originated, to understand the logic behind it, and to establish who the driving force behind its creation and implementation was.


Rumors & gossip.

Several years ago I attended a Porsche Club of America - San Diego Region Tech Session at Hoehn Porsche in Carlsbad CA in my - I believe it was for the introduction of the 996 GT3. At the beginning of the evening we were introduced to some special guests from Porsche Cars North America, and I recall speaking to a senior marketing manager from PCNA (who shall remain nameless) who asked if the parked by the entrance was mine. When I told him it was we talked for several minutes, during which time he told me that he was a significant part of the team at PCNA responsible for the coming into being. He told me that the team which consisted of him, Vic Elford, and a German guy working at Porsche Cars North America, gave the pitch to Porsche AG in Germany and as a direct result, the car was introduced here in the USA. He said the rationale that he and the PCNA team used with Porsche AG was that the rest of the world got the performance based 964 with thinner glass, less interior frills, wind up windows, an additional 10 bhp etc. and that there was definitely a demand for such a car in the US market.

A few years later I was reading the first edition of Vic Elford's Porsche High Performance Driving handbook when I noticed that on Page 61 there was a seemingly out of context factory publicity shot of the at speed, with a caption by Vic which read as follows

The 1992 RS America that I was largely responsible for while working for Porsche Cars North America.

Needless to say, this peaked my interest, especially as I was preparing to attend Rennsport Reunion II at Daytona that year - AND as the logo for the whole RRII event was an image commemorating three factory 907 Porsches that crossed the finish line side by side with Vic winning the 1968 24 hours of Daytona, I was pretty sure he would be there.

I had a great time at Daytona with more famous Porsches and Porsche racing drivers present than you could shake a stick at. For some strange reason, I seemed to keep on just missing the illusive Mr. Elford all weekend. Wherever I went, when I asked for him I got the same response - ”He was just here a minute ago but he seems to have disappeared”!! Eventually, I was told that he was up in the tower above the start line, so off I trogged to the tower to find it was of course not accessible to the public. I hung around asking everyone who went in or came out if they could ask Vic if he could spare a minute. Eventually, the door opened and out he came. Trying hard not to seem like a stalker, I introduced myself as the Registrar of the PCA registry and asked if he had time to answer a few questions. We spoke for a minute or two and he said he would be happy to tell me the tale of how the came about ...... but that he didn't have time to do so right then. He gave me his business card and told me to give him a call sometime.

I was to find out several years later on that particular weekend Vic had been very sick and should probably not have attended that event at all.

The Gospel according to Saint Vic.
PORSCHE High Performance driving handbook -
(referred to by many driving Instructors as
The Gospel according to Saint Vic.”).

907's cross the Daytona finish line
1968 - Daytona - Porsche clean sweep! After 24 hours of racing, three factory 907's cross the finish line side-by-side. The race winner was the number 54 car of Vic Elford and Jochen Neerspach. Car number 52 driven by Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann finished second with car number 51 of Jo Schlesser & Joe Buzzetta third.

907 Porsches finishing together.
2004 - Rennsport Reunion II event poster.

I contacted Vic and we decided that as we were both going to be at PCA's 50th Parade in Hershey PA, we would try and set aside some time to discuss his involvement in the creation of the . We did indeed meet in Hershey, but when we did it was all too brief because due to him being the guest speaker his schedule was very busy there wasn't really time to sit and do an interview. I was beginning to wonder if my interview with Vic was not meant to happen!!

In early 2008 during the planning stages of PCA San Diego Region's 2009 annual Installation Dinner and Charity Banquet - the event where the incoming Region Board of Directors are installed in office, I suggested that we invite Vic Elford to attend as our featured speaker. Almost immediately the board deeemed this to be an excellent idea. So I of course volunteered to contact Vic and set things in motion. Sure enough on 10th Jan 2009 Vic came to San Diego for a weekend ....... and I finally got to interview him!!


So who exactly is this Elford guy?

The majority of true Porsche fans know the company's racing history and are fully aware of exactly who this man is ...... what with us all being “chronologically gifted” (i.e. wrinklies), the following then is for the few neophyte Porsche fans who are either too young to know much about this great man, or may have been living in a cave for the past few decades, or people with no interest in true sports cars (people like Corvette owners).

“A man whose racing career reads like a Hollywood script”

The above quote has been used to describe Vic Elford ........ and rightly so.

Vic was one of the fastest drivers of the Sixties and Seventies... and without doubt a Porsche hero. Nicknamed “QUICK VIC” by his peers, this legendary driver could arguably have been nicknamed “VERSATILE VIC” when you consider the variety of cars and driving events in which he successfully competed. To this day he is heralded by many as one of the most versatile drivers of all time.

For example, Vic's 1968 season began with his win in the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally - a feat which for many competitive drivers would be a lifetime achievement in and of itself, Vic followed it with a win the next weekend in the legendary Daytona 24 Hours. A month later he was second at Sebring, then in May scored an epic victory at the Targa Florio. This particular victory came after he lost 18 minutes on the first lap due to wheel trouble and is considered to be the greatest win in Targa history. Two weeks later Vic won the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers. Then in his first F1 race in July, Vic took a badly out-classed Cooper T86B to a stunning fourth-place finish in the soaking-wet French Grand Prix.

Vic is without doubt one of the worlds great sports car drivers who is one of only two drivers ever to record six major wins at the Nürburgring and also competed with outstanding results in Can Am, Trans-Am, Off road events in Africa, even NASCAR .........

Outright lap records held by Vic included many of the worlds most prestigious races such as: Targa Florio, Nürburgring, Daytona, Sebring, Norisring, Monza, Buenos Aires, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, Riverside..... and Le Mans - where he was the first driver to lap at an average of over 150mph in the Porsche long-tail 917 in 1970!

Reflections on a Golden Era of Motorsports.
Reflections on a Golden Era of Motorsports -
available from www.VicElford.com

Vic in the 908/3 in which he raced at the Nürburgring
Seated in the Gulf Porsche 908/3 he raced
at the Nürburgring 1000 kms in 1971.

“Recognized for his courage & heroism”


During the 24 hours of Le Mans, when a Ferrari crashed in front of him, Vic stopped in mid-race to extricate the driver from his burning car.......... TV cameras caught the action and Vic was named Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite by French President Georges Pompidou for his act of courage and heroism.

All of the above is just a brief summary of a very small portion of Vic Elford's story - he worked for Porsche for several years where he was a key player in the set up and running of the Porsche Performance Driving school, he also headed up an independent racing team and is currently involved in Porsches latest performance driving training adventure - the “Legends Course” which is the ultimate in professional training. It's a “Fantasy Camp” experience featuring World Class drivers as your personal coaches.

To find out more about the story of this great man, I strongly recommend reading Vic's book “Reflections on a Golden Era of Motorsport” which is available along with a great deal of other Porsche memorabilia form his website www.VicElford.com


So what's the REAL “Origin of the story?

The first thing that strikes you about Vic Elford is how relaxed and open he is. He seems comfortable in pretty much any situation and happy to talk to anyone about almost anything. We were drinking a beer in the Barefoot Bar on Paradise Point resort in San Diego's Mission Bay in January '09, it was 70 degrees outside with clear blue skies and a few white fluffy clouds but Vic wore a sport coat. He smiled and told me that after living in Florida as long as he has, anything below 80 degrees starts to feel “a bit nippy”.

I asked him to explain the comment in his book saying he was largely responsible for the .

Vic E: While working for Porsche in 1989 and 1990 I was heavily involved in the Porsche Performance Driving School. This basically consisted of a huge truck which contained a rolling classroom and all the accoutrements required to perform a traveling driving school. In 1991 and 1992 we expanded the program to two trucks due to customer demand. The premise was that the school traveled to racetracks around the USA where Porsche owners would participate in a one or two day workshop with a classroom chalk-talk followed by on track instruction in their own cars.

I remember a school at the Loudon racetrack in New Hampshire which I think was a 2 day school, which we had to pause due to a torrential downpour. During the rain-out we were inside in the classroom talking about all things Porsche, when - as is often the case, we started talking about the latest model 911, which at that time was the 964. Conversation went pretty much as expected regarding the cars specifications, performance etc. and then some of the driving school participants remarked that they thought that Porsche was getting away from building performance sports cars and moving into luxury GT cars.

The consensus of opinion was that Porsche enthusiasts didn't want bigger, heavier cars loaded with electronic gizmos - which was clearly the direction that the factory was heading. There was a strong opinion that a lighter, more responsive car was required which would be a “back to basics” 911.



Vic E and Keith V at '05 PCA Parade Hershey PA.
I got to meet Vic Elford in 2005 at PCA's 50th Parade at Hershey PA


Vic E: On returning to work, I sent a memo to Brian Bowler then President of PCNA explaining the grass-roots feedback I had received from the driving school. The response was to ask me to put together a proposal for this “no-frills” US market 911. So, starting with a clean sheet, I drew up a specification for the new car. I decided to eliminate many of the then standard options such as electric sunroof, electric windows, electric mirrors, electrically deployed rear spoiler, air conditioning/climate control, leather trim covering everything, top of the line stereo system etc. and focus more on performance enhancements.

I included the larger 17” diameter wheels earmarked for the new 965 Turbo, along with the stiffer springs and swaybars that made up the M030 performance package including the fixed whaletail, plus I deleted the power steering system to significantly improve feedback to the driver.

To reduce weight I eliminated the heavy motors required to power the deleted electrical items, and also removed the unnecessary rear seats. I worked in conjunction with Hartmut Kristen who although he was director of Marketing at the time was actually much more of an engineer than a marketing guy and in fact is now Director of Racing for Porsche in Germany, and we fine tuned the details of my proposal. Once the initial specification was complete I sent it back to Brian Bowler who in turn forwarded the proposal to Porsche AG in Germany.

The response from the factory was very positive, with the marketing team wanting to pursue it further and suggesting that it be presented at an upcoming Porsche general meeting in Miami. The factory engineers found a couple of minor problems with the initial proposal that would have resulted in the car not being able to meet US DOT regulations. Specifically, I had requested manual (wind up) windows, but due to US crash regulations requiring all US models to be fitted with a large knee bolster along the bottom of the dashboard for impact protection, there was no room for the window winders to fit on the doors. Likewise, the US regulations would not allow a car with no rear seats to be imported if there was a possibility that a person could still sit back there without safety restraints. The simple answers to address these two issues were a) to keep the electric windows from the 964 C2 and b) to fit rear stowage bins behind the front seats so a person could not sit back there.

Portland Parade 2006.
Book signing at PCA Parade 2006 - Portland OR.

During the general meeting held in an amphitheater in the Hyatt hotel in Miami, after Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking had given his “State of the Union” address, Brian Bowler presented the proposal for the new car as a US market version of the performance oriented 964 Carrera RS. The proposal generated a lot of interest and received a lot of support. As a result it was decided to go ahead with the introduction of the model which was to be named the .

KV: It must have been very rewarding to see your proposal accepted and know that you had been responsible for the creation of a limited edition, performance oriented model of Porsche's famed 911.

Vic E: Actually, it was quite to the contrary! I was very frustrated by the process because Bowler presented the car as if it was entirely HIS idea and as a result, my work was never recognized.

KV: How much involvement did the (above mentioned) PCNA VP of Sales discussed earlier in this article actually have in assisting with the proposal.

Vic E: I was very surprised when you told me he had said that he was a significant part of the team at PCNA responsible for the - because he was not involved at all.

KV: I'm very glad we have been able to straighten out some of these issues, to clarify why, and how the came to exist, and finally identify the man responsible for its creation.

On behalf of owners everywhere - we are very grateful for all the work you did which resulted in the being created and brought to market. As a direct result of your effort, numerous owners of Porsche's limited edition, performance oriented version of the legendary 911 ............ have had an absolute BLAST!!

Featured speaker @ San Diego Region Charity Banquet Jan '09.
KeithV and the Legendary Vic Elford -Honored guest and featured speaker at PCA San Diego Region Charity Banquet Jan 2009

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