Tim Abbot never intended to build a race car when he got his hands on this 1970 Porsche 914.
As the man behind Abbot Cars, a highly regarded independent Porsche specialist restoration workshop in South Africa, Tim knows his way around all classic models from Stuttgart. He’s also totally in the ‘love it’ camp when it comes to the 914.
Tim’s interest in the opinion-diving model was initially sparked during a competition-level restoration of his father’s 914 in the mid-1980s. That car was eventually sold and shipped to the US, but Tim promised himself that one day he would build his own car.
That opportunity came in 2005, when one of Tim’s customers decided to part with his car – this 914, then powered by a 2.0L Type 4 engine. Initially, Tim’s idea was to improve the Porsche for fast road use and the occasional track day. That kind of direction isn’t uncommon, but neither is a project evolving into something much bigger.
It was in 2008 when Tim, his son Douglas, cousin Donovan and brother Anthony, who at the time headed Red Bull Racing’s F1 engineering software division, all traveled to France for the prestigious Le Mans Classic. It was during this event that the future direction of the 914 was written.
Watching classic cars battle it out at the Circuit de la Sarthe was all the inspiration Tim – spurred on by his family in attendance – to build the 914 for the event they were all watching.
On his return to South Africa, Tim wasted little time researching 914 factory race cars, with the idea of building something similar from his road car. He had to look no further than the three cars Porsche built for the 1970 Marathon de la Route – a massive 84-hour endurance race on the combined north and south circuits of the Nürburgring – a whopping 28.3km per lap. By the end of the grueling three and a half day event, the three factories 914/6s crossed the finish line in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The first car, driven by Claude Haldi, Gérard Larrousse and Helmut Marko, completed 360 laps, covering more than 10,200 km. It’s no wonder that some manufacturers used this event to remotely test their new models.
The car you see here is what Tim calls his ‘914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute’. As expected with such a name, many of the modifications are based on those used in the works cars, but Tim also looked at the special equipment package ‘M471’ that Porsche offered to homologate the 914/6 for SCCA production races in the US. This equipment included wide steel fenders and front valance, fiberglass rocker panels and Fuchs wheels.
According to the Marathon de la Route regulations, the engine power of the 914/6 could be increased by 10%, but the factory block had to be kept. After purchasing a 2.0 liter six-cylinder Porsche engine, Tim increased its capacity to 2.2 liters by sleeved and fitted with oversized, high-compression pistons. A reinforced crankshaft was added and the cylinder heads were ported and fitted with larger valves. The result is 10.0:1 compression.
When carburetors are used for this type of setup, it is normally twin 45s that get the nod, but Tim opted for slightly smaller twin Weber 40mm units. The exhaust is similar to the system used by Marathon de la Route cars, where two branches can be covered.
Finally, with a twin-spark ignition system in play, the Porsche 2.2L engine configuration revealed a solid 180 horsepower and the ability to rev up to 9,000 rpm.
To make the most of the engine’s power, the 914’s 5-speed gearbox has been modified with shorter gears suitable for most tracks in South Africa. A lightweight flywheel and racing clutch kit were also fitted.
While Tim has not overlooked any part of the 914, special attention was paid to chassis preparation and weight to perfect handling. The full chrome-moly roll cage connects to the four suspension points, which, according to Tim, has significantly strengthened the car. It also weighs only 890 kg, so the power-to-weight ratio is quite healthy.
For suspension, the front features MacPherson struts with Bilstein shocks and torsion bars, while the rear benefits from Bilstein-based coilovers. And for brakes, Tim spec’d the 914 with Porsche 930 Turbo rotors on all corners, with 930 front calipers and 911S rear wheels. Dual master cylinders are also fitted, with an AP Racing bias controller in the cab.
When it came to the wheels, Tim wanted to run a staggered setup, which somewhat explains the mismatch. The Fuch fronts measure 15 × 7 inches with 205/50R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11S tires, and the Performance Superlite rear tires measure 15 × 8 inches with the same semi-slick tires but in a 225/50R15 tire. edit.
The body of the 914 is one of the few aspects of the build completed Outside from the Abbot Cars workshop, but Tim knew it was the right choice to hand over the car to Anton Dekker at Exclusive Conversion. Flaring the Porsche’s steel arches in fiberglass and using the composite material to re-clad the doors, hood, trunk and bumpers would always be a big job, but it’s done perfectly.
The finishing touch came with an all-new Porsche Signal Orange paint scheme and a livery inspired by the #3 Porsche 914/6 that finished second in the 1970 Marathon de la Route with drivers Björn Waldegaard, Åke Andersson and Guy Chasseuil.
There’s not much room in the 914 cab, especially if you add a full roll cage to the mix, but the space is put to good use with everything you’d expect in a race car and not much else. That said, Tim wanted to make the cabin as comfortable as possible, hence the carpet – a lightweight type, of course. A nice upgrade is the use of 911 gauges, which means there’s a rev counter that reads up to 10,000 rpm – perfect as the engine is almost seeing that number – and a speedometer of 300 km/h.
Although Tim’s 914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute was built to compete in the Le Mans Classic, he never quite came to terms with it. However, it has seen a lot of historic racing action in South Africa, including the Kyalami 9-Hour Retro and Passion for Speed events. In fact, Tim has shared driving duties with his son Douglas and daughter Jennifer, so racing the 914 was a real family affair – fitting considering how the car came to be.
Photos by Stefan Kotze