935 replica feature
The gist of the email was simple but enticing – ‘I have a 935 and you’re welcome to do a feature on it’. Oh, okay then, if we must. With southern England enjoying a record-breaking Indian summer, it was a good idea to get out of the office, and with the promise of a striking cover image, designer Neil quickly put his hand up to come along to tell snapper Ali what to do (someone needs to).
And so it is that I find myself in the opulent grounds of Simon Huber’s Surrey home, enjoying the sunshine and supping a mean cup of coffee, while Ali and Neil busy themselves with lights and shutter speeds; the bright yellow 935 posing menacingly outside a huge garage block that contains a pretty 356 plus a 911 that’s an intriguing combination of 930, 964 and 993. It certainly beats being in the office, and a pleasant surprise at the end of September.
There’s work to be done, though, and I’m eager to find out more about the bespoilered behemoth before me. “I never meant to buy it,” confesses Simon. “It was for sale at the Silverstone Classic auction this year and I chatted to Nick Faure about the Porsche.
“I wasn’t sure at first about a four-speed 911 but Nick assured me that the four-speed ’box was much stronger than the later five-speed unit so could handle the massive power output, plus the car had a good heritage, including a genuine 935 racing engine.
“To be honest, I was really looking for a balls-out RSR which I could have some trackday fun with, but it occurred to me that the 935 is really nothing more than an overgrown RSR. Also, at that time the car didn’t have any decals on it – it was plain yellow – and I could see it as a blank canvas on which I could have some fun.”
Simon’s a died-in-the-wool Porsche fanatic and has owned countless examples over the years: “I started off with a 930, then had a few 996s, including a modified Turbo and a Cabriolet. I sold them all to pay for a round-the-world cruise on the Queen Mary, then started again when we got back. As well as these cars, I have a Cayenne Turbo, but that’s at the local OPC being fixed at the moment. The good news is they’ve found the problem; the bad news is that the problem is a cracked plastic hose at the rear of the engine. The part costs £17 but the labour charge is going to be over £600! Still, they do have a very good team of technicians there, they’ve looked after all my modern Porsches.”
Coming from a mechanical background – he runs a motorcycle dealership, GD Brown, with his son, Simon junior, who is also a big Porsche fan – Simon appreciates the engineering of Porsches: “The earlier ones are simple enough to work on, and I love the body shape; especially the rear end of a Turbo. 911 Turbos are so easy to drive once you’ve mastered them; an air-cooled engine screaming at 6,000rpm in third as it pushes you along is great fun.
“I’ve owned many other cars over the years, including a V12 Dax Cobra and a GT40 replica pushing out 600bhp but I always come back to Porsche. I figure it makes sense to concentrate on just one marque and get to know it well, rather than water yourself down with several.”
With such enthusiasm, Simon couldn’t fail to be tempted by the 935. He trusted the judgement of ex-racing driver Nick Faure and was impressed when he said he thought the car would fetch over £50,000.
“In the end, despite there being a lot of interest, I won the bidding at £38,000, then was immediately offered £50,000 for the car,” he grins. “I knew then that I’d done the right thing, although somewhat tempted to take a quick profit I declined the offer as I wanted to have some fun with the car before even contemplating selling it.”
I’m inclined to agree. This is a Porsche with real heritage. To call it a replica is, perhaps, doing it a disservice. Of course, it’s not a genuine 935 but it has plenty of provenance plus that 935 engine which, alone, must be worth a few bob.
Simon has established that the car was built by Andrew Mirow of Mirow Motorsport, a well-known German race car specialist, back in 1999 for a wealthy Middle Eastern client for whom money was no object. The 935 has had one other owner since then and has been off-road in storage for the past ten years.
The donor car was a 1973 911 but little of that remains, as most of the bodywork was replaced by lightweight 935-style panels created by DP Motorsport. These included front and rear wings, bonnet, front and rear bumpers, sideskirts and, of course, that massive rear engine lid and wing. The front end is pure 935 with the trademark flatnose and enormous driving lamps set into the low-slung bumper.
However impressive looking the car is, there’s nothing particularly unusual about 935 replicas; plenty have been built over the years, to differing standards. No, what marks this Porsche out from the crowd is its genuine 935 race engine. Andrew Mirow was active in 935 racing in the Seventies so no doubt had access to all sorts of goodies, this engine included. He rebuilt the 3122cc engine to tight tolerances and included Mahle Nikasil pistons and cylinders, and gas-flowed the cylinder heads. Combined with a pair of KKK K26 turbochargers and a Promotive Engineering intercooler, this creates 572bhp when the turbo boost is set to 1.2bar. “There’s a variable boost control which is very useful, to be honest, I keep the boost at 0.9bar,” admits Simon. “That’s more than enough for road use in a car that weighs in at just 970kg.”
Top speed is said to be 198mph but Simon’s not brave – or mad – enough to verify that.
The power goes through that aforementioned 930 four-speed gearbox with an 80 percent limited-slip differential and a short-shift changer. This feeds 12-inch wide Fuchs wheels, which are just 15-inches in diameter. The fronts are 9 x 15-inch, by the way. Sitting behind the yellow-painted wheels are Turbo 3.3 brakes hanging from Group 4 Bilstein Sport suspension.
It is, in short, a properly built race car and not an ‘all show and no go’ wannabe. A fact that’s reinforced by the interior treatment. A full rollcage goes without saying, and there’s a pair of Konig race seats with Luke harnesses. Behind the seats is a full-on Sparco fire extinguishing system, which confirms the car’s racing intent.
The remnants of the 1973 dashboard remain but have been joined by an array of extra controls for boost, exhaust gas temperature, air mixture, cold start, battery cut and fuel pump. As a concession to comfort, there’s an Eberspacher cabin heater and demister, while OMP Racing steering wheel and pedals complete the interior spec.
The Porsche looks big and brutal sitting outside Simon’s garage but then designer Neil has an idea: “Let’s get some photos of the car away from its usual environment – in a traditional English village, say.”
Simon’s eager to please but first, we need to get fuel. “This does four miles per gallon,” he points out. So it’s down to the local Esso, where the Porsche attracts a lot of attention as Simon fills it with Super via the open bonnet – there’s no filler hose. “Has it got double wheels at the back?” asks one worryingly misinformed onlooker.
It’s then onto the nearby village of Shere, which Simon assures us, has the picturesque look we were after. Neil volunteers to go in the Porsche, while Ali and I follow on in the camera car – my BMW. We’re immediately struck by just how very low and squat the 935 looks on public roads; Minis tower over it. It looks fantastic, especially from the rear, and we’re in love with his beast. Although, secretly, we’re smug we’re in the car with air conditioning as the temperature hits the high twenties.
Indeed, as Simon and Neil extract themselves from harnesses and rollcages, they’re looking rather hot, although Neil can’t resist a grin. “That was amazing,” he pants.
Shere is rather less amazing, as the ancient streets are packed with modern cars but, no matter, Ali is still able to work his magic, in between yet more onlookers. Two teenage boys are particularly impressed and hang around for the entire shoot. Overhearing their chat, though, perhaps they’d have been better in school. “It must be worth about eight-thousand grand,” enthuses one. “It’s got nitrous,” claims the other as he points his camera phone at the fire extinguisher.
Any 935 would attract attention but this yellow example with its Martini stripes is about as subtle as a skunk on heat, although, it has to be said, that a few of the rather more elderly inhabitants of Shere didn’t bat an eyelid as the yellow peril thundered past, again and again.
As Simon pointed out, the Porsche was plain yellow – but surely only slightly less eye-catching – when he bought it earlier this year. “I knew I could make something really special, using the yellow as a starting point, and then I picked up a recent issue of Total 911 (see ‘The real thing’ boxout on page 10) that had photos of a 935 with Martini Racing stripes. That was it – I decided to create my own interpretation of a Martini car.”
He then set to work, fabricating his own red, blue and purple Martini stripes from separate strips of vinyl. He then scoured the internet for suitable period racing decals. “I really enjoy doing projects like this,” he smiles. “The trick to applying decals is to put them on wet using soapy water. You then have time to float them into position before they dry and stick into place. I must have spent about four days on this, and I’m pleased with the result.”
And pleased he should be, as he’s done a great job. Sure, original Martini cars weren’t yellow as far as I know (most were silver or white), but the stripes certainly don’t look wrong on a yellow background – far from it, the car looks quite correct, although Porsche historians will no doubt find fault with it. And why number eight? “My lucky number is 18,” Simon explains. “And in the Eighties I had a publishing company called Opus18, so I got some decals for the car. When I put them on, though, they didn’t look right, so I took off the ‘ones’ and left the ‘eights’! I think there was a genuine 935 that raced as number eight, too.”
Photography done, it’s back to base and on the way Simon admits that he finds the left-hand drive tricky: “I’ve driven left-hookers on the racetrack but I find it hard to position it on the road. I have to remember not to try to overtake anything and to pretty much drive in the gutter!”
In fact, apart from today, Simon has only taken the 935 out on the road three times since he bought it in the summer.
“The car’s first outing was for its first MoT in ten years. Amazingly, it managed to pass first time with no advisories; the decibel rating of the exhaust isn’t an MoT issue. Unlike the planned next trip which was to have been a trackday the Porsche Club was holding at Castle Combe as part of its 50th-year celebrations.
“Being a bit concerned about the noise, I made a quick trip to my local Maplins and picked up a decibel meter for £29.99 and, standing the required three metres away from the rear of the car, the meter read 110db. I rang Steve at the club and he told me not to bother as the limit at Castle Combe is 105db. It was annoying as I’d hired a trailer but at least it saved me a wasted 250-mile round trip.”
Simon did, however, manage to get out for an early Sunday morning thrash on the M25. “Well, how can I put this so it reads legally?” he grins. “Let’s put it this way; we’re just past the camera at Heathrow, there are a couple of nice straights with a gentle right-hand curve and the rev counter is reading 6,000 in fourth, so you work it out!”
The third outing for the 935 was in August. “We went to a local car show,” Simon recalls. My wife took the 356 and I was in the 935 and we displayed them on the stand of our chosen charity, the Prostate Project, with the hope of the cars attracting attention to help sell raffle tickets and make people aware of this local charity.
“It was an overwhelming success; we arrived at 7.30 on the Sunday morning and people swarmed around the 935 all day, asking questions and taking photos. It wasn’t really my scene, so we just left the cars there and walked around the show. Then came the most embarrassing bit of the day; the organisers had spotted the 935 and asked me if I would drive it around their parade ring with six other completion cars at 3pm. I can assure you this was no easy feat; although it was a dry day the 935 is not happy revving under 4,000rpm being driven around a grass field at 5mph! Still, it led to an extra 120 raffle tickets being sold, so it was well worthwhile doing.”
The problem driving the 935 slowly highlighted the fact that, despite the 935 being road-legal, it’s not practical for popping to the shops in, so Simon plans to use it for trackdays. “I bought a car trailer, which I tow with my Cayenne but, annoyingly, the 935 is two inches too wide for it, so I’m having to get a larger one for transporting the car to and from circuits. I hope to get to Goodwood before the end of the season but it will have to be on a dry day – I don’t fancy driving the 935 in the wet!”
And what is it like to drive? “Obviously it splutters and pops a bit as the engine is not running at race speeds,” Simon says. “Driving a car with this kind of power-to-weight ratio is a whole new experience for me. Nick Faure had already warned me about the turbo coming in violently and that making a mistake could easily bring the back round, so it’s a bit of a learning curve getting used to the way the turbos behave and the power delivery in such a light car. I suppose it’s a bit like riding a Honda Fireblade in full race trim. With a 0-60mph time of just over three seconds, the word awesome just doesn’t describe it – it’s just brutal!”
935 Replica SPEC
Based on 1973 911 with DP Motorsport glassfibre bodywork
Air-cooling flat six with twin KKK K26 turbochargers, 3.3 Turbo Mahle Nikasil pistons and cylinders, Bosch twin ignition system with 12 plugs, Bosch 935 fuel injection, Promotive intercooler, Kuhnle Motorsport air collectors, 935 Titan exhaust manifolds
Maximum power: 572bhp at 6,800rpm (1.2bar boost)
Torque: 570Nm at 3,500rpm
Maximum revs: 7,000rpm (no limiter)
Type 930 four-speed manual with 80 percent differential lock, driving rear wheels. Fitchtel and Sachs racing clutch
Turbo 3.3 suspension with Group 4 Bilstein Sport dampers
Turbo 3.3 discs and calipers, Ferodo DS 3000 pads, racing fluid, brake force adjustment
Wheels and tyres
Fuchs forged light alloy wheels with Pirelli PZero tyres
Front: 9Jx15 with 225/50ZR15
Rear: 12Jx15 with 345/35ZR15
Konig race seats, Luke harnesses, Sparco fire extinguisher system, OMP steering wheel and pedals, fabricated aluminium floor covering, electric cabin heater and demister
Dry weight: 970kg
Top speed: 198mph
0-60: 3.1 sec
This was taken from issue 81, for all Total 911 back issues visit www.imagineshop.co.uk/