built not bought: ’67 Porsche RSR

He had about two weeks to live. After months of struggle and years of slow decline, my dad’s heart was about to give up. He passed away December 2006. Seven months later, my mum passed away. My dad was expected, but my mum was a huge, awful surprise.

That’s the thing about a garage. It’s the thing we rarely talk about. It’s our solace. It’s our meditation. It’s our fortress of solitude. It’s the one thing we can rely on when the rest of our life goes to chaos. I leaned on it heavily for a few years.

The car began as a 1969 911T rust bucket, rotting away in a field in Lafayette, Colorado. A buddy of mine passed it on the way home from work one day, and knew I was in the market. I went and knocked on the guy’s door, and for $5,000 (those were the days when you could pick a long-hood 911 up at Volkswagen prices) the project began. What was sold as ‘rust free’, became a four-year, two-thousand-hour restoration. The first phase, at least…

I bought a cheap welder from Harbor Freight, joined the Pelican forums, and dived in head first. I had to replace both inner and outer rockers on both sides, gas tank support, and multiple areas around the battery box and floorboards, as they were all rotted away.

Since I was going to autocross the car, I’d made the decision to give it an ‘RS’ look by welding on SC flares in the rear. I sourced the flares and fibreglass ducktail and bumpers online, and ‘mock fitted’ them on the car. I still had the 3.0-litre engine from this car’s predecessor, and I installed it so I could drive the car as a rolling restoration.

One day a good buddy and I decided to take our cars on a spirited drive in a canyon above Boulder, Colorado. We were a quarter mile into the drive when a 17-year-old kid, sightseeing out of his window and not paying attention, drifted his 70’s era Ford F-150 truck into our oncoming lane. My buddy swerved to miss him. I swerved to miss my buddy…and went over the edge of the mountain. It’s hard to believe how lucky I got.

My car slid down at about a 60-degree angle, and ended up getting caught in the branches of a tree. I can’t tell you how odd it is to look out your driver’s side window (that’s the left side for us Yanks) and see blue sky instead of road. I was spared a grim outcome as there was a 70-foot sheer drop on the other side of the tree.

So I was safe. The car… not so much. In the accident, I’d lost two wheels, my right side flare, and my front bumper was ripped off. Since I had to replace my flares, wheels, and bumpers, I thought, “well, I might as well go RSR”, so I sourced the flares, front fenders, a huge set of 9- and 12×17-inch Fikse FM10s, and both bumpers.

Get the full, exclusive feature on Michael O’Neal’s 911T to RSR project alongside 98 pages of high-end Porsche content, all delivered to your door as part of our lavish magazine dedicated only to the Porsche 911. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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