Paul Stephens Le Mans Classic Clubsport driven
If you only go to one race in your life, make it Le Mans. La Sarthe’s battle of man, machine and time is something everyone should experience at least once. It’s a race that’s inextricably linked to Porsche, many of the company’s most famous victories taken over two complete loops of the clock’s face. Paul Stephens for one is a fan. He’s been going as long as he remembers, to the main event and the Classic, which in 2020 will be celebrating its tenth running. Stephens came back from his last visit with the seed of an idea… a limited-run 911 wearing the Le Mans Classic badge. Usefully, Stephens has the means to create just that.
No solo homage either, over months of negotiation and some creative input from both sides of the English Channel, Stephens built a celebration of Le Mans with the backing of the organisers of the Le Mans Classic race. The result is the Le Mans Classic Clubsport, which can be had in either M471 Lightweight or M472 Touring versions. Stephens admits the majority of interest has been in the Touring, the Lightweight perhaps a touch too extreme for most in being pared back in the extreme, doing without underseal, a passenger-side sunvisor, glovebox lid, lightweight carpets, Lexan rear windows, manual winders and the loss of some sound deadening.
Choose that and you’ll save 100kg over the Touring, though at 1,070kg it’s not exactly portly, its specification best described as covering the essentials. That’s part of its appeal and, indeed, true to the Classic badge it wears. Stephens is quick to point out that it’s not a backdate in the conventional sense. Yes, its looks inevitably and deliberately evoke vintage 911s, but the detailing adds some neat nods to modernity, not least the fit and finish inside.
Its base is a 3.2 Carrera, specifically a 1987 to 1989 car with a G50 five-speed transmission. The goal with the engine is to make it rev-hungry, requiring its driver to get the best from it, as with Porsche’s lower-capacity units. To achieve that Stephens added Mahle barrels and pistons with machined RS-spec camshafts, a lightened and balanced crank and con-rods. It’s dry sumped with a front-mounted oil cooler, while there’s electronic ignition and machined individual throttle bodies with a GT3 plenum. The exhaust is a full, equal-length system with individual heat exchangers.
The result of all of that is 300hp, that peak right up near the 7,900rpm rev limit, torque too peaking fairly high up the rev range. On firing the 3.4-litre, Stephen’s ambition for a racy engine is clear, it flaring with intent before settling into a purposeful idle. Even in the Touring there’s clearly not a great deal of sound deadening, while the luggage box in the rear seems to work as a resonance chamber, amplifying the evocative sounds from the 3.4-litre flat six.
All that sound isn’t enough to detract from the attention to detail obvious in the interior. Stephens’ team of builders has spent countless hours prototyping new interior trim parts, building new dash structures and designing their own door cards, centre console and kick plates to create an interior that’s exacting in its detail but subtle in its execution. The seats, fixed back with Houndstooth cloth, grip you perfectly; the instruments are painted green behind a dished Momo 360mm steering wheel; the 24-hour clock an amusing nod to the race that the Clubsport celebrates. The door kicks and the centre console are finished in black leather, the millimetre-perfect stitching in contrasting green beautiful, so too are the green seatbelts. The footplates around the pedals underline the attention to detail, Stephens determined with this Le Mans Classic Clubsport that he’d do things a bit differently, creating unique trim rather than replacing, recovering or restoring.
For the full, in-depth write-up of the PS Le Mans Classic Clubsport, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 172 in shops now or order here for fast delivery direct to your door. you can also download the issue to an Apple or Android device of your choice.