The $500 911S

The pinnacle of early 911 purity is without doubt the long-bonnet 911S, or ‘Super’ model. These highly prized, early cars balance the clean, original design lines with an extra 30bhp punch from the 1,991cc flat six, plus vented disc brakes, Koni shocks and 15-inch Fuchs.

Jot down a wish list when sourcing one today and words like ‘accurate’, ‘original’ and ‘provenance’ spring to mind. Their desirability reflects the high prices asked in the marketplace. Originality and perfection is king in 2021, for the king of early 911s.

But the market hasn’t always been like this. It wasn’t too long ago that early cars were overlooked and undervalued. It seems crazy now, but for a long period, early 911s were cast aside, dismissed as just an old Porsche. Today’s cars survived that era. Ever wonder what went on then? One owner who knows exactly is McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty.

In 1981, aged 13, he bought a ’67 911S for $500, restored it at home in his garage with his father and used it as his first car, to get to high school. He still owns that car today. The story behind it is a salutary tale of how using a car well gives it a significance beyond merely the object that it is.

The Hagerty family grew up around cars. McKeel’s father, Frank, was always working on cars at home in the workshop. “He was a tinkerer,” says McKeel. “It didn’t really matter if they weren’t perfect when they went back together, there was always a project.” More often than not, McKeel was out there with him. “From my earliest memory, spending time with Dad was spending time in the garage,” he recalls.

With encouragement from their father, each Hagerty sibling got to choose a car to restore at home in Michigan. Elder sisters made their choices – Kim, a Corvair Station Wagon; Tammy, a Porsche 356B. Eventually it came to McKeel. A fan of James Bond, he really wanted an Aston Martin. Realising there was little chance of turning up one of those locally, he turned to his other passion, Porsche.

The only car book in the household was a history of Porsche to the late Seventies, which McKeel studied incessantly. “That’s when I fell in love with Porsche. There wasn’t to be an Aston in my life, but there was a Porsche nearby,” he says.

An old man locally with a body shop had two Porsches sitting in an unfinished garage. Hagerty Senior and 11-year-old Junior began paying him visits, encouraging him to sell the cars, a ’66 912 and ’67 911S, modified for ice racing. One Christmas, after a year of persuading, they got a call. “Come and get the cars.”

Thanks to a fresh fall of snow and hemmed in by garage foundations, they needed to hire a crane to extract the pair. The engines weren’t even in the cars, mercilessly resting in another part of the yard, carbs full of snow when they were dug out. “It was a twofer, as we say. For $1,000 dollars, we got the ’67S, a ’66 912 – and a wooden boat,” recalls McKeel.

For the full, fascinating story on Mckeel Hagerty’s 911S, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 203 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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