Road To Race: Go far in a Porsche 914

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 is familiar with all classic Stuttgart models. He is also exactly in the “love it” camp when it comes to the 914.

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Tim’s interest in the opinion-sharing model was first piqued during a competition-level restoration of his father’s 914 in the mid-1980s. That car was eventually sold and shipped to the United States, but Tim promised himself that he would one day build it himself.


This 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. At first, Tim’s idea was to upgrade the Porsche for the use on fast roads and occasionally on the track. This type of direction is not uncommon, but neither is the evolution of a project into something much bigger.

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It was 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 in this event that the future direction of 914 was written.

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Watching vintage cars whiz around the Circuit de la Sarthe was the only inspiration Tim – spurred on by his present family – needed to build the 914 for the very event they were all witnessing.


Upon 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 didn’t need to look beyond the three Porsche-built cars for the 1970 Marathon de la Route, a mammoth 84-hour endurance race held on the combined north and south Nürburgring circuits, with a whopping 28.3km per lap. At the end of the grueling three and a half day event, the three 914/6s of work crossed the finish line 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The first car, driven by Claude Haldi, Gérard Larrousse and Helmut Marko, completed 360 laps, covering over 10,200 km. Unsurprisingly, some manufacturers have 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 official cars, but Tim also looked to the “M471” special equipment package offered by Porsche to homologate the 914/6 for SCCA production racing in the UK. United States. This equipment included large steel fenders and front valance, fiberglass rocker panels and Fuchs wheels, among other things.

The Marathon de la Route regulations allowed the 914/6 to be increased by 10%, but the factory block had to be maintained. After purchasing a 2.0-liter six-cylinder Porsche engine, Tim increased its capacity to 2.2 liters by jacketing the block and fitting oversized, high-compression pistons. A reinforced crankshaft was added and the cylinder heads were brought up and fitted with larger valves. The result is 10.0: 1 compression.

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When carburetors are used for this type of setup, it’s normally the twin 45s that get the nod, but Tim opted for slightly smaller 40mm Weber twin units. The exhaust is similar to the system used by Marathon de la Route cars, where two branches can be closed.

Finally, with a dual-spark ignition system in play, the Porsche 2.2L engine configuration revealed solid 180 horsepower output and the ability to hit 9,000 rpm.


To take full advantage of the engine’s power, the 914’s 5-speed gearbox has been modified with close ratios suitable for most circuits in South Africa. A lightweight flywheel and racing clutch kit were also fitted.


While Tim hasn’t overlooked any area of ​​the 914, particular attention has been paid to chassis preparation and weight to perfect handling. The full chrome-moly roll cage binds to the four suspension points, which Tim says significantly stiffened the car. It just points the scales at 890kg, so the weight-to-power ratio is pretty healthy.

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For the suspension, the front features MacPherson struts with Bilstein shock absorbers and torsion bars, while the rear benefits from Bilstein-based coilover. And for the brakes, Tim chose the 914 with Porsche 930 Turbo discs at all angles, with 930 front and 911S rear calipers. They are also equipped with dual master cylinders, with an AP Racing polarization controller inside the cabin.

When it came to wheels, Tim wanted to do a staggered setup, which somehow explains the mismatch. The Fuch fronts measure 15×7 inches with 205 / 50R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11S tires and the Performance Superlite rears are 15×8 inches in size with the same semi-slick tires but in 225 / 50R15 equipment.

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The bodywork of the 914 is one of the few aspects of the completed construction out of the Abbot Cars workshop, but Tim knew that delivering the car to Anton Dekker at the Exclusive Conversion was the right thing to do. Flaring the steel arches of the fiberglass Porsche and using the composite material to coat the doors, hood, trunk and bumpers has always been a great job, but it was done perfectly.


The final exterior touch came with a full repaint in Porsche Signal Orange and a livery inspired by the Porsche 914/6 No. 3 who finished second in the 1970 Marathon de la Route with drivers Björn Waldegaard, Åke Andersson and Guy Chasseuil.

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There isn’t much space in the 914’s cabin, especially when adding a full roll cage to the mix, but the space is used well with everything you’d expect to see in a race car and not much else. That said, Tim wanted to make the interior as comfortable as possible, hence the carpet, a light type of course. A nice improvement is the use of 911 gauges, which means there is a tachometer that reads at 10,000 rpm – perfect since the engine sees almost 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 succeeded. However, he has seen many historic races in South Africa, including the Kyalami 9-Hour Retro and Passion for Speed ​​events. Better yet, Tim shared driving duties with his son Douglas and daughter Jennifer, so racing the 914 was a real family affair, fitting in the first place given how the car came about.

Brad Sir
Instagram: speedhunters_brad

Picture of Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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