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 restoration specialist shop in South Africa, Tim knows all the classic models from Stuttgart. He’s also squarely in the ‘love it’ camp when it comes to the 914.
Tim’s interest in the split-opinion model initially arose during a competition-level restoration of his father’s 914 in the mid-1980s. That car was eventually sold and shipped to the US, but Tim he promised himself that one day he would build his own.
That opportunity came in 2005, when one of Tim’s clients decided to get rid of his car: this 914, which then had a 2.0L Type 4 engine. Tim’s idea at first was to improve the Porsche for fast use on the road. road and an occasional track day. That kind of direction isn’t uncommon, but neither is turning a project into something much bigger.
It was in 2008, when Tim, his son Douglas, his cousin Donovan and his brother Anthony, who at the time ran Red Bull Racing’s F1 engineering software division, traveled to France for the prestigious Le Mans Classic. It was at this event that the future address of the 914 was written.
Watching the classic cars compete at the Circuit de la Sarthe was all the inspiration Tim, buoyed by his family in attendance, needed to build the 914 for the event they were all witnessing.
Upon his return to South Africa, Tim wasted no time researching 914 factory race cars, with the idea of building something similar from his road car. He needed to look no further than the three cars Porsche built for the 1970 Marathon de la Route, a gargantuan 84-hour endurance race held on the Nürburgring’s combined north and south circuits, a whopping 28.3km per lap. . At the end of the grueling three and a half day event, the three factory 914/6s crossed the finish line first, second and third. The first car, driven by Claude Haldi, Gérard Larrousse and Helmut Marko, completed 360 laps, logging more than 10,200 km in the process. Not surprisingly, some manufacturers 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 you’d expect with a name like that, a lot of the mods are based on those used on the factory cars, but Tim also looked into the ‘M471’ special equipment package that Porsche offered to homologate the 914/6 for the SCCA production races in the United States. This kit included wide steel fenders and front fenders, fiberglass rocker panels, and Fuchs wheels, among other things.
The Marathon de la Route regulations allowed the engine capacity of the 914/6 to be increased by 10%, but the factory block had to be retained. After purchasing a 2.0L Porsche six-cylinder engine, Tim increased its capacity to 2.2L by putting a sleeve on the block and fitting oversized high-compression pistons. A strengthened crankshaft was added and the cylinder heads were ported and fitted with larger valves. The result is a compression of 10.0:1.
When carbs are used for this type of setup, it is normally the twin 45s that get the nod, but Tim opted for slightly smaller Weber 40mm twin units. The exhaust is similar to the system used by the Marathon de la Route construction cars, where two branches can be covered.
Finally, with a twin spark ignition system in play, the Porsche 2.2L engine configuration revealed a solid output of 180bhp and the ability to rev to 9,000rpm.
To make the most of the engine’s power, the 914’s 5-speed gearbox was modified with close-ratio gears suitable for most South African circuits. A lightweight flywheel and racing clutch kit was also installed.
Although no part of the 914 has been overlooked by Tim, careful attention was paid to chassis preparation and weight to perfect handling. The full chrome-moly roll cage joins the four-point suspension, which Tim says has stiffened the car significantly. It also tips the scales at 890kg, so the power-to-weight ratio is pretty healthy.
For suspension, the front end features MacPherson struts with Bilstein shock absorbers and torsion bars, while the rear benefits from Bilstein-based coil springs. And for the brakes, Tim has spec’d the 914 with Porsche 930 Turbo rotors on all corners, with 930 front and 911S rear calipers. Dual brake master cylinders are also installed, with an AP Racing bias controller inside the cab.
When it came to the wheels, Tim wanted to run a staggered setup, which goes some way to explaining 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 with the same semi-slick tires but in a 225/50R15 trim.
The body of the 914 is one of the few aspects of the completed build. outside from the Abbot Cars shop, but Tim knew that turning the car over to Anton Dekker at Exclusive Conversion was the right thing to do. Enlarging the Porsche’s steel arches into fiberglass and using the composite material to clad the doors, hood, trunk and bumpers was always going to be a big job, but it’s been executed to perfection.
The final exterior touch came with a full Porsche Signal Orange repaint and livery inspired by the #3 Porsche 914/6 that finished second in the 1970 Marathon de la Route with drivers Björn Waldegaard, Åke Andersson and Guy Chasseuil.
There’s not a lot of space in the 914’s cabin, especially when you add a full roll cage into the mix, but the space is put to good use with everything you’d expect to see in a race car and not much more. That said, Tim was keen to make the cabin as comfortable as possible, hence the carpet, a lightweight type of course. A nice upgrade is the use of 911 gauges, which means there’s a tachometer that reads up to 10,000 rpm (perfect since the engine almost sees that number) and a 300 km/h speedometer.
Although Tim’s 914/6 GT Marathon de la Route Tribute was built to compete in the Le Mans Classic, it never got there. However, it has seen plenty of historic racing action in South Africa, including the Kyalami 9-Hour Retro and Passion for Speed events. Better yet, Tim has shared driving duties with his son Douglas and his daughter Jennifer, so racing the 914 has been a true family affair, which is fitting considering how the car was created in first place.
photos by Stefan Kotze