If you have a 1969 Porsche 911 T/R, you should for once, follow the dream.
One of best moments of curating stories at ColumnM is the incredible people you come across. It is them and their amazing experiences that give true meaning and weight to the term motoring culture. While they narrate their story, you find yourself wrapped helplessly in goosebumps, as you try to stay on point, avoid drifting away imagining the world from their point-of-view. This here is a documentation of one such recent conversation I had with an incredible person who shared with his vivid experiences with me over the phone, and here’s what I could make out of it while I tried to stay focused… goosebumps, but not daydreaming.
When it comes to cars and motor culture, I have strong doubts that there could ever be any other car than the Porsche 911 to sit at the top of the hierarchy. Its instantly-recognizable silhouette communicates decades of lopsided engineering that has been the benchmark for the everyday-supercar, even before the term was coined.
“all of which came together to make for a delightfully rasp, extremely lightweight machine”
Frisco, aka Andre, is quite well-versed with this. Based in South Africa, Frisco is a Porsche die-hard fan. His love affair with the Neunelfer goes back more than four decades, to the magical time when they were air-cooled, and the push was for lightness rather than outright power. His father used to take him to the famous Kyalami, the South African race circuit, which was frequently attended by Porsche racers from the 1950’s and ultimately, the 9-hour which was one of the major international long-distance race events.
This is the story of one such lightweight, air-cooled Porsche 911 the company used to sell, the 911 T/R. The 911 T/R, was a factory upgrade for racing teams and racing individuals who wanted to get more out of their standard 911 T. A 911 T/R indeed came eleventh at Le Mans in 1969. This emphasises the durability and performance of the Porsche racing brand. Built in very-limited units based on the 911 T by Porsche back in the late sixties, the “T/R” badged cars had racing/rallying specs, removed sound deadening, light flywheel and body panels, stronger clutch, limited slip differential and a twin-spark engine… all of which came together to make for a delightfully rasp, extremely lightweight machine… something one would enjoy to the fullest even today, given the opportunity. And that’s exactly what Frisco plans to do this year in 2017 where he is using his 911 TR in sporting events across the globe and visiting important heritage sites.
Frisco isn’t a Porsche collector as much as he is a Porsche adventurer. His Purpose with the cars is not to buy them for storage and future cash. Instead, his cars are seen on racing circuits, rallies and clocking road tripping-miles (we talk more on this below).
In his years with Porsche cars, Frisco has embarked on countless adventures, off which, one of the most elaborate was during 2004 when he participated in the illustrious London to Sydney Marathon that also crossed India. This epic journey took another rally-prepped Porsche on an epic adventure that spanned Europe and Asia, finishing off in Sydney, Australia. Where on one hand Frisco enjoyed the open roads and clocking miles, another side of him enjoyed track racing, something that will bring us closer to the essence of this story.
Back to the 911 TR. It was during the early 90’s when Frisco was racing in the 1969 Porsche 911 TR that was upgraded to a 3.5-litre RS spec replica track racing car. At the time, the car was an out-and-out track racer, to achieve the best performance from the car and racing against much more modern cars, including the 993 RS, the 944 Turbo Cup and the 964 RS specimens. Whilst he was track racing, Frisco’s aim was always to keep modifications sensible so that the 911 could be the best of both worlds, good on circuits and also reliable on the road. Unfortunately, while he was racing at the very same Kyalami Circuit in South Africa, Frisco had a major off and totalled the 911 TR. The car was rebuilt as a road car and sold for more mundane road use. The car disappeared into road use and remained undetected for almost 22-years thereafter.
It wasn’t until 8-months ago, when a South African car collector invited him to come over to have a look at some of the cars he had on offer. As he was browsing through the collection, Frisco noticed a familiar Porsche lying around the corner, damaged and broken. Frisco realised that the dilapidated Neunelfer was indeed the racing car that was badly damaged and has now fallen in total disrepair. Frisco immediately knew he had to get it back. He secured a transaction with the collector and so, the 911 TR was brought back to life.
Restoring the damaged Porsche 911 body panels that crashed more than two decades ago wasn’t going to be an easy thing. The 911 TR apart from the crash wounds now also had worrisome rust, and dust covered engine parts. It took Frisco and his team more than 6-months to get the 1969 Porsche 911 TR back to the condition you see in the photos here. Gone are the white/blue racing paint scheme that is now replaced with a soothing period-correct green that communicates a better spirit for adventure and globetrotting. Exactly where this story ends (or begins really).
2017 is when Frisco has decided to take a sabbatical from his regular life and pair up with his two romances; his wife and his beautifully restored 1969 Porsche 911 TR… and head on an ultimate road trip. Road tripping in a 48-year-old car would be madness, you would think. But it has already begun. Since the start of this year, Frisco and his wife have already travelled more than 5000km from the middle of the Australian outback and the car is now on its way to New Zealand. In this around-the-world journey, the couple along with their air-cooled beauty will soon be heading to New Zealand’s “middle earth” to explore the southern islands. Then from there, they would once again be back in Australia to participate in the Targa Tasmania, held between April 24 – 29, 2017. And this is just a mid-year home visit for them, as they would soon resume their globetrotting journey on to United States to participate in the Pan Am Classic Rally. The rally covers some 11000kms during June and July 2017 from Savannah to Seattle.
His year of travel doesn’t end there at all. After the 30-day United States rally is complete, they plan to head over to Spain for a few more rally events and a track day at Portimao. Frisco will there be joining up with Club Mullholland’s tour of Portugal. Now isn’t this everyone who has read this far’s dream sabbatical?
For those reading this story, the obvious question hovering your heads would be the if a 47-year-old Porsche is the smartest option to travel the world. But Frisco is hardly concerned. His air-cooled classic is aptly prepared to be capable on roads as well as off them. Till date, the Porsche has only suffered one breakdown with a replacement starter, and that in itself is a testament of the mighty Neunelfer.
We invite our readers to follow Frisco on Instagram, where he going to be beautifully documenting his journeys as the year unfolds. We will update you on his travels from time to time and will publish some unique photographs to give you an insight into the Porsche adventure of visiting heritage sites and combining the love of Porsche driving. Asked what his motto is, Frisco responded: “We arrived”.
Images via Andre aka Frisco on Instagram.