In With The Old - Out With The New
My Rennsport Experience
As the countryside became more hilly and the real estate became ever more expensive, I knew we had reached the Cotswolds. Home to members of the royal family, locals with a passion for rolling vast wheels of Wensleydale down a hill and also a tuning and restoration company named Rennsport. The all-glass facility is more NASAesque than it is shed like, and it does a rather poor job of blending into the honey-coloured stone houses and charming English countryside. However, when trying to improve one of the most iconic vehicles in history, such a workshop is probably necessary. This is because Rennsport specialises in restoring and upgrading classic Porsche 911s.
Upon arriving, my old man and I were greeted by this rather intimidating building, where expensive metal peppered the front-drive in the form of absolutely mint 911s. In the corner of the drive sat a deep purple 1986 911 turbo ‘Flat Nose’, I had never seen one in the flesh before, it set the tone nicely for what was in store, as we were here at Rennsport for a tour of this stunning and eye-wateringly expensive facility.
No sooner had I re-positioned my hanging bottom jaw, when an incredibly welcoming and cheerful chap named Paul came over. He proceeded to give me, what I can only describe as the firmest and oiliest handshake I had ever received. Predictably then, Paul was the chief mechanic and fettling wizard at Rennsport. As Paul walked my Dad and I into the workshop, he began to explain what he and his team of Porsche eggheads do as a company. In essence, they rebuild classic Porsche 911s, specialising in the years 1963 to 1990, however adding a modern twist, such as; uprated suspension and brakes, fuel injection, improved electronics and just a bit more of everything. Think of Rennsport then as the Singer of the Cotswolds, just without the California sunshine and a lot more tea. So how much does it cost to buy one of Paul’s creations? Around £160,000. My student loan could potentially get me a door handle.
Our tour started on the top tier of the Rennsport facility, on an enormous mezzanine overlooking Paul’s workshop and empire. The space below was immensely clean and organised when one considers the amount of craftsmanship and work that occurred underneath us. The floor below was teeming with 911s at different stages of their transformations, from shells ready for paint, to fully completed machines having their throttles prodded by seemingly satisfied mechanics. After a few minutes of surveying this fascinating production line, we were lead downstairs by Paul, tails wagging.
Naturally, we started where it all began, the beginning of the process where both pristine and rather ratty 911s were being stripped and gutted, ready for their new lease of life and around £100,000 worth of goodies to be bolted in and screwed on. Now, although I consider myself to be an all-round car guru and 911 fanatic, Paul was clearly in the upper echelon of classic Porsche mechanics as he went into details and specs about the cars I didn’t even realise existed.
1979 3.3-litre 930 Turbo RSR
After having our brains crammed with enough facts and figures to write a book, let alone an article, Paul led us to the other end of the workshop, where lay the feather in Rennsport's cap, the recently completed 1979 3.3-litre 930 Turbo RSR finished in slate grey. As I laid my eyes upon it for the first time, it wasn’t just my spine that was tingling. Introduced in 1973, the RSR was a factory-built racing car based on the 911 chassis. These were not converted road cars, rather purpose-built competition models designed and built from the ground up for racing and competition use. In 1974, Porsche made significant changes to the car including fitting a new 3.0-litre engine, improved aerodynamics, and wider wheels and tires. However, here at Rennsport Paul and his team had decided to instead fit the 3.3-litre turbo engine from the 930 “Widow-maker”. I was besotted. Not just with the car, but with the companies concept and achievements as a whole.
Upon leaving, I was comforted by the knowledge that companies like this still existed, in a climate where we are seeing the demise of the analogue car and the combustion engine. What Paul and his gang of genius grease monkeys are doing is not just building cars, but instead they are celebrating an era of motoring. Despite the Top Trump winning numbers produced by electric cars, much like vinyl records, there will always be a place for manual classic cars because of companies like Rennsport.