In the September 2023 issue, “Legal Files” reported about the litigation involving two cars, each claiming to be the 1973 Porsche Carrera 911 RSR prototype chassis number 9113600686, commonly known as “R7.” Jacob Shalit filed suit against Kenny Schachter, seeking to establish that his car was the real R7.

The litigation recently settled, with Schachter coming away with his car vindicated. By the time you read this, his car will have crossed the block at Bonhams Cars’ Goodwood Revival auction; the pre-sale estimate is £3,750,000–£5,750,000 ($4,751,222–$7,285,207). In the previous column, we only had Shalit’s side of the story. We now have the other side of the story. It is somewhat the same, but also very different.

Fork in the road

The history of the R7 is not under dispute until about 1975, when there may or may not have been an accident involving the car. It is at that point, when R7 was owned by Hector Rebaque, that the stories of the two litigants diverge. Shalit claimed that the chassis was destroyed; Schachter, however, established otherwise.

When the litigation was filed several years ago, Schachter retained noted Porsche expert Andy Prill to verify the authenticity of his car. Prill logically engaged Norbert Singer, Porsche’s former senior engineer and Works team manager who had been responsible for building and racing the factory RSR prototypes, to examine Schachter’s car and opine as to its authenticity. The car was taken to Porsche Classic in Germany for the inspection.

Prill states that he was extremely careful to avoid prejudicing Singer’s examination. The inspection was witnessed only by one of Schachter’s attorneys. Prill was not present, did not speak to Singer during the examination, and had only submitted several written questions for Singer to answer about the car. Singer was allowed to take all the time he wanted for the inspection. Singer concluded that the tail of the car was not original, but the rest of it was. His formal report presented a number of interesting insights into the development of these cars.

Critical welds

The eight prototypes were built largely by hand. As a result, each was quite different from the others in certain respects. Singer explains that they were in a constant development process, and their techniques changed as they learned from the construction of the previous prototypes. The team was under enormous time pressure to convert regular-production 911s into the RSR prototypes, and there simply was insufficient time to bring in specialized welders, as was typically done with the street cars, to make the modifications. So the team had to make the modifications themselves.

The welds of greatest significance involved certain reinforcements that were made to the cross tube and crossmember ahead of the engine. The reinforcements were made to better enable the car to withstand the rigors of racing. The hand welds lacked the precision that would normally be seen in a production 911. Singer did not think that someone who was not involved in the construction of these cars would realize that the poorly done — but effective — welds were correct. Their presence in the Schachter car was the most critical fact in establishing its authenticity.

The welds were not the only characteristics that Singer pointed to in verifying the authenticity of Schachter’s car. There were a number of features that were peculiar to the RSR prototypes, which are well described in the Bonhams Cars’ auction materials. These include oddities such as extensions to the torsion-bar tubes that allowed the use of shorter trailing arms, special anti-roll-bar modifications, a welded-in dead pedal, a distinctive chassis number stamping in the forward floor panel of the front trunk area, and a special tachometer-drive-splitter mechanism that drove a hidden rev counter that prevented the drivers from erasing evidence of over-revs. The last item is particularly interesting because the second rev counter was replaced by another mechanism later in the race season, leaving the splitter as the only evidence of the initial system.

Based on all of these factors, Singer concluded that Schachter’s car is the authentic R7, save and except for the tail section, which had admittedly been replaced by the factory and later modified.

Testing the metal

Prill told “Legal Files” that Shalit was allowed to perform some metallurgical testing on the Schachter car. To create a data baseline, Prill also conducted forensic tests on three 1973 2.8 RSRs that were also in his shop at the time. The results showed that all three 1973 RSRs were made of the same material as R7.

He also told us that he contacted Hector Rebaque and met him in Mexico City. He inquired about the crash that supposedly destroyed the R7 chassis. Rebaque confirmed that there was one incident where a wheel fell off a trailer and the car it was carrying fell backward, damaging its rear body and trailing arm. The car was easily repaired and raced again. Neither Rebaque nor his team manager, Chacho Medina, could recall which of the team’s several cars was involved in the incident, or whether the car in question had actually fallen off the trailer. But both were sure that the damage to the car was minor, and the chassis had not been destroyed.

As laid out in the auction materials, R7 passed from Rebaque to Italian collector Massimo Baliva, who quietly kept it in his collection for 30 years. Baliva had French specialist Raymond Touroul reinstate the “Mary Tudor” rear-wing form, and also renewed the Martini Racing livery. Baliva happened to meet Porsche specialist Yvan Mahé of Equipe Europe at a historic race at the Monza Autodrome outside Milan, where Mahé was running a similar RSR. The chance meeting led to R7 going to Mahé’s workshop in Paris for some remedial work. Ownership then passed to Schachter, who returned R7 to public view, prompting the lawsuit brought by Shalit.

The other car

We asked Prill about how Shalit would come to possess the R7 chassis plate. Prill said the chassis plate looked authentic but had not been attached to the car. Prill said he was told by Singer that it was quite common in those days to have two or more chassis plates for each of the cars, which made it easier for them to swap numbers when they were transporting the race cars across borders. The chassis plates were not routinely attached to the cars.

Prill also stated that Shalit’s engine is an authentic RSR engine, but its engine number is one digit different than the engine originally installed in R7. Singer has kept a record of all engines used in the cars, and Shalit’s number does not show as ever having been installed in R7. Similarly, Shalit possesses a number of authentic RSR parts, but none of them is identifiable as ever having been part of R7. Oddly, neither the engine nor any of the RSR parts were installed in Shalit’s car when it was inspected by Prill.

Mystery solved

The terms of the settlement are confidential, but it resulted in a court order implementing some of its terms. Prill said that Schachter had no interest in buying Shalit’s car or parts, and the court order focused on what he could do with them. The key points are:

Shalit is free to sell his car, but must identify it as a replica reconstruction of the long-tail RSR raced by the Rebaque Rojas race team.

Shalit is free to sell any of his RSR parts, with or without the car, and can identify them as original RSR parts used by the Rebaque Rojas race team and/or Diego Febles.

The chassis number stamped into Shalit’s car must be cut out of the car and surrendered to Schachter.

Shalit’s R7 chassis plate must also be surrendered to Schachter.

Now that we have the other side of the story, it is quite clear that Schachter’s car is the real R7. One does have to wonder why Shalit picked this fight to begin with — seven years of litigation doesn’t come cheap. We can sympathize that Shalit may have believed that the car and parts he purchased could be claimed to be the “real” R7, but when Schachter’s car came into public view, the smart reaction would have been for Shalit to push back on the seller and force him to defend the identity of the car and parts. Prill proved that Rebaque was readily available — Shalit could have contacted him and solved the mystery himself.

As Schachter’s proof started coming in, it became increasingly obvious that there was a lot more to this story. Sometimes, you just need to know when to cut your losses. ♦

John Draneas is an attorney in Oregon and has been SCM’s “Legal Files” columnist since 2003. His recently published book The Best of Legal Files can be purchased on our website. John can be contacted at [email protected]. His comments are general in nature and are not intended to substitute for consultation with an attorney.

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