|1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight
|200 Lightweights, 17 RSHs, 1,308 Tourings, 55 RSRs
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|$1,000 with valve adjustment
|Chassis Number Location:
|Metal stamping in trunk, above gas tank, passenger’s side; aluminum tag on front trunk threshold; different but correlated build number under dashpad knee bar next to ashtray
|Engine Number Location:
|Vertical fan support, passenger’s side, facing right
|Porsche Club of America
|1968–73 Ferrari 365 GTB/4, 1969–71 Maserati Ghibli, 1971–72 BMW 3.0 CSL
This car, Lot 141, sold for $1,482,800, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Monaco auction on May 12, 2018.
Carrera RSs are among the most desirable production-series Porsches and among the most difficult to assess and value.
FIA rule changes prompted Porsche to return to racing production-based cars. Porsche then built the Carrera RS to homologate the racing RSR. That required 500 units to be built and sold, to which the joint VW-Porsche Marketing Company famously said, “We do believe this to be impossible,” especially since the U.S. market would be off limits. Management intervened. The car was announced; and the first series sold out before a prototype was shown. Two more series followed.
Porsche built 1,525 1973 Carrera RS cars. That number included 1,308 Touring models with option code M472, 200 M471 Lightweights, and 17 RSHs (Homologation Cars) that were left unconverted to any M-spec. Porsche also built 55 pure competition M491 RSRs. So there were 1,580 cars in the total run.
The RS cars were powered with a Type 911/83 engine — a mechanical-fuel-injected, 2,687-cc with 8.5:1 compression and 210 horsepower. The cars were equipped with the new (in 1972) Type 915 5-speed gearbox. The RSR cars got a Type 911/72 2,806-cc engine with 10.0:1 compression and 300 horsepower.
Homologation process used stripped RSs
Initially, Porsche built RS cars to a very lightened specification, with flimsy bumpers, 4.5-inch wheels and stripped interiors. They drove these cars to a town-owned facility, acceptable to the FIA, to be weighed for homologation.
The heavier 911S-based RS prototypes were not weighed. Whether tubs intended to become RSRs were weighed is under debate, but the latest perspective is that they were not.
RSRs accounted for three tubs in the first series and 40 in the second series. To be safe, Competition Director Manfred Jantke ordered that 10 extra cars be built and weighed. After the cars returned to the factory, the thin, matte-black bumpers and 4.5-inch wheels were recycled to the next batch to be weighed and the cars were trimmed out to either Lightweight or Touring specs — except for the 17 RSHs left largely in as-weighed homologation trim.
Production series affects value
Starting at chassis 15, the first homologation series ended at about chassis number 527, with a disclaimer that the cars did not necessarily go through the process in serial-number order.
The Group 4 RSR 2.8-liter was then FIA-race-legal. Porsche persevered, however, and homologated another 500 cars to qualify the RS itself for Group 3. Similarly calculated, the second series of homologation-weighed RS cars probably ended with chassis 1067, again omitting RSRs and again disclaimed for processing out of order.
These numbers are germane to values because after the Group 3 homologation was achieved, Porsche no longer cared about the weight of the RS. The thin steel tub and body panels, thin glass, fiberglass rear bumper, aluminum front-suspension cross member and aluminum frame for the ducktail were phased out.
Lightweight features are critical
RS aficionados deem these lightweight features to be very important. A third-series RS is worth less than a first or second series, while the first series gets a further premium just for the “first” panache.
Some people, especially owners of third-series Lightweights, maintain that Porsche saved some thin metal tubs for third-series RSHs and M471 Lightweights. While that is possible, most evidence suggests not. Most knowledgeable collectors consider a “third-series Lightweight” to be an oxymoron.
Beware of counterfeit RS cars
With values of 1973 RS cars substantially above their 911T-E-S little brothers, counterfeit re-creations have been around for years. I inspected my first counterfeit RS in 1986. It was built out of a 1973 911T.
Two years ago at Monterey, a presumably valuable third-series RSH went to auction. Through a pre-purchase inspection in 2013, I knew the car to have been previously wrecked on the driver’s side and poorly repaired with 911SC parts.
At Monterey, a buddy and I were called in to evaluate the car. It looked to have been very nicely re-repaired — but it was not an RS. It had been re-tubbed using a white 911 with welded-in panels from the original RS that included the trunk cross member with the stamped serial number and the knee bar behind the dashpad that has the correlated chassis “build” number.
All the RS bits had been moved over and the car looked right. I don’t want to explain where we go to find the original paint color or how we evaluate the all-important welds, metal thickness and caulking — that is our specific expertise. This car was returned to its seller.
I advise everyone to get a very knowledgeable pre-purchase inspection before buying any 1973 RS. While there are probably more qualified inspectors, I always put my money on one of just three guys in the U.S. and two in Europe.
A famous owner adds value
Our subject car, chassis 9113601177, is a third-series RS. The factory build record shows the car to have been a Tangerine Lightweight with one option — a limited-slip differential. It was sold through a local dealer, Hahn Sportwagen, to Finnish rally and Porsche factory race car driver Leo Kinnunen.
Kinnunen, along with Pedro Rodriguez and Brian Redman, won the 1970 Daytona 24 Hours in a Porsche 917K. Kinnunen and Rodriguez teamed up for the season and went on to win the 1,000 Kilometers of Brands Hatch, the 1,000 Kilometers of Monza and the Watkins Glen 6-Hours. They placed 2nd at the Targa Florio in a 908/3. These victories helped Porsche win the World Sportscar Championship for 1970. For the next three years, from 1971 to ’73, Kinnunen won the Interserie Championship (think European Can-Am) with a 917/10.
There are indications that Kinnunen might have used this RS for reconnaissance runs at Finland’s Rallye des 1000 Lacs, which was the eighth round of the World Rally Championship, held in early August in 1973. Kinnunen finished 3rd in a factory-supplied full-competition 911. Kinnunen kept his RS in Germany for several years as his race-to-race commuter wagen.
The car was modified, but by whom?
After our subject car was built in April 1973, modifications reportedly were undertaken at the factory, but that is not documented. The modifications included fitting wider fender flares (same as the 2.8-liter RSR in front; smaller, presumably ST flares in the rear) with wider wheels, a 1975-style whale tail, a Matter roll bar and a stock 911 400-mm steering wheel — 380 mm was standard on an RS. The prototype whale tail appeared in September 1973, and most experts agree that production examples were available by November 1973. Using such clues, observers had varying opinions as to when the car was modified — in the fall of 1973, 1974 — or even later.
A true Race Department prototype part?
My British friend Andy Prill examined the RS in Monaco and reported that the whale tail was laid strips of fiberglass — not chopper glass — with a stamped Porsche part number. It appeared to be a Porsche Race Department piece — very likely a prototype example from 1973. Could Kinnunen have encountered the tail and asked for it? Andy also reported that the body was definitely full-gauge, not thinner, steel — which is standard for third-series RS cars.
Many incorrect aspects
This RS is either a famous driver’s car to be preserved or a restoration candidate.
The car showed 63,200 km (39,276 miles), and Andy Prill reported original paint on the jambs and in the trunk and engine compartments.
The body was deteriorated and showed stone chips, rash, dents and some metal fatigue.
Lots of things were wrong:
- The roll bar was a much-later issue.
- The front bumper was replaced and the bottom reworked.
- The front flares were not perfectly matched.
- The mirror was of later issue.
- Some observers thought the rear flares were reworked Turbo flares — not ST flares.
- The car had a correct third-series steel rear bumper with chrome uprights, but it was painted body color to look like an earlier fiberglass unit.
- There was no fan strap, so what was holding it in place?
- The steel spare wheel looked wrong because Lightweights came with Fuchs alloy spares. This spare was dated 11.66, so it was also too old. Andy Prill reported that it was a race-car steel-alloy wheel, likely of 906 issue. Did Kinnunen also source that wheel at the Porsche Race Department?
What do you pay?
This is a driver-quality RS Lightweight with after-build modifications for a famous race car driver. So how does a collector value this car?
I’d recommend carefully because the source of the modifications is not documented, although Kinnunen’s ownership is. Without documentation that the Porsche factory executed the modifications, this RS is worth less.
First or second series for maximum value
For long-term value and appreciation, I’d favor an as-built first- or second-series M471 Lightweight. At RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island in 2017, one of America’s foremost Porsche and Ferrari collectors purchased a Light Yellow RS Lightweight, Lot 264, which I knew very well. It had belonged to two friends in the past.
As auctioned, it needed a correct thin-gauge left front fender and a fairly straightforward cosmetic restoration. It was s/n 9113600336, so it was a desirable first-series car. My friend paid $869,000, including the buyer’s premium. The needed fender was sourced and the restoration is well under way. For less than $1,100,000, he will have a primo first-series Lightweight. I’d want that car.
If the owner of this Kinnunen RS can document the modifications as being factory and in-period, he will have overpaid by less. As it sat in Monaco, I think our subject car was very well sold. Other experts, including Andy Prill, liked the deal. There is seldom one right answer.
Note: The car is shown here and in the auction catalog on incorrect 9-inch and 11-inch wheels, but it was auctioned on 7-inch and 8-inch wheels. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)