This LHD example is the 38th 2.7 RS produced, and therefore, one of the first 500s built to “RSH” specification to meet FIA homologation requirements. After having been driven to Stuttgart for weighing, it was driven back to the factory for completion as a “Touring” (Porsche Code 472) version. It was highly equipped from new, with such factory options as front and rear bumpers with impact absorbers, leather-trimmed Recaro sport seats and a rear luggage compartment in place of rear seats.

Formerly owned by a historic-racing driver and acquired in 2007 by the current owner/collector, who commissioned an engine-out restoration, this 2.7 RS was also refinished in its original color scheme and retains its matching-numbers engine. Listed in John Starkey’s From R to GT3R: The Racing Porsches 911 & 930 and complete with restoration invoices, this is one of Porsche’s finest competition-bred road cars.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS Touring
Years Produced:1973
Number Produced:1,525 in three series
Original List Price:$11,100
Tune Up Cost:$800 with valve adjustment
Chassis Number Location:Riveted alloy plate in front trunk; stamped into bodywork above spare tire; both toward passenger side
Club Info:Porsche Club of America

This 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, Lot 320, sold for $253,820, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Monaco auction on May 12, 2012.

This car was the latest in a series of Touring RSs sold at auction for good, if nonetheless substantially south of record-setting, money.

The 1973 RS is well known among automobile aficionados as a fine touring and track car that combines reasonable comfort with gratifying performance. Porsche designed the RS to homologate its Group 4 race car, the Carrera RSR, of which Porsche eventually built 55 in the same VIN series as the RSs. To satisfy the FIA, 500 production RSs were required, a number that Porsche’s marketing management felt was unreasonable to expect to sell, given that the car would not be federalized for the United States.

In the end, 1,525 RSs (plus prototypes) were built in three series, a testament to how quickly buyers realized that the RS was an exemplary automobile. That it was not soon replicated in volume in Porsche’s product lineup also made it quickly collectible. Along the way, at 1,000 built, the RS itself was homologated for Group 3 racing.

Porsche AG President Ernst Fuhrmann also wanted a 911 model that would refresh what he viewed as an aging design, one that he planned to eventually replace with the nascent 928 project. That wrong bet would eventually cost Fuhrmann his job. But he was very correct in wanting to develop racing models from the 911. The dominant RSRs, 934s and 935s followed.

A once-in-a-lifetime exemption

For about 10 years, RS Porsches remained off-limits to Americans. That changed when the federal government decided to allow a once-in-a-lifetime exemption for non-federalized cars. RSs suddenly became the Porsche to own, and by the mid-1980s were almost as common here as in Europe. The Northeast was an early hotbed because the Porsche Club regions there had more prolific “driver’s education” — aka track day — schedules. There was a Lime Rock event in May 1986 where the instructor-run group was over 50% RSs — your speed-happy columnist included. Around a road course in the 1970s and 1980s, nothing but a purebred Porsche race car or a really well-built Porsche hot rod could outrun an RS. Turbos were overweight sitting ducks; normally aspirated SCs and 3.2-liter Carreras just moving chicanes.

A blast to drive

The engine had a much wider torque range than a 911S, was good for five-second 0–60 times, and could pull to 150 mph, all on regular gas — thanks to an 8.5:1 compression ratio.

Aside from their track prowess, RSs were simply a blast to drive. While certainly not a “supercar” at 210 horsepower, the RS was an overachiever because of its balance, which is a harmonious blend of performance and exhilaration. Alas, lots of people became fans. While supply was high at 1,525 examples, demand was stronger, and the car appreciated steadily through the 1980s and 1990s. By the early 1990s, almost all were collector cars. Many were retired from track and everyday duty, preserved or restored and certainly coddled.

Little has changed now, 20 years later, except that the prices have been rising steadily. That steepening price curve has in turn given rise to counterfeits and a lot of hurried and incorrect restorations. Buyers need to be very careful. Your reporter has been playing with RSs since 1982 and still prefers to have an expert vet them out. Aside from the unique RS pieces, metal thickness, glass thickness — even the patterns of welds — are all important to assess, and rust can lurk in hard-to-find crannies.

Lightweight or Touring?

There are some important variables in determining values on RS Porsches. The Group 4 homologation cars to serial number 528 are the most desired. They are worth perhaps a 10% premium. The Second Series cars — to serial number 1036 — are valued at par, and most Third Series cars lag by 10%. Many Third Series cars lack salient features of early RSs: lighter-weight steel in the doors, hood, and fenders; thinner side glass; the aluminum-framed fiberglass ducktail; the alloy front cross-member; and no undercoating.

The factory order code M471 “Lightweight” performance version, built 195 strong, sells at about a 50% premium over an M472 “Touring” version, given equal condition and originality.

While the touring had a full 911S interior, the lightweight had a stripped interior, with lightweight interior door panels, spartan shell seats, no window winder mechanisms, and even thinner Glaverbel glass all around the car. These windshields all broke when the car was jarred hard at speed. The lightweights also had full fiberglass rear bumpers vs. steel with chrome uprights on touring cars. They are also recognizable by their black headliners vs. typical white (black was an option) on touring cars.

Pretty in brown? With wrong graphics?

Our subject car auctioned in Monte Carlo was a touring M472 version of very early production. It was also heavily optioned by RS standards with a sunroof, leather sports seats, twin shoulder belts, fog lamps, radio/antenna/speaker set, tinted glass all around, an engine compartment light and rubber-padded chrome bumper uprights — which were required in France and perhaps also in the Canary Islands, where this car was delivered new.

Unfortunately this RS was sepia brown, a color that reminds many people of serious indigestion. The paint shop looks to perhaps have cheated away from true sepia brown to a darker and more attractive tone, perhaps Mercedes Tobacco Brown or the almost-acceptable 356 color Togo Brown.

Regrettably, it also had black Carrera side graphics with wheels painted to match and with silver — not black — lug nuts. Almost everyone restoring an RS adds the Carrera side graphics and color-matched wheels, but they are dead wrong on almost all RSs that are not Grand Prix White.

The GPW cars came with a choice of black, red, green or blue graphics, while “colored” cars were predominantly delivered without Carrera side graphics (on the engine lid, yes) and always had silver-spoke Fuchs forged alloys. Even PCA concours judges missed this salient point on an admittedly otherwise very nice 1973 RS, black with red Carrera graphics and red wheels, that won a major group prize at the 2011 Porsche Parade in Savannah.

Value histories

Prices on RS Porsches are all over the low six-figure spectrum. SCM’s Platinum Database reports the $286,000 sale of a Grand Prix White/blue (born light yellow) s/n 901 at the Russo and Steele Monterey 2011 sale, but the auction analyst warned that the engine serial number might have been a restamp. A driver-quality light yellow car, s/n 1317, sold for $275k at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction in March 2012. Recently, two Tourings each reportedly sold for just over $400,000 in private transactions.

Our subject RS sold at Coys’ Nürburgring auction in August 2007 for $218k. At that time, it was in Grand Prix White with red Carrera graphics and wheels.

So, what was the refreshed brown version sold at RM in Monaco worth? It’s all in the details. In addition to the side graphics and wheels, the car is missing its fog lights, and the wheel-rim finishes are incorrectly polished, not frosted — but there is nothing too serious about any of that. If the body panels were all original, if the rare RS bits were all there, if the numbers were all authentic, if the body welds were original, then this car was very well bought, despite being brown. If it lacked many elements of originality, then it was a nice hot-rod Porsche in a challenging color.

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