We speak to a collector who recently bought a Porsche 962 endurance racer, road-registered it in the UK, and then decided to take it on a European jaunt!
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
With words such as “I think it is a bit of a public service, that you should let other people see the car” you can’t help but immediately appreciate this collector’s approach to this cars. This is the same guy who allowed Tiff Needell to drive his very special Porsche GT1.
“I actually don’t know exactly where my love of cars came from. As a kid my parents were totally different. My dad was very much into sport, I am not, but my mum was actually quite interested in cars. Maybe I somehow inherited it from her.
“I’ve had a lot of supercars over the years. However, I find that the new offerings from the manufacturers are all kind of “samey”. Basically, I find them a little bit too boring. They’ve become too good, too sanitised. So, for me, in the past couple of years I’ve tried to have cars that give me different experiences.
"I don’t want too many cars that do the same job. I’ve always been a great fan of the '80s and '90s Group C Le Mans race cars and obviously the 962, they are such iconic cars. I became a bit obsessed with it, and then thought that we could actually try to get one… and put it on the road.
“I have a broker who source all of my cars for me. He knew of this 962, but it wasn’t for sale as such, but you know, everything is for sale at the right price. I went over and looked at the car and a deal was done.”
Make no mistake, this 962 has a full racing pedigree. This includes Le Mans, the Nürburgring and IMSA World Challenge – all in 1988.
One would thought that getting an '80s Group C endurance race car registered for the road would be extremely challenging, but that was not the case.
“You basically have two categories. On the one hand there are the legal requirements. These include features like indicators, which the car already had. You need to have a handbrake, which race cars obviously don’t have – lots of small technical things like that. Then you also have the functional side, things you need to do to make it driveable on the road. For example, race cars don’t really have cooling fans. On Le Mans, these cars would not have needed cooling fans, but sitting in traffic it would. So we had to fit cooling fans. Some race cars also have quite a poor turning circle, but this car was luckily not too bad, so I kept the standard setup.”
As this collector had never before driven a Group C car, the experience, as is to be expected, came as quite a big surprise to him. “It was a weird thing to get my head around. In some ways it is so intimidating. But what I quite like about it, because it is a Porsche, is that it is actually surprisingly easy. For example, I’ve got a Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT, and I’m doing the same thing to it, putting it on the road. But, to start that machine takes a few minutes, but with the 962 you open the door and turn the key. Once you get over the initial “my goodness, this is a scary race car” feeling, it is actually fine. The clutch is extremely heavy though and the gearbox is incredibly tight and each shift is very short.
“Me and some friends were invited to the Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race. Initially I thought I’d just fly over from the UK. Then I thought, but we’ve just finished the process of getting the 962 on the road, it would be the best excuse to take it to its home, back to Germany. I also took it to Kremer Racing, because they had the car in period. We then took it to the Porsche Museum. This was very special because they gave me a private tour. We were there on a Monday, a day the museum is usually closed.
“One of the challenges on the trip was that the car is pretty loud, so we had headsets and intercoms to communicate with one another. The only small issue we had is that it blew a fuse, so the car cut out at one point. We changed the fuse for something like 20 pence, and on we went!”
Oh, and if you were wondering, the owner has both the short and the long tail for the car, but used the smaller tail for the trip.
In the end, however, I can't help but marvel at this collector's true passion for cars and willingness to share these incredible machines with the rest of us.
“It is something I feel very strongly about. I’m not someone who gets a lot of enjoyment from looking at cars, I need to be able to use them. I don’t understand these people who are obsessed with mileage and don’t use their cars, lock it away and nobody sees it. I almost think it is a bit of a public service, that you should let other people see the car. The kid you drive past, in 20, 30 or 40 years, he might be the one who wants to buy the car.
Follow Elliot Ross on Instagram to see all his adventures with his fantastic collection of cars.