Every so often you catch wind of some people doing something cool as hell and you’re instinctively compelled to keep digging and find out all about it. Social media is great for this, and it was through Instagram that I first learned of Frisco (aka Andre) and his little drive. When we found out that he would be passing through Adelaide, friend of AGR and Boys Own Garage supremo Zander Pickering made contact and told him he should stop by for a beer. And naturally, AGR somehow ended up at Zander’s place at the same time. Coincidence, eh?
And so the story goes. Andre and his wife Corlandi are from Stellenbosch, just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Andre is a die-hard Porsche nut, his collection extends to a pair of 993 GT2’s and a Le Mans 911 ST, and in the past his collection included a 956 (chassis 108, the Trust car) and a 935. Andre and Corlandi were married a couple of months ago and this is their honeymoon – a year long world tour in a ’69 911 T/R. More than a few have commented that Corlandi is certainly a keeper to even entertain a scheme like that, especially given that she broke her coccyx from water impact on Christmas Day jumping from a cliff into the ocean at Sydney. It’s a miracale that she can even get into the 911, let alone tour around Australia in it.
The T/R docked at Port Kembla, Sydney from Johannesburg at the beginning of January and since then the pair have made their way down the East Coast via Bathurst, the Classic Throttle Shop, Dutton Garage, Phillip Island and the Great Ocean Road. From Adelaide they will head to Uluru and back to Sydney where the car will be shipped to New Zealand. They will tour the South Island for a few weeks before returning back to Australia to participate in Targa Tasmania in April. The car will then head to the USA to compete in the Pan Am Classic Rally, a 30 day rally that traces the back roads from Savannah, South Carolina on the East Coast through the middle to California before finishing in Seattle.
It’s quite the journey, but that isn’t all. The T/R will then be shipped to the UK and will head across to Portugal for a track day at Portimao, before taking part in Club Mulholland’s tour of Portugal which traces the coast through Lisbon, Porto, Pinhao and across the finish line in Santander. As far as honeymoons go, that’s about as cool as it gets.
Andre has quite a connection with this particular 911. Originally a 1969 911 T, Andre raced it competitively in the nineties as a white 2.7 RS clone. He had a pretty major accident in it, putting it into a wall at over 180km/h at Kyalami, which comprehensively damaged it. He fixed it and sold it soon after, loosing track of it for the next 20 years. It wasn’t until about 8 months ago when he was negotiating the sale of a 964 RS that he saw a sad and dejected looking 911 in the corner of the prospective buyer’s shed.
Everyone can pick their own car from a group of identical others, and it was a particular clunk from the check-strap when he opened the drivers door and a sticker on the rear window that confirmed his suspicions that he had discovered his old car. The owner didn’t want to sell, so Andre made it a condition of selling the 964 RS that he would get his old car back. Initially not keen, the owner phoned that afternoon and confirmed they had a deal.
It was nothing like the hot rod you see here. It was a forlorn and dejected old Porsche; white and with a mismatch of body panels after a hard life, it required 14 people working six days a week for six months to get it to the state you see here.
It may look like a hipster Porsche hot rod, but the whole car has been very cleverly built with this trip and the rally events in mind and it is bristling with clever thinking and practical details. In fact, they’ve done an incredible job to keep it looking so pure without sacrificing functionality.
The car runs a 2.7 on carbs and a 915 gearbox operated by a Wevo shifter. The gearbox was built by the same guy who does all of the rally gearboxes for Tuthill Porsche so it should be fairly strong, and the powertrain feels bulletproof when you rev it out. There’s a lot of smart details like a large oil cooler at the front, a specially engineered aluminum and wooden roof rack which itself is a work of pure art, and extra driving lights mounted on the front.
Inside there is a Stilo intercom, period Recaro fixed back seats, helmet hammocks, and the rear section of the roll cage that was in the car when Andre used to race it in the nineties. The only real concession to comfort at the expense of style is the head unit and speakers, but given how many hours Andre and Corlandi will spend in this car over the next year, I think that can be excused.
The last thing you want on a trip like this is to be hampered by electrical problems, so the whole vehicle has been rewired with motorsport spec hardware by an auto electrician who usually spends his time wiring Dakar rally winners.
The crazy thing is that due to the build schedule this fresh restoration had driven less than 50km when it was unloaded into Sydney! Thankfully everything seems to be going reasonably well, the only drama being an inaccurate fuel gauge which has left them stranded a few times and once resulted in them being pushed off the Melbourne CityLink by the service truck.
It was then that we were truly humbled when Andre insisted that Zander and I take it for a run. “Here. You press these switches to start it, and in case the Police stop you the Carnet De Passages is in the bag behind the seat. Have fun!”
This was my first time driving an early 911 and it was such a special experience to savor. The thing that initially got me was how tractable and civilised it was with a gentle clutch, a relatively compliant ride and plenty of power available from low in the range to make town driving a doddle.
Even though we went and found a few corners around Upper Sturt this drive was not about pushing it, as this was not the time nor the place to explore the handling traits of an early 911 and the last thing I wanted was to snap-oversteer into a guard rail. Instead we just soaked up the experience. I did give it a few revs on the straights to revel in that trademark Porsche bark, and I did tip it in just enough to feel a trace of that legendary Porsche turn-in, but the majority of the smiles came from driving a car with so much history from the other side of the world. It was something I’ll appreciate for a long time and it did absolutely nothing to crush my desire to own one of these cars one day.
Andre and Corlandi are two of the nicest, most enthusiastic and positive people I’ve ever met, and it was a pleasure to welcome them, if only for a day, into our city and see them get so much joy from this car and their trip. It’s inspirational more than anything.
Sure, the resources required for a trip like this are obviously beyond the reach of most. But the spirit is not, and it’s cause to sit down and question what cool shit you can use your own car for. It doesn’t have to be on this scale, but it highlights the joy and new experiences that can be had by just getting out of your normal routine for a little while and really using your car for something different. I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be fun to take a week or two of annual leave and road trip my Fiat on a camping trip up the East Coast to a track day and back, and with the spirit of an olive green 911 guiding me, I think I’m going to try and make it happen this year.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
Follow the trip on Instagram – @frisco_911911 #Early 911 #Frisco #Porsche #South Africa #Targa Tasmania