I received a call last week that got me thinking. This person knew I have cars in various states of completion lying around all the time and was inquiring whether I had a suitable project DE car. I told him I had none. Here’s why. The price of all 911s have skyrocketed, and this has dried up the supply of ‘donor’ track cars – they've just become too valuable to risk stuffing in the wall at the track.
So, where are suitable inexpensive track cars going to come from now? This got me thinking back about the DE cars I had built over the years.
The first was a 1968 912 that I extended the wheel base, added flares, big brakes, 911 suspension, painted it white and added a big 3.0L engine. This is a car I bought for $200 finding in a shop’s scrap yard in the outskirts of Philadelphia. I used this car for over 10 years and it never let me down.
The second track car was a 1975 Carrera I bought for $12,000. My loving wife Anne drove it as her daily drive for 15 years and finally the 2.7 engine wore out. Actually it caught fire in the driveway but we’re not allowed to talk about that. Since it was not being used I built into a track car. After one year as a track car I sobered up and realized this car was too rare and turned it back to a street car. With age comes wisdom.
My third DE car was a 72 911 which I bought for $700 as a shell. This car I painted white everywhere, added big brakes, lots of light-weight plastic parts and a 3.6 engine. This is the car I drove at Daytona at Rennsport Reunion II. I used this car for several years before I bought a true Race Car - a 964 with all the bells and whistles. Now that was a great track car that provided a lot of memories.
What was common about these DE track cars was that they were low priced, very reliable, low maintenance, safe and fast. They were made out of worn out street cars and the parts we hung on them were more valuable than the chassis. We used to say if something bad happened all you needed was a pickup truck to gather the unbroken parts, since that is where the money was and you could probably put it all back together for next to nothing.
These days, there are no beaters. No worn out older 911s that can be turned into track cars. Every 911 regardless of condition is restorable and valuable. The end value is so great that even basket cases are prized. So, where do we go from here?
The answer lies in a car that has balance, good brakes, power and is relatively inexpensive - The Boxster. The newer, lighter, less expensive red-headed step-child of the 911. Purists don’t much care for them, but I think they make perfect track cars. If you don’t believe me come watch Boxsters perform at any of our DE track days.
You also have a second choice since 996’s are also relatively affordable (if you must drive a 911 at the track). And guess what, I think I have a couple of those lying around. Actually, I have a couple of both.
Dan Petchel is a Porsche driver, enthusiast and longtime PCA member and he's been tinkering with these beloved German sports cars for close to 50 years. He writes about Porsches, Targa Tops, vintage parts and the people he meets along the way.