Auctions and Brokerage
The Competition 911 L
Just a few short years into Porsche’s production of the 911, cars were appearing at all sorts of racing venues around the globe. The desire from private drivers to acquire specialty 911s for racing purposes was growing. To answer the influx of requests for a competition model, in 1968 Porsche developed a lightweight, racing 911 L specially fitted with the 901/30 engine. Factory records indicate 28 such engine numbers (3880001–3880028) although there is no definitive knowledge of how many cars were built. Today, just nine of these special 911 Ls are recorded, and fewer thought to remain.
Each of these competition 911 Ls was a European-specification L model outfitted with the rally kit, the sport kit 2, a roll bar, a limited-slip differential, lowered Koni suspension, a leather-covered steering wheel, and “Porsche” side script. Furthermore, the cars were void of sound deadening and undercoating and were otherwise trimmed like a 912. Final delivery specifications varied from car to car, based on expected use and ultimately the buyer’s requests.
In October 1967, John Kelly received a Western Union telegram from Porsche of America stating, “Porsche Factory offered us a limited number of modified 911 R Racing car with 210 DIN HP, light body and other racing features. Weight approx 850 kg. Price ex factory US dollar 11,250 plus landed cost expense. If interested please call Monday since cars have to be ordered for December production.”
Little more was needed and John Kelly, an SCCA champion familiar with Porsche’s on-track capability, placed an order for one of these special race-built 911s. The Kardex and certificate of authenticity confirm that “0486” was fitted with 901/30 engine 3880009, a rally kit, a limited-slip differential, a sport kit for “911 L,” a leather steering wheel, a roll bar, low-consistency suspension, Porsche lettering left and right, and a special transmission (9282017) for “race cars on airfields.” Invoiced through Heishman Porsche Audi of Arlington, Virginia, Kelly took delivery of his new, Tangerine 911 in March 1968.
Kelly’s intent, no doubt, was to race the 911, but shortly after taking delivery of the car he was hired by Triumph to race TR4s in Group 44 competition. Kelly decided to use the 911 as a daily driver and had it road registered. In 1969, however, Kelly received the opportunity to put the Porsche to competitive use at Marlboro for the Refrigerator Bowl. The car was driven to the event with time for little more than applying race numbers before the green flag dropped. By the second lap the 911 was in the lead, and from there won handily.
For more than a decade, the 911 L remained a driver until finding retirement in Kelly’s garage. In the 1990s, Kelly’s wife Susann Miller caught the vintage racing bug and had the 911 prepped for racing, which included upgrading the original engine to 2.5-liter specifications. The Porsche was raced until 2005, per the logbooks that accompany the car. Shortly after, the car was sold and subsequently restored by Porsche specialists Canepa Design.
Given the 911’s long-term ownership and minimal racing career, it stands as an exceptionally correct and original example, worthy of restoration. The original engine was completely re-manufactured with ported and flowed heads, Carrillo rods, special factory rally cams, proper Porsche rain hats, and factory sport kit megaphone exhaust. All glass, lights, and trim fitted were Porsche NOS parts. The car was finished with “Deep Six” and “Seven” R wheels, R seats, and the 100-liter fuel tank. Furthermore, the car is very well documented with a certificate of authenticity, a copy of the Kardex, a copy of the telegram to Kelly, and the original 911 L owner’s manual, and dealer directory.
In 2008, the car was sold to a private California collector with a significant selection of early 911s. The car has been expertly maintained since and used sportingly as a healthy road car. The Porsche remains beautifully presented in its tangerine finish and has a period-correct appearance befitting the special factory-prepared car. Given the rarity of the competition 911 L and its brethren, the 911 R and 911 S/T, this is an opportunity to own one of the finer examples of the early racing 911.