We meet Tony Sottile’s uncle Jay, who drops a bombshell right at the Bandit’s feet. Find out what we’re on about below.
All is not as it seems.
I know we’ve all heard this phrase from time to time, but in this case, I’d like the words to really sink in. In an increasingly appearance driven world, we are quick to judge and then dismiss something we don’t think looks good, or doesn’t align with our views. The same is true of cars. Body kits, wheels, engine swaps, interiors, decals, paint jobs and even the model of car come under scrutiny from our peers, with friends and foes alike quick to offer their opinion.
A few years ago, a man with a long beard and dreadlocks appeared on the scene with a video about being an outlaw. He owned a number of aircooled Porsches, even modifying them to his unique tastes. He believed in making the car his own, while driving it the way he wanted to. His name is Magnus Walker and his story has become known globally to car enthusiasts everywhere.
Walker’s ethos revolved around making a car look and drive exactly the way he wanted, with little regard for what people said about it. Like the distressed leather trousers that he used to make, his cars bore evidence of the way they were driven – hard. Mismatched colors, tartan upholstery, leather and chrome bits and a hardworking flat six became his signature touch. Ironically, he became so popular that his style was copied around the world, to the point that it became extremely fashionable to sport the outlaw look on a 911.
This means that a number of people are buying classic 911s and turning them into ‘outlaws’, which end up looking more or less the same. Walker was the original ‘Urban Outlaw’ and he will continue to remain so. So where does one go to find the roots of ‘outlaw’ culture?
When I went to Milwaukee to see Tony Sottile and his 911 Targa, he had mentioned that his uncle might drop by to say hello. As we wrapped up the shoot, the wail of a flat six materialised into a Signal Red 911 outlaw that was racing towards us. The car eventually stopped and Jay Sottile climbed out to give me a warm greeting. Jay and Tony gave me some time to process the car, before asking me what I thought of it. A few words fell out of my mouth, none of which can be repeated here.
The thing is, nothing prepares you for the car. From some angles, it looks comical. From others, it looks extremely purposeful. Time to tackle the facts.
I was looking at a 1964 Porsche 911 in Signal Red. It had wide 930 steel fenders, a fibreglass ducktail and black steel wheels. The interior had period correct houndstooth seats, a roll cage, a MOMO Indy steering wheel, a fire extinguisher and a working radio. Under the hood, a fuel injected 3.2-litre Carrera motor provides more than enough power for a car that rolled out of the factory with a carburetted 2-litre engine. Since it was built in 1964, this was an original ‘901’ car, making it special in its own right.
It seemed all the bombs had not been dropped yet. Watching me peeking into the interior, Jay casually mentioned that the car had been verified as the 5th 911 ever built by Porsche. With a grin, he swung open the car to expose the VIN plate, which read 300005. I stepped back from the car with my jaw practically touching the ground. Here, on this downtown Milwaukee street, I was looking at a piece of unparalleled Porsche heritage. Mind-blowing doesn’t begin to cover it.
The story goes that the car was an original test mule, a Werks cars and then a press car before ending up in the hands of a revered German rally driver, who raced and rallied the car in numerous motorsport contests across the country. He was honored by Ferry Porsche twice, once for being the first to win an international race in a 911. It had disputes with safety barriers and lost, putting scars, dents and then proper damage on its lithe body. Little is known after that. Somehow the car ended up in the US, with steel fenders from a 930 welded on. At that time, it was relatively unheard of to do something like this, giving us a small but noteworthy glance at the history of outlaw culture. Jay later told me that #30005 is the oldest surviving production Porsche 911 in the world.
Jay found the car in his garage one day, brought it back to life and has been driving it ever since. It’s been on track and has even received Magnus Walker’s blessing as a true outlaw, before Jay and Tony embarked on the MOMO Road to Rennsport rally. During the summer months, Jay daily drives the car, exercising it at every opportunity.
Now, a car like this is sure to divide people. The purists will say that the car should shed its fender armour, retain its original proportions and then be placed in a museum, so that people can gawk at it from behind a rope. The outlaws will say that the car should look rough, and looks too clean to be a true outlaw.
My opinion? I’m just glad that the car is being driven on a regular basis, instead of being relegated to a barn before being found and crossing the auction floor at RM Sotheby’s for millions of dollars. The fact that the fifth 911 still exists with its rich motorsport history and is still being used as a regular car is something that gives me immense joy.
It takes a certain mindset to treat this particular car as an object of driving enjoyment, as opposed to a garage ornament and I am very pleased to say that Jay has that very mindset. As for the car being an outlaw, the changes have been carried out well and the fact that it gives us a historical perspective on outlaw culture makes this 911 a two for one special.
Riding in the car through downtown Milwaukee later, ladies and gentlemen, young and old, stopped to admire the red Porsche that drove past them with the flat six growling loudly, without an inkling that they were witnessing motorsport history rolling past them. It was truly unreal.
So I guess there are two things here. As Ferry Porsche intended and Magnus Walker says, “Get out and drive.” Secondly, the next time you see a car, don’t dismiss it. There may just be something very special hiding under the paintwork.
All is not as it seems.
A big thank you to Jay and Tony Sottile for an incredibly enjoyable and enlightening afternoon in Milwaukee. Till the next time!