Zimmer Porsche 910S
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
JACK ZIMMER had a dream: to build the world's most exotic super-coupe, the last of the high revving, mid-engine, Porsche street machines. Many enthusiasts had such dreams. But Zimmer had the money to make it come true. The Zimmer Porsche 910S had design and engineering rivalling anything then on the market, including any Italian supercar exotica. And unlike many show-but-not-go cars, the 910S was a functional two-seater which, with a top speed of 300 km/h in street trim, could bring tears to the eyes of the most blase Highway Patrolman, and made the Corvette look like a shopping basket.
Zimmer claimed the 910S rode better than his Porsche Turbo Carrera, was also much quicker and, indeed, nicely noisier. The whine of the cams at 8500 rpm screaming just behind your head somehow sounded better (well, at least to the ears of the fortunate few that got to drive one) than the less busy swoosh/whoosh of the Porsche Turbo.
Development of the Zimmer Porsche
Zimmer bought a race-tired, clapped-out Porsche 910, ex-hill climb and endurance racer, with the idea of overhauling and updating it for club racing in the USA. However, a change in the racing rules in 1973
put the 910 in the next higher class making it look very long in tooth, so Zimmer then decided to use it as the base for a street racer ... the 910S.
The background to the car is that Porsche built about 30 of the 910 model particularly for long distance endurance racing, either with a fuel-injected two-litre flat six or a 2.2-litre eight. The first of them appeared in 1966
. In 1967
the factory team scored class victories in the Daytona 24-Hours, Sebring 12-Hours
, Monza 100 Km, Spa 1000 Km
, Targa Florio 1000 Km
, Le Mans 24-Hours
and Rheims 12-Hours. And in the Nurburgring
1000 km race a 910 won outright. That car's serial number was 910-013.
The car Zimmer acquired in 1972
had chassis 910-013 and engine 910-014. Researching the car's history Zimmer found that at the end of 1967 number 013 was bought by Paul Hawkins who raced the car privately (and successfully) for two years, stored it for another two, and then sold it to Burt Kuhne in Canada. Kuhne and a Harry Byzak raced 013 in Canada up through the 1972
season, until it became so tired (after five years of racing) that it was no longer competitive and reliable. That's when Zimmer laid down his money for ol' 013 with the idea of restoring it as a club racer. But during the trip from Canada to Minneapolis, Kuhne flipped the transporter on its roof. The original 910 fibreglass coupe body was destroyed in the roll-over and was subsequently scrapped.
Charles Pelly and The Designworks
The task of re-designing the car was handed to a wonderboy from California's famous School of Industrial Design, Charles Pelly, then proprietor of The Designworks in California. According to Zimmer, "Pelly and I made some initial sketches of what we thought the ultimate Porsche street machine should look like." Several quarter-scale clay models and half a dozen fist fights later they agreed on a final design. A full-scale wooden mock-up was delivered to Dick Troutman in Culver City. His credentials included a four-door Porsche 911
, the Peter Brock
Hino Samurai and the Lance Reventlow
Conversion of 013's rolling chassis to the semi-final version of Zimmer's 910S coupe occupied Troutman for almost 14 months. While he was pounding out the sleek aluminium body, the chassis was stripped, sand-blasted, X-rayed, magnafluxed, straightened and generally up-graded. In addition, Zimmer supervised the fabrication of many custom-made components including door handles, hinges, headlight mechanisms, dashboard, all hand-crafted by Californian auto-artisans.
components and running gear were all restored or, in most cases, replaced with new parts purchased from the Porsche factory racing division. Every nut and bolt (titanium) was replaced. Other parts used in the 910S were either Porsche or VW.
The ventilation system was Porsche 914/6
; tail lights were Audi Fox; electric pop-up headlights were Porsche 914/6; hydraulic doors and luggage compartment lid lifts were Porsche. Lotus Europa
seats were re-covered with genuine Porsche
black leather, as was the entire driver's and passenger's compartment, with tartan cloth insets. The original aluminium lateral fuel tanks were converted into 45-litre fuel cells on either side of the car.
The reborn car was first driven early in 1975, close to three years after the project started. It has been almost constantly modified and improved since that time in order to make it all come together as one of the most sophisticated machines ever to lay rubber on the asphalt.
California Design Excellence Award
The most significant modification was to use a 2.8-litre engine. Zimmer said, "After we had run it with the original rebuilt two-litre we found that the increased weight of converting from a race car to a street machine was just too much for two litres. So we got us a new 2.8 version, rated at more than 205 kW, and the car now performs very smoothly."
The car has been very much in demand for various autoshows but Zimmer decided it was just too damn much of a hassle to transport it and protect it from petty vandalism which, unfortunately, was prevalent at most autoshows. Charles Pelly did show it once in California and it won the 1975 California Design Excellence Award of the Year.
The Zimmer/Pelly/Troutman triad made the body so it can be adopted to any of the 1965-1968 Porsche factory prototype racers; the 906, 910 and 907.
Zero to 30 mph - 1.7 Seconds
Zero to 40 mph - 2.4 Seconds
Zero to 50 mph - 3.3 Seconds
Zero to 60 mph - 4.4 Seconds
Zero to 70 mph - 5.6 Seconds
Zero to 80 mph - 6.9 Seconds
Zero to 90 mph - 9.0 Seconds
Zero to 100 mph - 11.2 Seconds
Standing 1/4 mile - 12.5 secs/183 km/h (113.9 mph)
Top speed - 300 km/h (187 mph)