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What Makes a Porsche an Outlaw?

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author photo by Tyler Hoover July 2017

With my 1999 Porsche 911 LS-swap project in full swing, I've been pondering the meaning of the term "Outlaw" as it relates to the Porsche world. Initially, it was a negative connotation given to Porsche enthusiasts whose modifications were deemed sacrilegious by the purists -- but now, it's a fully embraced subculture in the Porsche community. I first thought my Porsche would qualify as an Outlaw once it's finished -- but after driving a crazy, flame-spitting, heavily modified 1974 Carrera Turbo, I have my doubts.

Back in April, I drove my 1999 Porsche 911 to Florida, and entered my car in the Werks Motor Reunion -- one of the largest Porsche gatherings in the country. While my car was put in the same class as other modern Porsches, I parked mine right next to the Outlaw class section. Mine certainly looked the part, with its vintage-looking ducktail deck lid, side stripes and Fuchs replica wheels -- but it didn't have any performance modifications. The only reactions I got from the Outlaw crowd were a few snickers.

Now that I've grenaded my engine, and I'm swapping in an LS2 V8 from a Chevrolet Corvette, I look forward to showing it off. My goal is to finish my Porsche in time for the West Coast Werks Reunion -- about a month from now, during Monterey Car Week -- this time entering my car in the Outlaw class. My friend Rob has been following my build, and he thinks I'm an idiot. He owns a very special Outlaw 911, which he's kept for nearly 20 years. Rob was crazy enough to invite me to drive it so I could see what a true Outlaw Porsche is like. I certainly couldn't turn down the opportunity.

After an accident totaled his previous Porsche 911, Rob was determined to find another Porsche that nobody could miss. Even though internet car sales were in their infancy at the time, he found this 1974 911 online, and he purchased it sight unseen. It was only $21,500, which was a great buy for a very unusual example.

This Porsche started its life as a Gulf Orange Carrera 2.7, and it was raced for much of its life. It was even shipped across the pond to participate at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, along with other racing circuits across Europe. When Rob purchased it, the car had a 3.0-liter carbureted engine that he could never get to run properly -- so he swapped it for a 3.0-liter turbo from a later 930.

I grew up around Porsches, with my father owning several during my formative years. His best one was a mint Porsche 930 (Porsche's designation for the original 911 Turbo) with only 6,000 original miles -- which he sold right before I reached driving age. I've always wanted to experience one from the driver's seat -- and with this Carrera having the heart of a 930, it's the closest I've ever gotten to the real thing.

Rob had this very powerful engine modified for much higher performance, and it feels insane. He described it as not just a "widowmaker," the common term used in the period to describe the 930, but a car that wants to murder your entire family. Driving it certainly made me scared for my life: The turbo lag is hilariously 1980s in that it takes a while for the power to come on -- but once it hit, I reacted with the same shock as a toddler who reaches the 'Pop Goes the Weasel' moment after winding up a Jack in the Box.

In between its massive acceleration runs, the Carrera spits enough fire to melt paint off the rear bumper -- and it's almost painful to drive at normal speeds. The rock-hard racing seats and suspension, along with the constant body rattles, would make it a miserable car to drive daily -- but if I owned this Porsche, you would never hear me complain. That would be like calling the SR-71 Blackbird a bad airplane because it's miserable to fly slower than the sound barrier. This 911 was not built for the grocery run.

After driving this Outlaw, I had a revelation with my own 911. Even with a very powerful LS V8 shoved in the back, my Porsche will still feel refined and relaxing to drive, and it will have all of the modern comforts. Porsche fanatics will still laugh at my car -- and still think I'm an idiot. While mine might be just as fast, it will never feel as insane as the real deal.

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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What Makes a Porsche an Outlaw? - Autotrader