Viper Green Porsche 911 SC Outlaw
Eye candy comes in curious hues, especially when it’s channelling the early 1970s. This Viper Green 911 SC Outlaw reminds us of no one else but Kermit the Frog. We splashed out on a visit to PIE Performance to check out the amphibian...
Words Johnny Tipler
Photography Dan Sherwood
Readers of a certain vintage will doubtless recall The Muppet Show and, quite likely, Sesame Street. I couldn’t possibly comment, but because I’m writing this in the midst of panto season, allow me to indulge a bit of slapstick. I’m proposing what we have here is the vehicular incarnation of one Kermit the Frog (the ‘voice of the people’ in both TV productions). We find him manifest as a 911.
Our Kermit is based on a 1981 911 SC, whereas Kermit himself started life almost three decades earlier. My proposal to you, however, is that the transformation wrought on this unsuspecting Californian import is a manifestation of what our wild and wacky vociferous amphibian would be, were he to be reborn in Zuffenhausen. How so? Well, look, Kermit had a wry, mischievous sense of humour, an incisive wit and could deliver a verdict on a situation with pinpoint accuracy. Is it too contrived to attribute these characteristics to a motor car? Bear with. As we know, cars, especially Porsches, are endowed with multiple character traits and foibles. When you opt for a standard 911 in a bid to alter its disposition — let’s face it, there’s no 911 more stock-stoical than an SC — you’re going to amplify those qualities.
Let’s take a look at what happened to this Kermit 911 in the backdating bog. It helps inform proceedings if the subject car has already been leant on a bit, in this case for a spot of on-track action in the USA before relocation to GB. To be precise, into the clutches of the alteration experts at Pro-9, whose speciality is bespoke Porsche builds. Pro-9 has been providing everything from regular maintenance and crash repairs to full restorations and backdates for the past thirty years, carrying out work from the firm’s base in Redditch, Worcestershire. The father and son team of Simon and Bret Evans is responsible for a fair few conversions, then.
“When doing a completely bespoke Outlaw build, it’s important to start with the best donor vehicle possible,” Simon explains. “This one arrived from the US West Coast with a nice, clean shell and, most importantly, it was rot-free. It’s got the original steel wings, rather than lightweight aluminium, though there’s a fibreglass front lid. We painted the car Viper Green and it now sits on Fuchs wheels with a Brembo brake conversion. The engine has been recommissioned and the interior has had a new headliner and carpet set. We made sure this 911 also has the correct front slam panel for a longbonnet car. The front lid fits perfectly. This can’t be said of most other backdates.”
THERE’S PLENTY OF GRIP, WITH THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SENSORY FEEDBACK THROUGH WHEEL AND BACKSIDE
As we will soon discover, the list of mods is far more extensive than what’s highlighted here, although I can’t help thinking Frog Green would be more apt than Viper Green as reference to this particular colour. In fact, Pro-9 simultaneously spawned a sibling for Kermit — for a while, there were two virtually identical lean, green backdates on the company’s premises.
Historically, the Carrera RS 2.7 introduced a radical change in Porsche’s palette, ushering in fabulous psychedelic hues, including the Viper Green seen here, as well as Bahia Red and Signal Orange, though any colour on the paint chart could be specified. Talking of the 2.7, during the backdating process, this SC also received an RS-style airdam.
YOUR LEGS ARE STRAIGHT AHEAD OF YOU, RATHER THAN JINKED TO THE LEFT AS THEY ARE IN A RIGHT-HOOKER
Kermit is currently stationed at PIE Performance in rural Suffolk, not far from picturesque Lavenham, complete with its cantilevered Tudor beams and pargeted plasterwork. Tasked with selling the car, PIE proprietor, Chris Lansbury, gives me chapter and verse from his perspective. “We market all the 911s built at Pro-9. Simon and Bret buy the base cars mostly from California, thereby ensuring rust-free shells, or as close as possible. American origins also explain why this particular backdate is left-hand drive.” There’s no immediate evidence of this car having been in the US, though. Even the headlamp bezels have been replaced with European-spec parts, finished in black.
The Kermit 911 was beige when it arrived in the UK, somewhat more subtle in tone than the green seen here. “The car was completely stripped and rebuilt before the application of Viper Green, top and bottom, meaning the underside and inside the shell were painted,” Chris continues. “All work was taken care of at Pro-9. The only things we’ve done at PIE Performance are to tidy up the engine bay, fit a new alternator, sort a few other electrical gremlins and wire in a couple of dash gauges. We’ve also done a small amount of work to the gear selector, but it could do with a bit more attention, just to refine shifting. It feels okay, but then everything’s a little bit stiff due to lack of use and wants freeing up a bit, which, of course, would happen out on the road.”
Much of the running gear has been renewed, and thus needs running in. The three-litre engine has been similarly overhauled — detailing includes race headers, a new stainless back box (two pipes in, two pipes out), a modified airbox and a K&N air filter. Chris is censorious. “Although this is what I describe as a ‘soft conversion’, it probably cost more to complete than the asking price.” He recites an inventory of further changes to specification. “The car makes use of 911 R-style rear lights, which back in the day, would have been sourced from the contemporary NSU 1000 TT parts bin. The suspension’s been lowered and benefits from 930 torsion bars. All suspension components are powdercoated or zinc-plated, plus there’s polyurethane bushes and Bilstein dampers, bolstered by a 930 steering rack and new arms.”
The car has also been equipped with a PIE Performance Brembo front brake conversion, which utilises Goodridge brake hoses, cross-drilled discs and bigger calipers, which are actually off a Boxster. They’re colour-coded to the body, which Chris admits isn’t to his taste. The thing about the uprated brake kit is, it fits behind the fifteen-inch Fuchs wheels, a unique characteristic of this particular package, which is readily available to order direct from the PIE Performance Tuning website. The wheels themselves (staggered with seven inches of width at the front and eight at the rear) are fitted with Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres.
Nothing too radical, then, and these are potentially jobs you might perform on your own classic 911 over time, but here, they’re handed to you on a plate, all stacking up nicely as decent, worthwhile modifications to make to a period Porsche, and helping, in this case, to justify the Outlaw backdate.
From my perspective, the only Porsche I haven’t modified in some way is my current 987 Boxster S. I’ve kept it standard because its value lies in its exalted factory specification and (reluctantly) needs to be kept that way. Every other Porsche I’ve owned had has been fair game for mechanical tweaks and bodywork shape-shifting, including a ducktail here and there. Where’s the ducktail here? Frogtail will have to do! In any case, Kermit should be right up my street… or duckpond. Am I convinced? I don’t mind admitting, I wonder if the restomod concept isn’t a bit dated now? Perhaps originality counts for more in the world of classic 911s? Let’s take stock.
This SC looks the frog’s togs, but as I fire up the flatsix and shuffle around PIE Performance’s farmyard surroundings for Snapper Dan’s benefit, certain issues to do with the harmony of the basic controls present themselves. For example, I’m immediately aware of the importance of ratcheting the seat base into a secure position close to the wheel — and hence the pedals — as I press on the powerfully sprung clutch and feel the seat trying to slide backwards. Also, the PPT Brembo conversion is so potent, the merest graze of the brake pedal elicits sudden response. I’m reminded of the nature of this particular Porsche, not to mention the point of fitting bigger brakes, accepting the effect as a positive, but it takes a bit of getting used to.
In its favour, this is a left-hooker, of course, which I personally prefer in a 911, because your legs are straight ahead of you, rather than jinked to the left as they are in a right-hooker (the pedals being in the correct orientation in the left-hand drive configuration).
By the time the car is warmed up and we’re out on the road taking care of tracking shots, the shift proves itself stiff, though Chris has already acknowledged the selector needs further tweaking. Further chassis tuning would also be of benefit, dialling in geometry more suited to the modifications. There, I’ve said it. I’ve given you the downsides. And, of course, all these fiddly niggles will doubtless have been fixed by the time you read this article, but they did rather cloud my impression of a car I wanted to like, because it’s a project I would have loved to have done myself. It looks right, it sounds right, but you want it to feel and to go right, and it ain’t quite there yet.
BACK TO BASICS
Having said that, we need to give Kermit a chance. Given the refreshed three-litre powerplant and early 1970s stance, we’d be forgiven for expecting a 911 akin to a Carrera RS 2.7, or even a three-litre RS. Sure, this Porsche is raw — wilfully so, given the stripped-out, pared down cabin, decorated as it is with its RS door pulls. They make electric windows something of an anachronism, but we’ll let them go. Same for the electric sunroof. I suppose, if you’re bent on going for the early 1970s Carrera look, you’d toss out the electrical goodies in a bid to save weight, but that’s a choice for the next owner to make.
The corduroy-cushioned leather bucket seats are stylish and of the period. They’re comfy enough, a tad soft even, when firm would be more applicable for a track-focused 911. Four-point harnesses can be a pain if you’re not doing a trackday or heading out on a long run, but these Willans belts aren’t too much of an impediment. Other work within the cabin runs to a new headlining, new carpets, RS door cards, rear seat delete and that very nice APS Imola steering wheel.
Out on the Suffolk backroads, it’s a matter of taking Kermit by the scruff of his neck and being a little brutal — a means of overcoming the flaws in shift and tendency to yaw left. The car accelerates smartly enough, accompanied by a sublime flat-six snarl emanating from the modified exhaust system, taking no prisoners when slotting through the shift-gate. Like all classic 911s, this redeveloped SC demands a firm hand — none of the wishy-washy, effete pinky, gentle touch so often the way with modern motoring. In fact, I’m reminded of the very first 911 I ever drove: a 2.2-litre S from Autofarm, back when the company was based in Amersham. It was a raw sauvage — a wild animal — in contrast to the plucky, benignmannered Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV I was accustomed to in the early 1980s. No other description fitted at the time. Here on dampish country lanes, I’m a bit tally-ho, just to make sense of things. Through corners, I get braking done early, taking it gently in order to avoid pedal-pressure neck-jerk. I steer into the apexes with a little more lock than required, taking it off as the car turns in, gradually applying the throttle so it powers out delightfully, with no body roll evident. Lift-off understeer and throttle-on oversteer finetunes directional control through the twisty bits. All in all, this is a very good chassis, and there’s plenty of grip, with the right amount of sensory feedback through wheel and backside. With the minor details mentioned earlier dealt with, this good car will become a great car. Oh, and maybe the next owner could invest in a set of taller tyres? My Carrera 3.2 wore the same fifteen-inch Fuchs wheels, but was shod with taller-sidewall Continentals, which gave a much nicer, more period ride than what’s on offer here. That said, I wasn’t into the backdating or modifying game back then.
Never mind the chaotic limb-flailing, Kermit the actual frog was a free spirit, soul of the party and usually spot on with his observations and comments. And I think that’s what we’ve got going on here. Sauvage and sophisticated.
To return to the image projected by our Kermit car, the absence of the ducktail rear spoiler points to a channelling of 911 T/R or ST, the forerunners of the Carrera RS 2.7 and 2.8-litre race car. The 911 T/R designation had a double meaning: either T-Racing, or T-Rally, because when you placed you order, you could specify a race or a rally package. The subsequent 911 ST from 1970 was based on the 2.2-litre 911, with a second series constructed on the 1972 2.4-litre 911. Still no ducktail. Whichever the case, our friend Kermit provides you with almost a litre of extra engine capacity, thanks to his SC flat-six. And if it is the RS you want to emulate, no problem — hop off and get a ducktail lid fitted.
Above 911 Turbo steering rack and torsion bars give a helping hand when it comes to turn-in response.
Above A PIE Performance Tuning (PPT) Brembo brake kit upgrade gives this SC serious stopping power. Right Out on the road, the car demonstrates fantastic grip and cornering abilities.
Above This Kermit-coloured SC was originally registered in 1983 and is currently available to purchase direct from PIE Performance.
Right Cockpit is a comfortable place to be, punctuated by a classic APS Imola three-spoke.
Below Three-litre flat-six makes itself known through modified exhaust system making use of race headers.
Above Built by Pro-9 and subsequently fettled by the team at PIE Performance, this Viper Green SC was beige when imported from the USA.