Total 911 takes you back to the famous Steering Wheel Club of the 1970s

Total 911 takes you back to the famous Steering Wheel Club of the 1970s

The setting is the Steering Wheel Club in Mayfair and the date is October 1970. The occasion is the presentation of an award to that year’s Le Mans winners, Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann. Behind them is Porsche competitions manager Rico Steinemann and presenting the prize, Stirling Moss, now well established in his second career, motor racing PR.

Total 911 studies the details behind a significant snapshot from Porsche’s past

Porsche Moment

The Club was opened in 1946 by pre-war Brooklands racer and pillar of the BARC, HJ Morgan, who had also done much to establish motor racing at Goodwood after the war. The Club became a mecca for racing drivers, aspiring drivers and the few hangers-on who managed to get through the door. In the days when sex was safe and motor racing was dangerous and deals were done over a drink and a handshake, it was essential to be seen at the very exclusive Steering Wheel Club, an institution which today would fail at the first fence of diversity and political correctness. But even by the time the photograph was taken, its glory days were behind it. The big money was coming into the sport: in 1969, F1 Lotuses appeared in the colours of Gold Leaf cigarettes; that year’s world champion was consummate professional Jackie Stewart who by the time he retired in 1973 was commanding ten times the £32,000 that Moss earned in 1961. But motor racing was still dangerous: in 1970 alone, Courage, McLaren and Rindt were all killed. Herrmann, as he had promised his wife, retired immediately after that Le Mans win. Attwood, 12 years younger, quit, partly due to family pressures at the end of the following season.

All four men pictured were successful Porsche racers: Moss’s brilliant F2 season in a works-supported 718 was enough to convince Ferry he could enter F1 and Steinemann was a talented privateer who finished 2nd at Le Mans in 1968 with a 907. Moss never owned a 911, but the other three all drove company-issued 911Ss. “Piëch expected us to use them to go to all the European races,” remembers Attwood. “He wanted to see the paddocks filled with as many 911s as possible. Mine had prototype intermittent windscreen wipers. Typical Piëch, but it amazed me – I’d never seen them before. Of all the cars I’ve had, that 911S was a real driver’s car. I wish I’d bought it now.”

As society moved on the Club declined. HJ Morgan sold up in 1979 and before the eighties were out, it had disappeared altogether.

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