An exceptional Porsche 911 race car was recently made available for sale during the 2023 Goodwood Revival event. This highly sought-after vehicle, a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, was listed by Bonhams for a private sale. While the specifics of the transaction remain undisclosed, we have reached out to Bonhams for confirmation on whether the car has indeed been sold.
Regarded as one of the most iconic 911 race cars, this particular model, known as R7, is believed to be one of only three surviving factory-backed examples. Its claim to fame came in the form of a fourth-place finish at the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1973, marking the highest placement achieved by an RSR at the prestigious endurance race.
Although maintaining the recognisable 911 design, the RSR underwent significant modifications, including widened fenders, a large rear spoiler called the “Mary Stuart” (named after the signature collar of the Scottish monarch), and an upgraded 3.0-liter flat-6 engine. These alterations were extensive enough for the RSR to be classified as a prototype for the 1973 Le Mans race. Consequently, the car competed against dedicated sports racers rather than production-based vehicles, making its fourth-place finish even more remarkable and impressive.
Driven by the notable duo of Herbie Müller and Gijs van Lennep, and adorned in the iconic Martini racing livery, R7 demonstrated its capabilities, outperforming all but three prototypes from Matra-Simca and Ferrari. Following this notable performance, the car continued to compete under the factory team, participating in races at the Osterreichring and Watkins Glen, and capping off an impressive season.
In 1974, R7 was acquired by Mexican race team owner Hector Rebaque, who brought it back to Le Mans once again. Unfortunately, the car failed to finish the race due to ignition problems. Several years later, in 1977, R7 was purchased by Italian collector Massimo Balliva, who kept it concealed for nearly three decades. This prolonged period of anonymity led to rumours suggesting that R7 had been involved in a crash and subsequently dismantled under Rebaque’s ownership.
Around 2009 or 2010, Balliva sent R7 to France for a meticulous restoration. Following the restoration process, the car changed hands and was sold to a collector in the United States. However, R7 soon became embroiled in a legal battle within the U.S. courts, as another individual claimed ownership of a different car bearing the same name. Porsche engineer and team manager Norbert Singer was summoned to authenticate the genuine R7, resolving the identity dispute.
Bonhams estimated that R7 would fetch a price between 3.7 million and 5.7 million British pounds, which translates to approximately $4.6 million to $7.1 million at current exchange rates. Even if the car were to sell at the higher end of the projected range, it would not surpass the record set by a 1970 917K prototype racer featured in the Steve McQueen film “Le Mans.” This iconic vehicle sold for a remarkable $14 million at an auction held in 2017.
In summary, the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, known as R7, is an exceptional race car that has captivated enthusiasts for decades. Its distinct modifications, impressive racing history, and the accompanying legal battle have only served to enhance its allure. The recent opportunity to acquire this extraordinary vehicle at the Goodwood Revival event has undoubtedly garnered significant attention from avid collectors and fans of the Porsche brand alike.