Rolly Resos glances in his rearview mirror and murmurs, more annoyed than anxious, "That orange car is right on my ass."
With a deep, satisfying blip of the throttle, he downshifts from third to second and plants his foot in what's appropriately called the loud pedal. The rorty snarl of his barely muffled flat six crackles through the canopy of trees enveloping the picturesque, two-lane road threading through Carmel Valley, California. But it isn't until Resos backs out of the throttle as he brakes for a hairpin that his vintage Porsche 911 gets really cantankerous, backfiring like a high-powered rifle -- bap! bap! bap! -- and spitting flames out the tail. "Sorry about that," he says sheepishly as he gets back on the gas and hustles down a short chute. "With the twin megaphones and the cracked header, you've got to keep your foot in it."
Resos is a charter member of R Gruppe, the quasi-underground, semifamous car club whose provocative devotion to hot-rodding early 911s has earned it a reputation as the bad boy of the Porsche world. This morning's spirited drive is part of the group's annual Treffen (German for meeting), which has brought 150 members and their performance-modified cars from England, Germany, Mexico, and all over the United States to the Monterey Peninsula for a weekend of touring, tracking, tire-kicking, and bench racing. The mods run the gamut from mild to wild, from Kent Moore's elegantly understated '67 ("I jazzed it up a little, but I like cars that are for the most part stock") to the voluptuous RSR-ish hottie that Scott Longballa fashioned out of a plain-Jane '72 T ("I didn't intend to go this crazy, but once I got into it, I couldn't stop"). Purists would scoff that there's not a truly "authentic" 911 in the bunch. Then again, is a '32 highboy with a flathead Ford "authentic"?
The 911 that Resos is driving is a poster child for R Gruppe's mix-and-match ethos. He spotted it in 1999, buried in the back of a used-car lot in Costa Mesa. At first glance, it looked like a tired '66 in need of plenty of TLC. But when he got closer, he saw a factory roll bar, Recaro seats, "deep 6" Fuchs wheels, and, under the hood, an oversize fuel tank typically found in rally cars back in the day. Resos wasted no time buying the car, and as a collector who's owned as many as seven Porsches at one time, he immediately set about bringing it back to life. But not, as you might imagine, as a concours queen with numbers-matching components and screw slots pointed in the same direction, like soldiers on parade.