Resos -- seventy-eight-years young, with the craggy features and bushy white mustache of a Western desperado -- is a member of the Outriders, an elite SoCal hot-rod club that dates back to 1932. So, much to the consternation of Porsche pedants, he proceeded to turn his car into the ultimate 911 rat rod: Rally-style driving lights. Matte-black American Racing aluminum wheels. Fiberglass front fenders in white gel coat. Black fiberglass hood with period Shell and Hella decals framing a center-fill gas cap off a Porsche 904. Red body with plastic 911R door handles. R-style taillights. S-model fuel-injection head (with the fuel-injection ports plugged) on a Weber-carbureted '66 engine of uncertain pedigree. Zuffenhausen by way of El Mirage.
"It's not an R. It's not an RS. It's not an ST," says R Gruppe cofounder Cris Huergas, name-checking three of the rarest and most iconic of early 911s. "It's a car that's an extension of the owner, and it embodies the image and the essence of the sports-purpose Porsche. That's an R Gruppe car."
R Gruppe is arguably the most exclusive, the most polarizing, and the most influential car club in the Porsche universe. A small, invitation-only group dedicated to creatively modified and thoroughly personal versions of "early" 911s -- defined as long-hood cars built before the U.S. bumper regulations enacted in 1974 -- R Gruppe thumbs its nose at convention while offering a rough mechanical and philosophical template for owners looking to pump up the performance of their Porsches. The result is a fleet of sweet, esoteric cars that cherry-pick elements of crazy-expensive limited-edition R, ST, RS, and RSR models -- a ducktail here, a twin-plug motor there -- to create one-of-a-kind pieces of inspired mongrelization.
"We started with three criteria," says R Gruppe's other cofounder, former Porsche (and current Ford) designer Freeman Thomas. "The first ingredient was sports purpose -- cars that can be driven on the track on weekends and on the street during the week. Second was the SoCal hot-rod thing -- if it looks right, it is right. The third element was the Steve McQueen attitude -- great taste and the cool factor. We're not about screaming. There's a discretion that characterizes an R Gruppe car. It's about delivering more than it promises."