"Watch out, it's a viper!". Honest advice is always an invaluable source of information, especially when they come from a seasoned driver like Mattia Colpani, owner of this gorgeous 1972 Viper Grün Porsche 911 2.5 ST.
Before I am about to head out for a short drive, the car is taken to Madonna di Campiglio for the 2017 Winter Marathon. Mattia’s words act as a polite reminder that if anything bad happens to the car, a whole weekend is screwed and it will be my fault. Of course, I am determined not to make that happen and bring his beloved 911 back in one piece and ready for some more exciting miles.
The original 911 ST's were the first real factory racing cars that Porsche developed for both its Works team and the most prominent racing customers. While the 1967 R was more of a development project envisioned by Ferdinand Piech, who wanted to build a factory racing car on the wave of the success of privateers like Vic Elford, the ST was a properly developed victory machine.
22 were manufactured, 11 for the Works team and 11 for customers. It featured a 2.5 liter flat six, twin spark ignition and, depending on the type of competition, it was fitted both with mechanical ignition and carburetors. Original ST's featured a thinner gauge steel roof and floorpan and could also be ordered with aluminium doors and plexiglass windows.
Although this particular 911 is not part of the original batch of 22 cars, it is every bit as close to her rare counterparts. Originally based off a 2.4 liter T, it has been prepared by Mattia and his father, Maurizio, in 2009 to compete in historic rallying and regularity races. Everyone in Brescia knows Mattia as a 911 enthusiast through and through: this is his first 911 ever and with it, he has raced in his first competitions and it holds a special place in his heart.
Driving this car is like going out with someone else's girlfriend: take her somewhere nice, be polite but keep in mind that she will never be yours. It's good to talk about early 911's purity but it's better to leave them to experienced drivers.
"With this exhaust, it revs up to 7000 rpm, so don't try to reach the limit at 9000 otherwise you'll bend the valves. Have fun!". Mattia's smile gives me a little more confidence as I pull out of his garage and head out to the countryside outside Ghedi for a spin and I immediately feel more relaxed.
Like all Porsches, this 911 makes you feel right at home: it's easy to drive slowly, all controls are within reach and the gearbox it more precise than the standard Typ 915 fitted to road going models from 1972 onwards.
As I drive, It's easy to see why Mattia is so attached to this car: its engine revs with anger, pulling strongly from 3000 rpm. I try to imagine how it feels to race such a car at night, on gravel roads: it sure would be scary but definitely exciting!
As I give back his prized possession, I can see the relief on his face as I make it back safely without any scratches. Some of his best racing memories are related to this car and despite Porsche’s ever increasing prices, this 911 is a keeper and will always remain in Mattia's possession, no matter what. After all, these cars get under your skin and become a part of your life and after having driven one, you can understand why.
Jacopo Villa, contributor
Photo credits: Federico Bajetti for The Outlierman © 2017