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THE TRIBUTE CAR: Building a Toad Hall 911 ST Replica

by | September 2015

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In the fall of 1971, 25 year-old Michael Keyser of Toad Hall Motor Racing ordered a 2.5-liter Light Yellow 911 “ST” sport purposes Porsche from the factory. In December, he traveled to the Sports Department in Stuttgart where he met with Jürgen Barth, who was the same age and from a well-known racing family.

Barth agreed to co-drive the new ST with Keyser during the 1972 season at Sebring, the Targa Florio, Zeltweg, Nürburgring 1000 km, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans – where they ended up 13th overall and were the only 911 to finish.

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Inspired by the documentary films The Hard Chargers and Endless Summer, Keyser used the ST as a camera car during practice sessions at several races during the 1972 World Manufacturer’s Championship series. The film he made, The Speed Merchants, went on to become one of the most authentic road racing motion pictures of all time.

From Daytona ’72 to ’73, Keyser raced two 2.5 STs, both in the Light Yellow Toad Hall livery with old English type. The Toad Hall Racing 911s that exist today are extremely valuable. So what’s an enthusiast to do if he wants a similar look and driving experience? For one such individual, the answer was clear. Build it himself.

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Gib Bosworth of Arizona went to work researching the unique 1972 911 ST Keyser created 40 years ago with Keyser’s help and that of his associate Levon Pentecost.

“A guy always needs to question whether committing to a project car makes sense or not,” notes Bosworth. “I’ve struggled with this before every build I’ve done over the past twenty-five years.”

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Having owned two-dozen 911s, Bosworth is no stranger to this dilemma. In the process, he’s developed a fascination with the 1972 model in all its racing configurations. From 2002 to 2006 he built a silver Martini & Rossi RSR replica based on a 1972 911S tub. It paid homage to the earliest 2.8 Porsche prototypes that had the ’72-only oil door. Next came a Viper Green Kremer ’72 911ST tribute that Bosworth constructed between 2006 and 2011. That car was based on a 911T, which independents like Kremer Racing used as the lightest weight chassis back in the day.

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A 1972 Toad Hall ST replica seemed the obvious next DIY project. Bosworth recalled, “In 2011, I stumbled onto a pair of real steel ST rear flares on a ’67 912 in a wrecking yard. I knew there were different versions of the ST fender, but the ones I found appeared to be factory made – based on the stamped torsion hole, the tapering, and the shape of the lip. Next, I found a ’72 911 T roller in Ohio that would fit the bill as a donor.”

The T had been stripped of parts and paint, and had been sprayed with primer to protect the surface from rust for more than 20 years. When Bosworth traveled with his trailer to pick up the 911, he found it had been ordered with factory AC, sunroof, and Sportomatic transmission.

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Six days and 3600 miles later, the roller was in his Arizona shop where Bosworth began the process of stripping the body down to a bare shell, and fitting ST parts. With the purchase of a pair of factory steel ST front flares, S front bumper, a fiberglass/balsa front lid and factory aluminum rear deck lid, Bosworth enlisted John Esposito in North Hollywood to transform the body and fenders into the proper shape. Esposito used old photos for reference and closed the sunroof, A/C holes, and fuel filler door.

They maintained the original shape of the S bumper with modifications to the ends to mate with the front ST fenders. They added two small rectangular openings with 914-grille mesh to allow airflow for front oil coolers. Esposito then applied a base coat of white to make the final Light Yellow paint pop.

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No tribute car is complete without the correct graphics. For this crucial element, Bosworth studied vintage pictures of the Toad Hall ST livery and ordered decals to match. To match the original, he also procured a Bosch cut off switch, Euro chrome-trim lenses, GHE latches, a lightweight interior, black headliner, dead pedal, roll bar, rear seat belt anchors, and period looking seat belts.

Cibié Oscars for through-the-grille lights, Marchal Amplilux headlights, vintage Prototipo steering wheel, and Scheel race buckets keep the vintage vibe going. A 100-liter reproduction fuel tank, ’72 style front strut brace, Elephant Racing crossover front oil lines, and a dual outlet sport muffler finish the classic ST look.

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For propulsion, Bosworth installed a 2.7-liter single-plug engine based on an early aluminum case with 9.5:1 compression ratio, Weber carburetors, and Solex cams. It’s soon to be replaced with a 2.8L twin-plug MFI unit. A 915 transmission with an 8:31 ring and pinion and its own front cooler provide reliable transfer of power. He chose twin 28 brass tube-type coolers because they are durable and function well without a fan.

Suspension bits include a mix of old and new: 21/27 mm torsion bars, Tarett Engineering sway bars, H&H period-looking lever arms, Elephant Racing Polybronze bushings, Sway-A-Way spring plates, aluminum trailing arms, RSR raised spindle struts, custom valved Bilstein shocks, and aluminum S front calipers. 15-inch Fuchs in 8 and 9-inch widths were built and refinished by Harvey Weidman to replicate what was used on the Toad Hall ST. With his experience of rebuilding a dozen 911s, Bosworth assembled his replica entirely by himself.

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“It’s been a three year process of getting this ST recreation on the road, but it’s the journey, not the destination that gives me the most satisfaction. Michael Keyser even signed a small plaque for the dash, and told me, ‘The car looks great! Congratulations!'” exclaims Bosworth. “The 1972 ST body style, for me, is the best. Whether used for street, track or rally work, it always looks cool. Many other long hood enthusiasts consider it to be one of the most beautiful Porsche shapes ever as well, and the retro-modern Singer 911s seem to confirm that.”

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Bosworth has been known to proclaim, “No more projects for me. I am done with these time consuming, money draining builds!” But we suspect that’s not the case, given his enthusiastic and prodigious history. Besides, what else will give him the grin that comes from driving a newly built homage to an iconic piece of Porsche history? And knowing this Light Yellow 911ST tribute will be cherished decades from now – well, it makes the whole effort seem worthwhile.

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Article and photos © 2015 Randy Wells. All Rights Reserved.

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