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Car Tales: Rally-driving For Life, The Porsche 912 Coupe

‘I love human stories that really bring out the personality and character of the car. Take that of 1967 Polish Sports Personality of the Year Sobieslaw Zasada and the Porsche 912, for example.
1969 Porsche 912 Coupe for sale
‘Not only does Zasada – I’m pleased to see the almost obligatory ‘z’ in his Polish surname – manage to combine the possibly paradoxical careers of being an economist and rally driver, he first does this in Poland in the early 1950s, grimly bleak times in then then Soviet-controlled country, which was struggling hard to recover from the devastation of World War 2.

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‘Pragmatically having taken a logical sideways step in his career – financial survival clearly the imperative – in 1967 Zasada owned a four-person auto repair shop in Krakow, the beautiful former Polish capital in the south of the country; and an apt occupation choice – know your material, as any work guru will advise. That year, driving a Porsche factory-loaned 912, with the Polish plate 6177 KR, Zasada captured the European Rally Championship for Group 1 series touring cars.
1969 Porsche 912 Coupe side view
‘In the same year, 1967, in the Rally of Poland, the second oldest rally in the world and one of the oldest motorsport events on the planet, Zasada drove his 912 race to finish first overall out of a starting field of 50 entries.
‘By the late 1990s, by which time the Iron Curtain had fallen and Poland was an independent nation once again, Zasada was one of the most successful businessmen in his country. In 1996 Reuters reported that his Polish automotive group Sobieslaw Zasada Centrum SA had launched the construction of Mercedes’ Vito mini-vans. The launch marked the first production license that Mercedes-Benz had granted in eastern Europe. By that time Zasada controlled two utility car factories and several automotive parts plants.
‘In 2021 Zasada announced that he would make a comeback in that year’s Safari Rally, in Kenya on that occasion, making him at the age of 91 the oldest driver to compete in the World Rally Championship. Although he participated in the race, a series of collisions ensured Zasada failed to complete the rally. Yet his attendance still made him the oldest driver ever to take part in a WRC rally.
1969 Porsche 912 Coupe rear view
‘At Beverly Hills Car Club we may not have a 1967 Porsche 912, but we have a beauty from 1969, a long wheel base Porsche 912 Coupe with matching numbers in its factory color code #6803 Ossi Blue with a black interior. This 912 Coupe comes equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, dual carburetors Porsche hub caps, 4-wheel disc brakes. This is a gorgeous colors combination air-cooled Porsche 912 that is mechanically sound.
‘It is also the most desirable spec of the 912: the long wheel base version was manufactured only in the final year of production. To improve handling without penalizing ride, the rear wheels of the long wheel base version were moved back by 2.5 inches, with no change in overall vehicle length. Another distinctive body change for 1969 was the addition of wider wheel flares added to the side of the body, which could accommodate wheels as wide as 6 inches.
1969 Porsche 912 Coupe interior
‘In the early 1960s Porsche had been planning to discontinue the Type 356, which would leave them with the then newly-introduced Type 911 as the only car they were producing. Concerned that the considerable price increase of a 911 over the 356 would cost the company sales and narrow its brand appeal, in 1963 Porsche executives decided to introduce a new four-cylinder entry-level model.
‘In 1963, Porsche endeavored to oversee design and construction of a new horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine for the 902, utilizing components from the new 901 six-cylinder engine; this, it was at first thought, would produce higher performance than their 356SC engine, and be less costly and complex than their Carrera 2 engine.
‘Another option explored was to increase displacement of the 356 Type 616 engine to 1.8-liters, add fuel injection, and modify both valve and cooling systems. Yet, considering performance, cost, and scheduling, Porsche discontinued both of these design projects, and instead developed a third option: to tailor the 1.6-liter Type 616 engine to the 902 – as the 912 was first known and became.
1969 Porsche 912 Coupe engine
‘You can’t help wondering what would have happened if Porsche had put their new car project in the hands of Sobieslaw Zasada and his four-person auto-repair shop in Krakow. That would have been something, you can guarantee.
‘As it was, Road & Track magazine was most impressed at the end of 1966 when the 912 launched. ‘The 912E will obviously find favor with those who prefer a slightly more practical and tractable Porsche,’ it wrote. ‘It’s a car with almost all the sporting virtues of the more expensive 911S, yet its simpler pushrod 4-cyl. engine should make for better fuel economy and less expensive maintenance than the 911’s six…The fittings are simpler in this model although in terms of materials, trim and finishing the 912E is of high Porsche quality…The 912E is comfortable where the Carrera is harsh, rational where the Carrera is excessive.’
‘Road and Track also loved the Porsche 912’s 11.3-second 0-60 mph time and 115-mph top speed. Who wouldn’t in such a lovely motor-car?
Especially if you’re rally-driving it at the age of 91!
-Alex Manos, Owner
1969 Porsche 912 buyer Alex Manos

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