KAMM 912c – A Racer for the Road


Chris Pickering

Oh my god, that’s so lush. I love old 911s,” gushes the man in the Mondeo that pulls alongside us at the traffic lights. We wholeheartedly share his sentiment, but the KAMM 912c isn’t a 911. And much of it is, in fact, brand new.

Built in Budapest, the 912c is a different take on the wildly popular Porsche restomod market. It’s the brainchild of Miklós Kázmér, a film producer and Porsche nut who spent his formative years helping out at a local tuning shop.

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Hungary already had a thriving modified car scene, leftover from its communist years. Back then, if you wanted a fast car you had to build it yourself. And it just so happened that one of the mechanics at the garage where young Miki hung out during the school holidays specialised in tuning Volkswagen Beetles. It kickstarted a passion for air-cooled cars that’s remained with him ever since.

But why the 912? It all comes down to weight. Launched in 1965 as an entry-level model, the 912 shared its body and chassis with the original 911. The only significant difference between the two was that the 912 used a 1.6-litre pushrod-operated flat four in place of the 911’s 2-litre overhead cam flat six. Power was down from 130hp to 90hp, but it meant that the 912 was also lighter and better balanced.

Kázmér wanted to build a lightweight racer for the road that remained true to the original 1960s ethos. In that respect, the 912 already had a head start over the equivalent 911, but KAMM has gone a whole lot further. Most of the steel body panels have been replaced with carbon fibre (an all-composite version is on the way) and there are now lightweight polycarbonate windows, carbon fibre bucket seats and yet more carbon in the interior trim.

The neat thing is that you’d be hard pushed to tell. Sections of the bodywork have deliberately been left in bare carbon fibre on this demonstrator to showcase its composite construction, but otherwise it wouldn’t look out of place on the grid at Goodwood. Even the extensive use of carbon fibre in the interior manages to blend in seamlessly with the black leather alongside.

The end result is a car that weighs just 750kg wet, despite now featuring carefully concealed mod cons like air conditioning. That’s less than a Series 1 Lotus Exige.

Meanwhile, Swiss motorsport firm JPS Aircooled has gone to work on the engine. Now enlarged to 2 litres, it runs a modern fuel injection system with a Life Racing ECU. New cylinder heads, a bespoke exhaust system and a higher compression ratio are among the other mods that take the power up to 190hp. That’s more than twice the output of the original 1.6-litre engine, and torque is up by nearly 60 per cent at 228Nm.

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All the other mods you’d expect are here too. The 912c rides on lowered and stiffened coilover suspension in place of the original torsion bar setup. It even has cockpit-adjustable electronic damping. There’s also a Porsche competition clutch, a ZF limited slip differential and a beefy set of AP Racing brakes with ventilated discs and a motorsport-style Tilton floor-mounted pedal box.

On the Road

And so to the road. But first a confession. I’ve never driven a standard 912 (or even a first-generation 911) for comparison. Compared to a G-Series 911, however, there are some interesting contrasts, as well as a lot of similarities.

To start with, the 912c can feel surprisingly intimidating for a small, light car. There’s a real heft to the controls at low speeds and the competition clutch is quite abrupt. And while the re-engineered gearshift mechanism is more positive than that on a lot of old 911s, it’s still quite notchy when cold. The unusual dogleg layout also meant that I spent the first 20 minutes in perpetual fear of getting the wrong gear and doing untold damage to the engine.

Fortunately, I didn’t. Not least because it’s a truly magnificent powerplant. It’s tractable enough at low revs, although there’s not the instant low-speed torque you’d get from a modern engine. As the revs climb, however, it comes alive. The long-travel throttle pedal responds with laser-guided precision, and there’s a hard-edged percussive bark to the induction noise that’s utterly addictive.

It’s particularly exhilarating over the last few thousand rpm. Lift off the throttle and the revs drop with racing car abruptness before you hook the next gear and it all takes off again. The best part is that while the 912c feels genuinely quick – it comfortably dropped the 1980s 3.2 Carrera that we brought along for comparison – it’s not so ballistic that you can’t deploy a reasonable chunk of that performance on the road.

The chassis mods mean that this 912 is more than capable of living with that extra power. KAMM will build a car from any 912 that you choose, but this example is based on a 1968 model, which still uses the short wheelbase chassis found on the very first 911s. The following year, Porsche added 57mm to the wheelbase to curb the tendency for lift-off oversteer. And yet with the improved weight distribution of the 912 and the revised suspension on this car you’re rarely aware of that pendulum effect in normal driving.

You do still need to manage the weight transfer – go into a corner too quickly and the front end will wash wide in the same way that it will in 911s right up to this day. Given a bit more time (and preferably a bit more runoff area) you could doubtlessly harness the 912’s unique weight distribution to your advantage – loading the nose on the way into the corners and using it to pivot the short wheelbase Porsche in the same way that Walter Röhrl and Björn Waldegård once did. Maybe.

At higher speeds you get the slightly floaty front end that’s another early Porsche trademark. But get the rear end hooked up and there’s a seemingly inexhaustible reserve of traction coming out of the corners – a sensation that’s amplified by sitting even further forwards than you would in a modern 911.

The whole point is that this is not a car that offers instant gratification. You need to learn it and you need to actively drive it. We only the scratched the surface in the few blissful hours that we had with the 912c, but that was long enough for it to work its magic.

Daily Racer

The first iteration of the 912c, previewed last year, came with a more track-biased setup. We didn’t drive the car in that form, but the slightly slower steering rack (still a responsive 2.5 turns lock-to-lock down from 1.7) and the more pliant suspension now fitted to the car seem like a good compromise for the road.

There’s still a distinctly hardcore edge – think GT3 Touring rather than Carrera 4 – but it’s a car that feels like it would be capable of covering long distances. The engine is gloriously vocal, but the creaks and rattles that you often get elsewhere in an older car are notably absent. In fact, everything that you touch feels solid and tactile in a distinctly Porsche kind of way.

Solid enough to justify the €360,000 asking price (or €320,000 if you provide your own 912 donor car)? In the rarefied context of Porsche restomods, we’d say so. Next to the Singers and Theons of this world you could even argue that it’s a bargain.

In truth, though, the 912c isn’t quite the same proposition. Wonderful as those 911s are, the 912c is more than a quarter of a tonne lighter (Kázmér reckons a kerb weight of 680kg will be achievable with a full carbon body). And that’s important, because against the increasingly crowded 911 restomod scene this car stands out as something genuinely different. Just don’t tell the man in the Mondeo.

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