You’d like Miki Kazmer. By profession he’s a film producer, but his true passion has always been for cars, ever since helping out at a local garage as a lad. He used to race a 911, he still does compete with an E30 325i, and he tows the 912c with a Disco 4. He gets it.
His idea for the 912c is a very simple one. Miki is not from a mechanical or engineering background, so this vision of an ultimate 912 could look like is not one man’s labour of love over many years. Well, it is, but it has involved the expertise of many different people to ensure only the very best bits made the cut. If you’ll excuse the predictable analogy, this is Miki’s four-wheeled blockbuster; the producer doesn’t write, act and direct, instead they recruit the best people in all those jobs to make sure the project is as good as it possibly can be. That’s what the 912c aims to be in four-cylinder Porsche form. It’s exactly the car Miki wanted to create, even down to certain bits – the carbon bodywork and the bespoke cooling, most notably – that the experts said couldn’t be done.
It’s absolutely stunning up close, too, even as a prototype. We’ve almost become blasé about how pretty these early, narrow-body cars can be, and the Kamm interpretation is a wonderful reminder of just how right it was. Though inspiration was taken from the 911 R and more weight could come out in future (even from the current, incredible 760kg wet), the 912c retains enough of the original details to ensure that you think of it as an old Porsche first – not a carbon bodied ground-up rebuild. Note the original headlights, the chrome, and the quarter windows, for example. It’s all beautifully done. They’re what you clock first, and that perfect silhouette, before the flashes of the carbon for this example, the semi-slick Yokohamas and the harnesses. That feels like how it should be, though of course a car can be built to the customer’s specification. This one, by Miki’s admission, is a little too racy for the moment for regular road use, with plans for a longer fifth gear and softer setup. But you’d never pass up a go in something that looks this right. The number 68, in case you were wondering, is for the 1968 model year, as that’s Miki’s favourite for the 912; it means five dials instead of three, and he prefers the dash. Miki really, really loves the 912.
Which makes the prospect of experiencing it even more terrifying. Because on top of the jeopardy that comes with driving the prototype of a car set to cost the best part of £300k, there’s the fact this is still a 60s’ Porsche to some extent. The four-cylinder might be lighter than a six, but it’s still out behind, on top of a torsion bar rear end; the wheelbase is very short, the steering is unassisted yet very fast (1.7 turns lock to lock) and the gearbox has a dog-leg first. Also, I don’t really fit in it – and the 912 is left-hand drive. There’s always pressure when driving a car that means so much to someone; multiple that by ten times when they’re watching you pull away.
Accordingly, the first few minutes are tense. The pedals are heavy, the steering is heavy but very immediate and the set-up is so aggressive that the 912 finds imperfections everywhere. It doesn’t so much demand attention as wrench every bit of awareness from you, all the time. Any notion of this being a dainty and delicate classic is long gone by third gear.
However, it doesn’t take long to adjust to what’s going on, adapt your style and appreciate just the quality of the work here. In a world where the act of operating a car has been reduced to almost nothing, it’s always a shock when so much effort is required. Especially with legs splayed akimbo. But be in no doubt – the rewards are worth the effort. The Kamm 912c is a physical, demanding, raw thing to drive; never have I been so enamoured by a car having not breached 65mph. As speed is easier to access than ever nowadays and thrills in precious short supply as a result, the joy of something this intense – yet built to a wonderful standard – absolutely skyrockets.
The engine is a masterpiece. Though derived from the 1.6-litre original, it’s been taken to 2.0-litres by Swiss specialists JPS Aircooled. On paper, 170hp doesn’t look a great deal, but then it’s not moving very much. In fact, there’s so much torque it can actually roll around on very few revs at all. But you’ll want revs, of course, and you get them anyway with ratios this short. Perhaps the best thing to say about the flat-four’s sound and performance is that there was never a point in our time together where anything more was craved. The 912 rasps, snarls and barks like the very best four-pots, delivering power all the way through the rev range. You could sacrifice some torque for a wilder top end, though this feels like a really nice compromise for the moment. And even if you aren’t going fast, the 912 feels it, which is preferable to speed that sneaks up on you.
The gearbox is dreamy, too, precise and satisfying in an unfamiliar fashion for old Porsches. First to second needs patience, but the second-to-third up-and-down that makes dog-legs so entertaining on a road drive is fantastic. Real effort has been put into ensuring the driver’s relationship to the gearstick is right, that the shift is good and the gearbox itself is tough enough, and it really shows. As a reminder of the pleasure to be derived from engines and gearboxes, you’ll not find much better.
Even if this was not an on-limit assessment of the 912c, plainly, there is plenty to be encouraged by. It’s light and tiny, which pays endless dividends on British roads, yet it feels like a stiff structure as well. There’s not the feeling of vulnerability that there often is in older cars. Furthermore, because you’re so overwhelmed with feedback, what the 912c is doing is never in any doubt. In this configuration what it’s doing is fidgeting quite a lot, so you’ll certainly not want for something to do – but it’s an absorbing experience, and works best with firm, deliberate inputs.
Again, going against classic car tradition (but very much to the restomod rule book), the 912c feels better the faster and harder it’s driven. The great bits include the brakes and the steering that, if never losing its weight, does become more enjoyable with some speed and readjustment. More broadly, and perhaps predictably, the car is especially brilliant when it all comes together: getting the downshift perfect, judging an apex right, picking up the throttle to feel the diff redouble its efforts and drive you away is as good here as anywhere. Crucially, that initial intimidation becomes total immersion; the more you learn, the more the car makes sense. It must be an absolute blast on a track, and not many old cars give that impression. With a slightly less focused configuration, it promises to be a really sweet road car as well. The balance between performance, size, weight and grip already feels spot on.
So while it might be a familiar template, bringing together such beautiful details – just look at that pedal box! – with a totally enthralling drive ensures the Kamm 912c isn’t far from the restomod ideal. Additionally, the choice of a four-cylinder engine (and a brilliant one at that) ensures it stands out in what is already a busy little niche of old Porsches made great. Granted, there’s still some fine-tuning to do before it can claim to work flawlessly on UK roads, but it’s beautifully built, stunning to look at and, if nothing else, truly unforgettable to drive. Can’t ask for much more than that.
SPECIFICATION | KAMM 912C
Engine: 2.0-litre flat-fourTransmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive Power (hp): 170 Torque (lb ft): N/A 0-62mph: c. 6 seconds Top speed: N/A Weight: 760kg (with fluids) MPG: N/A CO2: N/A Price: from €325,000 (currently £288,000)