All you need to know about the meticulous restoration of this 1968 Porsche 907 race car is in the missing two inches of Kevin Ryan’s chisels. The composite craftsman painstakingly used a pair of Irwin Marples chisels to strip off an extra fiberglass layer that had been added to the flimsy racing body. “The tools had to be razor sharp to protect the original body,” Ryan says. So he sharpened his chisels roughly every 10 minutes. After 3000 hours of work, the 907’s original body was finally uncovered, and Ryan’s chisels were much shorter.
That was but one excruciating task in a fanatical three-year project that owner and noted collector Miles Collier says “encapsulates everything I know and believe about conservation.” Good thing the car was worth it.
The 907 was a critical step in Porsche’s evolution from a small-bore sports-car manufacturer to one that came to dominate the overall results at Daytona and Le Mans. The exact number of 907s produced is open to debate because they were constantly modified, bleeding into previous and succeeding versions that often wore new model names. It’s estimated that 21 were built and about a dozen survive. None, however, remained as preserved as the one under Ryan’s chisels.
Collier’s particular car, serial number 907 024, was one of four 907s entered in the 1968 12 Hours of Sebring. The 907 weighed 1300 pounds and had a relatively puny 2.2-liter air-cooled flat-eight. It was the antithesis of the Ford GT40 that had dominated endurance racing until a rule change for 1968. Of the four cars, 024, driven by Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann, won Sebring from the pole, with an average speed of 105 mph. It was then sold to Jaime Ortiz-Patiño, heir to a Bolivian tin fortune, who lent the car to his godson, Dominique Martin, for a handful of races. In 1970, Ortiz-Patiño hired Franco Sbarro to convert the car for road use.
Sbarro did what he could to civilize the bare-bones machine by lathering on the extra fiberglass and painting the front-end mechanicals a uniform black, but his efforts didn’t produce the desired effect. The 907 was then parked for four decades until Miles Collier purchased it in 2014.
Collier is the founder of the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida, an organization and museum dedicated to deepening an understanding and appreciation of automotive history. The main facility opened in 2009 and has extensive restoration space and a research library. When the 907 arrived, Collier and his crew knew it needed restoration, but the question that hung over them was, essentially, “To what point do you restore the car?”
“These old cars are a trip with a time machine,” Collier says. “You can never get back to absolute originality. In this case, we made the decision to go back to the car’s most important event, the win at Sebring.” The resultant time capsule is now on display at Revs. In the gallery below, we’ve highlighted a handful of the car’s many interesting details.