With the driver-side door flipped forward, it’s a very long stretch of the legs to step over the prodigious fiberglass threshold that covers the car’s side mounted fuel tanks. For a tall driver like myself, this was fairly easy as the 910 is currently configured to run with the roof panel removed, but were it in place it would require some impressive folding and gyrations to slide down into the nearly centrally mounted seat.
Once I’ve slipped down into the bucket seat I’m struck by the unusual layout of the interior. Bathed in a sea of beautifully gray-painted fiberglass, I become aware of a host of unusual angles: the wheel wells intrude pretty prominently into the cockpit, so your legs and feet have to angle a bit towards the pedals on the midline; the gauges are mounted on top of the low slung dash in two small binnacles angled to face the driver; and black-painted chassis tubes criss-cross the gray floorboard, generating a further series of angles. Yet, all that angularity found below the beltline is sharply contrasted by the presence of nothing but shapely curves above it. Looking out the heavily raked and re-curved windshield the driver’s field of vision is only broken by two large, graceful white curves delineating the placement of the 13” magnesium front wheels.
Considering this 910’s history and pedigree, it seems almost comical that one starts the car with a conventional key and lock on the dash! Turn the key, press down on the accelerator pedal slightly and the 910 bursts to life just as easily and trouble free as any garden-variety 911 roadcar. But blip that throttle and the sharp, growling exhaust note that assaults your eardrums informs you that while the basic design of the 2-liter Flat-6 engine may be related to that garden-variety 911, this is a purebred racing powerplant capable of boosting out 220 earsplitting horsepower.
With the car warmed up and ready to go, the next pleasant surprise was selecting first gear. Just an hour earlier, I had wrestled mightily with the ZF transaxle in the Shelby Can-Am car, but with the Porsche’s all-synchromesh 5-speed transaxle, first gear is easily snicked into place with no stirring or graunching. Pulling out into the pitlane, the 910 is quite content to happily growl along in first gear, without any of the surging or bucking one would experience with other purpose-built racecars. As I cruise my way to the track entrance, I have just a few seconds to fully take in my new surroundings. Nestled in the cockpit, the 910 provides the same sense of “wearing the racecar” that can also be found with any number of small formula cars. But while the formula cars provide more of a sense of being “in” the car, the 910 feels more like I’m wearing it “around” me. This sensation likely stems from the wide low cockpit, coupled with almost no roofline or “greenhouse “other than the heavily curved windshield.
However, these spatial musings quickly disappear as the 910 and I blend into the entrance to Turn 1 and I squeeze onto the gas pedal. BLAAAT…shift…BLAAT… powering up the left-hand dogleg to Turn 2, with a heavy throttle, the 910 releases one of the most glorious—and distinctive—engine notes. Not only is this engine note so distinctive and characteristic to 6-cylinder racing Porsches, but so is the acceleration, as 220 horsepower blast just 1254-lbs of tubes and plastic uphill towards the right-hand Turn 2.