In the 1970s, when Horst Kroll was among Canada’s best-known drivers - competing in and winning the Can-Am championship in its last year - nobody got rich in racing. So, he sometimes bought used Porsches in California, driving them home to sell at his West Hill repair shop in Scarborough, ON.
One of those cars was a 1972 Porsche 911T Sportomatic, originally finished in special-order metallic green. Kroll used to tell the story of being pursued by the police across Oklahoma on the way back to Toronto in the car, he in a 356, his girlfriend at the time, Connie, driving the 911. Once back in Toronto, the car sat, then sat some more; Kroll didn’t like haggling, and refused to accept less for the car than he felt it was worth. It wasn’t just the colour that was special: 1972 was the only year 911s came with a desirable outside oil filler cap, a distinctive mark, and the car was a Sportomatic, fitted with Porsche’s earliest attempt at a semi-automatic transmission. A four-speed with a conventional H-pattern, it was a manual gearbox without a clutch pedal.
Acquired by Pfaff Porsche early in 2016, the 1972 911T, after over 30 years of sitting in Kroll’s condo parking garage, was not in running condition, with significant rust and mechanical issues. The team at Pfaff Porsche decided to make it a showpiece restoration, to demonstrate just what its newly-award Porsche Classic Partner designation meant. This meant bringing it back to its rare original condition - complete with special-order paint, exterior oil filler, and sportomatic transmission.
Many would have considered the corrosion on the car’s body, and decided to scrap the vehicle, but the car’s rarity and legendary ownership prompted the dealership to restore it instead. Pfaff has been selling, servicing, and rebuilding Porsches for over 50 years, and the team believes there is nothing that is not possible. And demonstrating the extent of its capabilities was also something that would resonate with all of its customers. A classic-car braintrust was set up at the dealership, including service manager Mike McCarthy, technicians Chris Hillier and Dave Draganac, used car manager John Pera, and salesperson Stuart Drummond.
Pfaff Autoworks, located just around the corner from the dealership, outsourced media blasting of the bodywork, and the bodyshop’s apprentices and body technicians went to town on the body - putting in 100-plus hours of preparation before grafting in new floor pans, doors, fenders, and more. All told, over 800 hours were invested in the body alone.
On the mechanical side, the 911T’s 2.4-litre engine was refreshed with new pistons and cylinders and new injectors for the mechanical fuel injection system. Service manager McCarthy, who worked at hardcore Porsche racing shops before Pfaff, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the mechanical fuel injection that makes 1970s engines special. Meantime, Draganac listed every nut, bolt, and screw before deciding which parts needed to be restored, or sourced anew. Draganac also tackled every other mechanical component including every single hose that hard rotted, preparing the suspension, and rebuilding the clever sportomatic transmission. Draganac and Pera also managed the restoration of the 1972’s dark-brown interior.
While the hours and dollars mounted well beyond the original estimates - all told, the restoration took over two and a half years from start to finish - the resulting car is spectacular, and unrecognizable from the state in which it arrived at the dealership. Its green metallic paint gleams, all of its polished fittings look as good as new, and best of all, it drives as good as it looks, once you acclimatize to its unique, forward-thinking transmission. More than just a beautiful-looking, beautiful-driving car, the 1972 T is a calling card for Pfaff Porsche’s classic car knowledge - as well as a fitting tribute to Horst Kroll, a legendary Canadian racer who sadly passed away before the restoration was completed.