Build #0001 aka “LUCILLE”
Article originally appeared on the website “Flatsixes” - March 17, 2014
BEAUTY FROM AN UNEXPECTED PLACE
Written by JEREMY LUCAS
When you think of places known for Porsches, Waunakee Wisconsin is probably not one that comes to mind. Waunakee is 20 miles outside of Madison, 70 miles from Milwaukee, 100 miles from Road America, and 140 miles from Chicago. However, Waunakee is where this ’72 911 was reborn.
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To fully appreciate this Porsche, you first need to understand the background behind it and the shop that built it, Accumoto. Accumoto was started by Mark White [We first met Mark when FLATSIXES.com contributor Christian Maloof was racing with Mark as part of the Freedom Motorsport Grand-Am team], a man with a long history of passion for cars and racing. Over the past 10 years, Mark has been building up a core team at Accumoto with the capability to do just about anything automotive. While they occasionally do service other German cars, their core work and passion are Porsches including street, track, and race support. Doug Turnbull, who has over 40 years of experience with Porsches, leads the shop team at Accumoto. Doug’s wealth of experience, on and off track, simply cannot be overstated; he literally has done it all. Each of the guys have areas that they specialize in beside their general overall mechanical ability. Doug does the engine building. Gary Kuehn takes charge when it comes to bodywork, paint, and fabrication. Ryan Welsh is the shop’s interior and fiberglass specialist. Chas Gorton specializes in track support and setup. Will Alexander is an electrical engineer in training.
While mechanical competency is important and something Accumoto is known for, there is something else that really makes Accumoto stand out from others in the industry. To put it simply, that difference is Mark. In talking about Mark with Accumoto customers, racing peers and fellow driving coaches, as well as others in the Porsche community, it became clear the level of respect he has earned and their thoughts can be paraphrased by the following: Mark is a perfectionist with great attention to detail and presentation. He never loses sight of the end goal and the steps required to get there. You can count on Mark to see that it’s done right. That is pretty high praise coming from those that know him best and a good insight into the way Accumoto operates.
Some of you have probably never heard of Accumoto, but those that have frequented the PCA club racing east coast events over the past couple years have probably noted Accumoto’s growing presence in the PCA paddock. Their vintage liveried Stock E cars draw a fair bit of attention for both their performance on track and their design aesthetics.
If you are not familiar with PCA race classes, they are basically broken down into Stock, Prepared, Spec, and Super Class categories with differing levels of modification allowed in each. Stock class Porsche “must compete with full road equipment and, with the exception of exhaust/emissions, be street legal as designed by the factory, capable of being registered for street use.” Safety items, like cages, are of course added and suspensions can be enhanced but they are a lot closer to street cars than one might first think when the word race-car comes to mind. The Stock class is further broken down into sub-classes based on power-to-weight with the Stock E class being comprised of the ‘81-‘94 911s, ’85-’86 928S, 944 Turbo & S2, 968s, and ’00-‘04 Boxsters. Accumoto prefers the air-cooled 911s. Some Stock E racers are in that class simply because it was the Porsche they started racing with, but many of Accumoto’s customers came out of more modern 911 GT3 RS or Cup Cars.
At first Mark had to do a fair bit of convincing to get these guys to try a “slow” air cooled Stock E Porsche over their previous cars. Once he helped them to understand that the dynamics and limits of an older Porsche would be more conducive to learning and driver improvement, over the sky-high limits of factory cup car, they took him up on his advice and it been smiles all around since. Over the past couple years that infectious joy, of driving an air cooled car, has continued to spread and drawn in more customers for the older air cooled Porsches.
But the reason those Stock E cars are important to this story is because they are what lead to the latest street car builds or Accumoto 911s, as Mark likes to refer to them. Some of the customers from the Stock E race cars wanted a similarly well put together, intuitive, fun to drive Porsche for the street -- which just so happened to be something Mark & Doug had been wanting to do for a while.
The concept was that these weren't cars built to a spec by Accumoto and then sold, instead these would be commissioned cars with input from their future owners, with Mark & Doug’s experience to help guide them along the way. One of the guiding principles for these builds is that they are intended to be “drivers” for the street, not track cars, nor concours pieces that live their lives tucked away in back of a garage. Each car starts with detailed conversations about the end vision for that specific car and planning out any design elements that need to be incorporated. Along the way Mark occasionally has to spend time talking customers out of doing certain things to preserve that end vision of a driver’s car that will end-up as something aesthetically unique and not just a laundry list of parts.
Randy Alexander, who is also an Accumoto Stock E customer, was the first to commission a car. That result is the tangerine ’72 you see here. A blue ’71 is currently underway and will be followed by the other donors already in the build queue: ’84, ’89.5 964, 68 ‘SWB, ‘80 SC, and ’69.
Mark and Randy may be the crafters of the plan and build spec but they will be the first to admit, it’s the crew at Accumoto that turns them into reality. For example, Doug, Gary, Ryan, Chas, and Will spent about 1300 man-hours on the tangerine ’72. The process started with the donor car being stripped to a bare shell. The few issues they found in the shell were fixed before the car went in for final paint. Once painted, the Porsche was built up to the car you see here.
Randy has nicknamed his tangerine ’72 Lucille. Lucille’s interior is very much a product of it’s owner, with the plaid from the family’s crest taking center stage in the seats and the blue from the plaid pulled out to provide color to the door and dash trim. The custom inner door grab handle provides both open and close functions and modern OE Recaro seats have been repurposed and reshaped to have a more classic look.
Even the front trunk has enough details to make it somewhat finished but yet still minimalist and lightweight.
The exterior has subtle matte grey accents, giving it a little distinction that draws you in and makes you look twice.
Lucille’s 2.7L motor is equipped with PMO MFI velocity stacks and a lightweight flywheel giving it a quick throttle response and an intoxicating sound that makes you want to step on the gas just to hear it. It has plenty of motivation to scoot Lucille’s 2250lbs down the road.
While I spent time talking about Lucille with Randy, I also learned a little about Randy himself. When I found out that he is an architect, I understood better his appreciation for clean aesthetics and the little details. One thing that did surprise me was his long history with car restorations and hot rods; he’s done over a dozen throughout the years. Once he told me about that, his high praise of the quality of output from Accumoto carried all that much more significance.
During the build, one of the things Randy really appreciated was the open access he had to the car and guys doing the work -- no middlemen. Now that it’s finished he relishes in the “physically intuitive” driving experience and the pure enjoyment of its sound & feel.
In the end, what makes this Porsche so much fun on the street mainly comes down to 3 things: suspension, sound, and gearbox. The suspension has just the right amount of spring & roll bar stiffness for a street car without making the car overly stiff. The sound is important, both for what the strategic noise isolation eliminates and for the mechanical and exhaust noise that still comes through in to the cabin. The gearbox has short ratios to make it fun to row through the box at legal speeds without needing to visit the race track.
To note the special significance of these of these Accumoto 911s, they have been given a unique identification plaque. How special are they? Well.... Randy sold his McLaren MP4-12C after taking delivery. For the street, he finds Lucille more to his liking.
The finished product is certainly a thing of beauty. We can only hope that Randy and the other owners of these very special Accumoto 911s stick to their original plans and drive them so we can all appreciate seeing them being used and give us inspiration for our own Porsche dreams.