Rough-and-ready racer has high-class pedigree

There was a lot of big news buzzing around this year's 2016 Race and Performance Expo. The local festival of fast has become quite the place to find parts and the resources for making cars and trucks go lickety-split.

The event has quickly grown in popularity. So much so, expo needed additional real estate this year and moved from the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. Not only was the display area enlarged, but all of the show's offerings were brought under one roof, instead of multiple halls.

The larger venue allowed plenty of room for the expo's well-liked staples, like the swap meet, educational seminars, Car Builder's Showcase and numerous exhibitors showing off their wares, and gave the thousands of lead-foot spectators even more cars and products to feast their eyes on. Exhibits that had no trouble grabbing those dreamy gazes were the plethora of in-progress and finished four-wheeled creations, just like a gleaming 1970 Porsche 911T, dubbed the 918 RSR/LS3.

The coupe's owner, Jeff Tartar, purchased it several years ago from a seller in Arizona. During the late 1970s, it had been converted to a race car and screamed around scorching, curvy courses for a handful of years. Those fast-paced, high-octane days had long ago burned out when Tartar acquired the car. Basically, all that was left was its roof, roll cage and floorpan.

Still, the enthusiast could spot a diamond in the rough. In 2015 he brought the junkie jewel to the Custom Shop in Flanagan for owner John Wargo to work his marvelous motorcar magic.

The extreme transformation began with the goal of getting the 911 back to being a suitable street car instead of hard-charging track terror. That didn't mean the end product was going to be serene or sedate. On the contrary, way more power was in order. Utilizing something like the car's original four-cylinder engine wasn't an option.

A heavily worked-over, 500-horsepower Corvette V-8 was shoehorned in, mated to a 2008 Porsche transmission. All that get up and go needed to be paired with some proper, stunning, look-at-me packaging. The curvaceous body was heavily massaged and widened to accommodate bigger wheels and tires, as well as all-new suspension components.

When the sparks and sanding subsided, the whole car was coated in a custom mixed and tantalizing Wild Cherry Paint. Visual depth was added by applying a subtle bronze paint to accent areas, such as the door and fender coves and lower panels.

Another key objective for Tartar was making sure his Porsche packed some modern-day tech and appearances to aid in that cushy, around-town drivability. Carbon fiber panels were used along with LED lighting seen up front, in the cabin, the engine bay and around back where 2012 Porsche 996 taillamps reside. That rich, contemporary feel carries to the plush interior, which has an elegant, two-tone scheme, full of distressed leather.

Dual touch screens reside in the center console, controlling a Sony sound system and showing the backup camera display. The track-ready pedigree wasn't entirely removed, still evident in such items as the roll cage and massive rear wing.

This Porsche is more than capable of blistering fast speeds but Tartar plans to pass on track weekends and live life in the slow lane, at least for now. With eager expectation, he's looking ahead to a summer full of cruising and enjoying his practically perfect Porsche.

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1970 Porsche 911T
1970 Porsche 911T
1970 Porsche 911T
1970 Porsche 911T
1970 Porsche 911T
The 2016 Race and Performance Expo moved to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center this year. Courtesy of Matt Avery Media
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