The first 911s in the UK
January 1st, 2021
The first 911 seen in the UK – it would have been described as a 901 at the time – was the non-running yellow prototype chassis 13325 displayed on the AFN stand at the London Motor Show in October 1963. The same car had been seen at the model’s launch in Frankfurt a month earlier with the registration TYP 901. It was the subject of the model's first road test in Auto Motor und Sport in April 1964 and returned to the UK – in something close to production spec – for training purposes that summer. It acted as a support car to the factory entry on the Tour de France Auto in September 1964 and was the subject of a Car and Driver road test - with the registration S-TC 1 and a twin-outlet silencer typical of the prototype cars - in Car and Driver in April 1965. It was subsequently written off in safety testing at the factory later in 1965.

Next, and the first 911 sold to a customer in the UK, was another left hand drive example – a light ivory car chassis 300027 displayed at the London Motor Show in October 1964. It was bought off the stand by Sorjo Ranta, an aircraft engineer on secondment in the UK. Customs-related shenanigans involved briefly flying the car to France to recover import duties before returning it to the UK to be sold for export. Ranta spent a short time driving the car on a Q-plate in the UK before taking it to Canada in 1965. He went on to keep it for some fifty years. The car still exists and was more recently restored by Ruf in Germany and displayed there.
The first right hand drive 911 in the UK – or anywhere, for that matter – was a Bali blue car chassis 300474. Peter Bulbeck remembers driving to the factory with John Aldington to drop off a pair of UK-based 904s in early 1965 and coming back with the 911 and one of the last 356s. The 911 was duly registered MMU 911C in April 1965 and retained by AFN for a year or more for testing and demonstration duties. The list of subsequent owners includes Willie Green. The car still exists in the UK.

The first right hand drive 911 sold to a customer in the UK was a light ivory example chassis 301929. Intriguingly, the relevant Kardex records the car as being polo red. It’s not clear whether that was a rare error or whether the order changed during production. Again, it seems the car was collected from Stuttgart by Peter Bulbeck as owner Harry Webster wanted it run in before delivery. The car was registered HW 4 in August 1965, which became ANW 104C when Webster traded it back to AFN a year or so later. It was displayed at the London Motor Show in October 1965 during this time. AFN subsequently retained the car for their own use. More recently, it was owned by Francis Tuthill. It’s now part of a small collection of early RHD cars and has taken part in historic rallies with success.
Robert Barrie E&OE