A Carrera engine would not accept compromise. “Any preparation effort less than 100%,” said Bruce Jennings, would mean “a pussycat instead of a tiger.” Jennings was a 100% man. This was his car, nicknamed “Mahidabel”.
It is also the winningest Carrera GT Speedster of all time: three SCCA National Championships (1958 with “Pup” Pupilidy, 1960 and 1963 with Bruce) and a total of 67 National SCCA race victories. Its hallmark was outstanding speed: for some reason which Bruce could not explain, irrespective of any change in engine or transmission, “Mahidabel” invariably turned a faster lap than any of his other cars.
In the mid-fifties, Porsche claimed the Carrera to be the world’s first 1.5-liter 200-kph production car. Since this phenomenal performance attracted the usual celebrity types who had no desire for competition, the factory divided the series into De Luxe GS (which offered the sybaritic luxury of a heater) and Gran Turismo (the stripped and lightened GT for those who wanted a race car). GTs were further divided into a lightweight coupe and the even lighter Speedster. Axle ratios, compression ratios and such depended upon what one ordered.
Previous owner Pupilidy’s success with this car, Bruce insisted, was because Pup was the first driver to take advantage of the 6:31 ring and pinion. Himself a devotee of gear ratios, Jennings honed transmission set-up to a fine art.
This Carrera Speedster was Jennings’ medium-speed course car. He had two more GT’s, one each for short and long courses. Jennings found it was easier to switch whole cars than continually change all components on the car attendant to being competitive at different circuits.
Modifications to this Carrera Speedster include Spyder gears, a full-race 1600cc RS-60 engine, external oil cooler, Spyder steering wheel, special shocks, heavy sway bar, front annular disc brakes and RSK turbo-finned rear drums. “Mahidabel” was originally an all-steel panel car, but Bruce added lightness by substituting an aluminum hood and deck.
Photos – Peter Harholdt
Most race cars were non-competitive after their first campaign — the 1927 Vauxhall was competitive for 23 years (1927–1950) and you can see it in person. Learn more