More than a mere race car, it was one of the camera cars for the movie The Speed Merchants. Lost for years, it was tracked down, saved from the junkyard, and restored. Christophorus presents the rich history of a 911 ST 2.5.
The deep voice of British race-car driver Vic Elford provides the commentary for a hit video on YouTube. The viewer flies at breakneck speed along a stretch of the legendary
Keyser met Jürgen Barth on a visit to Zuffenhausen in December of 1971 to inspect progress on his special-order GT race car. Both were twenty-four years old at the time. The son of race-car driver Edgar Barth was working for the
Keyser had lined up a big team to shoot dramatic material for the movie on and with the 911 on the track. Highlights were to include high-speed sequences from the
The 911 ST 2.5 with chassis number 230 0538 appears only for a few seconds in The Speed Merchants, but it made a splash that extended well past the 1972 season. The
Barth and Keyser’s adventure started at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Their race on the bumpy airfield circuit in Florida ended with a technical problem when the countershaft for the camshaft’s chain drive broke. The
Just one week later they entered the one-thousand-kilometer race on the Nürburgring. This time there weren’t any cameras, because the German automobile club ADAC had banned them following an incident when a camera broke off at high speed. From a starting place of twenty-ninth, the duo worked their way up to thirteenth, which was enough for fourth place in the GT class. Keyser found the Nordschleife less difficult to learn than the
Riveting nighttime footage was taken during a practice session, thanks in part to a 16-mm Bolex camera, specially installed in a steel frame on the rear. “We could press a button inside the car to turn each of the cameras on or off,” recalls Keyser. In contrast to how smoothly the filming was going, the paperwork for the race turned out to be nerve-racking. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, initially refused to admit the 911. But Barth, who speaks fluent French and could also call on the country’s racing community, found a loophole. “Fortunately, I was in contact with Louis Meznarie, a
During the race Keyser had an accident right before the
Keyser and Barth went their separate ways after Le Mans. Two years would pass before Keyser completed The Speed Merchants. He cut around seventy hours of footage down to ninety-five minutes. With its impressive camera work and deep insights into the racing routines of stars like Mario Andretti, Vic Elford, Helmut Marko, Brian Redman, and Jacky Ickx, the movie is considered one of the classics of its genre.
Keyser sold the
With Marinello’s assistance, the Swiss buyer acquired the wreck and sent it to
By Thomas Imhof
Photos by Privatarchiv Michael Keyser & Jürgen Barth
The movie contains fascinating footage of the 1972 World Sportscar Championship. Its protagonists are Ferrari and Alfa, but it features especially dramatic sequences shot with the