Menu toggle


28 Sep 2023

Cracking the case of the Carrera cameo

Spying a white 911 SC in a television drama, something about it seemed strangely familiar...    

A car’s history may sometimes spring a few surprises, but it’s not every day that you discover the Porsche you’ve been driving for almost three decades made an appearance in a 1980s crime drama. Owner and enthusiast Richard Stephens discovered this quite by chance as he happened to switch on ITV4 over his morning toast.
The car in question is a white 1978 911 Super Carrera, which had been owned by Richard since 1993. Having previously owned and run Ford RS2000s, purchasing the Porsche was also the beginning of his PCGB membership. “I wanted something higher quality and that I could aspire to owning, so the 911 was the obvious choice and I decided to take the plunge,” he recalls. “When I was young, I had a white Scalextric 911 and a green Dinky toy, so I’ve always wanted 911s. That was my dream and I bought the white 911 SC; I probably washed it every weekend!”
At the time, Richard was working in product development for Nokia, having trained in electrical and electronic engineering at Cardiff University. During almost 20 years with the company, he witnessed revolutions in mobile phone technology and took extra courses in how to weld, which has come in handy for working on classic cars. Nowadays, he is retired and adjusting to having much more free time, which currently involves a lot of paperwork, playing golf and going on holiday with his wife, as well as keeping pace with any technical questions posted on the Forum in his role as a technical assistant for the 911 SC Register.

He happened to be streaming television through his phone one morning over breakfast when he spotted a familiar sight on Dempsey and Makepeace. “I’d seen some of the shows before and at the time as well, but I’d never seen a 911 on it,” he explains. “It just struck me that it was exactly the same spec as my SC. They came down a road and parked it, which is when I spotted the number plate: VVC 861.

“For some reason, I thought it looked familiar. It wasn’t my SC registration because it has changed a few times, so I wrote it down on a bit of paper, thinking that I must check the history as perhaps it was one of the original regs.
“Sure enough, a couple of days later, I checked my spreadsheet on the car’s history and there it was: VVC 861 in the mid-1980s. I think the owner was in London and hiring the car out. In the old days, they used to etch the car registration onto the glass so that, if someone stole it, they would have had to change all the glass as well. When you enter the driver’s door, it has ‘VVC 861’ on the quarterlight – I must have looked at it every day, which is why it just triggered something.”
In the few scenes in which it appears, the SC makes quite the impression. “That’s a lot of car to be driving,” remarks Dempsey, “You drive that car and you tell me cars don’t interest you?” Thankfully, for a show with an opening credits sequence involving cars crashing, rolling and exploding, the SC has survived its turn on the small screen unscathed and even features some Martini stripes to boot. Richard’s unsure as to whether the car would have come out of the showroom with these decorations – a tribute to the livery of the 936 which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times between 1976 and 1981 – but they were no longer on the car by the time he acquired it. “I think it might have had a respray since the show,” he concludes. “It’s very bizarre to see your car on TV.”

Nevertheless, Richard has made a few upgrades of his own, including rebuilding the engine to a 3.2 specification during lockdown. Having owned three classic Porsches, he is no stranger to restoration work and takes a hands-on approach to keeping his cars on the road. Only two years after buying the 911 SC – which was a 30th birthday gift to himself – it was joined by a 1973 911 E. After running smoothly for 10 years, the SC’s tank rusted from the inside and had to be taken off the road for a six-year restoration. “That was my main car, so I needed another car,” he explains. “It was a good excuse for buying a 930 Turbo for my 40th!”

All three cars stayed with him for a long time, undergoing restorations and resprays as needed. The 911 E was converted to rally spec and competed for several years, mostly in Wales and the south-west. In 2002, it was taken off the road for a four-year restoration. Initially running in a red and white livery, Richard changed it back to a metallic blue – its original colour – resulting in his collection spanning red, white and blue 911s.
“I do my own painting as well, which is not easy; getting a good finish is very difficult,” he adds. “It’s 99 per cent preparation and one per cent painting. If you hold the gun for two seconds instead of one in a certain spot and you get a run... that’s it.
“The only way to get a good paint job is with preparation and it has got to be perfect. If there’s anything you can see before you paint it, the paint will amplify it because it’s like a mirror. I’ve had to repaint things two or three times before, but it’s wonderful when it’s done.”
While he has since sold the SC to a friend, Richard hasn’t lost touch with the model and shares the benefit of his experience with members through the Forum. “Owning the SC for 30 years, I’ve seen just about everything that can go wrong with it,” he explains. “And, with running a rally car, you have to be able to fix things on the fly. I’ve had some good feedback on answering questions and I quite enjoy solving technical problems.”

Although his rally driving days are behind him, Richard maintains an interest in motorsport and even got behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for his 50th birthday. Accelerating from 30 to 130mph in about three seconds when driving the 1993 Footwork Arrows-Mugen Honda FA14 was “pretty amazing!” He’s also looking forward to Silverstone this year, then potentially a factory tour and Le Mans in 2024. Until then, he can be reached on the Forum for all your air-cooled questions and, who knows, perhaps a few more members will discover some hidden history to their Porsches and spot them on the small or silver screens too?

Let us help you unlock the potential of your Porsche

Join now