Herb Jordan had a hobby that will expand your mind. He made scale replicas of famous Porsche engines. No wonder in that, I guess.

Except his scale replicas run like a real engine


Herb Jordan’s two replica engines are expected to fetch $20 – $40,000 at RMSothby’s Driven by Disruption auction.

Herb Jordan worked as a machinist, tool maker, and eventually became one of IBM Canada’s most valued engineers.  He liked to invent.  He built a rotary valve motorcycle engine from scratch and a Formula 3 race car of his own design.

When Herb got the idea to build a scale replica of a Porsche engine, he didn’t have in mind just a precise duplicate of the real thing, all components in perfectly scaled proportion and finish.  And his ambition went beyond moving and operable parts.  No, his scale engines were going to be started and run like engines.

After studying Porsche factory manuals, he decided to build an intricate DOHC 4 cylinder engine (Type 904 Carrera) in one-third scale.  The engine he had in mind first appeared in the early 50s as a compact, powerful racing engine for the 550 Spyders.

carrera-four-cam-4 carrera-four-cam-3

Herb Jordan’s Type 904 Carrera in 1/3 scale (~12 in. long)

It took him over 2,000 hours over two years to patiently manufacture the countless parts.  Working with a 10-inch lathe, a milling machine, a shaper, a drill press, and hand tools, Jordan machined all the key components on his own without resorting to casting. The aluminum block uses iron cylinder liners for durability, and the scale Weber IDA downdraft carburetors were assembled from over 50 individual brass components. The chain-driven cams run on needle bearings: The carefully finned alloy cylinders used shrunk-in iron liners.

His model displaces just 45 cubic centimeters, weighs ~ 10 pounds and measures 12 x 12  x 9 inches. Herb delighted  audiences when he fired it up using methanol fuel.

By 1980, Jordan had his eyes set on Porsche’s legendary twin-turbo flat-12 – used in the later model open-cockpit Porsche 917s.  The complex 5.4 liter engine could reach 1,500 horsepower, and helped win Le Mans and dominate the Can-Am series.

This 1/4 scale replica took Herb four years.



Herb Jordan’s Porsche 917 twin-turbo flat-12 in 1/4 scale (~15 in. long)

Like the full-size variant, Herb’s model uses gear-driven mechanical fuel injection and gear-driven overhead camshafts, spun from gears mounted in the center of the engine block. The injection pump is half the size of a pencil.  While his Carrera four-cam engine could spin to a redline of 20,000 RPM, the 917 engine could reach a truly remarkable 24,000 RPM. Even the twin turbochargers were said to be functional.

It displaces a tiny 54 cubic centimeters; it weighs 15 lbs and its dimensions are 15 x 8 x 7 inches.

These two scale model, fully functional engines are available at RMSothby’s Driven by Disruption auction in New York, December 10th.

A kindred spirit to Herb is another Canadian with an eye for precision and old-scale reproduction.  His name is Tony Cairoli.  He does super-detailed, 100% accurate schematics of legendary racers that you can frame on your wall.  Two of his most popular prints in fact are Porsche 917s, we feature below.  You’ll love it.