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Porsche 911

Published: 15th Jul 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!
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Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911

Buyer Beware

  • From 1974 model year Porsche zinc dipped the bodyshells – but don’t think they don’t rust! Look out for:Bubbling at the base of the screen pillars, rust forward of the door hinges, plus sills and ‘B’ posts. The ‘kidney bowl’ that strengthens the chassis forward of the inner rear wing Corrosion in the spare wheel well and around battery tray. And cunning bodges, of course.
  • 901 (pre-’72) gearbox can feel loose, but don’t worry. Ditto stiffness of later ‘915’ ‘box. G50 (post ’87) wears synchro on 2nd. All ‘boxes tend to be noisy, but don’t worry unless excessive. Fault dual mass flywheel on 964 can cause ‘clonks’ Stiff pedal on pre-’89 G50 clutch could mean an essential release mechanism mod has not beencarried out.
  • Rack and pinion steering should always be direct and with no play.
  • Car pulling to one side under braking could mean sticking of front caliper pistons. Handbrake cables can corrode and become sticky in operation.
  • All air-cooled Porsche engines all leak (some) oil! Try and find source as a haggling point, but it’s rarely a fatal problem. Except - an oil slick under a 964 (check plastic undertray) can mean engine strip down and new through-bolt seals.
  • Oil-fed cam chain tensioners from ’83 give less trouble than earlier type – many engines will have been up-dated.
  • Oil smoke from exhaust on start-up from cold can mean worn valve guides – often caused by a ‘city’ car that’s only ever done short stop-start journeys. Top end re-build can cost £2k.
  • Check heater operation. Pre-Carrera 3.2 (levers between seats) it’s crude and either on or off, with appropriate engine smells. From 1984 the system gets complicated (five electric motors) and expensive to fix.
  • Tyre condition is important, wide wheels on later cars mean high replacement costs. Orignal Fuchs alloys (to 1989) are prized, but expensive (£500-plus each) to replace if damaged.
  • Watch out for fakes. Many 911s are not what they look – recreations of the RS and R models are all the rage. Fortunately engine and chassis numbers can be easily checked.
  • Take a good test drive. Targas and Cabriolets all creak and grown as they lack body stiffness of the Coupe. Most used 911s will benefit from a new set of dampers and a suspension alignment.

Fast Facts

  • Driving: 5/5

    A real sports car, but you need to treat it with respect.

  • Usability: 3/5

    It all depends which model. Post-’84 are best daily drivers.

  • Maintaining: 3/5

    Service jobs are DIY, engines/transmissions need an expert.

  • Owning: 3/5

    Parts readily available for later models and owners’ clubs very active.

  • Value: 4/5

    No Porsche is cheap to buy or run, but you’ll never regret buying one!

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The original Porsche 911 concept lasted over 30 years, and when the rear-engine sports car embraced water-cooling an era ended. Happily some air-cooled models are still affordable, says Paul Davies

There’s no getting away from the fact that the first Porsche was borne out of the humble Volkswagen Beetle. The 356 was an extension of the ‘peoples car’ concept, a sports car in the pre-1939 tradition, relying on light weight and good handling to deliver exciting performance. The 911 that followed came from the same thought process – but it took the concept to higher levels, and ultimately a totally different car. It was the car they couldn’t kill off, whenever the company thought it was time to abandon the old rearengine format petrol-heads the world over just answered by buying more 911s. As a result, the original design stayed with us for over 30 years, constantly developed to keep pace with the opposition, and even now its successor – simply the Carrera – is still regarded by many as a ‘911’. In the Porsche tradition, the original 911 was simplicity itself. Rear engine, mounted behind an all-synchromesh transmission, torsion bar suspension, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering. But, whereas the 356 almost always suffered from merely adequate power, its successor boasted an all-new, six-cylinder, engine that boasted a very credible (for its day) 130bhp. Of course, its cylinders were horizontally opposed and it was air-cooled. How do we put it? The first Porsche 911 was a sensation, what followed created a legend.

Which model to buy?

It all depends upon a) what you want to do with it and, b) how much money you’ve got to spend on one. Porsche 911 ownership can never be cheap – even ‘bargain’ models need maintaining, and the ones the collectors and historic racers lust after have price tags way beyond the average man’s means. With one eye on our Time Line below, let’s start at the bottom and work up to dizzy heights. Without doubt a 911SC (1978-83) is lowest priced and value formoney. But with heavy clutch and (usually) stiff gearshift it’s not quite a ‘daily driver’ and will most likely need regular attention to bodywork and mechanicals – after all we’re talking about a minimum 27 years old car. Post-’84, living with a 911, as perhaps your only car, gets easier. The Carrera 3.2 is the affordable compromise - especially with G50 gearbox – and reckoned by many to be the ultimate extension of the original 911 line. The 964 that followed is smoother, more comfortable, more powerful, but somehow less engaging for the sporty driver. A good one, however, makes a great grand tourer, although I’m not convinced there’s any need for the 4WD of the Carrera 4. The 993 can be regarded as the last truly handbuilt production Porsche and the final act in ‘real’ 911 history. After this the (by then highly developed) air-cooled motor has gone, to replaced by a unit that was to prove troublesome for almost a decade. We’re splitting hairs here (all Porsches are fine cars) but the advent of the Boxster and Carrera 996 – with many parts common – heralded mass production methods, big profits, and real-world depreciation.

So, how do they stack up as far as prices are concerned? If not loved by everyone, the 911SC is definitely the most affordable with £8000-£10,000 netting a really good one. Carrera 3.2s occupy the next bracket to around £15,000 – with a bit more for very low mileage examples and Club Sports. The much-publicised problems of the 964 have meant that early models now command less than good Carrera 3.2s (although values now seem to be hardening), whilst prices of the 993 reflect its special status. Expect to pay more (say £23,000) for a good example of the last air-cooled, than for a later, water-cooled, 996. These figures are, of course, for run-of the-mill models: performance specials like the Turbo, RS, and rare ‘flatnose’ cars are another matter entirely! Which brings us to the early 911. Pre-impact bumper cars (before ’74) have taken an upward hike in the past couple of years, with even the basic models occupying the £20-£30k margins. And 1974-78 impact bumper models are also now climbing, as people strive to own an ‘early 911’. Very special motor sport models aside (such as the 911R and 911 S/T) the granddaddy of them all is the 1973 Carrera 2.7RS: 1590 manufactured, and now selling at £150k-plus. None of these cars, we will add, are ‘daily drivers’.

Behind the wheel?

The 911 is the most usable supercar of them all

It depends which model of course. There’s no doubt you feel more ‘at one’ with an early (pre-SC) 911, lighter weight, narrow(er) wheels and tyres, and the lack of servo assistance on clutch or brakes, make for a more ‘seat of the pants’ drive. But, despite the lower power (unless you have the good fortune to be behind the wheel of a motorsport variant) there’s still that twitchy rear end to beware of in wet or press-on conditions. The handling of a 911 is the stuff legends and myths are made of and while it’s true to say that it’s a car that demands the utmost respect, you needn’t be fearful of it, either. The problem arises if you drive it like a modern and do naughties such as lifting off or braking in a corner – poor driving which an early 911 will have none off! In actual fact, as ace high performance John Lyon advocates, the 911 understeers when pushed and it’s because driver’s don’t unwind the excess lock as the rear starts to lose grip that the Porsche tightens its line. It’s driver not car induced he feels. From the SC onwards, we’re into post-200bhp outputs, wide wheels and an altogether heavier machine. Steering effort during parking can develop muscles. Then again, engines are strong and willing with bags of power and torque – there’s not many modern cars that can hold their own against a 30 years old 911. The 3.6-litre engine of the 964 is particularly sweet at high revs. Needless to say (and I’m not biased, of course) power delivery, steering, braking, and handling, of any 911is an experience every car nut should savour at least once in their lives! Or try a 912 – this used to be the poor mans 911, using earlier 356 power but it’s lively enough, has better weight distribution (care of a lighter engine) and looks like a 911. It’s usually cheaper too to buy and maintain. I had one and loved it!

The Daily Option?

Buy the best you can irrespective of its age

The 911 is the most usable supercar of them all but no all are unreserved daily drivers. Really it’s the early cars and the oh-so expensive classic Carreras that are best saved for a sunny day. The rest can be used with almost impunity, if you can afford the resultant fuel and servicing requirements which have to be kept up to spec if you want the car to be reliable and cost the least to keep in the long run. It’s as simple as that!

Ease of Ownership?

Buy a cheap 911 and do it up. It may sound like one of Baldrick’s cunning plans, but be careful – you can grab a tatty early 911 for, say, £15k but a full body resto (often needed) plus engine, transmission, and suspension re-build will add another £50k. That’s OK if you’re going to love and cherish the car for ever but it will be a long time before you get your money back. Best advice for 911 owning on a budget? Buy the best you can afford, irrespective of age (older or younger), drive it to enjoy it, and only fix it when it breaks.

Timelines

1963

Six-cylinder, 1991cc, 130bhp, coupe replacement for the 356 debuts at Frankfurt Show but production stalls until September 1964. 82 cars are officially ‘Porsche 901’ before Peugeot forces name change to 911.

1967

911S with 160bhp, uprated brakes and suspension, and Targa, lift roof, variants introduced. Weber carburettors replace Solexes and interior trim is altered. Twenty lightweight 911R competition versions are produced.

1968

911T (Touring) with cast iron cylinders and 110bhp, previous base becomes 911L (Lux) with 130bhp, and 911S (160bhp) is further upgraded. Sportomatic four-speed, semi-automatic, is available as an option.

1969

Wheelbase is lengthened by 2.4ins to negate ‘tail-happy’ handling. Bosch mechanical fuel injection replaces carbs on all models but 911T (911E replaces 911L) and 911S is 170bhp. Interior and heater changes.

1970-73

Engines grow (1970) to 2.2-litres (2195cc) and 2.4-litres (2341cc) in 1972. ‘915’ gearbox replaces ‘901’ and power rises to 190bhp in 911S. Limited production Carrera 2.7RS for 1973 has 210bhp.

1974-77

Impact bumper models introduced to meet USA safety regulations. K-Jetronic injection 2.7-litre (2687cc) engine, except Carrera (mechanical injection) which replaces 911S. 3.0 Carrera (200bhp) and 3.0 Turbo in 1976.

1978-83

Wide-body 911SC with 3.0-litre(2994cc) and 200bhp, Turbo goes to 3.3-litre (3299cc) with intercooler and 300bhp. Servo brakes standard, Sportomatic dropped in 1980. First 911 Cabriolet available in 1983.

1983-89

Carrera 3.2 replaces 911SC in Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet form with 3164cc and 231bhp. G50 gearbox with hydraulic clutch replaces ‘915’ ‘box in 1987. Lighter Club Sport model made 1987-89, also Speedster in ‘89.

1989-93

Coils replace torsion bars on two-wheel drive Carrera 2 and four-wheel drive Carrera 4, the Type 964 with ’87 per cent new’ body re-styling for ’911’. Twin-plug, 3.6-litre (3600cc) has 250bhp, Tiptronic optional.

1994-98

Further re-style introduces Type 993 in Carrera 2 and 4 (1995) with engines still 3.6-litre. Much revised suspension finally cures tail happy handling. Targa has glass roof, 400bhp Turbo. Last air-cooled engine ends era!

We Reckon...

The Porsche 911 is the evergreen sports car that’s a classic irrespective of its age. Totally involving and yet at the same time surprisingly usable, a good one never ceases to delight. “By comparison with most manufacturers Porsche are not at all influenced by fashion” said Autocar in ‘74. That the 911 still survives and thrives almost 50 years is proof of that.


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