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Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Published: 16th Oct 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911
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Still going strong after more than 55 years, there’s a 911 to suit all tastes. The problem is deciding which is the best for you

There’s no middle ground, you love or hate 911s! Launched in 1963 and still going strong , this Porsche has seduced generations of car enthusiasts with its looks and performance both as a classic or brand new. Common to all is their usability and durability resulting in what must surely be the most pragmatic supercar ever made as well as one of the most desirable.

History

1963 Announced but the car wasn’t actually launched until 1964 with a layout very similar to the earlier 356, and the Volkswagen Beetle; original 911 boasted a 130bhp two-litre air cooled powerplant.

1965 356-engined 912 introduced as new entry model with 90bhp power but also lighter weight at the back.

1966 A basic tweak added to improve the 911’s handling, when crude cast iron weights behind the front bumper were simply bolted on to introduce more weight to the front end! It certainly needed it on the new faster 160bhp 911S.

1967 The T had 110bhp saddled to a four-speed gearbox but at least it used a proper 911 engine.

1969 Wheelbase is lengthened by more than two inches while a lighter engine design further helped the 911’s quirky rear weight distribution.

1970 Zinc plating of the floors to combat rust and an engine upgrade to 2.2-litres; 911S boasts 180bhp.

1972 UK Targa-topped models, floors are rustproofed further and engine size grows to a fuller 2.4-litres.

1973 Sensational 3.0 RS/RSR Carreras came along while normal 911 gained impact absorbing bumpers.

1974 Awesome Turbo (930) launched while all gain galvanised bodies, engine now a very healthy 2.7-litres.

1979 911SC grows to full 3-litres for 188bhp.

1982 Convertible range introduced (power hood fitted for 1986).

1984 Carrera 3.2 introduced with improved G50 transmission for 1987 cars.

1989 Carrera 2 has 3.6-litre engine. Suspension sees coil springs replace the torsion bar set up plus there’s a fourwheel drive model (Carrera 4) and then Tiptronic (semi auto) transmission options.

1994 993 was, in fact, the last of the air-cooled 911s and when it bowed out in 1998, by then, the 3.6-litre engine was developing a athletic 285bhp in normally aspirated guise, and a whopping 402bhp if turbocharged. This model is identified by a major restyle.

Driving

You can’t sit on the fence: you either take to the 911 for all its quirks, such as its handling, outdated cockpit etc… or hate the darn thing all together and wonder what all the fuss is all about! The days of the truly wicked handling 911 that demanded nerves of steel and skilled hands was more a myth by the late 1970s and later generations such as the 964 and 993 are friendly enough and easier still on later model. That said, any 911 of any age can be hard work to drive really well. It’s all about the satisfaction of getting to grips with a car that can bite back if you don’t treat it properly, but it’ll also reward you like no other supercar when you get it right.

Performance is rarely an issue. Apart from the 356-powered 912, all could max at around 130 from launch with what we now regard as GTi pace. The good thing about any 911 remains its surprising economy and only thrashed, or Turbos, dip below 20mpg and we know of many owners who report 25-27mpg under normal use.

No other supercar has become as durable and practical as this Porsche and 911s can be used as a daily driver with impunity although the cabin, with its awkward heater controls and heavy clutch, always let you know that it’s a car from the early 1960s and that’s, for many classic fans, the whole point about owning this Porsche.

Best models

There’s no bad ’uns – even the once dismissed 912 has a growing army of followers, less so the quirky Sportomatic semi-autos. It really depends what you want and your budget, but for most folks it is the 964 generation that ticks the most boxes being value and easier to drive and handle. Early chrome bumper cars are for no holes-barred 911 enthusiasts while the 993 is good blend of old and new thinking. Ah, the 996. This model broke with 911 convention in a big way, utilising a water-cooled engine and looks more akin to the smaller Boxster. It’s not the greatest of the 911 family but was considerably improved in later ‘997’ guise even if that essential 911 character was becoming sadly diluted as computer controls moved the job away for the driver.

Prices

With such a vast range of models to choose from, classic or contemporary, it really depends what type of 911 (air or water cooled, for example) floats your boat and your budget. The problem stems from the fact that as values for prize Porsches rise, it drags the poorer cars up with them, says this specialist. In fact, if you’re on a tight budget then it’s better to buy a nice 996. As small bumper cars have rocketed into six figures, it has dragged the rest up. Condition counts and it’s better to have good SC or 964 than a poor Carrera 2 and there’s a lot of tired 911s about waiting to catch out eager enthusiasts. For typical buyers a decent 911L at £70K, a Carrera 3.2 at around £50,000 (ditto 993) or a cheaper 40 grand SC. You might find a Turbo at £35,000; LHDs worth less but cabriolets carry a fair premium.

Verdict

The 911 refuses to die and while the model may have changed out of all recognition over the decades, each generation, in varying degrees, has always remained a 911 in spirit and character. This Porsche has stood the test of time brilliantly and no other classic supercar is as sensible, usable or classless.

I love them

Staunch 911 lover and ex editor of Cars & Car Conversions Paul Davies started his Porsche passion after taking a high performance driving test in one. After owning a 912, 13 years ago he moved up to 1987 3.2 Carrera Targa. It has never let him down but proper preventative maintenance hasn’t been cheap; PD calculates the 911 has cost around £17,000 in repair and restoration work – or £1300 per year. Happily escalating values means Davies “is still ahead of the game” and loving every drive.

Top 5 faults

Reference

If you’ve never driven a 911, it’s best to try a few as they are an acquired taste and cars can vary widely, meaning without experience, it will be hard to spot a bad one. Which model? A good specialist can advise here and dismiss LHD converts or anything needing major work.

Rust

Can rot badly, not until P-reg were bodies fully galvanised; so check all the vital areas plus bulkheads, floor battery boxes and screen surrounds for repairs and previous accident work. Check the headlamp surrounds, front screen, sills, rear window and in the ‘B’ posts (doors) general underside.

Engine

Low oil pressure isn’t a major worry (lack of long runs can be) expect 45psi as minimum. Blue smoke at start up and overrun signal valve wear, rattling usually timing chain. Proper rebuilds cost big. Lack of use can really kill a 911 as it hurts the cylinder bores

Transmission

The G50 is the strongest of the lot and unlikely to give any significant problems (plus can be retrofitted). Again the G50 clutch design is regarded as the best of the bunch with earlier ‘915’ not bad but all wear and a rebuild costs up to £3000. Sportamatic can be extremely pricey to repair.

Running gear

Condition of exhaust heat exchangers is critical as it acts as the heater so allows fumes in the cabin. Worn brakes and suspension are common faults on high milers. You’re generally better off without a sunroof as it adds weight and doesn’t work very well as they’re often unreliable plus tend to add to the wind noise.



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