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911 Programme H [1987]

Is the 911 Carrera Club Sport The Best Driving Air-Cooled 911?

The 911 Carrera Club Sport is an exercise in minimalism not equaled by any other impact-bumper 911. With the broad torque curve of a 3.2 and the elemental simplicity of a 2.7RS, this is a very special car. In typical Porsche fashion this car wasn’t constructed with a Chapman-era-Lotus-like approach to weightloss, however. Chapman was happy to shave grams off every component and only add some back when the part broke. Porsche took a much more pragmatic approach, and left the driver with only the bare essentials.

While many hardcore 911s have come without air conditioning, the CS is on another level. To my knowledge no other roadgoing 911 took the sun visor from the passenger in the name of weight savings. They’re not driving, so their idle hands can block the sun if necessary. Hopefully the passenger also completed their ablutions before climbing aboard- carrying extra weight is really not in the spirit of things.

The car also used lightweight manually-adjusted cloth seats rather than leather, had carpet where the rear seat should be, ditched the model’s distinctive foglights, and added some of the absolutely-necessary door graphics. The engine wasn’t exactly unique, though it was blueprinted for max effect. As a result it was known to make slightly more power than Porsche admitted to officially. The redline was also 500 revs higher than the standard car.

This litany of minor changes resulted in a car that may have carried fewer components, but was a startling amount more than the sum of its parts from behind the wheel. Is the Carrera Club Sport the best driving classic 911? Maybe. Even if it isn’t, it is deservedly in the company of the all-time greats, from the 2.7RS to the 993 Carrera RS. Though it never officially crossed the Atlantic, the Carrera Club Sport is certainly on our air-cooled Porsche shortlist.

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Porsche 911 Cabriolets: G-series v 964 v 993

Yorkshire dry-stone walls have a very useful application that was never intended by the original builders several centuries ago. In addition to providing the unique signature style that is the Yorkshire landscape while also containing livestock over the centuries, they also make a superb surface to echo back the bark of an air-cooled 911 engine. Combine that with the final days of a long, hot summer and a trio of Cabriolet 911s – all with the hoods folded as they truly should be – and we have the perfect recipe for a great day’s driving and a chance to investigate the appeal of the open-top 911 experience. Will we enjoy a day in the sunshine, or will the bumpy Yorkshire lanes highlight the compromise of 911 body stiffness?

Heading out of the market town of Malton, I’m at the rear of the convoy in the 993 Cabriolet. The air is filled with the bass burble of air-cooled exhaust tones at low RPM, the whiff of that unique 911 aroma of hot oil and burned hydrocarbons from the two cars ahead spilling over into the interior, the sun providing a warmth on my face that is still pleasant so late in the summer. Good times.

Turning left down some of our favourite B-roads, the sunshine dapples the tree-lined road ahead… it’s time to increase the pace. We’re staying away from the vast, open moorland of the North Yorkshire Moors today, instead staying on the lower ground of the Vale of York and the twisting, turning B-roads that keep hands and feet busy as the road snakes between those ancient dry-stone walls. The three cars span an eight-year period of 911 evolution, from the torsion bars and impact bumpers of 1989, through the transformation of 1990 with power assistance and coil springs, to the final development of the air-cooled Porsche 911 in the 993.

Without a doubt everyone will have a personal favourite. Indeed, as we gather the cars together for photographs, the debate commences even before photographer Alistair has rigged his first flash head. The most visually arresting is the 1989 Super Sport in Guards red. For me this car is the epitome of that period of Porsche sales. The hedonistic period when excess was encouraged and every businessman and city trader in the City of London had to have a giant Motorola brick phone, expensive Italian shoes and matching briefcase, plus a Guards red Porsche 911. For the full-on effect it had to be the Turbo body, Fuchs alloys and the whaletail spoiler. And if you really wished to be publicly on display through the city streets, then the Cabriolet ensured that you shared your cellphone conversation with everyone around you as you discussed the day’s share trading at the traffic lights.

So how does the drive compare almost 30 years later? We hand over the keys to the 993 that we arrived in and swap to the cream seats of the Super Sport. Instantly I’m missing the powered steering as we shuffle back and forth to leave the photo location, the non-standard steering wheel not helping with its smaller diameter, though once rolling along the country lanes it’s much less of an issue. The road is initially bumpy, and several things become apparent. Firstly there is indeed that flex and shake from around the windscreen area that I recall from previous drives. Secondly, despite there only being a few years between the registration dates, the 1989 car does feel as though it’s from a much older generation of Porsche.

That’s not to say it’s a bad car – far from it. And as the road smooths out and widens we’re able to enjoy the bark of the 3.2 engine and use the echo board of Yorkshire’s dry-stone walls to enjoy some rather delightful pops and crackles on the downshifts. Through the avenue of trees we return to our location, and I swap into the black 964.

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Evolution of the Porsche 911 Targa

There was always an open-top Porsche: Ferry’s first model was an open barchetta and if production realities soon dictated a closed design, it was only a couple of years before a convertible 356 appeared.

This was a vital model, especially in the US, for which Porsche’s gung-ho distributor Max Hoffman persuaded Zuffenhausen to build the Speedster, as featured in issue 128 of Total 911. By the late 1950s, consideration of the 356’s successor was in full swing at Porsche.

Between the competing designs of Erwin Komenda (Porsche’s long standing body engineer who saw himself as carrying the beacon for the late Professor Porsche), Ferry’s son Butzi who represented the first generation of automobile stylists, and Ferry’s own preferences, little thought was given to an open car.

Original 911 Targa

Moreover, high development costs of the 901 Coupé meant there was little in the way of budget left to invest in a convertible model.

The other concern at that time was the controversy in America, stirred up by Ralph Nader, about whether car manufacturers were putting users’ lives at risk with fundamentally unsafe cars.

In particular, the Chevrolet Corvair (a flat six rear engine design) had been singled out, as had the VW Microbus. In the general uncertainty, it was also unclear whether the US authorities were going to ban open cars. It was dissuasive enough: Porsche would develop an alternative to the Cabriolet which would be the birth of the Targa.

Porsche 991 Targa

Porsche’s experiments with open prototypes had already demonstrated that some sort of ‘roll hoop’ did manage to restore rigidity. Therefore, the ‘alternative cabrio’ would have this roll hoop and it became a question of what it would look like and how it would be incorporated.

Schröder, who had built 356 cabrios at Karmann, said that the most important detail at this stage was “to make this roll bar look right.” Having agreed on the aesthetics, they could then strengthen it as much as necessary.

To read the rest of our Porsche 911 Targa history, pick up issue 130 in store now. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device.

Porsche 911 Targas

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930 v 991: Open-top Turbos

Though it is seldom recognised, 1986 was a very important year for Porsche. A full year before ‘Black Monday’ and the ensuing global financial crisis, the 911 was flourishing, buoyed by its resurgence in fortunes under charismatic CEO Peter Schutz. Sales were strong off the back of an ever-increasing expansion to the range: Carreras were available in Coupe, Targa, or even Cabriolet form – the latter, of course, being introduced just three years earlier – all of which could be specified in either a narrow or a widebody ‘Turbo-look’ body style.

However, the significance of 1986 lies not with the naturally aspirated 911 Carrera, but its forced-induction compeer. The 911 Turbo, still very much an automotive icon more than a decade after its first release, was finally allowed back into the United States after Porsche refined the car’s emissions credentials – though the caveat was the US Turbo came equipped with slightly less power than its European brethren. Also in 1986, the Turbo became available as a Cabriolet.

Steinhardt_SP150623_SP19796 copy

Boasting a fully electrically-operated hood (which was then also offered as an option on Carrera Cabriolets) the Turbo Cabriolet brought fresh-air motoring to those who had wallets big enough to swallow a purchase of an illustrious turbocharged 911. The open-topped Turbo was a success: nearly 3,000 were sold between 1986 and the final year of 930 production in 1989.

However, the 930 Turbo Cabriolet looked set to be the first and last of its kind – seemingly killed off with its super-rare Targa variant – as both 964 and 993 generations of Turbo remained Coupe only. Of course, the Turbo Targa concept hasn’t rolled out of Zuffenhausen since, but the Turbo Cabriolet did return in 2004, by which time the 911 had switched to water for cooling with the 996.

Steinhardt_SP150623_SP19429 copy

Turbo Cabriolets duly followed through both generations of the 997 era (including the Turbo S of 2010) and six months after the 991 Turbo and Turbo S were revealed in 2013, Porsche again unveiled Cabriolet versions.

There’s no denying the Cabriolet has established itself as an important staple of the Turbo lineage and to celebrate that fact, we’ve gathered two high specification drop tops separated by a quarter of a century of Zuffenhausen engineering. The duo of special Turbo Cabriolets in question, a 2014 991 Turbo S and a 1989 930 with full Porsche GB-fitted LE specification (which effectively grants it status as a Turbo S of its time) share a price tag of £150,000.

To read the full feature on our 930 Cabriolet v 991 Turbo Cabriolet head-to-head, pick up Total 911 issue 129 in store now. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery or download it straight to your digital device.

See the Porsche 991 Turbo S Cabriolet’s Launch control in action here.

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Sales debate: Which 911 Turbo has the most investment potential?

The 911’s 50th anniversary last year coincided with astronomical price rises for Zuffenhausen’s iconic sports car. With the Turbo variant celebrating its 40th birthday this year, now may be the last chance to jump on the forced-induction train before it’s too late. But what model should you invest your money in?

“It’s difficult, because there’s so many of them,” Jamie Tyler, Paragon’s head of sales explains. While the 996 Turbo may be one of the market’s entry-level cars, Tyler believes it is worth looking at more exotic fare.

“3.6 Turbos (964), 993 Turbos, and obviously Turbo Ss [are all good choices]. Any of the air-cooled ones really, as they’re all on the way up at the moment,” Tyler continues.

Porsche 964 Turbo 3.6

The problem is, despite starting prices of £150,000 for a 964 Turbo 3.6 (more desirable than the 3.3 due to their rarity according to Tyler), and £85,000 for 993 versions, examples of the above sell very quickly.

Talking of a 993 Turbo during the summer by Paragon, Tyler mentions that it “was only on the website for about three hours, and it sold over the phone straight away.”

Porsche Bournemouth’s Karl Meyer, an expert in Porsche’s heritage line-up, agrees that 964 and 993 Turbos are proving attractive. However, he does have a preference.

Porsche 930 3.0 3.3

“I think a 930. It is just bonkers not to buy them,” he explains. “They’re still the most iconic, but they haven’t stretched their legs. Give it two years, and I think a £40,000 930 could be double its money.”

That’s a serious return, but to maximise your chances, Meyer points out that it is the earliest or the latest 930s that make the best prospects. The former “embodies the whole Seventies era,” while the latter gained the excellent G50 gearbox. Either way, your Turbo should be pumping into an air-cooled flat six.

For market advice on any generation or style of Porsche 911, check out our full selection of sales debates, where we ask the 911 experts the pertinent market questions so you don’t have to.

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