911 T Targa 2.2 – 125 ch [1970]

Video: A history of the Porsche 911 Targa

 

In 2017, the Porsche 911 Targa – the original open top Neunelfer – will reach its 50th birthday, a remarkable milestone for a model that was originally devised to meet safety regulations that were, ultimately, never implemented.

To celebrate the upcoming anniversary, we’ve decided to look back over the Targa’s half a century of history in our latest video, taking you through the evolution of the model from 1967 right through to the latest 991.2 Targa 4S.

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Our five-minute flick also stars a 1974 Porsche 911 Targa from esteemed specialist, Canford Classics, the original impact bumper iteration showing how the latest open-top Neunelfers has both changed and been inspired by Zuffenhausen’s iconic roll hoop design.

We’ve put the two idiosyncratic roof systems to the test too and, if you missed our road trip with the 991.2 version in Total 911 issue 142, Features Editor, Josh gives you his opinion from behind the wheel of the new 911 Targa to see if turbocharging has improved the alfresco driving experience.

For more of the latest and best Porsche 911 videos, check out our dedicated film section now.

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Rise of the classic Porsche 911 Targa

Born out of necessity, the Targa is an enduring if sometimes unloved model in the 911 range. Its inception was the result of Porsche’s obvious desire to offer an open-topped version of the 911 in the 1960s, though early 911s lacked the structural rigidity to offer a full open top.

Fate would intervene, with proposed US safety legislation effectively killing development of conventional Cabriolets thanks to the anticipated demand for roll-over protection. Given the potential of the US market and as Porsche is not one to shy away from the insurmountable, it took a more unconventional approach to give customers an open-air choice.

The solution was the Targa in 1967, which featured a full rollover hoop, to which a removable panel was fitted. On the earliest, short-wheelbase cars there was also a removable ‘soft’ rear window, which simply unzipped. Somewhat amusingly, Porsche’s safety-orientated open-top car took its name from a famously dangerous road race, the Sicilian Targa Florio.

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Coincidentally though, ‘Targa’ in Italian refers to an ancient shield; fitting given the Targa’s safety-derived inception. That US legislation would never materialise, though the Targa would remain Porsche’s only open-topped 911 until the Cabriolet joined the line-up in 1982.

The Targa added little weight over its Coupe relations, the roll hoop adding strength while the lightweight roof counteracted the additional weight of the four strengthened panels. The tooling costs were minimal, too, with most of the sheet metal below the waistline unchanged from the Coupe.

The removable rear window didn’t last long though, Porsche soon replacing it with that evocative curved glass, which was as much a signature of the Targa as that brushed Nirosta stainless steel finished roll-over bar (which later changed to black aluminium).

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That formula would remain from its late 1960s introduction through to the 964 series. The arrival of the 993 Targa in 1996 would see it adopt a large glass-opening sunroof, which slid behind the rear window.

This remained the case with the 996 and 997 models, which also benefitted from opening rear glass, creating a hatchback 911 as such. From the 993 onwards though, the Targa was no longer so visually distinct from its Coupe relations.

Only a company with the stubbornness of Porsche would persist in offering more than one open-top model in its range. At times when Porsche offered Speedsters, customers had as many as three ways of opening their 911 to the elements. The Targa could have quietly slipped away following the 993, 996 and 997 iterations.

To read ‘Targa Rising’ in full, pick up Total 911 issue 141 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now. 

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1972 Porsche 911T Targa Restoration and General Discussion

This 1972 Porsche 911 T long hood Targa was the subject of a nut and bolt rotisserie restoration by CPR Classic Restorations in Fallbrook, California. The master craftsmen have been in business for over 40 years restoring some of the best 356’s and 911’s in the world to absolute show winning examples. This particular T was renovated back to it’s original OEM 2.4 liter 157 horsepower specification utilizing 6 dedicated workshops to handle everything from body prep and fabrication to paint and finally re-assembly, and everything in between. As huge fans of the 911 and especially the Targas, we always appreciate when they are rescued or restored back to any state of tasteful road or track worthiness. These open top versions are probably better left to be put back to a street configuration, but if it were our own build we are not sure if we would have gone back to bone stock or somewhere up to RSR configuration had the decision been up to us. We are thinking maybe some SC or RS flares, an early RSR spec engine, 15 inch Fuchs in RSR anodized finish, Elephant Racing suspension and so on and so on and so on. The possibilities […]

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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

Total 911’s top six Porsche 911 Targas of all time

The Porsche 911 Targa, named in honour of Zuffenhausen’s victories in the Targa Florio road race, is nearly as old at the hardtop 911 itself. With Total 911 recently road tripping in the latest open-top 911 – and Stuttgart already testing its replacement – we’ve decided to select the most sensational sextet of 911 Targas ever:

6) Porsche 991 Targa

Porsche 991 Targa The latest iteration of the Targa has seen Porsche return to the classic roll hoop design. It’s arguably the most beautiful open-top 911 ever created but, the alfresco experience isn’t as awesome as the aesthetics.

5) Porsche 993 Targa

Porsche 993 Targa

From the rear, with its flared hips and panoramic roof, its not hard to see why the 993 Targa appeals. It marked the end of the original roll-bar design, creating something potentially more practical: a sliding glass roof.

4) Porsche 964 Targa

Porsche 964 Targa

Its mix of classic and modern always makes the 964 attractive to buyers and, although its roll bar design may not be the prettiest, its place as the last air-cooled 911 with a full hoop above your head will certainly make it desirable in the future.

3) Porsche 997 Targa

Porsche 997 Targa

Like the 993 and 996 before it, the 997 Targa featured a sliding glass roof. The rear panel hinged up to provide access to a luggage shelf making it hugely practical but, while it visually appeals, it’s less of a Targa and more of a large sunroof.

2) Porsche 930 Targa

Porsche 911 Turbo Targa

If you like your Targa experience to be coupled with blistering speed then the ultra-rare Porsche 911 Turbo Targa is the car for you. Just 298 were built, ensuring incredible open-top exclusivity.

1) Porsche 911S Targa

1968 Porsche 911S Targa

Sometimes the original ideas are the best. The polished roll hoop of this original 1968 Porsche 911 Targa is as iconic as it is beautiful while, in today’s market, pre-impact bumper Targas provide a more accessible route to 911S ownership.

Do you agree with our Porsche 911 Targa top six? What is your favourite generation of the venerable open-top sports car? Comment below or join the debate on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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