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911 Carrera 3.0 – 200 ch [1976]

Classic Porsche test: story of the Carrera 3.0

In many Porsche 911 books the Carrera 3.0 hardly merits a mention. Sandwiched between the revered Carrera 2.7 and all-conquering SC, it’s a mere footnote in a 56-year story. Has history judged it too harshly? Is the ‘Carrera 3’ underrated or simply underwhelming? Only driving one will tell us for sure.

The odds seem stacked against the 3.0 from the start. First, Porsche broke an unwritten rule by launching a new car with less power than its predecessor. And while a 13hp shortfall mattered more on paper than the road, the outgoing Carrera 2.7 also boasted perfect pedigree, being mechanically identical to the 1973 RS 2.7, barring the US model. The new 3.0, conversely, was defined by what it lacked. It was, in essence, ‘a Turbo without the turbo’.

On sale for just two years between 1976 and 1977, the Carrera 3.0 was the middle rung of a revised 911 range. The base model – called 911 Lux in some markets – retained a 165hp version of the 2.7-litre engine. The 3.0, meanwhile, adopted the 2,994cc lump from the flagship 930. This development of the 1974 3.0 RS engine would serve the 911 in various guises until 1984. In naturally aspirated form quoted power was 197hp at 6,000rpm, this versus 260hp at 5,500rpm for the top-dog Turbo. Fuel economy was improved, albeit not sufficiently for US emissions legislation. The 3.0 was never sold Stateside as a result.

Transforming a 930 into a Carrera 3 wasn’t merely a case of unbolting the blower. The N/A engine also had larger inlet ports, while compression ratio increased from 6.5:1 to 8.5:1. Further fettling for the 1976 model year included a die-cast aluminium crankcase, Nikasil cylinder liners, a five-blade cooling fan and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, replacing the plunger-type system. The use of K-Jetronic, which endured until the 1994 964 Turbo 3.6, also meant the demise of the hand throttle, supplanted by a vacuum-operated warm-up regulator. Most buyers chose the five-speed manual transmission, but Porsche also offered the four-speed ‘box from the Turbo and the clutchless Sportomatic – the latter now reduced to just three ratios.

What the 3.0 lacked in peak power it made up for in mid-range muscle. Maximum torque of 255Nm matches the outgoing Carrera 2.7 and is developed 900rpm lower in the rev range, meaning it equals the older car’s 6.3-second sprint to 60mph. Top speed is an Autobahn-friendly 145mph. The 3.0 is a relatively light 911, too. At 1,093kg it weighs 67kg – or a typical adult passenger – less than a 1978 SC.

At first glance the Carrera 3 looks little different to other impact-bumper 911s. ATS ‘Cookie Cutter’ alloys in 6×15- and 7×15-inch sizes were standard, with wider Turbo-spec Fuchs for the Sport pack. The latter included a Whaletail spoiler and optional ‘Carrera’ side script, plus Bilstein dampers replacing the standard Koni or Boge set-up. A Comfort pack was also added for 1977 with 14-inch wheels and softer Bilsteins. Coupe versions of the 3.0 outsold Targas by a factor of two to one.

The most significant cosmetic update, however, is hidden from view. 1976 saw Porsche introduce hot-dip zinc coating for all panels, vastly improving the 911’s traditionally rather feeble resistance to rust. Stuttgart then put its Deutschmarks on the line with an industry-leading six-year corrosion warranty, which boosted resale values and reinforced a growing reputation for quality. Sadly the zinc protection is rarely so effective in the longer term; even slight damage exposes the steel underneath, allowing rust to take hold.

Inside, the Carrera 3 made a significant step towards curing another of the 911’s age-old issues: inadequate heating. Until this point regulating cabin temperature had been a hit-and-miss affair, using levers between the seats to mix air heated by the exhaust with fresh air from outside. The new system, standard on the 3.0 and Turbo, used two thermostats and a rotary controller to manage this process automatically. Separate fan and heater sliders were also introduced for 1977 along with face-level air vents, albeit only on the passenger side.

Further improvements to comfort came from extra sound deadening and a plusher interior, including carpeting on the lower doors from 1977. A larger driver’s door mirror was fitted, now electrically operated and heated, and cruise control – called Tempostat in Europe or Automatic Speed Control in the US – was an option for the first time. Porsche even changed the design of the locks to improve security. Now, instead of pop-up buttons that could be hooked with a coat hanger, the 911 had round knobs on the door panels. The Targa’s opening quarterlights were discontinued to deter smash-and-grab opportunists, too.

We could go on, of course. But there are only so many facts about thermostats or carpeted doors even the most committed enthusiast needs. What matters more is how the Carrera 3.0 drives and, ultimately, its place in the air-cooled 911 hierarchy. To find out we visited Classic Motor Hub, a huge multi-marque showroom that at the time of writing has the car pictured for sale at £87,500. CMH is also nestled among some of the Cotswolds’ prettiest villages
and finest driving roads. If the Carrera 3.0 can’t impress here…

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Buyer’s guide – Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0

“Carrera – this name is reminiscent of the longest and hardest road race in the world, In which Hans Herrmann, Prince Metternich and José Herrarte all achieved wins in Porsches: The Carrera Panamericana.” The text in the official Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 sales brochure of that time began with these words. And even today, almost everyone associates the word “Carrera” with Porsche.

The Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0

The Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 occupies a very special place in the history of the entire Porsche 911 model range: it combines elements from two Porsche legends. Since the end of 1975, the Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 represented the incarnation of the Porsche Carrera, which was introduced in late 1972 as the 911 Carrera 2.7 RS in the series and used its 2993 cc engine in the same die-cast aluminum housing as its faster and more legendary cousin, the Porsche 911 Turbo 3.0, also known as the Porsche 930.

Turbo engine without turbo

The Carrera 3.0 engine is essentially the 911 Turbo 2993 cc engine – just without the turbocharger. In addition, the lighter 6-bolt flywheel and the crankshaft from the 2.7 RS were installed. To compensate for the missing turbo booster of the 930, Porsche increased the compression ratio and thus provided the three-liter Carrera with a proud 200 hp and a torque of 255 Nm at 4,200 rpm. On the road together this also explains why the performance values of the Carrera 3.0 are very similar to those of the 2.7 RS. Although it is often referred to as the tamed version of the original 2.7 RS with 210 hp, it was able to achieve even better values in the various tests: from 0 to 100 km/h, the Carrera 3.0 was a tenth of a second faster (6.3s ), and even two tenths of a second faster from 0 to 180 km/h.

This was due to the improved torque, the 2.7 RS achieved the same torque only at a much more aggressive 5100 rpm. A direct comparison of the power curves explained the wonder: at up to 5 000 rpm, the three-liter engine delivers significantly more power than the 2.7 RS. Only at higher than this magical border can the old Carrera beat it.

The optimized torque was also reflected in another test: the Carrera 3.0 was a good 3 seconds faster than the 2.7 RS and the 2.7 Carrera from 25 to 100 mph. And all this with a car, which was at least 45kg heavier due to the additional noise insulation.

The Carrera 3.0 was a good 3 seconds faster than the 2.7 RS and the 2.7 Carrera from 25 to 100 mph.

Low quantities

The Carrera 3.0 was marketed between the years 1975 and 1977. It was built “in sandwich” with the standard 911 and the 911/930 Turbo. During this very short two-year production timespan, only 3687 Carrera 3.0s were built, an almost tiny number compared to the 58,000 Porsche 911SCs and 76,500 Carrera 3.2s built.. Of these 3 687 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0s, 2 564 were delivered as coupés and only 1 123 as Targas. In model year 1976, 1093 coupes were built, including 606 copies with left-hand steering. In the following year there were 896 coupés with left-hand steering. In terms of rarity, the Carrera 3.0 does not have to shy away from neither the 2.7 RS (1580 pieces) nor the original 911 3.0 Turbo (1975-1977) (2819 pieces).

After the Carrera 3.0 had been in the market for only a year, a number of improvements were introduced for the following model year. Technically speaking, the most noticeable change was the use of a brake booster, which significantly increased braking performance. At the same time the handling of the clutch became much easier and smoother as from model year 1977 by the installation of the omega spring.

Some changes were also made to the interior. The dashboard received two adjustable ventilation grilles in the center, and for the first time a system of automatic temperature control was used, which was installed between the front seats where the mechanical control was situated before. The doors received the novel twist-lock mechanism, which would make it much more difficult for thieves to open the doors. A real improvement over the previously-used pull-out mechanisms. Almost unnoticed, something also changed in the rear seats: the direction of the dart changed from vertical to horizontal. Presumably, this was forgotten during changeover from the F to the G model, when the direction had similarly changed in the front seats.

An air-cooled Porsche 911 with potential

The fact check and the peek into the past suggest that the Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 is an extremely interesting vehicle from an investment perspective. However, if one looks at the price development curves of comparable vehicles produced in low quantities (’73 RS, original Turbo, F-models), the Carrera 3.0 has historically performed significantly weaker. In our view, that is logically not justifiable.

Due to the improvements mentioned above, the 1977 model is the better option today. But the ’76 models of the Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 are extremely rare and of course also interesting vehicles. A much more important criterion for a decision to buy is the condition and history of the vehicle. Restored copies should also be inspected very closely or the advice of an expert should be asked. All that glitters is not gold. If you find a good specimen, then the ingredients for a good investment could not be better. Rare because of the low number of pieces, fantastic air-cooled engine with beguiling sound and classic look. A dream for enthusiasts.

Rare because of the low number of pieces, fantastic air-cooled engine with beguiling sound and classic look. A dream for enthusiasts.

The model shown here is currently for sale. More information on this Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 can be found >> here.

Price list from the year 1977

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Porsche 911 3.0l – Melbourne Outlaw

Oui, les australiens ne sont pas que des fous furieux, au volant de monstrueux muscle car, gavés par des V8 compressés qui développent des puissances à 4 chiffres capables de faire fondre un train de gommes plus rapidement qu’il m’en a fallu pour écrire cette phrase ! Non, ce sont aussi des fous furieux fans […]

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Porsche’s impact bumper dynasty: 911 2.7 v SC v 3.2 Carrera

In 1974, the 911 underwent its first major styling change, becoming known as the impact bumper model. This enjoyed an impressive 15-year life, which is all the more remarkable considering the 15 years after that would produce no fewer than four separate 911 designs.

However, although the 911’s appearance both inside and out remained essentially unchanged, this does not mean there was a developmental stasis – far from it, in fact.

Over the period, Porsche twice rebuilt the engine with improvements to performance and economy, made incremental changes to the suspension to enhance handling and ride as tyres became wider, and introduced servo brakes and a hydraulic clutch.

Porsche 911 SC

Effectively, there were three distinct 911 models during this decade and a half. Therefore, although they’re superficially similar, the impact bumper models exhibit significant detail differences according to the period in which they were manufactured.

The new G-series was presented at the 1973 shows as the 1974 model year range of 911. Looking back, it is hard to imagine how difficult a time this was for Porsche: 60 per cent of its sales were in the US, and draconian new emissions legislation combined with uncertainty about safety norms was destabilising for all car manufacturers.

For its part, Porsche had seen several more established German manufacturers disappear in the Sixties, and never excluded the idea that this fate could befall the Zuffenhausen firm too.

Porsche 911 impact bumper

But if Porsche lacked confidence, it was not apparent in its new design: the company’s interpretation of the particular US requirement for 5mph impact-resistant bumpers was masterful.

Wolfgang Möbius melded the requisite fenders with the 911’s lines so skilfully that after only a short time, it appeared to many observers that the 911 had been styled around them, and it stood in complete contrast to pantomime offerings from respected makers such as Volvo.

To read more of our impact bumper history, including test drives of 911 2.7, SC and 3.2 Carrera iterations, pick up issue 121 of Total 911 in store now. Alternatively, you can order your copy online or download it to your digital device.

Porsche 911 2.7 SC 3.2 Carrera

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