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911 SC Targa 3.0 – 204 ch [1978]

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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With the Porsche 911 Targa SC through the Garden Route

A fragrant carpet of flowers, trees, moss, and the sea: the luxuriant Garden of Eden along South Africa’s Garden Route. Paris perfumer Alexandra Carlin is immersing herself in the inspiring aromas of South Africa.

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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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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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Porsche 911 SC: ultimate guide

You don’t need to spend long browsing the internet or flicking through the classic car publications to find commentators extolling the virtues of air-cooled 911s, and more specifically the early cars and the iconic 3.2 Carrera.

They’re not wrong, of course – both are sought after today – but there’s one model that tends to get forgotten, and that’s the car you see here. Between 1978 and 1983 the SC was the only normally aspirated 911 you could buy, its only company in the range being the legendary 3.3 Turbo.

Therefore, if you wanted something less ballistic and less hardcore than the Turbo for use on a daily basis then it had to be the SC – and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Porsche 911 SC interior

Not everyone was thrilled with the new arrival, though, and the main bone of contention was the power output. The outgoing 3.0-litre model had managed a useful 200 horsepower or so, while the SC arrived on the market with a 180-horsepower version of the flat six, and frankly that wasn’t the sort of progress most 911 buyers were looking for.

However, it would benefit from power boosts in the following years, so for now let’s concentrate on that original powerplant. The 930/03 unit that could trace its lineage back to the awesome 930 Turbo was constructed around a light alloy crankcase and Nikasil bored cylinders that were fashioned from aluminium rather than magnesium, and was fitted with a forged-steel crankshaft with eight main bearings.

Porsche 911 SC engine

The 2,994cc capacity came courtesy of a 95-millimetre bore and 70.4-millimetre stroke and there was a single overhead camshaft per bank that operated two valves per cylinder.

Also new for the SC was a duplex chain for the camshaft drive with spring-loaded tensioners, although in an effort to improve reliability Porsche introduced a revised tensioner idler arm for 1980 – the hydraulic system adopted for the 3.2 Carrera would fi nally banish the problems for good.

To read our complete Porsche 911 SC compendium, pick up issue 127 in store now. Hurry though, we’ve already sold out online. If you prefer your magazines digitally, download your copy here.

Porsche 911 SC impact bumper

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