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1974 2.7 911: the new standard

The year 1974 represented great change for Porsche. After a decade of constant fettling of its 911, where it witnessed increases in wheelbase, model designations, engine capacity and specification options, Zuffenhausen decided to ring the changes in what was the first major refresh of the car’s now famous history.

Most notably from the outset, those slender lines associated with Butzi’s initial 911 design were altered by Tony Lapine and his team, the addition of impact bumpers at both the front and rear of the car a regulatory necessity rather than a creative endeavour. The 911 needed to adopt impact bumpers to satisfy US crash-safety regulations, and though their presence unquestionably disrupted the flow of the 911’s appearance, it truly was a case of adapt or die. The latter was out the question, as it had by now gained an envious reputation as a robust sports car capable of outgunning its bigger motorsporting rivals.

The engine too was updated, the entire line-up ditching the 2.4-litre engine capacity of the F-series cars in favour of the 2.7-litre capacity used by the 1973 Carrera RS. Black window trim was retained from that first 911 Rennsport for the top-spec cars, with door handles and mirrors also now finished in black instead of chrome. There were minor upgrades to the interior too, including the incorporation of headrests into a one-piece seat for the first time.

Aside from changing the body and engine, Porsche also took the opportunity to revamp its entire 911 model line-up. Three cars would remain – until, of course, the Turbo arrived a year later in 1975 – but the top-spec 911S of the F-series replaced the doomed 911E as the middle offering, while the 911 Carrera became the new jewel of Porsche’s showroom. At the other end the T was scrapped entirely, the entry-level car now simply referred to as the base 911 for this new chapter of Neunelfer.

However, while the pre-impact bumper 911T is a fairly sought-after classic today for the purity of its lines, its successor in the 2.7 911 isn’t generally looked at with a similar fondness. At face value this is understandable. The base 2.7 car may be more powerful than the 911T by 25bhp in US-spec, but it’s heavier by around 50kg too, largely cancelling out any straight-line performance advantage, and the G-series cars just don’t possess the purity in appearance of the early, pre-impact bumper models. However, there are fewer 2.7 911s on the planet than 911Ts, with a quoted 9,320 2.7s built in both Coupe and Targa body styles over the 1974 and 1975 model years, while the 911T was produced 16,933 times between 1972 and 1973.

Despite this, the base 2.7 has largely been forgotten in the classic marketplace, it considered less desirable than the T before it or indeed the cars succeeding it, such as the heavier SC or 3.2 Carrera. It’s not like 1974 is an unpopular year of production either: the top-of-the-range 2.7 Carrera is revered as a genuine collector’s car for its credentials as a ‘secret RS’, the 3.0-litre RSs of the same model year generally considered to be a superior car to the halo 2.7 RS. It’s fair to say though the mid-spec 911S has suffered a similar fate to the base 911 in being largely forgotten. Has an injustice been served?

 

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Total 911’s real-world owner reports

Total 911’s ‘Living the Legend’ section is a popular feature of each issue, providing readers with real-world owner reports from our global band of contributors who not only live and breathe Porsche 911, they own them, too. Below is an excerpt from three of our dozen-strong lineup, whose models cover the entire breadth of the model’s 55-year history. You can catch their latest escapades in each issue of Total 911 – take out a subscription and get each issue delivered to your door.

 

Contributor: Tony McGuiness Porsche 911 model: 991.1  GT3 & 997.2 GT3 RS Dates acquired: December 2014 & February 2011

It is widely known that some 991.1 GT3s have had engine issues. In fact, in November of last year, GT3 owners including yours truly received a letter from Porsche stating that effective at once, the limited warranty on the GT3 internal engine components continues for ten years or up to 120,000 total miles, whichever occurs first.

This could become very important for me because last month on one of my usual drives through San Diego County, the GT3 lost power and began to run quite rough. I was able to drive it back home but clearly it wasn’t good.

I should also mention that occasionally on start-up the car could blow a huge plume of bluish-white smoke. It is worth noting that it isn’t unusual for a GT car to blow a small puff of smoke on start-up; it can be considered a charming characteristic of a GT3. However, my GT3, along with other owner’s GT3s, can occasionally blow a massive plume of smoke. When it does occur it can cover several cars parked behind in a huge cloud of smoke, which not only is embarrassing but obviously concerning.

Hoen Porsche in Carlsbad examined the GT3 and found the following: “Noted rough idle. Found fault misfire on cylinder six. Swap spark plug from cylinder six to cylinder four. Delete faults. Restarted engine, check engine light came on. Found misfire fault for cylinder four. Reinstalled spark plug from cylinder four, removed and replaced spark plug from cylinder six. Deleted faults. Turned on engine, noted check engine light is still on. Performed a second evaluation. Ran faults. Found fault for misfire on cylinder three active. Removed and swapped spark plugs from cylinder three to one and one to three. Deleted faults, turned on vehicle, found check engine light still on. Ran faults, found misfire on cylinder one active. Reinstalled original spark plug to cylinder one, removed and replaced the spark plug from cylinder three. Deleted faults. Started vehicle, no check engine light on. Performed a post evaluation and vehicle ran well.”

Porsche also found light oil in cylinder two which they consider to be within parameters according to the report. I can unequivocally state that the amount of smoke the GT3 can randomly discharge is in no way normal. Unless, of course, it was a battleship trying to hide under a smokescreen! Essentially, two spark plugs were replaced. This engine episode, of course along with the massive plumes of smoke, are very concerning to me, and not isolated occurrences. I have learned similar events have happened to other GT3 owners that led to Porsche replacing their engines. It would definitely seem that Porsche has extended the engine warranty for a reason. I will now video each engine start-up. This is unfortunate but something I will have to do. I truly hope that my GT3 ownership does not take a turn for the worse, and I am forced to report these issues each month. I will keep Total 911 readers posted!

 

Contributor: Joe Croser Porsche 911 model: 997.2 Turbo Date acquired: December 2015

My OPC Extended Warranty ran out in May and I didn’t renew. It wasn’t an easy decision – the OPC warranty is widely regarded as the best – but it was the right decision for me. After over two years and more than 8,000 miles I think I know my car well; I’ve seen it from all angles in various stages of undress and it’s never skipped a beat. Indeed, if ever there was a car I should worry less about it is (fingers crossed) probably this one, especially after filling the gearbox and engine with Millers Oils finest NT+ lubricants to reduce friction and improve longevity.

But it wasn’t risk which tipped the scales in favour of dropping the warranty, it was reward. You see, to truly enjoy my car I have made some essential mods. In late-summer 2017 I added the SharkWerks exhaust to transform the sound of the 3.8 flat six (issue 159). In the autumn I added the revolutionary DSC V1 PASM upgrade from TPC Racing to make my suspension truly adaptive (issue 160), and then as winter turned to spring I added Rennline radiator grills to protect and preserve my radiators and condensers from damage and debris (issue 165). Finally, as my old tyres were ready for a change, I had a new set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4Ss installed (issue 166). While the 4Ss in my size are without a doubt the best wet and dry tyre on the market, the tyres in my size remain without an N-Rating from Porsche, which means that my car will not pass the 111-point check with them wrapped around my alloys.

My mate Ben calls this the ‘opportunity cost’: to renew the warranty I would have to forego other opportunities to improve my car or incur additional costs to take off and refit these aftermarket improvements before and after an inspection. Even then I’d run the risk that a claim would be declined if the cause pointed to a third-party product as the issue or contributor. My car is better to drive with the PASM upgrade, the grippy Michelin tyres and the PSE-like exhaust sound. And with the reassurance of the Rennline grills I no longer fear for the integrity of the fragile rads and condensers hidden behind the front bumper. It’s a liberating thing and it’s the way it should be.

I have now owned this car for longer than any of its previous keepers, completing more miles in it than anyone else. It really is ‘my car’ for me to use as I see fit. I am not merely preserving it for its next owner; I am configuring it for my enjoyment, and I am now beyond being told by the Porsche Warranty company what I can and cannot do to it. I bought my car to drive. And drive it I shall, with a big grin from ear to ear.

 

Contributor: Lee Sibley Porsche 911 model: 996 Carrera 4S Date acquired: April 2017

Remember that KW V3 kit I brought home around three months ago? Well, after finally sorting a mysterious engine noise (which resulted in a need for a new auxiliary belt and water pump) and getting sidetracked with restoring my ‘Big Red’ brake callipers, at last I was ready for a switch-up in suspension.

For fitting I took my 996 along to Matt Samuel at ZRS Engineering. Matt is the brother of fellow columnist, James. My decision to go to Matt for the work came down to three key factors: as an owner of a 996.1 C4 himself he’s attuned to the workings of a 911; as 2013 British Drift champion he certainly knows all about car handling and control; and in running a small, independent business, I know exactly who’s going to be undertaking the work on my beloved Neunelfer.

I rocked up to Matt’s premises in Poole, Dorset early on the Saturday morning, and the man I would soon realise is nothing short of an engineering whizz soon got cracking. The car was promptly in the air, wheels off, front driveshafts popped off and factory struts whipped out. From here it was a case of fitting KW’s new front drop links to the KW front struts, plus top mounts. It’s a good idea to replace top mounts when fitting new struts, but luckily for me the rears were fine, while Matt had a spare set of very nearly new top front mounts from James’ 997.1 Turbo (cheers mate!), which is an identical part. Incidentally, Matt also tells me a 997 Turbo top mount is cheaper from Porsche than a 996 C4S, despite their striking similarity…

With top mounts and drop links affixed the KW coilovers were installed. Matt had the coilovers set at the height KW delivered them, but after a test drive found the car to be too low, promptly raising the 996 by 10mm at the front and 20mm at the back to give a slightly ‘raked’ stance. “The springs will need a bit of time to settle, so when you’ve burned through a tank of fuel, come back to me for a final tweak,” he said. It was at this point Matt earned my admiration: whereas others would have wanted to get the job done, the car out the door and the money in the bank, Matt’s diligence to getting the task at hand absolutely right really struck a chord with me. We agreed to leave the bump and rebound on KW’s ‘basic’ settings – they are 16-way adjustable – and have a play with the car as the miles roll along.

So how does it handle? Well I’m just about to complete that tank of fuel Matt has advised I burn through, so I’m due to revisit for a final tweak before a good geo. For road use the front is great, it feels supple enough to be palatable on our bumpy British B-roads while ensuring the front wheels stick stubbornly to the asphalt. The back, though, will need looking at, as it’s too harsh at slow speeds – the sensation is akin to M030, which I’ve always found too crashy on the road. I’ve noticed the car has also dropped slightly in ride height, so it’ll need raising, I’m estimating by around 10mm. I’ll report more on the finished article next issue, but for now I’m mega happy to have these KW V3s on the C4S and have been left so impressed by Matt’s excellent work.

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Lee’s 996 Carrera 4S Diary: new brakes and tyres verdict

So that’s how a 996 C4S is supposed to stop! I mentioned last month I had discs and pads replaced all round on my Porsche 911 after the items present when I bought the car were looking very tired. I got the new parts from VW Heritage’s newly-created Heritage Parts Centre and have now had a chance to bed them in. I am so impressed. The C4S now stops with the ability I’d expect from a set of Porsche’s ‘big red’ brakes and has transformed the way I drive the car. In short, I have more confidence in the 911, and can drive it harder as a result – as we all know, the harder you push a Porsche 911, the more you get back from it.

I also replaced the worn Continental tyres for a set of N3-rated Michelin Pilot Sport 2s. A few people have since asked me why I didn’t get a set of the newer PS4s, but the honest answer is there weren’t any available in my size when I needed them, so PS2s it was. Again, I am immensely impressed by my new rubber.

500 miles in, in comparison to the Continental Contact Sports, the Michelins are noticeably quieter, which is great for me as I wrack up a lot of miles, plus the Michelins are simply superb in the wet – I’ve not come across better for a 996. If the PS4’s can build on that, I already know what tyres I’m getting next, though I do note the PS2s have a slightly quieter rating. In the dry, there’s not a lot between the Michelins and Continentals (for fast road driving at least) but I’d love to try a track day to see how they differ at greater speeds and temperatures in them. Any excuse…

I’ve also had the C4S back at Porsche Centre Bournemouth for its annual service, this one being a major/72,000 mile service. We’re lucky that in the UK we have a broad selection of very good independent specialists that in the past I’ve had little hesitation in using, however my current 911 has an immaculate service record at Porsche main dealers and I’ve decided it’s important for me to uphold that for the sake of its value. As ever, the Centre didn’t let me down, even sending me before and after pics of the various parts, consumables and sundries being replaced on the 996.

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Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: the six month assessment

Six short months ago I sold my BMW E46 M3 and, with a bit of extra cash, stepped into Porsche 911 ownership with the purchase of a late Gen2 996 Carrera 4. As those familiar with my story from Total 911 magazine’s ‘Living the Legend’ owner reports section will know, I purchased the car from trusted independent Porsche specialists, RPM Technik, in a cut-price deal as it needed work before RPM considered it to be ‘ready for retail’. I was happy to take on the project and purchased the car without any warranty (the ‘brave vs naive’ debate is still open for comment!).

In the 193 days since, my 996 story has evolved rapidly. The car has taken in 8,000 miles including two track days and two weekend roadtrips to Scotland and then Wales, had shiny new upgrades fitted, had its basalt black paintwork brought back to life, and most importantly, it’s not failed me once. During that time, I learned more about my 996’s history thanks to OPC Bournemouth, who revealed the car had a complete bottom end rebuild and later IMS fitted at a main dealer in 2010, meaning half the engine had covered just 35,000 miles before my purchase. I’ve also done my best to look after the M96 flat six as much as possible, avoiding short journeys of less than 15 minutes and changing the oil after 6,000 miles.

Picture courtesy of Porsche Club GB

Track days are addictive but they provide the ideal environment for both car and driver to find their limits. Picture courtesy of Porsche Club GB.

Used mainly at weekends, I’ve been nothing short of delighted with my 996.2 C4. I like how classic the driving experience is compared to the mammoth new 991s; I’m positively thrilled with the value for money the car represents compared to other 911s; and I’m impressed by how cheap, relatively, the 996 is to run. It didn’t take long to identify one or two nuances with the model in general though, most notably of which was the lack of any stimulating engine sound whatsoever beneath 6,500rpm. Redlining the car everywhere isn’t exactly practical and the flaps on factory PSEs are known to jam open over time, so I plumped for a pair of Milltek rear silencers to rectify the situation. As you can see and hear from the video, they’ve proved a great addition.

It’s true the build quality inside is light years away from the lavish confines of a 997 or 991, but then I remind myself if it wasn’t for the 996’s production frugality there would be no 997 or 991 to begin with. I also think the 3.4-litre flat six from the Gen1 996 is the more rewarding engine, its peaky nature encouraging a driver to live in the top half of the tacho to progress quickly. However, the torquier bottom end of the 3.6 is ideal for track work and Sunday jaunts, intensified in my case by the CSR lightweight flywheel for quick heel-and-toe gear changes. A short-shift kit will complete the experience – watch this space!

Ventures with my plucky 996 inspired my friend, Alex, to join me in early water-cooled 911 ownership.

Ventures with my plucky 996 inspired my friend, Alex, to join me in early water-cooled 911 ownership.

So far, the 996 has given me everything I wanted from 911 ownership, and a few things I didn’t. It being a proper sports car that’s incredibly addictive to drive falls into the former category, while annoying failures of the indicator stalk (accompanied by a £500 quote from Porsche for a new one!) and driver’s door microswitch fall brazenly into the latter. I’ve improved the 996’s response and directness of handling with the addition of Bilstein PSS10 coilovers all round, though there’s work still to be done to reduce the inherent understeer plaguing the C4 through even medium severity turns. All in in all though I’ve immensely enjoyed entry-level 911 ownership so far and am relishing the prospect of driving the car through the winter months and beyond.

What’s the point of sharing my 996 story, I hear you ask? Well, my answer is two-fold. Firstly, I promised nothing but honest journalism in my owner reports, giving you real-world feedback, warts n’ all, of life owning an entry-level Porsche 911. The second reason – and most important – is because sharing our stories with others is all part of the unique Porsche experience. And that’s exactly why I want to hear from you.

What’s your 911 story? Whether you’re 53 minutes or 53 years into 911 ownership, we want to hear your very best 911-related anecdotes. Comment below or email us: [email protected] The best comments will be published in an upcoming issue of Total 911 magazine.

 

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Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: Road trips and track days

British summer time: the cynical may define this as roughly a two-week window of high temperatures and peak sunshine amid a perpetual rainy season, but for driving enthusiasts like you and I it defines six months of prolonged daylight and dry(ish) roads, perfect for digging the Porsche out of its winter slumber in search of glorious, sweeping roads and high-octane track days. British summer time is awesome.

You’ll already know from previous online diary entries that so far for the 2016 season I’ve completed one track day at Castle Combe and been on a driving tour of Scotland, but that’s hardly enough flat six action for your discerning Total 911 Editor. Good job, then, that I’m just back from a Porsche Club GB track day at Brands Hatch, with a weekend driving through Wales with the magazine’s fellow ‘Living the Legend’ 911-owning contributors to follow.

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Before any of that though, I needed new tyres after the Continentals perished at my last track day. I sought new performance rubber that would ably complement the 996’s brief under my ownership of fast road and occasional track use all year round, in a variety of conditions. I decided to try P Zero Rossos from Pirelli, after the Italian brand relaunched its range of new N-rated tyres for classic cars (as many will know, the 996 is bizarrely now classified as ‘classic’ by Porsche). A relaunch it may be, but the blurb is the technology underneath that sticky rubber surface is all-new, with Porsche-specific testing carried out by none other than Walter Röhrl.

I had the tyres fitted at Protyre in Poole, which is my nearest Pirelli Performance Centre (before you ask, it’s a scheme that rewards excellence for dealers using Pirelli in the UK. Dubbed PPC for short, the key objective is to provide a network of dealers with high technical details and commitment to service. These businesses have to pass a 130-point technical audit twice a year, so awarding and renewal of PPC status is no mean feat). I then covered around 400 miles on the road before my track day, where I discovered the P Zero Rossos need little heat in them to come to life, offering very good grip levels near enough immediately. I found this to be most impressive. I was also very happy with the levels of rolling tyre noise, which is reduced compared to other N-rated variants I’ve experienced.

Picture courtesy of Porsche Club GB

Picture courtesy of Porsche Club GB

For the acid test on track, I booked myself and my brother, Jack, into an evening session with the Porsche Club GB on the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch. Save for a passenger ride in a 997 Cup car with Total 911 columnist Ben Barker in 2012, I had no previous on-track experience at Brands and, with the standard of driving at PCGB events usually reasonably high, it wasn’t just the new tyres under scrutiny! To add further spice to the evening, monsoon-like rain descended upon us during the first group’s initial sighting laps, leaving a completely sodden track in our wake. Perhaps those summer time cynics are right after all?

Regardless, this meant the first half of the evening was largely processional as all cars attempted to skate through the elements, meanwhile contending with severely limited vision thanks to the spray from cars in front. However, I felt the Pirelli tyres held their own in truly adverse conditions, communicating nicely to me when grip was in short supply (and, on one occasion skirting around Clearways, completely gone!).

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As the track started to dry out for the second half of the session, my brother and I could push the car a bit harder. The P Zeros again performed well as we rode the tyres on their shoulders through the infamous Paddock Hill bend and on to Druids, their progressive feedback communicating fluidly where we could push more or ease off. For a do-it-all performance tyre, the P Zeros have wasted little time in winning me over. They’d already proved themselves an astute purchase as we left Brands in one piece despite the slippery conditions.

It was great, too, to share track space with like-minded owners through the Porsche Club GB and I’m already eyeing up another session on the calendar before this year’s out, but before that I need to look at a serious understeer problem that dogged the 996 at Brands. That’ll involve starting again with the car’s geometry, but the problem likely stems from the fact a lot of different people have tinkered with the adjustment underneath the 996 in the last few months in between the fitting of new suspension, brakes and then tyres. I’ve precisely three weeks to get this sorted, as the car and I have a 300-mile road trip along eight of Wales’ very best driving roads to contend with before autumn approaches, and with it… more bloody rain!

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