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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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Richard Attwood drives a 964 3.8 R restomod

road car. A race car. An engineer’s car. The 911, more than any other car, is a product of continual automotive evolution. Porsche’s enhancements have kept it relevant for the road, competitive on the track and have cemented its reputation as the enthusiast’s car of choice. That evolution isn’t just limited to Porsche itself; an entire industry out there takes 911s backwards and forwards in time, improving, re-imagining, personalising. The 911 is an eminently adaptable basis upon which owners can build the car they want from it.

With this 964, that’s exactly what RPM Technik has done for its owner Ian Humphris. The idea was for a fast road car that could be track driven, adding contemporary performance while being respectful to the classic feel and engagement a 964 brings. Using a Carrera 2 as its basis, the build process has been meticulous, seeking improvements in every area, this now a 964 that can run with its more recent GT department relations, yet offers a driving bandwidth that enables it to be enjoyed on the road, too.

Of all the many branches of 911 evolution and sub-species, this visceral, exciting 964 arguably represents the most appealing opportunity for perfecting and personalising, taking a tired Carrera and reviving it as a car that can be enjoyed. Its performance absolutely eclipses a 964 RS that you’d be too scared to drive. What RPM and Humphris have created is the perfect riposte to a zeitgeist where vehicular value takes president over the value of driving itself.

PART ONE: ON TRACK

It’s a sunny day at Bedford Autodrome, our track time exclusively reserved for RPM Technik’s 964 3.8. Owner Humphris likes his cars too: there’s a 997 GT3 RS in his garage, alongside some other special machinery, but it’s the 964 he’s animated about.

It’s obviously not standard, but to the uninformed could just be a neat, small, red Porsche 911. Its lowered stance could be missed, its split-rim BBS alloys less so. Humphris admits that they’re his road wheels, having a set of Cup 17-inch wheels with some cut slicks for serious track work. There are subtle hints to its revisions visually then, the black-rimmed headlight surrounds an RSR nod, the small lip splitter a neat addition under the front bumper.

There’s no surprises seeing the brake intakes on the front bumper, though they’re framed by darker indicator lenses. These, like those headlight surrounds, contrast perfectly with the red bodywork. Around the back the build follows the same understated enhancement route, this 964 retaining a single exhaust pipe, though the engine cover suggests that single pipe is attached to something a little bit different from the norm. The sticker, not badge, says 3.8 R, a model that’s entirely of its owner’s making, and justifiably so. Specification or naming purists be damned, this is a car that defines purity, a car built for an individual, with their – and only their – ambition and goals for it driving the entire project.

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Inside the world’s best Porsche collection

It’s just after midday and we find ourselves waiting outside a plain, nondescript building, its featureless, external monotony a brilliant contrast to the magic of what resides inside. That’s because within these walls you’ll find what is very likely the most astonishing, most unbelievable Porsche collection on the planet which, until very recently, has been kept a complete secret to everybody. You should prepare to be amazed.

It’s a complicated process to get inside the building but, after sharing introductions with the rather secretive owner, we’re lead inside. Greeted by a maze of stairways and corridors at first, our eyes take a little time to adjust to the bleached-out haze of white floors, walls and ceilings, illuminated by brilliantly white lights. The connotations here are almost surgical – for a minute you’d forgive us for thinking we’re about to take a look around a top-secret new hospital that’s soon to open.

Eventually we reach a wide set of windowless double doors, bright light from the other side visible through a minute gap where they meet. Pulling on each handle, the owner swings the doors open and steps back, imploring the three of us in our party to venture inside.

Staggering into the room, three sets of jaws hit the floor as our brains attempt to compute the information we think our eyes are relaying. There are no less than 54 Porsche sports cars impeccably laid out in this huge room which, like the corridors leading to it, is a complete whitewash from floor to ceiling. The cars within this hall, rather predictably, are all finished in varying shades of factory ‘weiß’. Welcome to The White Collection.

What started with a single Matchbox 911 Turbo has grown into what is the most awe-inspiring stockpiling of Porsche on the planet. It’s not just because of the unique colour either. The cars in this room are, almost exclusively, extremely rare and collectible models, and all boast low mileages. Don’t let the colourless hues fool you: each Porsche is extensively, bountifully specced, with most of the modern cars simply dripping in bespoke CXX options – but we’ll come to that later.

The collection is vast and immaculately presented. Walking towards the middle of the room, a row of 911 GT2s from 993 right up to 997 RS sit to our left – the 991 is in transit – all organised in chronological order. To our right there’s a row of air-cooled Porsche Rennsports ordered from first to last, including both M471 Lightweight and M472 Touring versions of the original 2.7 Carrera RS. The water-cooled Rennsports line up opposite, with the holy trinity of Porsche supercars in the 959, Carrera GT and 918 presented, in white, in the middle.

Flanking each end of the Rennsport displays you’ll find an extensive Turbo and Turbo S line-up, plus a long line of rare flatbacks which culminates in a 991 R. There’s a row of Cabriolets in the distance, plus every Porsche Speedster, and some choice Targas. All are meticulously placed in stringently straight lines.

Back to that white Matchbox Turbo. “I was given the car when I was a child and was mesmerised by its flowing lines, and so I cherished it. More than a car, I found art in its design. It continued to inspire me as I grew up,” says the Collection’s bashful owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. His first Porsche was a 993, though not in white. They came later, amassed over a period of years, though there’s an admission that “the collecting only became quite aggressive in the last six years or so. The aim, as you can see, was to have one of everything, in white, in the lowest mileage possible.”

Boasting what is likely the best independent Porsche collection in the world, the owner of The White Collection might also be one of the Exclusive Department’s best contemporary customers. The 918 has north of $100,000 in CXX options, and the R, GT3 RS and GTS Targa aren’t far behind. The total amount of CXX options in the room could be near to $1 million. Even cars such as the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, which came with bespoke Gold metallic paint, was optioned in Carrera White Metallic and, popping the front bonnet, the entire boot is lined in luxury leather with contrast gold stitching, courtesy of the Exclusive Department.

Most 991 interiors are resplendent in CXX Yachting blue leather with white contrast stitching and seat piping, this specification a clear favourite of the meticulous owner. The inspiration for this lies on the far side of the room, among the flank of flatbacks, where a 3.2 Carrera resides with a factory Yachting Blue interior. “I just fell in love with the colour combination when I bought that particular car,” the owner says. “It works so well and complements the white exterior, so from that moment on I decided all the new cars should be finished this way.” That 3.2 Carrera’s legacy now includes a 991 R, 991 GT3 RS and 918, all with Yachting Blue interiors.

For the full exposé on The White Collection, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 175 in shops now, or get it delivered to your door. Can can also enjoy a special bonus gallery of the Collection via our digital editions for both Apple and Android

 

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991.2 GT3 v 991.1 GT3 RS: which is better for £150k?

The ever-changing nature of the Porsche marketplace often throws up some interesting conundrums for the 911 buyer. As values of separate models fluctuate, they often combine to bring about new scenarios for those in the market to consider: ‘What’s around for my £100,000?’ for example. Right now there are many different choices of 911s available at many different price points. As a case in point, for £40,000 you could choose anything
from a G-series classic, to a 996 Turbo, to a 997.2 Carrera S right now. The market’s constant evolution means different cars move in and out of the equation, whatever your budget. It’s what keeps things interesting, in many ways.

As another case in point, only five years ago we ran a head-to-head road test in this very magazine asking which was the better Turbo for your £60,000: 993 or 997.1? Today the 993 is worth at least double that, while a 997.1 can be had for £50,000.

Market circumstance has dictated the 991.2 GT3 and 991.1 GT3 RS have been trading hands for roughly the same money for a while now, so the question we’ve routinely found levied in our direction in the past year is thus: ‘Which is the better buy for my £150,000; a Gen2 991 GT3 or Gen1 991 GT3 RS?’

Really, there are multiple answers to the question, and it all comes down to what you’ll do with the car. We’ve therefore assessed both the 991.2 GT3 and 991.1 GT3 RS over three practical categories, investment potential, track day use, and on the road, which covers all possible ownership intentions.

For the full article on the 991.1 GT3 RS v 991.2 GT3, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 174 in shops now, or get the issue delivered direct to your door via here. You can also download our hi-res digital edition, featuring bonus galleries, to any Apple or Android device. 

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New Porsche 992 Cabriolet revealed

Less than six weeks after the launch of the 992 generation 911, Porsche has unveiled the open-topped version of its eighth generation sports car icon. As with its Coupe brothers, the Cabriolet has been released in Carrera S and Carrera 4S guise with PDK-only for now, the Carrera and Carrera 4 version with manual gearbox arriving later this year.

The Porsche 992 Cabriolet uses a similar kinetic system to the 991 before it, again operable at speeds of up to 30mph, though opening and closing time of the roof is now slightly quicker at 12 seconds. The roof system, which successfully maintains the form of the Coupe variant when covering the interior, again features an integrated (and heated) glass rear screen, now relying on lightweight yet sturdy magnesium bows to stop the roof from ballooning at high speeds.

This is necessary because the Porsche 992 Cabriolet has a top speed of 190mph in Carrera S form (188mph for the 4S), making it a very, very fast open-topped Porsche. It is the all-wheel-drive 992 which has the upper hand in the sprint stakes though, managing a 0-62mph time of just 3.6-seconds with optional Sport Chrono Package (the 2S’s time is 3.7-seconds).

The 2019 992 Cabriolet’s engine is exactly the same as that found in the 992 Coupes, its 3.0-litre ‘9A2 evo’ flat six producing 450hp and 530Nm torque. Both Cabriolets also withhold the widebody treatment rolled out for every 992-generation 911, its full-width light bar and staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels also finding their way onto the Cabriolet which, for the first time, features an optional Sports PASM chassis, lowering the car by 10mm.

Prices for the rear-driven Carrera S Cabriolet start from £102,000 in the UK, its all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S stablemate available from £108,000. We prefer Coupe 911s here at Total 911, though with seamless lines, stunning performance and breathtaking aesthetical appeal, the 992 Cabriolet looks set to be the most convincing of its kind to date.

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