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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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Rare Porsche 911 Cabriolets

Porsche isn’t one to miss a good marketing opportunity. Throughout the 54 years of 911 production, in which over a million examples of this iconic sports car have rolled out of Zuffenhausen, the company has bestowed worldwide customers with a whole host of special editions to celebrate anniversaries, milestones and notable racing achievements.

The latest addition is Motorsport’s new 935, a track-only car based mechanically on the 991 GT2 RS but styled on the revered Moby Dick of 1978. More interestingly though, there’s also a new Speedster. However, the fact it’s being built to commemorate 70 years of Porsche isn’t particularly significant, and neither is the numbered production run of just 1,948 examples. No, it’s a special-edition, open-topped Porsche.

Think about it, most special-edition Porsche 911s are Coupes. From the 930 S to the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, via the 993 GT2, 996 Anniversary and 997 Sport Classic, these limited cars, often built on a numbered production run, are tin-top. There appears no specific reason for this: all body styles hail from the same production line at Werk II, and it’s not like an open-topped 911 is unpopular – in fact, widespread endearment to both the Cabriolet and Targa is such that Porsche has kept both models running concurrently since 1983. And while it’s true 911 Coupes will always enjoy a certain cache over their open-topped stablemates, what’s not to like about a special-edition Cabriolet?

To find out we’ve come to Long Beach in southern California to sample two stellar open-topped examples of rare Porsche in the 3.2 Commemorative Cabriolet and 964 America Roadster. Owned by serial Porsche owner and Total 911 subscriber Bruce Brown, these cars are used as they were intended, cruising the boulevards and carving through the inland canyons, roof down, revelling under the year-round Californian sunshine.

The cars arrive at the beach just after us, pulling off the highway and driving onto a slipway down to the Pacific Ocean, the 964’s almost V8-like thrum a striking note against the 3.2 Carrera’s more agricultural resonance. Bruce, in the 3.2, and his friend Simon Birch, piloting the 964, kill the cars and jump out, which gives us a chance to absorb both 911s as they cool off in the brisk sea wind.

First, the Commemorative 3.2. Built to honour 250,000 911s having been built, it’s sometimes referred to as the 25th Anniversary – this at a time before Porsche thought of the 30, 40 and 50 Jahre Anniversary models in the ensuing years. The 3.2 Commemorative Edition was available in either Coupe, Cabriolet or Targa body styles.

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New 2019 Porsche 992 revealed: all you need to know

We’ve ridden shotgun in the prototypes, but Total 911 is attending the unveil of the new Porsche 992 series 911 in LA, prior to it reaching showrooms early next year. That it’s visually similar to the 991 before it is no surprise, Porsche’s evolutionary approach to its styling no more obvious than with the 911, but this eighth-generation model brings the company’s iconic sports car up to date, adding connectivity, driver assistance and improved environmental performance all while retaining its driver focus.

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE STATS

Retaining the 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six of the 991.2, the 992 is launched in Carrera S guise, it developing 450hp, which represents an increase of 30hp over the outgoing Carrera S. In rear-wheel drive PDK form that allows a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds, or 3.5 seconds if the optional Sport Chrono pack is fitted. The Carrera 4S reduces that by 0.1 seconds thanks to its traction advantage, the top speed for the Carrera S being 191mph and the 4S 190mph. That’s 0.4 seconds faster than the equivalent outgoing 991.2 model, the 992 boasting performance in the realms of the 997 Turbo.

The consumption and emissions figures quoted for the 992 look less impressive, with Porsche quoting 31.7/31.4mpg and 205g/km/209g/km for the Carrera S/4S respectively. These figures are based on the new, stricter, WLTP testing procedure which give a a greater real-world result, so customers should expect consumption equivalent to the outgoing models, even if the numbers don’t suggest it.

AESTHETICS

Externally the 992’s most obvious visual cue is the new rear light bar, this LED strip spanning the entire width of the rear. All Carreras, from the launch S models, to the standard Carreras that will follow next year will be wide-bodied, with all being as wide as the current GTS/GT3 models. The width at the front axle grows by 45mm, too, the steered wheels being fitted with 20-inch alloys, the rear being staggered with a 21-inch rim.

That widebody is almost entirely constructed from aluminium in a bid to save weight, the 992 set to weigh much the same as the car it replaces. That’s despite the addition of some additional new tech, the 911 embracing driver assistance with the addition of lane keeping assist and lane departure warning equipment, brake assist with emergency braking as well as the availability of Night Vision Assist with a thermal camera. Should you option that, the images will be displayed on one of the screens situated either side of the large analogue rev-counter that sits prominently in front of the driver in the instruments. Convenience in traffic will be added with the option of an adaptive cruise control system with automatic distance control and stop-and-go function.

INTERIOR

The interior is a marked step from the 991, the centre dash dominated by a 10.9 inch touchscreen, it giving access to familiar entertainment and navigation functions as well as displaying the driving modes. To the usual Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual Modes Porsche has added Wet Mode, this selectable mode automatically prepping the PDK shift strategy, traction and stability systems and throttle map when wheel housing sensors detect wet tarmac.

The connectivity of the interior systems is improved, with swarm online data assisting with navigation, and apps including Porsche Road Trip for route planning and Porsche Impact being an emissions estimator that allows you to estimate financial contributions to offset your emissions with your favoured internationally certified climate project.

Engine revisions to help reduce that impact include revised turbochargers and new intercooling with shorter, more efficient paths, as well as an improved direct injection process. The addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission (a seven-speed manual will follow) derived from the Panamera also underlines Porsche’s future climate credentials as it allows the company to add a hybrid electric motor into the transmission at a later, as yet to be confirmed, date.

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PROJECT GOLD: THE TRUE STORY

It’s a fascinating venture which has stirred up sizeable interest, partly because we never thought this could happen: we’re in the year 2018 and Porsche has just built an air-cooled 911, some two decades after its last. Incredibly, the car has just sold at auction for a whopping $3.1million too, so it might well be the ultimate collector’s Porsche 911. But what do we really know about it? 

Okay, so it’s a remake of the 993 Turbo rather than a brand-new model, Porsche giving Project Gold, as it’s been dubbed, a chassis number following directly on from the last 993 Turbo rolling off the production line in 1998. Finished in Golden metallic, the car is modelled as an air-cooled version of the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, this 993 built by Porsche Classic using its enviable itinerary of some 52,000 genuine Porsche Classic parts.

There is an air of cynicism surrounding this project, though. Porsche says the car was built from the last remaining 993 Turbo shell it had ‘laying around’; emissions regulations mean it can’t be registered and thus driven on public roads, and those same reasons are precisely why the car won’t be present at its own auction lot at RM Sotheby’s Porsche sale at PEC Atlanta – in fact, it won’t be in the US at all. Then there’s the spec: Porsche states the Turbo’s flat six produces 450hp, which means it comes with the coveted Powerkit, standard on the Exclusive-built 993 Turbo S. The optional side air intakes are Turbo S-spec, as is the carbon dashboard.

In fact, Project Gold is a set of yellow calipers away from being a fully loaded 993 Turbo S rather than a mere Turbo. However, Porsche has opted against branding it as such, likely because that would have left the 345 owners worldwide of the 993 Turbo S extremely upset that their investment-grade collectible had lost a modicum of rarity. It certainly smacks of marketing fanfare, but is this fair? Uwe Makrutzki, manager at Porsche AG’s Classic factory restoration team, and Philipp Salm, sales and marketing manager at Porsche Classic, have joined us at Rennsport Reunion to dispel the myths.

We ask first about that lone spare shell. “It’s not unusual to have spare parts when you change from one generation to another. In the case of the 993 to 996 we had a spare 993 Turbo shell – only one – which was stored in an outdoor hall in a town called Möglingen,” Uwe tells us matter-of-factly. “We’d known about the shell for years but didn’t have the desire to do anything with it. Then we were asked to do something for the 70 years of Porsche celebrations.

For the full exposé on Project Gold, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 172, in shops now or available for direct delivery to your door. You can also download the issue, which features bonus image galleries, to any Apple or Android device. 

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Porsche 997 v 991 GT2 RS tested on track

When we think about ‘Porsche’ and ‘Rennsport’, which connotations spring to mind? For me it’s the many ingredients which make the visceral experience of a raw 911: ostentatious aero; a stripped interior; loud, mechanical noises from inside the car; razor sharp throttle response and direct, unfiltered steering. The concept of a turbocharger wouldn’t be high on the list of too many enthusiasts.

Perhaps it should though, for Porsche’s history with turbocharging is as rich as its narrative with racing, the company’s endeavours on the track spawning the concept of its Rennsport cars for the road in the first place. Even before the company had unveiled its 911 Turbo to the world in 1975 it had already set about trying to race it. Built by Norbert Singer, the 2.1 Turbo RSR was constructed according to FIA Group 5 rules and pitted alongside sports ‘silhouette’ cars from rivals including Ferrari and Matra. It raced at Le Mans in 1974 – with every top-level Le Mans Porsche since using forced induction.

It finished 2nd overall to a Matra driven by a certain Gérard Larrousse, keeping a host of open-cockpit prototypes honest. It was no fluke: the RSR Turbo went on to record another 2nd place in the Watkins Glen 6 Hours, 7th at the 1,000km at Paul Ricard and 5th at the Brands Hatch 1,000km on the way to helping Porsche finish third in the World Sports Car Championship that year.

Alas, it was to be the only turbocharged 911 to officially adopt the Rennsport name. New rules from the FIA stipulated a change, Porsche going on to spawn the 911 Turbo-based 934, 935 and 936 thereafter. That is, until 2010. Following three generations of GT2 in the 993, 996 and 997, Porsche unveiled the 997 GT2 RS. Ostensibly a Frankenstein of the 997.2 Turbo S and 997 GT3 RS 4.0, it was a carbon-clad, lightweight monster with rose-jointed rear suspension, its tuned, twin-turbo motor making it the most potent road 911 of all time with a mighty 620hp at its disposal.

Although it never really featured in top-level works or customer racing (save for Jeff Zwart’s record-breaking Pikes Peak run in 2011), the 997 GT2 RS looked to be sharing the 2.1 Turbo RSR’s destiny of being an exotic anomaly interwoven in the Porsche Rennsport tapestry. There was no indicator of a successor in the pipeline, the 991 generation skipping the GT2 moniker entirely. Then, in autumn 2017 at, of all places, the launch of a new Xbox racing sim, Porsche announced the arrival of its 991 GT2 RS.

With only 500 997 GT2 RS’s and an estimated 2,000 991 GT2 RS’s worldwide, it’s not often you’ll see one of each generation side by side. However, that’s exactly the sight we’re treated to on arrival at Silverstone’s Porsche Experience Centre ahead of our twin test of both these performance goliaths. Representing GT2 RS genesis, the established 997 is the platinum smash hit, its 991-shaped replacement posing as the awkward second album. Can it really take Porsche’s blown Rennsport to a new level?

We’re yet to turn a wheel in either, but the 991 is already asserting itself, towering above the 997. The 991 simply looks like a Cup car, albeit with licence plates, its rear wing dwarfing the 997’s comparatively modest proportions. We’ll save the comparisons for later, though. After a quick cuppa and sign-on, it’s time to get reacquainted with the 997.

For the full feature on our 997 v 991 GT2 RS track test, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 171 in shops now. You can also order your copy here for delivery to your door anywhere in the world, or download to an Apple or Android device of your choice. 

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