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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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Volume 3 of the Porsche 911 RS bookazine out now

Volume 2 of the Porsche 911 RS bookazine sold out in record time. However, fans of Rennsport 911s fear not, for the latest instalment in the RS series – produced by the creators of Total 911 – has hit the shelves.

The third edition of this popular series sees every generation of RS get its moment in the spotlight, from an ultimate guide to the iconic Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS, to our first drive of the latest 991 GT3 RS.

There is quite literally something for every type of RS enthusiast whether air-cooled or water-cooled with the entire Rennsport spectrum from 1973 to 2015 put under the microscope.

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If you like tuned Rennsport 911s, Volume 3 of the Porsche 911 RS bookazine has got road tests of both a modified 964 RS 3.8 (complete in Rubystone Red) and SharkWerks’ formidable 4.1-litre 997 GT3 RS.

And, for a change of pace, the latest Porsche 911 bookazine also features two interviews with two very special Rennsport heroes: Roland Kussmaul and rally legend, Walter Röhrl. It’s certainly not to be missed.

To grab your copy before it sells out, head to your local newsagents’ now. Alternatively, you can order Volume 3 online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device for an instant RS fix.

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Porsche 911 GT2: the definitive history

GT2. Fairly anonymous characters in isolation, but very special indeed when applied to the rump of a 911 – special enough, in fact, to have Porschephiles dribbling with anticipation at their very mention.

It’s a moniker that stemmed from Porsche’s desire to homologate the 911 for racing, and has since gone some way to creating a legacy of being the most ferocious Porsche 911 to grace the public road.

The introduction of the 993 was already something of a sea-change in the 911’s evolution compared to the outgoing 964, and it would also be the first sports car to sport the GT2 badge.

993 GT2 front

First sold in 1995, what you had here was a thinly disguised racer that took the already phenomenal Turbo model, junked the four-wheel-drive hardware, added yet more power and was then put on a weight diet.

The result was a twin-turbocharged and intercooled motor that, shorn of its catalytic convertors, managed a heady 430bhp and 540Nm of torque.

Performance figures varied depending on the source, but think 190mph and a four-second dash to 60mph, and you’d be close; terrifyingly quick in a car that was as raw as 911s came. Make no mistake, the GT2 took skill and concentration to get the best from.

Porsche 911 GT2 Evo

The rest of the mechanical specification was equally tasty, the GT2 receiving the gearbox and brakes from the Turbo and tweaked suspension that made more use of solid bushings and added adjustability.

But it was the exterior that perhaps drew the most gasps at launch, Porsche ditching any pretence of subtlety. Adorning the new car was a body kit that verged on the brutal, adding a ground-scraping front air dam, a bi-plane rear spoiler and bolted-on wheel arch extensions.

To read the full history of the Porsche 911 GT2, including its later water-cooled years, Total 911 issue 113 is available to order online for half price. Alternatively, download it straight to your digital device now.

993 GT2 rear

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Lightweight superstars: a history of Porsche 911 weight-saving

Perhaps more than any other car manufacturer, Porsche has evangelical ethos of seeking to improve performance by creating lighter editions of its sports cars in the quest for purity in performance.

Particularly evident throughout the 911’s entire lineage, the Porsche achievement of enhanced performance and durability with reduced weight stands alone.

The 2.7 RS, introduced after ten years of 911 production and well documented in recent editions of this magazine, achieved motorsport fame before becoming the holy grail of car investment legend.

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Later, its Rennsport successors did the same, with the water-cooled GT3 RS creating a resurgence in Porsche Cup popularity and some giant-killing performances in GT racing.

But there are other variants away from that RS moniker that can still claim ‘lightweight’ 911 status. One of these is the 3.2 Carrera Clubsport, introduced in 1987.

At the time, the Clubsport seemed to slip by with little to celebrate in competition – and visually too, you have to say it’s not exactly awe-inspiring at first glance.

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The changes are individually very small, including deletion of electric seats, an alloy spare wheel instead of a steel item, and no sunroof, radio for air conditioning.

At face value it reads like weight saving of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder style, but add this all up and you’ll realise that Stuttgart managed to shave 50 kilograms off the base 3.2 Carrera.

To read more of our Lightweight Superstars feature, including our time behind the wheel of both the 3.2 Carrera Clubsport and the 996 GT3 RS, grab the latest issue of Total 911 in store or online now. Alternatively, download it straight to your digital device for an immediate 911 fix.

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