Porsche 911

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Porsche 911

1964 - 1973
Aircooled Flat 6
1991/2993 cc
130-230 bhp
5 spd. man
Top Speed:
209 - 249 km/h
Number Built:
5 star
Porsche 911
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5


Released in 1964 this triumph of development over design is still as popular as ever. Despite many variations the pre-1974 are perceived as the best classics of this model.

It is interesting to note that if it had not been for Peugeot, who had patented all three digit number configurations that contained a Zero (0) in the middle, the 911 would have been instead the 901. Peugeot insisted Porsche change their model designation, and so 911 it was.

The 911 is both fast and agile with handy rear seating and a reputation for reliability. All 911's used four-wheel disc brakes and five speed gearboxes on its manual versions. Wishbones were used for front suspension with the rear being tied down by trailing arms and torsion bars. Fabulous steering and sharp handling made the car hugely popular and early versions used a 1991cc flat-six motor that allowed 130 bhp.

In September 1966 the removable roof Targa was revealed with the best being the 160 bhp 911S that could manage 225 km/h. 1967 saw the 911L being produced as a replacement for the standard 911. There was also a 911T that used a semi-automatic three speed and was not as popular. The B-Series version were introduced in 1968 and handled better due to an increase in the wheelbase.

The 911E replaced the 911L. C Series models of 1969 had 2195cc engines with power outputs between 125 bhp for the T to 155 bhp for the E and 180 bhp for the S. 2.4 cars were used in 1971 that ranged in bhp from 130 to 190.

Ultimately, the best early 911 was the 2.7RS model with its lighter shell and stiffer suspension. It was built between 1972 and 1973 and was capable of a credible 241 km/h.

Porsche 911 2.7 Review

There were simply not enough superlatives for the motoring journalists of the day to heap upon the Porsche 911. Many found it difficult to adequately describe the qualities of almost unbeatable engineering quality, exquisite handling and roadholding, magnificent perrformance, all combining to make it arguably the finest all-round road car in the World.

If Porsches had one failing before the 2.7 litre, it had been that the engines were somewhat inflexible, necessitating regular use of the five-speed gearbox, perhaps enjoyable on the open road, but tiresome in traffic. As capacity crept up from 2 litre to 2.2 and then 2.4 the torque (read flexibility) improved with each iteration, until what many today still consider to be the Porsche 911's greatest moment, the introduction of the 2.7-litre flat-six engine for the 911 and 911S.

The lusty 2.7 litre engine was first tried and tested on the Carrera. In fact the 2.7-litre engine was a few brake horsepower down on the old 2A-litre 911E, the version which was more readily comparable, being quoted at 150 b.h.p. DIN. On the other hand, torque had risen to 168 lb. ft. DIN at a modest 3,800 r.p.m., the real object of extracting the extra capacity by increasing the bore to 90 mm. while retaining the same 70A-mm. stroke. The result was that while standing-start stop-watch figures may have suffered fractionally, overall performance was improved, although to see the evidence you would need a reasonably long and varied stretch of road.

Porsche quoted a 0-100 km/h (62 m.p.h.) acceleration time of 8.5 sec., and a maximum speed of 130 m.p.h. for the "ordinary" 911 and if ever there was justification for regarding performance figures as meaningless, this was it. On paper it appeared to the casual observer that the 911 was rather ordinary, but then you would be missing the point entirely. The fact was the Porsche's rear engine and suspension provided such outstanding traction that its maximum acceleration could be achieved on almost any surface (excluding of course mud and sheet ice); even in dry conditions dramatic wheelspin usually occured when trying to obtain maximum acceleration with conventional layout performance cars such as BMW's CSi.

In the hands of the average motorist, which is pretty much the majority of drivers, the Porsche was so well accomplished that it was easy to extract the cars full potential. And while 130 m.p.h. was nothing out of the ordinary even back in 1974; what is not reflected in this is that the 911 had a chassis designed for a 170-m.p.h. maximum speed, the air-cooled flat-six engine regarding 130 m.p.h. as a happy maximum cruising speed that was both comfortable, relaxing and safe. To "cruise" at similar speeds in the great majority of other cars was simply dangerous, and even the high end marques would struggle to make these speeds as comfortable.

Porsche 911 Carrera
Porsche 911 Carrera.

Porsche 911 3.3 Litre Turbo
Porsche 911 3.3 Litre Turbo.

Not only the Porsche 911's performance attracted superlatives: fuel economy was brilliant for a performance car, and while people at that time would often quip "If he can drive that - he can afford the petrol", at least the lucky owner would not have to make the all-too regular fuel stops that other performance cars required, and which always spoiled the fun. But the sheer economical practicality of this remarkable car doesn't end there. The Porsche 911 was meant for pleasurable and purposeful driving rather than the onemanship of most exotica as indicated yet again by the 12,000-mile service intervals, only routine checks on hydraulic fluids, pressures in the 185/70 VR 15 Michelin tyres and brake pad wear being required in between.

The oil level could be checked without moving from the driver's seat, a gauge giving the necessary indication from the tank for the dry-sump system when the engine was at tickkover and working temperature. Compare it with 2,500-mile service intervals for the Aston Martin V8! And while on the subject of practicality, the shape of the 911 made it an exceptionally easy car to wash. The 2.7 litre Porsche 911 would invoke confidence immediately the key was turned - the new Bosch K-Jetronic injection introduced for the 911 and 911S taking care of cold start mixture problems automatically.

The New Bosch K-Jetronic Injection System

The K-Jetronic injection employed neither mechanical nor electrical injection pump, relying for its control on inlet pressure and providing a continuous supply of the optimum amount of fuel/air mixture to the combustion chambers via valves directly into the inlet manifolds. There was automatic compensation for load conditions and barometric pressure and height. This efficient system, combined with a new piston crown designed to induce turrbulence of the mixture, was instrumental in reducing emissions and allowing for the use of low-lead fuels.

Perhaps the only downside was on the outside, the 5 mph. bumpers looking slightly cumbersome. The then new bumper arrangements hid crushable tubes, with shock-absorbers being fitted on the Carrera. On the plus side though, highly attractive alloy wheels were fitted to the 911, while the 911 S and Carrera retained the traditional shiny spokes. An additional four gallons capacity was included in the fuel tank, its 17.5 gallons offering a range of 350 to 400 miles between stops, but necessitating the adoption of an emergency "space-saver" tyre on a steel spare wheel.

The Awkward Space-Saver Setup

Today space-saver tyre/wheel combinations are more commonplace, however for the mid 1970's this was not an ideal solution. As the wheel-well was only designed to carry the space saver, you had to place the full sized wheel on the floor of the boot. Not very practical if you were carrying luggage - and so Porsche included a polythene bag so that you could carry the wheel in the front seat until you got to a garage. It's the 70's, you are wearing a paisley shirt and flares, driving a Porsche and the boot is full of luggage - at a guess you are not alone, and so this latter solution was far from ideal. A neat portable air-compressor worked from inside the fuse-box in the boot or from the cigarette lighter to inflate the spare, so you would need to hope for a slow leak so that you could make it to the next garage. Interestingly, Mazda adopted this very idea for their NC MX-5, albiet with puncture repair compound.

Other detail changes made with the introduction of the 2.7 included the fitting of an almost two-gallon washer bottle, filled from underneath the petrol filler-cap in the front wing, released from inside the car, the inclusion of rear inertia reel seat-belts was standard, fresh-air vents/side window demisters at the facia extremities and improved seats with high backs. Thankfully the perfectly positioned pedals pivoting in the floor were retained.

The Porsche 911 gearbox used a conventional H-pattern with 5th up to the right, although it was rather notchy from 1st to 2nd. Apart from being slow to warm up, the 11.1-inch diameter front discs and 11.4-inch diameter rear discs, all ventilated, were immpeccable, tremendous feel being encouraged by the lack of a servo yet the pressure required remained moderate with no sign of the front wheel locking which dogged early 911s. The McPherson strut/torsion-bar front suspension and semi-trailing arms at the rear with anti-roll bars front and rear remained unchanged, as did the perfection of the so-positive steering. Boge shock-absorbers were fitted to the 911 and Koni to the 911S.

Porsche 911 Turbo

At the time, there was one line of thought that, given the immense torque of the turbocharged flat six three-litre engine, any more gear ratios than four would have been wasted. Such was the docility of the engine that there was little need for constant gear shifting. The Turbo idled without fuss at traffic lights and didn't need high revs to move away as was the case with more nervous engines. It was the unobtrusive character that appealed to Turbo owners who were still secure in the knowledge that if it ever came to a show down with an aggressor the Turbo could put it away in the same unruffled manner.

The engine was a credit to Porsche engineers who had tamed the turbo-charging principle both on the race track and highway. Back in the mid 1970s others had produced road-going turbos but without quite the success of Porsche. Their engineers called the combination of an exhaust-driven supercharger (which is what turbocharging really is) and the K-Jetronic continuous direct fuel injection "the ultimate engine to be derived from our current level of technology".

They went on to explain that, despite the Turbo's technical exclusiveness, it did remain a proper Porsche, strong, reliable, ready to be driven and not merely admired. Porsche believed that this philosophy was what put the Turbo apart from what they term the "classic exotics" - and by that Porsche were obviously talking about Ferrari. They had a point - at least here in Australia - where on our poor surfaced roads it was a bit of a stretch to claim the "classic exotics" were everyday cars in the true sense. The Porsche 911 was, provided you were fairly agile and able to clamber in and out. Ferrari did come close with the 400 automatic - one of the finest four-seaters of that decade.

A Little Too Teutonic

If you could make one complaint about Porsche, it was perhaps that it was a little too Teutonic - too cold and impersonal. Very German - that translated into a clinical, antiseptic, masculine and somewhat cold motor car, even though it was very, very efficient and superbly-engineered. An Italian car could take the form of a sexy girlfriend a German car not so readily. But to think we are discussing a cars "personality" to try and find fault speaks volumes on just how good the 911 Turbo was - a true supercar of the Seventies - the German equivalent of a 351 GT Falcon or Torana A9X - and it was unique in that there was no other car that combined so much performance with comfort, reliability and relative economy of operation.

The three-litre a193kW (260bhp) engine was upgraded to 3.3-litre in 1978. The transmission remained a four-speed. The major change aimed at improving both ride comfort and cornering power was the use of the 50 ratio Pirelli tyres on 16-inch wheels in place of the Michelin XVRs on 15-inch wheels as in 1975. Rim widths remained at seven-inch front and eight-inch rear. The engine would get very busy with torque and power at 4000 and 5500 and was redlined at 6800.

The purist would probably have preferred the engine to rev higher and not to have the needle rush round the tachometer quite so quickly in order to savour the music longer, but it was very hard to quibble with such easy power. And who could argue with the Porsche engineers, who between them had tens of thousands of successful racing miles to use in developing the road-going turbo 911. Some felt that Porsche's then new generation of cars, the Porsche 924 and Porsche 928, would soon take the limelight. They were wrong. The Turbo would become a prized collector car in short order, and remains so today.

The Finest GT In The World

So often we receive emails from people saying we wax lyrical about certain cars, failing to point out the negatives of each. It is true that, over time, many things, and particularly cars, can seem to be better than they actually were. This is not the case with the 911, which was always great. But to ensure a balanced view, we will point out a shortcoming. The heater could best be described as tempremental, ranging in temperature more in tune with engine revs and forward speed rather than any attempt to manipulate the internal controls.

Heater aside, the Porsche 911 was such a winner in the important considerations of quality of finish, performance, handling and road-holding, economy and real practicality. There were super-cars that were arguably better looking, or faster in a straight line, or provided more "bling" to their wealthy owners. But it was the Porsche 911 that always had superior road-holding and accomplished engineering, making it the finest two-seater GT car in the World.

Porsche 911 Carrera

The legendary Carrera name, last seen on the Porsche 911 in 1974, returned in 1980 with unveiling of Porsche's new 924 Carrera GT. The new model is unashamedly a homologation special. Only 400 cars were built, just enough to qualify it for Group 4 racing. The 911 Carrera was the first road-ready competition version based on the then new Porsche transaxle generation. Comparable vehicles would have been the Arbath Carrera from the era of the legendary Porsche 356, or the later Carrera RS based on the 911.
Porsche 911

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Also see:

Porsche Heritage
Gran Turismo
Ferdinand Porsche
The House Of Porsche
The House Of Porsche - Pictorial Edition
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