By on October 26, 2013
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1967 Porsche 911S. Full gallery here.

I’ve always respected but never quite been a fan of P.J. O’Rourke’s favorite AENSC, the Porsche 911, but our Editor in Chief pro tem is indeed a fan of that car, or at least of the classic air-cooled variety, if not the more recent versions (or, for the matter, the company that makes them). Hence, last summer when I saw that the Concours of America at St. John’s had, as two of its judged categories, Porsche 911 Early 1963-1978 and Porsche 911 Late 1979-2013, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Porsche icon, I knew that I’d be able to get lots of photos of 911s powered by boxers bereft of wasser for the EIC’s enjoyment and yours as well. The cars pictured here span almost the entire 1963-1997 run for the air-cooled 911. The oldest one pictured here is a 1964 Cabriolet prototype, one of two extant 901 prototypes (the car was renamed before it went on sale to avoid a conflict with Peugeot, who objected to the three digit name with zero in the middle). The youngest is a 993 Targa from 1997, the final year for the air-cooled 911.

In addition to the street-going 911 cars, I’ve also included photos of some other significant air-cooled Porsches, Peter Gregg’s 1977 Brumos Porsche 934.5, which won the Trans Am championship that year, sort of, and a 1964 Porsche 904, the midengine car Porsche built to go sports car racing in the mid-1960s, also known as the Carrera GTS, and a 906, which was developed from the 904.

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1977 Brumos Porsche 934.5. Full gallery here.

The Brumos 934.5 has a great story, with a race winning quasi-championship provenance. As you might guess from model number, it’s a bit of a hybrid. Based on the FIA Group 4 Porsche 934, as built by Porsche it had the wider rear wheels and wing from a 935, and was powered by a 590 hp 3.0 liter flat six with a KKK turbocharger. Porsche built 10 of them and Brumos Porsche owner and racer Peter Gregg bought two of them. He sold one to a customer and was going to use the other as his personal racer. This is where racing politics entered the story.

After its 1975 season was dominated by the 934, IMSA, in an attempt to appease major American sponsors, changed the rules, effectively banning the Porsche. Teams running that car moved to the SCCA’s Trans-Am series for the 1976 season. The quality of the IMSA fields dropped and it wasn’t a successful year for the sanctioning body, so for 1977, they invited the Porsche teams back. Gregg drove a 934 equipped with the 935′s tire package and wing at a special test session for Jim Bishop, who ran IMSA. Bishop decided that the car wouldn’t dominate and approved it to run in IMSA’s ’77 season. The SCCA similarly approved what would be known as the 934.5. When Gregg showed up at the April IMSA race at Road Atlanta, though, he’d added more 935 parts and IMSA sent him home to revert the car back to how it had been tested. Instead, Gregg went to the SCCA who approved the modifications and more. He went on to win six of the ten Trans-Am races that season, winning the championship, at least according to the SCCA at first. The FIA, the international auto racing body, though, disagreed.

One of those six winning races was when the Trans-Am series stopped at the Mosport track in Canada for a six hour endurance race that was part of the World Championship of Makes, ultimately under the jurisdiction of the FIA. A racing rival, Canadian Porsche dealer Ludwig Heimrath protested Gregg’s 934.5 to the FIA which ruled against Gregg eight months after the race. Porsche didn’t care and published a championship poster.

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Suffering from a progressive and incurable disease of the nervous system that stopped his racing career, Peter Gregg took his own life in 1980. The late Dave Aase, who dismantled Porsches in southern California, bought Gregg’s 934.5 to use as a showroom display. Current owner Bob Weber had first seen the car when Gregg raced it at Road America in 1977. ”I was a kid at the fence in 1977 at Elkhart Lake, watching this monster belching fire and tearing around with a whoosh,” he recalled. “It made me want to own a Porsche turbo someday.” He saw it again, in 1993, at Aase’s shop and finally in 2004 he was able to fulfill his boyhood dream and buy a very special Porsche turbo. Weber then entrusted former Brumos team member Paul Willison with a show-winning restoration to how it was as raced by Gregg.

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1963 Porsche 904 aka Carrera GTS. Full gallery here.

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1970 911S R-Gruppe Coupe, owned by Rick Riley. The car combines the reduced weight of a 911-R and the power of a 2.7 911 Carrera RS. It has a fiberglass hood, front fenders, doors, aluminum engine lid, Lexan windows and a custom roll cage. The current curb weight is 1,800lbs dry and the 2.7 liter mechanically injected twin plug engine produces 250 hp.

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1972 Porsche 911 RSR tribute.

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1979 Porsche 911 SC

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1966 Porsche 911 with 102,000 miles.

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1988 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet – in nougat brown metallic

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The one on the right is a 1992 964 America Roadster in raspberry red metallic. One of 250 made, it has Turbo bodywork, but not the turbo engine. It has just 1,200 original miles. The one on the left is a 993 Targa from 1997. the last year of the air-cooled Porsches.

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Dave Renner and his 1986 911 Carrera Coupe M491. It’s a Euro version 3.2 liter Carrera that features the M491 option also known as the “Factory Turbo-Look”. He imported it himself and took delivery at the Port of Detroit.

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The ‘Barn Queen’, as this 911 is affectionately known, is a Signal Orange 1970 911 ‘S’ Porsche coupe with a black interior. Originally found in an exposed carport in March 2010, it had been parked since 1996. The engine had not been cranked in all that time, the tires had rotted, and squirrels even built nests in the engine compartment. Brumos Porsche of Jacksonville did the rotisserie restoration.

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1964 Porsche 911 Cabriolet prototype. The first “open” 901 prototype, it is one of two remaining 901 prototypes. Butzi Porsche’s design was approved February 1965 and the production model name become known as the Targa. This 901 has not been altered from the way it left the factory and it was equipped with 911S model equipment including prototype Fuchs wheels. It is owned by Myron Vernis, who has an outstanding collection of unique and unusual cars.

 

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Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallac view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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24 Comments on “A Plethora of Air-Cooled Porsches...”


  • avatar

    El Guapo: Would you say I have a plethora of Porsches?

    Jefe: A what?

    El Guapo: A *plethora*.

    Jefe: Oh yes, you have a plethora.

    El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora?

    Jefe: Why, El Guapo?

    El Guapo: Well, you told me I have a plethora. And I just would like to know if you know what a plethora is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have a plethora.

    Jefe: Forgive me, El Guapo. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?

  • avatar

    When I was 9 or 10, my father had a friend who drove a then-nearly new Speedster. He offered a ride in it and as a nascent gearhead, I was really excited, as the car looked very fast. Call me entirely underwhelmed by the noise and the modest acceleration. When the 911 came out, I compared it to the XKE (and godhelpme the Corvette) and my response was again, meh!

    Now I think Porsche deserves a great deal of credit for polishing the same stone now for 50 years and creating some truly interesting and dramatic cars from entirely pedestrian roots. I still find the vast majority of these aircooled throwbacks to a 1930′s VW, uninteresting.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Mmmmmmmmmmm! I’ll always consider the 904 on the most attractive automobiles ever made.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Cool pics and stories.

    I worked at an shop servicing all manner of sports cars so I got drive MANY classic sports cars and only 3 impressed me enough to consider them. One was a 80s 911 and it stuck with me how different the car drove from most. And I was a hater before ever having driven one.

    The others? Some year Alfa GTV that was a great handler and sounder. And strangely enough a Jensen Healey that was owned by a Zsa Zsa Gabor type and was a pleasure to drive. To live long term with a car is different though and was something only the 911 was going to be good at IMO.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I just want to know how they stamped those front fenders.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    Lovin the track map decals on the rear of the yellow #50. It’s cool if it is true that the car has actually run in all those places, but somehow I doubt it is true. I recognized Mosport, Mid Ohio and Watkins Glen…..

    • 0 avatar

      I think the stickers are indeed for all of the tracks that it’s run. From the Southeast Michigan Porsche Club of America site:

      “1972 911 Coupe – Yellow – RSR Tribute

      Peter Maehling of Rallye Sport Region. A racing version of a first generation 911, this 2.8 Liter 911 has participated in the Porsche Rennsport Reunion II at Daytona in 2004, and to date it has raced at 13 different tracks. In 2011, it was the “poster car” for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and it is the current Porsche lap record holder at that event.”

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Can someone explain in a few words what is so great about the Porsche 911? I’ve never driven one. You can’t swing a dead cat in the parking garage where I work without hitting two or three–everything from old air cooled versions to new Carrera 4Ss. Is this just what you’re supposed to like if you have some money, or is there really something of substance to be had? My current sports ride is a 2001 M Roadster, but I can’t help but think I may be missing something. Like I was missing before I drove my first BMW in 1997.

    On a recent episode of What’s My Car Worth, a seller was ranting about his mid 60s 911 which he claimed was a blast to drive. The car had something like 90 horsepower. Of course newer 911s are more powerful, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this guy was just deluding himself that this car must be great because it’s a 911. I mean no disrespect to 911 devotees; just tell me in a few words what you love about the car.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I would have guessed it’s just a case of, how do you say, “je ne sais quoi.” (“Ich weiß nicht, was,” if google translate is to be trusted.)

    • 0 avatar
      manbridge

      Less is more for some.

    • 0 avatar
      philipwitak

      “Can someone explain in a few words what is so great about the Porsche 911?”

      not nearly as well as the personal experience of taking a test drive – something i strongly encourage. get thee to a porsche dealer. and while you’re there, be sure you drive a 981 [boxster/cayman] model as well as a 991 [911].

    • 0 avatar
      manbridge

      Few more words.

      Durability.

      Versatility.

      And the most important, driveability.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      My rear-engine Skoda was a blast to drive with all of its 45 horsepower and swing axle rear suspension. You had this crazy combination of horrid understeer combined with snap oversteer. I’d guess a 1960s porsche handles a bit better, but most likely the incredible “car tries to kill you all the time” feeling caused by the weight distribution is there.

    • 0 avatar
      Tarditi

      “Can someone explain in a few words what is so great about the Porsche 911? I’ve never driven one. ”

      That is the problem right there…

      When you drive one, they are very tactile cars – seemingly intuitive. While small, they fit like a glove with nearly perfect driving position, great visibility, and exceptional feedback.

      Yes – there are faster cars out there, but usually only faster straight-line. They handle amazingly well, and you will be very hard pressed to find a car that can remain as composed when driven at 9/10 as a Porsche 911.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      @EM46
      You pose an excellent question. For 50 years the 911 and the Corvette have been about the only cars offering, year in and year out, a daily driver, reliable, fairly expensive but halfway affordable, and offering near supercar performance even in their detuned versions.

      The Corvettes have usually been a little faster in a straight line. The Porsches handled way better on twisty roads as long as you kept in mind they were tail heavy and never tried to tempt fate. Plus, the Porsches have a space behind the cockpit useful for packages, or one adult or two kids for short distances. You can really haul ass in either car, even most of the older models.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Is the “Turbo Look” Carrera a rare car? I see a racing 911 every day when I go to school but I can’t tell if it’s a Turbo or a “Turbo Look” without driving onto the owner’s property to look at it up close. But if the “Turbo Look” is rare, I could at least say it’s more likely to be a real Turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      Tarditi

      There was a factory option, and then there were a lot of people who just bolted a tail to the decklid of a 911 SC. The factory option is not as common as an SC, and certainly a desirable model to have, but not sure it’s exclusive.

  • avatar
    dixiehwy25

    912? Is there a 912 here? It’s air cooled! Same great looks and appointments as a 911. 90 HP, 30 MPG, optional 5-speed and Targa version. Since the four is lighter than the six, the 912 is better balanced. Your hind end won’t end up in a fence or a ditch.

    A 912 is a lot cheaper, too, but those days may be closing soon.

    A big plus is the the unenlightened don’t know the difference between a 912 and a 911. You can always buffalo them with “rare”, “special model”, “limited edition”, “aborted successor to the 911″. None of these are true, but…

    I’ve pondered a 912. It’s a favorite. But for now I really need to finish my ’64 Karmann Ghia…

    • 0 avatar
      manbridge

      912s are nice cars but certainly no 911.

      Also, this “in the ditch backwards” stuff is why 911s have remained a relative bargain for so long. Until now, when folks figured out it was a myth (they actually understeer) on a WELL set-up-to-OE-spec car with modern tires.

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    I’d like an early 70′s 911T. The T was the uber base model that made a whopping 108hp. Just about 18 more than a 912. But it had the right number of cylinders at least.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    “…an early 70′s 911T. The T was the uber base model that made a whopping 108hp.”

    i actually owned a 1970 2.2 litre 911t from 1972 through 1983 – and i believe their motors were rated at 125hp.


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