A lifetime of pining over the Porsche 911

| 5 Mar 2012

Sometimes, maybe it’s for the best if you don’t get to drive the cars that you’ve always dreamed of owning.

Take the Porsche 911SC from our ‘Class of ’82’ group in the 30th-anniversary issue.

Pretty much ever since I can remember, an early big-bumper 911 has been my ultimate transport. Well, about as much car as I could imagine myself owning – given a few beneficial trade-ups and a leggy old 2.7 or SC.

It all started with a road test of the new model in the July ’74 issue of Motor Sport, which I can still recall reading in the newsagent in Sandbach.

I’d picked it up because it had that photo of Hans Stuck aviating a CSL on the cover. I still have the mag, in fact, now falling apart because of the number of times that I’ve re-read that report – eulogy more like.

As C.R. put it (no full names in Motor Sport in those days): ‘The 2.7-litre flat-six engine has created a veritable velvet glove... quite amazingly easy to drive that even grandmother stepping out of her Minor 1000 wouldn’t find herself in too much deep water, indeed would probably love the car.’ The only minor demerit was that the gearchange was ‘rather notchy’ from first to second.

Four years later an SC targa – a virtual twin for the one that we took to south Wales – cropped up in a What Car? test entitled ‘Fun cars for the very rich’. Not only was it easily the quickest of the quartet – which, like our group, included an XJ-S and a BMW – but it was also the most economical (on two-star), and about two grand cheaper than the 633CSi. That was it; Evans was going to have one of those cars at some point.

Spool forward 30-plus years and I mostly agreed with all of the stuff that I’d read in the past – and my colleagues, which isn’t always the case. The Porsche had the best engine, was quite practical and passed the garage test, too. Well, I had to see if it would fit. And the notoriously erratic heating managed to dry my sodden woolly hat and gloves while Port and I made ‘good progress’ up the M4 after I’d bumped into him at Membury services.

Even after 430-odd miles, however, I still couldn’t get on with the gearbox. I’d tried rapid shifts, then slow and deliberate changes – both with double-declutching – but never really fathomed it. Maybe it’s just me – none of the others seemed that bothered by it – but 915 ’boxes are apparently quite variable. I don’t remember it being a problem in the first 911 that I drove: the 2.4T that we gave away in ’88 (below) when it turned up for sale in 2001. In fact, I wrote that it had ‘nicely loosened up’.

Not that I can see myself ever owning a 911. That early big-bumper model – £6999 for an S in ’74 – would now set you back 30 grand for a nice one. In fact, there was a boggo but mint ’74 911 for €49,995 at Retro Classics in Stuttgart last year! Gone are the days of the cheap SC, too.

As well as the Glacier Blue targa that we borrowed, Paul Stephens now also has a lovely Minerva coupé for £19,995 – on ‘cookie-cutter’ alloys, just like the car that used to be street-parked in South Ken when I was at college. I wonder what the gearchange in that one is like...