Porsche 911 (1965-1969)
With timeless styling, world-class engineering, and countless race wins, the 911 is widely recognized as one of the most influential cars ever produced. Weighing 2,300 pounds, the original 2+2 coupe displayed brisk handling, good braking, and was capable of speeds over 130 mph.
The 911 project began in the late 1950's, headed by Ferdinand Porsche's son, Ferry. It was designed to be a larger, faster replacement for the rear-engine 356 sport coupe, introduced back in 1950. Like the 356, the engine was to be rear-mounted. Ferry Porsche contended that without unnecessary weight on the front end, steering was livelier and more natural feeling. The 911 was Porsche's first all-new model.
Porsche 911 Engine
The air cooled, six-cylinder engine was laid out flat, or horizontally. Two banks lay flat on opposing sides of the crankshaft, with each bank having its own overhead camshaft (SOHC). Porsche engineers felt that flat engines, with a low center of gravity, gave better vehicle stability and control. With the engine rear-mounted, the extra width did not interfere with the steering of the front wheels.
An 80mm by 66mm bore-to-stroke ratio gave a displacement of 1991cc, with space reserved for future displacement increases. Twin Solex carburetors and 9:0-1 compression helped the 2.0 litre engine produce 148-horsepower at 6100 rpm.
1965 Porsche 911
Production started in September of 1964, arriving in the U.S. early in 1965. An all-steel body/chassis combination was used, with space-saving MacPherson struts up front and ZF rack-and-pinion steering. Rear independent suspension used transverse torsion bars and semi-trailing arms. Brakes were four-wheel disc, with drums mounted in the center portion of the rear discs for the hand-brake. Tires were 165-HR-15 radials. Inside, comfortable Recaro bucket seats were standard. Unlike the 356, the 911 had two small back seats. In a year that a base Corvette coupe sold for $4,320, the 911 had a price tag of $5,990.
1966 saw only minor changes to the 911. Constant-velocity joints replaced U-joints in the rear half-shafts. Solex carbs were replaced mid-year with Weber units. In the 24-hour Le Mans race, a 911 finished first in the 2.0 litre GT class and 14th overall.
1967 Porsche 911
With concerns that roadster models may become ineligible for future racing, Porsche set out to design a removable-top model. First appearing as a 1967 option, the new body style was named Targa, after the Targa Florio race held in the mountains of Sicily, where Porsche had scored seven victories since in 1956 (with four more to come). Mounted above and behind the front seats, a stainless steel-clad roll bar held a removable, foldable roof panel and a take-out rear window.
The 911S (Super) debuted this year, available as either coupe or targa, with a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission now available. Modifications were made to the two-litre flat-six, increasing output to 160-bhp. Distinctive five-leaf wheels made by Fuchs were standard. With top-end speeds above 135 mph, chassis and brakes were substantially upgraded.
Tougher U.S. emissions kept the 911S out of the North American market for 1968. In its place Porsche offered the 911T (Touring), which was a less-expensive, de-tuned model. The semi-automatic "Sportomatic" transmission was introduced, consisting of a torque converter, automatic clutch, and four-speed transmission.
1969 Porsche 911
Early 911's were rear-heavy cars, and were prone to sudden oversteer during high speed cornering. Some models came with factory-fitted cast-iron weights added to the front bumper, which the company referred to as "bumper reinforcement." Wider rims and a rear anti-sway bar helped marginally. In 1969, the oversteer issue was addressed by moving the rear wheels further back in the existing chassis, lengthening the wheelbase 2.3 inches (57 mm) but keeping the overall length of the car the same.
With mechanical fuel injection replacing carburetors, the 911S passed U.S. emission standards and was brought back into the States. Bumping compression up to 9.9-1 brought power output to 190-bhp. The 1969 911S would be the fastest of the first-generation models, capable of 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds.
Continually evolving since its inception, the Porsche 911 has been in production for five decades, scoring thousands of racetrack victories and helping establish Porsche as a builder of world-class sports cars.