As I rolled through a parking lot in San Pedro, the bright plumage of this Porsche tail section caught my eye. From a distance, the small bumpers identified it as a pre-74 model, and thus worth further attention.
Up close, the tight parking job almost dissuaded me from stopping for pictures, until I noticed a minor detail on the deck lid.
That’s right, this Porsche is a 912 (nine-twelve), the four cylinder variant of the 911.
From 1965 to 1969, Porsche also offered their new six cylinder 911 with a 1588 cc four cylinder engine option. Porsche sourced this small motor option from the retired 356. At release, the 912 weighed about 2,100 pounds and packed 90 horsepower. While this package sounds rather pedestrian compared to modern day Porsches, the 912 provided a power to weight ratio similar to a first generation Mazda Miata, and the lighter four cylinder motor provided improved handling compared to its big brother. In addition, the 912 provided a price tag closer to the departed 356’s, reducing the sticker shock associated with the new model.
This interior shot reminds us of the minimilist approach used in German sports cars of the nineteen sixties. No fancy options, not electronic aids, no dual clutch, paddle shifting automatics. Just big gauges, a steering wheel connected to a manual rack, and a shift lever.
Personally, I hate this color, but love it on this Porsche. Say what you will about olive green, the color is period correct and the car appears original. For example, while the base 912 came with steel wheels, Porsche offered these Fuchs alloy wheels on the 912 in 1968 and 1969 so it may have come from the factory this way. Although early 911s are well known for body rust, the blue California plate indicates this car has been a lifetime California resident, explaining the lack of environmental damage.
Serious Porsche spotters may disagree, but I’m calling this car a 1969. In addition to the optional Fuchs Alloys, 68 and 69 year cars used the un-covered headlights and fixed quarterglass shown in these pictures . Furthermore, close examination of my original photos show a rear view mirror mounted on the windshield glass, along with a heating grid built into the rear window. Taken together, these features mark this as a 1969 model year car.
Porsche dropped the 912 in 1970, but to complete the 912 story we should also mention the 1976 912E. A one-year model, the E variant used the 1972 cc flat four from the 914 2.0. This provided a low price model for US Porsche dealers to replace the now defunct 914, but once the (four cylinder) 924 arrived in 1977, the 912 once again dropped off the Porsche menu.