CC reader Curt v.P. sent this shot to me. That’s his Porsche 356, looking a bit small and feeling a bit boxed in by his neighbor’s McLaren and Corvette. ladies, your hips and butts are looking just a wee bit big.
It’s funny, as a kid in the mid 80s that would be my dream car- a bright yellow Corvette. Nowadays I don’t think I’d take one if you gave it to me. It seems so tacky to me now.
Back when I was a kid I thought that the 356 was a sad little car. I wasn’t even too impressed by the 911. It took the 930 Turbo to come along and make notice.Now I would prefer the 356 over either of the cars pictured. It really doesn’t matter because I can’t afford any of these. Applying my low hanging fruit philosophy I think I’ll look into a 944 while they are still cheap.
My, Oh My, how we have grown. Middle age spread. The current 911 dwarfs the old 911 and equals, and with some versions even exceeds the size of the the 928 of yore.
God dammit. That rear is a sign that Porsche could just rename the new 911 to… 959! I see a lot more resemblance to the 959 than to the 911’s there
That’s what happens when you use all that genetically modified corn plastic.
The sauerkraut and bratwurst diet seems to keep things slim.
The 356 could just about slip through the taillights of the McLaren.
Now that we see the obvious size discrepancies between the old and new 911. What are the other pluses and minuses of the newer 911 vs the older 911. Firstly there have tremendous incremental changes and increase in power in addition to economy (FASTER and more economical compared to the 70’s), secondly tire width and adhesion are vastly improved from what was available even for racing cars of the 1970’s, thirdly there have been dramatic computer aided dynamic control measures to further tame the inherent oversteer characteristics of the rear-engined 911, and fourthly crumple zone and air bag safety technologies have improved the modern 911. So the current 911’s are markedly quieter, faster, speedier, safer, have improved handling and braking characteristics.
The older 911S, say a1975, 1976, 1977 G series, reputedly the low point in emission caused reduced power, with the USA version delivering 157 HP, with California versions using exhaust thermoreactors literally cooking the short lived magnesium case six cylinder engines, gave 0-60 times of 7.8 sec, a top speed of 137MPH. A modern Honda Civic has more power and can out accelerate that older 911. But which is subjectively more fun to drive?
The G series 911 weighted about 2400 lbs and has a larger green house( window area) compared to the current modern 911. The current 911s weigh between 3100 and 3500lbs. Huh, road hugging weight, maybe? Civics weigh 3000+ lbs too, more road hugging weight again?
Why are those 911s still so enjoyable to drive compared to the faster, larger more modern 911s. Smaller size and lesser weight matters allowing easier placement of the car in corners. The unassisted steering is direct and alive without the persisting, although improved, numbness of electrical power steering used in the more modern 911. Electrons don’t give the immediacy of direct, unassisted steering it seems.
The larger relative greenhouse gives that tangible benefit of better vision. ( Spend time in a modern Camaro like the one sitting next to the 356 and you will understand what lack of vision means–you feel like you are in a World War 1 tank with slit like windows crossing over no-man’s land hoping to see the enemy in their trenches, hoping to take them out before their artillery destroys your tank and you).
The vision of the older 911 is breathtakingly large compared to the restricted vision of the newer confining tank like modern cars. The steering has a direct immediacy missing in the modern 911 and other modern cars. Bump steer, Eh, yes you feel almost every ripple and grain in the bitumen, this is the ultimate in steering sensation.
Although not as fast, with relatively more unforgiving handling characteristics compared to the modern 911, when mastered the older 911 is unbelievably more fun to drive and is more satisfying to drive. BTW the speedier Civic feels like a dulled,dead horse compared to the living vitality of the older Porsche. Similarly the more modern, heavier, and larger Porsche 911 has that restraining sensation of dense heaviness despite being quicker, faster, and the better handling car compared to the older,ancient 911.
Colin Chapman, the father of the Lotus, said it best years ago. “Add lightness”. The size and increasing weight of modern cars is the curse that we now live with in virtually all new cars.
The super wide tires come at a cost, seems like I could get a decent set of rubber on a 356 for under $400. Modern supercar? Might need to add another zero to that in some cases!
Which also is why power steering is even necessary in the first place on them. When there’s as much unassisted steering resistance on a rear engined car as there is an old front engined V8 sedan something is very very wrong.
The suspension/steering geometry and large tires make power steering necessary, as well as customer expectations.
The problem I see with modern super-sports cars like the 911 or McLaren is that you would need to be going so fast to feel anything happening beyond rock solid stability, which on most winding roads would be so much faster than what the visibility would permit as to be dangerous.
It’s actually very hard to get a ‘decent’ set of tires for a 356 these days. The smallest modern 15 inch tires are far too wide for the suspension geometry. Tires for Mexican Beetles are not decent. That leaves the Michelin ZXZ in 165SR15 from Coker tires, yours via UPS for $136 plus shipping. Then you get to find a place you can trust with your 356 wheels to mount them.
I drove a 356 the other day. It’s a very charming car, but most of what is written about it is pure fantasy. Maybe it was superior to some of its competitors in some ways fifty years ago. The people paying today’s prices for them are doing it for the same reason people once paid for Pet Rocks.
Ymmv goes without saying, but most people I know who drive a Porshe do so because, well, it says “Porshe” on it. It could have driving characteristics mirroring the Civic and they wouldn’t care. Same with Benz and Bimmer.
That’s what I think when I hear a whirr of a Renault dCi engine coming close, then the car I see passing me is a Mercedes A Class…
As speeds approach 200 mph, the aerodynamic shape becomes pre-ordained. This would have applied to the 356 as well if it had anything like the speed ability.
The question is whether a price no object car should really be designed for a spec sheet. It is easy to study a spec sheet as a young, or not so young, dreamer. It might be better to design a cost no object car to actually be used, as an accutremon for a ride in the country with a pretty girl and a picnic basket for example. In my opinion, all three of these cars are swerving away from this ideal.
You could have a similar effect with a ’76 Honda Accord surrounded by ’16 models of same (one sedan, one coupe).
I’ve never seen a McLaren in a garage, much less one surrounded by a Corvette and an old Porsche. Obviously I’m living in the wrong place…..
True enough! Ironically Our (American) cars were ridiculed for being too big,changing styling to often, While everyone else had “it right” Fast forward to today: Hondas have gotten big, Buicks have gotten small and no one gives up the stereotypes!
About an hour ago, walking out of my office to my car, I spied a ’92 Accord and a ’16 Accord parked next to each other. And the effect is indeed similar (though not quite as pronounced as the featured photo). We all get fatter over the years and cars are no exception!
A lot of that’s because of the American market. It was especially notable here in Australia, when we got both the European Accord (badged and sold as the Accord Euro, natch) and the American Accord (no sub-model name). The American one is so much bigger.
I’m still amazed that Honda could afford to do that.
1. European Sports cars of ’50s-’60s used tires about 4″-6″ wide, today’s sports cars use tires 12″-14″ wide. So that alone, the cars would have to be 12″ to 18″ wider than their counterparts of by-gone era just to cover the tires
2. Needless to say, people have gotten bigger or fatter also in comparison to folks of 50 years ago. So, another 2″-4″ more for buttock and shoulder space.
3. Aerodynamic, a longer and wider car has more surface area to create downforce.
I used to race Mini-Coopers in the ’70s, they were barely over 4ft wide with 165 – 175 series tires. When driving those “race” Minis on public roads, we used to go fast by cutting apex within the lanes, it could and needed to do that. With today’s sportscars, they are too wide and tires have too much traction, I must be old and living in the past but I enjoy narrower cars so one can drive near tires’ limit more often.
That’s some neighborhood!
On a meta note, does anyone else have their picks for the forthcoming “sevens” already lined up?
When did all of the hipsters show up here? 356 means you’re basically driving a hot Beetle, complete with the liftoff-oversteer and easy rollovers. You would automatically lose when it comes to any type of crash in a 356 (RIP James Dean), and it continues to happen in 2016 (see my link). Being able to continue to drive is certainly pure driving pleasure. Air conditioning also helps driving enjoyment a whole lot when you live where it was still 90 yesterday and humid all the time. I’ll take the one on the right.
I have to agree with your thoughts about air conditioning. Earlier in May, I crossed the Mojave desert experiencing several hours of oven like 114 degrees from Bakersfield, through Barstow, on the way to Las Vegas in my non air conditioned 1973 914. At least I was able to drink water and gatorade during my drive, something that my fellow companion, nearly dead looking, roasted motorcyclists weren’t able to do. (They didn’t have back pack water bottle systems, piped to their helmets, unfortunately). Air conditioning systems contribute to the added weight of modern car, but it’s a weight gain well worth it.
I’ll submit that most of us, including me, have daily drivers with all of the conveniences including air conditioning that add weight but make the daily driving experience far more livable. Trust me my son’s air conditioned Honda Civic would have been welcomed during my passage of the Mojave Desert in place of the non air conditioned 914 or a non air conditioned 911.
Every time I see a 356, I’m reminded of the one that got away, a white 1960 356 in lovely condition that a fellow brought to my Sunoco station for routine service in 1972. He needed to sell it, and was asking only a thousand dollars. At that time, a thousand was as much as ten thousand to me, so I had to pass. But boy, that little coupe was a sweet drive. I hope it found a loving home. I know the McLaren and the Camaro are objectively better transportation, but I find both of them overweight, overwrought and stylistically repulsive.
I bet the 356 is much more fun to drive on public roads.
It would, no doubt about it. One can truly step-on-it with a 356 on public roads and enjoy the sound of engine and exhaust, the 356’s narrow enough that one can apex within one’s own lane to enjoy the handling at those narrow tires’ limits.
Try to truly step-on-it that with the Vette and McLaren, you will likely spend the night in county jail. Handling wise, the Vette and McLaren with electronic control just won’t let one do all the near the limit stuff. and the limit is so high, just not likely to happen on public roads.
I presume that the photo was taken in a Calgary parking garage (or Parkade, as they like to call them), on one of those days where the weather is nice enough that everyone takes their car out for a walk down 4th Avenue and back out of town on 9th. Otherwise, the parking fees must be outrageous to have such a sparkling clean parkade…
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