I’m guessing you’re like me in at least one respect – you have a different relationship with different marques of car, and trucks, buses and bikes, aircraft as well too. My personal (and this all purely personal, not scientific or for anyone else) relationships and therefore preferences reflect my European and Curbivore tastes and include, in no specific order, Alfa Romeo rather than BMW, Jaguar rather than Lexus, Land Rover rather than Land Cruiser, French cars rather than cars with contrived French names (Lincoln Versailles, Holden Calais?), classic Bentley rather than contemporary Bentley, Lancia rather than Audi, SAAB rather than Volvo, a front engined Porsche rather than a rear engined Porsche.
Of course, not all these pairings are direct comparisons, and having a down on the 911 can be a pretty harsh reaction. After all, a modern 911 is one of the most accomplished engineering products you can buy.
But is it also a triumph of engineering development over physics? So, this 1978 911SC Targa got me thinking, wondering. But can it get me saving?
The 911SC (officially Super Carrera) was the last major evolution of the original series 911, which ran from 1964 to 1989, although in 1984 the models were again substantially revised.
Early Targas had a flexible and folding rear window but to me the glass bubble back is visually distinctive and removable roof panel enough.
Some reports identify the 911SC as being intended to be Porsche’s final salute for the 911, as the front engine 924 and 928 ranges became available, and the 944 was being readied in the wings. Alternatively, it could be seen as piece of tidying up by Porsche, moving all contemporary 911s to a 3.0 litre format using the then new type 930 engine, with 180 bhp in 1978 which rose to 204bhp by 1980.
Either way, when presented as a Targa, and especially with the 1978 only brushed steel rather than black targa hoop, the result is a striking looking car, unmistakably a 911. This car has an optional whale tail spoiler and, I suspect, a later interior trim added in. Still, on looks and visual appeal, there’s little to criticise.
The engine in the 911SC was the Type 930, and is seen as evidence that Porsche intended this car to appeal to a wider market, being more focussed on dependability, flexibility and torque. And it had the 911’s first brake servo. Sportomatic, Porsche’s semi-automatic 4 speed gearbox, was an option though this is not considered an asset now, at least by enthusiasts.
The Targa lid itself was a bit of a mixed blessing – almost as good as the Coupe when it was on, even better when it was off.
Ideally, you had to have somewhere to put it though, but it would fit in the front boot (frunk?).
The driving position and ergonomics showed the age of this 911 as much as anything else – the pedals were pushed across to the centre of the car by the wheel arch, the gear lever and driver’s left leg (in RHD) were in almost contact when cruising, and the gear change was not great either. The heater controls were grouped in about three places, there were two switches controlling the electric mirrors – one on the driver’s door and one hidden under the instruments…, the front brakes could lock easily in the wet, the rear was still lively in the wet as well.
Performance was 140mph, 0-60 in under 7 seconds, figures you can now get from a Mazda MX-5 or Fiord Fiesta ST.
I’ve long said that when I get a 911, it will be a Targa, not a Turbo. Hearing the boxer 6 from the rear has got to be worth it, and all the Cabriolet versions seem to have a big rear end thing going on. The latest Targas hide their roof panel under the rear window, and still have the delectable rear window shape and roll hoop. Visually, the best 911s, surely?
For a Monday to Friday supercar, the 911 is probably the best option. Maybe, just maybe, it cannot quite do it for the weekend only supercar in the way that, say, a Ferrari or McLaren can, but if you have to choose one to use everyday the Porsche would take a lot of beating. Spec it carefully, and you’ll have a very loyal servant and friend.
However, and I will probably have to break this to myself gently one day, I am very unlikely ever to be in the position of specifying a Porsche 911 of my own.
So, perhaps, the 911SC Targa is the way to go. And I could easily use it to go to the supermarket – after all, the boot is much bigger than the Ferrari 308GTS, which is still my favourite Ferrari, even now.
I’d save that for the next weekend.