grace: (def) unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration…
Every time I have doubts about being able to continue CC in the face of other demands, something happens to change my mind: an unexpected e-mail, a guest submission, a comment, or a highly unexpected car (or two) in a particularly fortuitous location. Yes, there are a few 911s about, and I’ve shot some, but this was something very special indeed; only grace could account for it: a perfectly orchestrated pairing of two of the most compelling, distinctive and yet similar sports cars of their era. Any era, actually. Nothing like running into the angels of Ferry Porsche and Soichiro Honda to spark some regeneration.
The little red CRX Si is going to get second billing today. Well, it was more than a bit inspired by the Porsche. And it’s a familiar friend that has posed for me at least once, and will get its own full CC, when we catch up on our ongoing Honda chronology. But here it is, across the street from a stranger, who just happened to drop by while I did. And we had a little three-way-love photography session.
If you’re expecting a comprehensive history of the 911 today, I’m sorry; no can do. The 911 is like the VW Beetle (doh!) in that I can only take little bites of its massive legacy. And what will that be today? Just the sheer brilliance of its design. Maybe the unusual sunshine of the day had me delirious, but I was all over this butter-yellow Porsche, like a bee drawn to a butter-cup.
The nectar of a classic 911 is sweet indeed. It’s origins go back to 1959, when Ferry Porsche’s son Ferdinand Alexander rightfully got the chance to design the the second generation Porsche to succeed the 356. Long time Porsche protege Erwin Kommenda, who rightfully designed the Beetle’s final shape as well as the 356, also had a hand in the 911; the exact amount is the subject of some dispute. But “Butzi” Porsche clearly deserves the credit for the 911’s basic lines. And have there ever been clearer ones?
I know I’m getting old and the past looks buttery-golden, but good luck getting me to give a new Porsche more than a dismissive glance. When the same basic lines are endlessly regurgitated, it really is a sign that the the automotive design language has become stuck. Icons are great and all, but I give credit to Ferrari for not falling in that trap. I stumbled on a 458 Italia parked on the Champs-Élysées last fall, and was totally seduced. A new 911 wouldn’t have even broken my stride.
I’ve shot a couple of other 911 of this vintage, but something about this one really got my juices going. The way that hood just drops so steeply between the front fenders is utterly amazing. No wonder the Porsches and Kommenda argued about the 911’s luggage capacity. Guess who won? Not the luggage.
This 911 SC is what I call the second classic 911 era (of two), the first being the small-bumpered chrome-trimmed original versions from 1963 through 1973. I’ve got one of those in the can to rhapsodize over another time. The US-mandated 5 mph bumpers absolutely destroyed so many cars designed before it came into existence, but the 911 made the transition remarkably successful.
Sure, it’s not the same feminine chin it once had. The 911’s testosterone kicked in in about 1974 (it was almost a teenager by then), and the resulting masculine jutting jaw works with the otherwise more weighty and buff iteration of the eleven. The classic Fuchs wheels got wider, the motor got bigger and was now a more of an alto than a soprano. The 911 grew up, especially with the SC version of 1978 and its much more solid 3.0 non-magnesium liter engine.
It and the Carrera 3.2 define this high-classic era, from 1978 through 1989, a dozen years of the finest almost-dozen. A car that will never look any more or less out of date or style than it does now or did twenty years ago: graced with automotive design immortality.
As promised, the CRX will have its own love fest soon. Yes, the similarities between the 911 and CRX are not noticed here for the first time. And that extends beyond certain all-too obvious styling kinship. Both of these cars represent an ideal: the re-arranging prosaic automotive components and body elements for a higher calling: sheer stripped-down essential sport coupes inspired by the best engines and other components.
Of course, the CRX is more typically compared to the Porsche 356, given its origin of a cut down Civic. And what car more capably carried the VW Beetle’s banner than the little Honda?
Soichiro Honda and Ferry Porsche; I’m truly graced to meet you both here on Charnelton Street. And thank you and all the other angels that have graced me of late.
I suspect I’m not the only one around here who has answers to theoretical (and highly unlikely) “you can have any car you like, but it has to be a…” already thought out?
Well anyway this 911 is pretty much exactly the 911 I would have… if I had to have a 911.
Glad to hear it buoyed you up Paul.
Saw my own Cruising Classic this morning much like this one…it was a white 1993 911 RS America that I passed as I was merging onto the parkway coming into work this morning. I really need to get a camera to keep in the truck.
The SC and the 3.2 Carrera have gorgeous lines. Edmunds.com recently bought a used ’85 3.2 Carrera to add to their test fleet.
Extremely quirky car. I’d still happily own one for a classic.
Oh I just LOVE this 911… this is the one I would want, I even prefer this generation to the earlier “long hood” models, and BONUS, they are generally cheaper too, making it a very attainable dream car.
And the SC and the 3.2 liter Carreras which followed them are much easier to live with than the 993 or 964. They’re pretty solid and easy to maintain with some mechanical knowledge or a good shop.
“I know I’m getting old and the past looks buttery-golden, but good luck getting me to give a new Porsche more than a dismissive glance.”Quote
The new ones just don’t have such pure lines. Around the time this one was made , I still lived in London and my friends and I would stop at the big Porsche showroom on the way to our favourite watering-hole to gaze longingly through the showroom window.
There’s two version of the 911 I want to own some day: Either one of these (preferable the much-improved 3.2 Carrera version), or a 993. I love the semi-monochrome look of the early 80s cars. And I really love the way the rear fenders on the 993 are shrink wrapped around the wheels. Not like hte later models which just bloated and got fat in the ass.
Great article. I love both cars and own one. You migh enjoy what I’ve written on the CRX.