(For German-American Day, I’ve been asked to re-run this post, which is Tom Klockau’s first, if I’m not mistaken-ED) My dad is a Porsche guy, more specifically an old Porsche guy. He had them before he was married and before us kids came along, including several 356s, including a 1951 Cabriolet, two 1960 Roadsters, and a 356C coupe, along with many parts cars. My Mom was quite happy with the status quo, until she blew it by finding this one.
My mother was used to cars coming and going over a thirty-five year span, but no new Porsches had entered the family for quite a while. But then in 2003 she had made the mistake of mentioning there was a ‘neat old Targa’ parked with a For Sale sign. So naturally, Dad called the number, and found out it was being sold by an old friend from high school.
He and Dan had gone on a road trip to Denver in his new 1970 Boss 302, where they had the wheels stolen in a parking garage and left on jackstands. He had to call my grandfather to get new wheels and tires from the Ford dealer in town. So yes, they go back quite a few years. Naturally, he bought the 912. Mom was less than thrilled.
The 1969 912 Targa is a rare bird, with only 800 built that year according to the 912 Registry. The 912 itself has been eclipsed by the 911 these days, but it didn’t start out that way. When the 911 replaced the 356C in 1965, it was much more expensive, and the flat six engine was a completely new design from the four cylinder that had been in 356s for 17 years.
Perhaps to make sure they didn’t isolate the more traditional and thrifty Porsche owners, the 912 was also offered starting in 1965. It was essentially a 911 with the 356SC engine, good for 90hp. As any 356 owner will tell you, low horsepower does not mean low fun in a 356, and the statement could be applied to the 912 as well.
It sold quite well, as the price was quite a bit lower. A 1967 912 went for $4790, while the ’67 911 was $5999. They actually outpaced the 911 for a time, but when Porsche began to offer lower cost versions of the 911, its days were numbered. 1969 was the last year, excepting the 1976 912E, which is a whole different animal.
Dad enjoyed the Targa. It had originally been Bahama Yellow, but was resprayed black, with black interior. We could tell it had a lot of Bondo in it, but it was a cheap and cheerful ‘nice day’ car. He was able to work on it, too, since he’d been working on 356 engines since the 70s. The fact that it had the 356 engine was what prompted the purchase.
He drove it to work on a semi-regular basis, even in the winter on occasion. It was a decent car, but he had bought a 1966 Chris Craft in 2007, and finally sold it to my Uncle Dave that summer.
On the day they came to Rock Island from Iowa City to pick it up, the accelerator pedal bound up. Murphy’s Law, right on schedule, as my brother and I were the only ones there and my parents were out of town. Fortunately, my brother and uncle got it working, and they made it back in one piece.
Iowa Hawkeye personalized plates were ordered for it, reading OTTO912. From then on, the 912 was known as Otto. Dave drove and enjoyed the car for a year or two, and was going to restore it, but a new job and my cousin’s wedding kept it on the back burner, and he ultimately sold it to a man in Belgium. The new owner is very enthusiastic about the 912, and it is next in line after his 912 coupe is completed. The Targa is still known as Otto. Ex-Otto, to my Mom.
The 912 may have been just a blip on Porsche’s production records, but it had a unique personality and was the final link to the classic 356s.