Vintage R&T Road Test: 1967 Porsche 911S – A Better And Faster 911, But Not Quite Perfect Yet

The arrival of the Porsche 911S was a big deal, considering the exceptional reputation and image the plain 911 had already established for itself. But the “S” was inevitable, given the long tradition of adding that letter—or the whole word “Super”—to its 356 series, starting way back in 1952, with the 1500 Super, its 60 hp capable of taking it well above 100 mph.

And it was a really big deal when the first 911S arrived in Towson.

Predictable as it may have been, seeing and hearing one in the flesh was a big deal, as I remember all-too well when that visual and aural experience was first had thanks to a well-heeled attorney in our neighborhood and his “school bus yellow” new 911S. Between the almost shocking new Fuchs “mag” wheels—which R&T had mixed feelings about, unlike me—and the howl of its rev-happy two liter air cooled six as it screamed up Bosley Avenue, it seared a memory into this fourteen year old brain that is still crystal clear. The 911S was the coolest “real” car of 1967 to aspire to, since a Miura was obviously going to remain something of a wet dream.

R&T takes a much more objective look at the new 911S, and comes away impressed, although there’s a caveat: unless one is going to really want that extra bit of performance, a regular 911 was going to be a better daily driver. Not too surprising, but that would have made no impact on my longing for a 911S in 1967.

With the arrival of the 911S, Porsche juggled the rest of the lineup a bit, reducing the 911’s content somewhat as well as its price, to slot it better between the four cylinder 912 and the 911S, which had a sticker price of $7074 ($56k adjusted).

The boost to 180 hp (160 PS DIN) from the 1991 cc SOHC flat six was accomplished the usual way: altered valve timing, carburetor jets and a higher compression ratio (9.8:1). Otherwise it was essentially the same unit as the 911. The changes had the obvious effect of increasing the peak torque (144 lb.ft.) from 4300 rpm to 5200 rpm, with a corresponding bump in peak power rpm to 6600 rpm.

Gear ratios in the 5 speed transmission were altered as a consequence: gears 1-4 had their ratios reduced (higher numeric) resulting in 6-8% higher engine speeds, and 5th had it ratio changed from 0.82 to 0.79, reducing engine speed. That took advantage of the engine’s rev-happy ways in the lower gears, but made 5th more of a genuine overdrive, and the engine felt rather weak in it, being too far below the fat part of its power band, requiring downshifts for almost any kind of maneuver or passing.

R&T could not achieve the factory’s claimed 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds, due to a presumed problem with the distributor’s governor mechanism (7200 rpm cutoff) affecting the the function of the tachometer as well as it simply not being willing to rev to that limit. The best they could get, shifting at a calculated 6800 rpm, was 8.1 seconds. The quarter mile took 15.7 seconds @88.1 mph. Top speed given as 141 mph, pretty heady stuff for 1967, especially for a sub-two liter coupe.

R&T was still not happy with Porsche’s use of a racing-style shift pattern, with first by itself on the left-most plane, and then 2-5 within the usual H pattern.

Porsche made not insignificant changes to the suspension, increasing the front roll bar from 13 to 15 mm, and adding a bar at the rear (16 mm). The results were deemed very positive, with less initial understeer at low speeds, something the regular 911 had in not insignificant amounts. Once above 40 mph or so, the 911S felt largely the same, except it was even easier to hang the tail out, thanks to the revised gearing and more powerful engine. As R&T out it succinctly: “The simple application of steering to the 911S at highway speeds gets the same results as the 911, which means stick-stick-stick-oversteer! And you’d better know what you are doing in that last phase.”

That was of course its bugaboo, beloved by some; feared by many others. Porsche went on a seemingly endless campaign to tame that, starting with moving the rear wheels back a bit in 1969, as the first step. But it would be a long time before the 911’s oversteer would be fully tamed.

R&T thought that the 911S’ “mag wheels” were “a little overstyled on the subtle Porsche”. They soon came to define the Porsche look, although there’s nothing worse than seeing the Fuchs wheels on a 356. Yuck.

R&T made considerable not of the fact that Porsches were available in 22 “special colors” for a $137 upcharge. And for a mere $250, Porsche would paint your car in any color; all you had to do was to supply the chip. An extra quart for repairs and touch up came back along with your fuchsia or purple 911. This was the beginning of what Porsche came to excel at in more recent decades: expensive options and features.