For well over half of its long, long life, the 911 has been famous for its capacity to trigger instant, stomach-searing fear in the gut of any driver who failed to make allowances for its handicapped battle with the laws of physics.
The 911 became well-known for the soap-smooth lines of its famously sexy body and the shriek of its flat-six, but the aspect that provoked most discussion was its frequent inability to deal with the very roads it was built for, the corollary of its hazardous weight distribution.
Descending an Alpine pass at speed and left your braking too late? Prepare to experience heart-freezing lock-up before you smack the Armco. Charged too hard into an unexpectedly tightening bend? Don’t lift-off, otherwise you’ll spin faster than a property-flipping MP.
Enter the turbo
Yet despite these flaws, the 911 gained a reputation as a fine driver’s car, a challenging machine for folks who enjoyed a light grapple with danger. And for those who found the normally aspirated 911 unchallenging, in 1974 Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo.
Learning to drive it
Here was a new way to not get around a corner, the Turbo’s power introducing massive, run-wide understeer to Stuttgart’s menu of body-bashing opportunities. Of course, the Turbo was far from totally useless, demanding instead that you drive around its foibles, the learning process intensified if you discovered what you shouldn’t do by doing it.
The Turbo’s fat tyres mostly provided terrific grip, its wheelarches dramatically flared to house rims that looked as if they’d been ripped from an F1 car. But the crowning glory of the 911 Turbo, for poseurs at least, was a priapic rear wing jutting from the engine lid that slashed 397lbs-worth of lift to 38lbs ft.
There was no doubting the Turbo’s dramatic intent, which was originally aimed more at the track than the road, Porsche planning a few hundred examples of project 930 for homologation. Its KKK turbocharger forced 260bhp from the 3.0 litre flat six, allowing 100mph in a horizon-compacting 14.5sec, though this number failed to indicate the volcanic power delivery, the engine bubbling lifelessly until a hot torrent of energy arrived, often halfway around a bend.
That provided yet another means for the over-ambitious 911 driver to leave the road, a mid-bend lift-off in a Turbo even more likely to consign it to the scenery.
So why would you want one of these monsters today? Partly because a car that you must tame sounds so appealing amid today’s electronically protected machines. I once saw a rather sad looking non-runner at a Porsche specialist, and got a touch of the nostalgic vapours when I inspected its vivid green paintwork, check cloth interior and rust stained wings.
It would doubtless have been a nightmare of expense to restore, but an early Turbo is a sleeper that I’d like to wake up to.
Not so long ago, you could pick one up for as little as £25,000. Sadly, prices have since headed to the stratosphere, ensuring the minimum entry fee in the UK is now around £100,000 and in America, around $100,000. But this car is special.