Every Story Has A Beginning
The early cars bring out the 911 fanatics. And for good reason; These storied cars are based on Ferdinand (Butzi) Porsche's original design. The 911 was the successor to the 356. As a successor, some things were improved. The 911 was a larger car. It had a larger interior, a larger trunk, a completely different suspension, and that wonderful new six cylinder.
The 911 was introduced at the Frankfurt International Auto Show. That was September of 1963. A year later, in September of 1964, production began. From September of 1964 through the December shutdown, a little more that 200 911's were built. Production resumed in January of 1965 and continued until July. Rumor has it that 3389 911's were built for the 1965 model year. 1965 was also the last year for the 356.
In February of 1965, the first of the 911's arrived in the US. They were sold along side the 356. The 911 had a MSRP of $6,370, while the 356 SC Coupe sold for $4,570. That was a fair amount of cash back then. In 1965, a fastback Corvette was $4,233. A Jaguar XKE coupe was $5,580. Porsche was asking more for the new 911 than Mercedes-Benz wanted for a new SL.
So what did the new 911 have that made it worth 40% more than a new 356C? Plenty. As stated earlier, the 911 was a lot larger. The extra size afforded it's occupants with almost twice the luggage space. The 911 had a smoother shape as well. The 911's coefficient of drag was .38, versus the 356C's .398. There were also a number of suspension upgrades. The 911 had rack and pinion steering, MacPherson strut front suspension, and an independent rear suspension with semi-trailing arms. Although they were both air cooled, the new six cylinder was wildly different. The two liter (1991 cc) six was an overhead cam design, with a dry sump lubrication system, and produced 130 HP. The 356C had a 1.6 liter (1582 cc) four cylinder, with a single cam, overhead valve design, that produced 95 HP. The performance difference was predictable. The 911 was about two and a half seconds faster from zero to sixty (8 seconds), and had a fifteen mile per hour higher top speed (130 MPH).
In 1966 the 356C was discontinued, with the 912 taking it's place. The 912 was a 911 body, powered by the 356C's four cylinder engine. Being about 150 pounds heavier, the 912 was slower than the 356C. In 1966, Porsche sold about 10% more 911's than in 1965. There were some minor evolutionary changes between 1965 and 1966 cars, but the big change was from Solex carburetors to Webers.
1967 saw the introduction of the lengendary 911S. the 911S didn't just weigh less, it really was "Super". Per a Road & Track review, the 911S was "everything a Porsche should be - and more."
The 911S engine had the same displacement, with higher compression forged pistons, forged rods, unique cams, and larger valves. The S engine produced an additional 30 HP and 20 ft-lbs of torque. The 911S also received 4.5J x 15 Fuchs alloy wheels, KONI shocks, larger front and rear sway bars, ventilated brake discs (a first for European cars, but the Chevrolet Corvette had them two years earlier), a leather covered steering wheel, and leatherette dash inserts replaced the wood inserts from the previous year.
On the standard 911, the wood inserts were replaced with aluminum inserts. Butzi wanted to add a convertible to the lineup, but production costs got in the way. Plan "B" resulted in the Targa. Targa production began in December of 1966, and these had the zippered, plastic rear window.
1968 saw a number of changes. First, the model line was changed - and for those of us in the US, it wasn't for the better. Two models were available; the 911L, and a base model called the 911T. The U.S. models received a smog pump, which was driven off the left camshaft. In Europe, the 911S was still available. The European 911S was basically the same as the 1967 model. Reorganizing the lineup was only the beginning. Other changes included -
U.S. customers received good news for 1969; the 911S was available again. The 1969 U.S. lineup consisted of the 911T, 911E, and 911S. The 911T was the base model. It continued using Weber carburetors. The 911E and 911S were equipped with mechanical fuel injection. The new 911E made 140 HP, while the 911S was up to 170 HP.
There were big suspension changes for the 1969 model year. The cars were stretched. Literally. In an effort to make the car little less "tail happy", the 1969 models had longer trailing arms. To improve weight distribution, Porsche also mounted an additional battery. Now there were two batteries, both mounted in the fenders, ahead of the front wheels. The front suspension was also updated with a better ball joint design. Also, Boge hydro pneumatic front struts were available in lieu of torsion bars. These struts were a joint effort between Boge and Porsche. They were self-leveling, and had a softer ride. The Boge struts were standard equipment on the 911E and optional on the 911T. I didn't care for the Boge struts. They were known to leak. In some cases, the entire strut would collapse. Fortunately, torsion bars were optional on the 911E. The 911S received wider, 15 x 6, Fuchs alloy wheels. These were also standard on the non-Boge equipped 911E. The bodies were modified for these new wheels. The front and rear wheel openings received slight flares.
Other changes included
The big news for 1970 was a larger engine. By increasing the bore 4mm, a new 2.2 liter was born. The 2.2 liter was more powerful than the 2.0 in all three models. The 911T had 125 HP, the 911E had 155 HP, and the 911S had 180 HP. The 911T was no longer equipped with Webers. Zeniths were used instead. The Zeniths were thought to be more emissions friendly.
There were no major changes for 1971. 1972 brought about another increase in engine displacement, but that's a story covered in another webpage.
The 2.0 and 2.2 liter engines used in these early cars were very good. They didn't have much in the way of add-on emission controls, they had plenty of fuel, and never really ran hot. They did require a lot more maintenance than newer models, but what 60's era cars didn't?
To the average individual, these early 911s all look the same. The same shape, same interior, the same everything. Those people are the Camry / Accord / Buick crowd. The enthusiast recognizes and appreciates the continuous changes. Some prefer the early, short wheelbase cars, which were true to Butzi's original design. Those cars have historical significance and make very good weekend drivers. Others lean toward the sizable improvements of the 1969 and later long wheelbase cars. They're attracted by the more powerful engines, suspension upgrades, and improved amenities. It's Porsche's style of ongoing refinement that has allowed it become the iconic sports car manufacturer they are today.
Prices supplied by the N.A.D.A. guide