Porsche 911 (1965-1969)
Article by Mark Trotta
With timeless styling, world-class engineering, and countless race wins, the Porsche 911 is widely recognized as one of the most influential sports cars ever produced. The original 2+2 coupe displayed brisk handling, good braking, and was capable of speeds over 130 mph.
Porsche 911 History
The 911 project began in the late 1950's, headed by Ferdinand Porsche's son, Ferry. It was designed to be a larger, faster replacement for the rear-engine 356 sport coupe, introduced back in 1950.
The 911 was Porsche's first all-new model, introduced at the Frankfurt Automobile show in 1963. Originally, it was to be called the 901, but French car manufacturer Peugeot were already using that name. It was decided to change the model name to 911. Production began in 1964, arriving in the U.S. early in 1965.
1965 Porsche 911
Like the 356 and the Volkswagen Beetle, the engine was rear-mounted. Ferry Porsche contended that without unnecessary weight on the front end, steering was livelier and more natural feeling.
An all-steel body/chassis combination was used, with space-saving MacPherson struts up front and ZF rack-and-pinion steering. Rear independent suspension used transverse torsion bars and semi-trailing arms. Brakes were four-wheel disc, with drums mounted in the center portion of the rear discs for the hand-brake. Tires were 165-HR-15 radials.
Inside, comfortable Recaro bucket seats were standard. Unlike the 356 model, the 911 had two small back seats, which folded down for more cargo area. Vinyl seats were standard, with leather optional. In a year that a base Corvette coupe sold for $4,320, the 911 had a price tag of $5,990.
Porsche 911 Engine
The air cooled, six-cylinder engine was laid out horizontally. Porsche engineers felt that flat engines, with a low center of gravity, gave better vehicle stability and control.
Two banks lay flat on opposing sides of the crankshaft, with each bank having its own overhead camshaft (SOHC). With the engine rear-mounted, the extra width did not interfere with the steering of the front wheels.
An 80mm by 66mm bore-to-stroke ratio gave a displacement of 1991cc, with space reserved for future displacement increases. Twin Solex carburetors and 9:0-1 compression helped the 2.0 litre engine produce 148-horsepower at 6100 rpm.
Porsche 911 Targa
With concerns that roadster models may become ineligible for future racing, Porsche set out to design a removable-top model. The new body style was named Targa, after the Targa Florio race held in the mountains of Sicily, where Porsche had scored seven victories since in 1956 (with four more to come).
Based on the coupe model, the Targa was designed with a removable one-piece roof panel. The roll bar was part of the chassis and trimmed in stainless steel. Adding to the open-air feel was a fold-down rear window.
The 1966 Porsche 911 saw only minor changes. Constant-velocity joints replaced U-joints in the rear half-shafts. Solex carbs were replaced mid-year with Weber units. In competition, a 911 finished first in the 2.0 litre GT class and 14th overall at the 24-hour Le Mans race.
The 911S (Super) was available as either coupe or targa, with a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission available. Modifications were made to the two-litre flat-six, increasing output to 160-horsepower. Distinctive five-leaf wheels made by Fuchs were standard equipment. With top-end speeds above 135 mph, chassis and brakes were substantially upgraded.
1968 Porsche 911
Tougher U.S. emission laws kept the 911S out of the North American market for 1968. Porsche offered the 911E, 911L and 911T (Touring), which was a less-expensive, de-tuned model. The semi-automatic "Sportomatic" transmission was introduced, consisting of a torque converter, automatic clutch, and four-speed transmission.
Weighted Front Bumper
Early 911's were rear-heavy cars, and prone to sudden oversteer during high speed cornering. Some models came with factory-fitted cast-iron weights added to the front bumper, which the company referred to as "bumper reinforcement." Wider rims and a rear anti-sway bar helped marginally.
1969 Porsche 911
In 1969, the oversteer issue was addressed by moving the rear wheels further back in the existing chassis, lengthening the wheelbase 2.3 inches (57 mm) but keeping the overall length of the car the same.
With mechanical fuel injection replacing carburetors, the 911S passed U.S. emission standards and was brought back into the States. Bumping compression up to 9.9-1 brought power output to 190-horsepower. The 1969 911S would be the fastest of the first-generation models, capable of 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds.
The first-generation Porsche 911 was built from 1965 through 1969. These early models weighed a scant 2,300 pounds, and have continually evolved since its inception.
Now in production for five decades, the 911 is Porsche's top-selling model with over one million produced. Scoring thousands of racetrack victories in that time, the 911 helped establish Porsche as a builder of world-class sports cars.
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