Porsche’s prime num­bers

This sexy sportscar is still pop­u­lar, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

THE Porsche 911 is a tri­umph of per­sis­tence over per­fec­tion. By rights it shouldn’t have worked at all with its air-cooled en­gine slung out be­hind the rear axle the way it was, but de­ter­mined de­vel­op­ment by Porsche over many years turned the ugly duckling into a grace­ful swan.

Fer­di­nand Porsche cham­pi­oned the con­cept of air-cooled rear en­gines slung out be­hind the rear axle in a way that led to a pen­du­lum ef­fect when cor­ner­ing that made his fa­mous VW Bee­tle and the early Porsches a real hand­ful if pushed to their han­dling lim­its.

The Porsche fam­ily stuck true to Fer­di­nand’s for­mula and with end­less re­fine­ment and im­prove­ments in tech­nol­ogy made the iconic 911 sports car a true clas­sic revered by petrol­heads all round the world.

The 911 re­placed the 356 in 1964 and the process of evo­lu­tion was well un­der way. The 911 3.2 was one of the early signs of what was to come from Porsche; it was bolder, more ag­gres­sive and more pow­er­ful than the mod­els it fol­lowed. Now, al­most 25 years old, it’s one of the most af­ford­able ways of ac­quir­ing a clas­sic Porsche badge.

MODEL WATCH

THE 911 has gone from strength to strength and the com­pany has suc­ceeded be­yond even the wildest dreams of the man­age­ment in charge in 1984 when the 911 3.2 was re­leased.

Even to­day’s 911, a vastly dif­fer­ent car to the orig­i­nal, has a fam­ily re­sem­blance that is un­mis­tak­able. Ev­ery 911 has re­tained the 911 ‘‘look’’ even when it’s been heav­ily al­tered.

The 3.2 looked like a 911, but was sub­tly dif­fer­ent to the cars that went be­fore it. Its lines were bolder than those of its pre­de­ces­sors, and you could have it with the wide body of the Turbo for the ‘‘Turbo look’’.

Power came from a 3.2-litre ver­sion of the flat six-cylin­der en­gine that was so fa­mil­iar in the back of pre­vi­ous 911s.

It had elec­tronic multi-port fuel in­jec­tion and elec­tronic en­gine man­age­ment and pro­duced a healthy 170kW and 284Nm at its peak.

Cou­pled to a five-speed man­ual — there was no auto op­tion — it was ca­pa­ble of racing from zero to 100km/h in 6.1 sec­onds and had a top speed of 245km/h.

By 1985 ex­haust emis­sion lim­its were hav­ing an ef­fect and it was fit­ted with an air pump. A year later the air pump was out and a cat­alytic con­verter in when Aus­tralia went to un­leaded fuel, but it was de­tuned to 155kW.

A stronger gear­box came in 1987, which de­liv­ered smoother shift­ing than the rather stiff-shift­ing box it re­placed.

At the same time the clutch was changed to hy­draulic ac­tu­a­tion and the whole gear chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence im­proved. No longer did you need mas­sive mus­cles to swap cogs, it was a much lighter and more pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence.

The fol­low­ing year, 1988, saw en­gine power boosted to 160kW with the avail­abil­ity of 95 oc­tane un­leaded fuel.

Porsche of­fered the 911 3.2 in a choice of three body styles, coupe, cabri­o­let and Targa, and in 1985 made the wide body avail­able. In 1987 all were fit­ted with front spoil­ers and the wild whale-tail rear spoiler.

ON THE LOT

IF A new 911 is out of reach, mod­els like the 3.2 of­fer a way into the club at an af­ford­able price. The great thing is that the older mod­els still give a taste of the Porsche thrill.

Pay $40,000-$55,000 for a Car­rera coupe, add $4000-$5500 for a cabri­o­let, but take the same amount off for a Targa. Mod­i­fied cars are worth less, and so are im­ports.

IN THE SHOP

PORSCHES are gen­er­ally bul­let­proof, not a lot goes wrong with them even when they get up in the kays as many of them now are.

Watch for smoke from the tailpipe un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, which can mean worn bores and oil is get­ting past the rings.

The Porsche in­te­rior, like all Euro­pean in­te­ri­ors of the time, suf­fers un­der the Aussie sun, and this can lead to cracked and buck­led plas­tics and torn trim. Cabri­o­lets and Tar­gas are more prone to in­te­rior dam­age.

It’s im­por­tant to care­fully check for ev­i­dence of crash dam­age.

IN A CRASH

BUILT be­fore the ad­vent of airbags and the like the 3.2 re­lied on its chas­sis to get out of trou­ble. The brakes were pow­er­ful, without be­ing anti-skid, of course.

Porsche han­dling was al­ways the sub­ject of much dis­cus­sion, but it’s worth get­ting some ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind the wheel be­fore push­ing the 911 to its lim­its.

AT THE PUMP

IT’S ar­guable that a Porsche driver is overly con­cerned about fuel econ­omy. Most drive their cars on sunny Sun­days and then rarely go far so the cost of their motoring isn’t high.

The 911 3.2 should av­er­age 11-13 litres for 100km, but push it and that will rise markedly.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

IT’S al­most 25 years old, but the 911 3.2 is an af­ford­able clas­sic that still looks fresh.

Style: the clas­sic lines of the 911 3.2 are still ap­peal­ing. The whale-tail rear spoiler (inset) was stan­dard from 1987.

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