With international Porsche adventurist, Johnny Tipler
Aided and abetted by my regular snapping companion, I recently reviewed a quartet of 911Ss spanning a seven-year period, from the first 2.0-litre S of 1967 to the last of the line, a 2.7 S built in 1976. It was a heady mix indeed: the two other cars were a 2.2 S and a 2.4 S and, seduced as I was by each one’s arcane and esoteric attributes, the one that I came away thinking that, were I to sell my home, the one I’d want most to spend the money on would be the 2.7. Imagine my surprise when the owner, Porsche specialist Alastair Iles announced the other day that it would indeed be up for sale.
Here’s why I’d choose it. The 2.7 S is a lefthooker, having been bought from a Los Angeles Porsche dealership in 1976, but since I have a penchant for 911s helmed from the left-hand side I rather relish that prospect. In that particular year, production of California-spec 911Ss totalled 2174 units, though considerably more of the 49-state 911Ss were shipped. One aspect that makes it special is that it’s a narrow-bodied shell with impact bumpers. But what does make it considerably rarer is the presumably unique special-order colour; it’s not dissimilar to Mexico Blue, though somewhat paler in hue. ‘It only had two owners in the States before it came to me,’ states Alastair. ‘It’s still got the factory underseal intact, and that mileage is a believed genuine 19,000. It was a high-spec car in America because it was equipped with air-con, either factory-fit or fitted at the dealer, and that I’ve never seen before. The black Blaupunkt rear speakers are quite unusual, and the seats have black leather perforated centres.’ It was also spec’d with Bilstein Sports dampers, 6in x 15in Fuchs wheels, which are currently running Pirelli P6000s, a 380mm-diameter competition steering wheel, electric windows and sunroof, and black window trim instead of chrome. Its US headlamp bezels have been changed to European ones, and the heavy-duty rubber bumper over-riders have also been swapped accordingly. Alastair loves it. ‘The 2.7 S is probably the unsung hero of the S saga, because it’s got the narrow body and the impact bumpers, which don’t detract from it, and it being slightly newer technology. It’s so easy to drive, too.’ As for the 2.7-litre engine, still emitting that awesome soundtrack, Alastair’s had it rebuilt to 180bhp European factory spec, but in its original ’76 California specification it had retarded cams, thermal reactors and exhaust gas recirculation, dropping power fairly significantly to 160bhp.
Other benefits of this model are that, in 1976, the I-programme 911s ushered in zinc-coated shell panels, a major advance on predecessors whose floor-pans only were galvanised. The quarter-light and rear three-quarter windows no longer open, but the single ‘elephant’s ear’ door mirror is electrically adjustable, while electric windows were now standard across the range. The S was getting much more civilised, though this was the last incarnation of the 911S until the once much vaunted S-suffix was revived on upgraded versions of the turbocharged 964, 993 and 996 models, as well as the 4WD 996 C4S. By this time, so many other performance embellishments existed that the formerly significant S moniker had become rather overlooked. Paradoxically, the values of classic Ss are all over the place. ‘The 2.7 is a third of the value of the 2.0 and the 2.2, and the 2.4 is a little bit less than them.’
So, for the try-out, I ease aboard the 2.7 S for a turn behind the wheel and, in comparison with its older siblings, it feels like a modern 911. This model’s high-back tombstone seats with their integral headrests and longer seat squabs were introduced in 1974, providing better leg and back support in every direction, and the 2.7 S cabin is thus a more relaxed and better composed environment than the older versions. Repa inertia reel seat belts were standard, too, while door handles and bins took on a recognisably modern aspect. The way the