Mention the 1980s and the boom of the City boy or Yuppie to your friends and ask them to describe the sort of car that a Young Urban Professional might have driven – sure, you might get the occasional Lamborghini Countach or maybe a Cosworth Sierra but, sooner or later somebody will suggest a bright red 911 Targa with a wing…
Following the demise of the aforementioned Yuppie, it’s fair to say that the image of the archetypal 1980s City-boy Porsche took a bit of a hit. For a while, people found the rear wing to be a little OTT – perhaps even a symbol of ’80s excess – and, consequently, a good number of cars lost the signature whale tail. But, fashions tend to be cyclical, and never was this truer than in the case of the iconic 1980s Targa. There’s certainly no denying the fact that the car you see here is now a very desirable piece of Porsche history and owner, Neil Hatton, is understandably proud of his superb example of the marque.
Neil explained, ‘I've always been interested in sports cars and motor sport – spectating at many races and events such as Le Mans etc over the years – and more recently taking part in track days with my own-built Westfield’. He continued, ‘The 911 is a car that any such enthusiast simply can't ignore – it's always competitive and always "mixing it" at the front of any race with other desirable, and normally far more exotic, marques. Like any schoolboy, I always dreamt of one day owning a Porsche as well as the normal Italian exotica’.
And so, having worked his way through a Mk2 Golf GTI 16v, a couple of hot Honda Civics and an old Rover Vitesse 3500, Neil eventually found himself at a point in his life at which he was in the position to potentially make that childhood dream a reality. Neil said, ‘It's only been in recent years that one of Stuttgart's finest appeared to finally come within reach, and I was initially considering something a bit more recent and watercooled’. He went on, ‘However, the more I researched the 911 and revised and tested myself on a bewildering list of 911 nomenclature (Carrera, 964, 996, 997 etc), the more it became apparent the "true" 911 and character I desired was air-cooled!’
The problem now was finding the right car so Neil began to search various websites and forums and also planned to visit a number of events and auctions to get a feel of what was available in and around his budget. Having looked at a few vehicles, Neil eventually stumbled across this 1981 Guards Red 911SC Targa at the Silverstone Classic. He said, ‘As I walked through the Porsche Club GB owners’ area on my way to the car park to go home, there it was; a
I revised nomenclature and tested myself on a bewildering list of 911
gorgeous 1981 Targa with a ‘for sale’ sign in the windscreen’. So, Neil tracked down the owner, Roger, and arranged to visit his home the following week to take a closer look and test drive the vehicle. Fortunately, Roger turned out to be exactly the sort of doting owner we all dream of buying a classic Porsche from as he had taken great care of this particular SC over the past 32 years! We’re talking about paperwork, history, tax discs, Polaroids and photos and a truly heart-felt attachment to the Targa. Neil commented, ‘I could see that it was really tough for Roger to part with the car but, due to his retirement and downsizing etc, he knew it was time to pass the Porsche on, hence I assured him that I would treat his car with the same level of respect and care as he had for the past three decades.’ It seems Neil had more than made his mind up and that it was Roger that needed convincing in this case!
Following a few cups of tea and a great chat, it was time for a test drive. Neil explained, ‘I’d always assumed that I’d buy a coupe and hadn’t really considered a Targa until I spotted this car’. He continued, ‘Roger insisted that the roof was removed before we set off and immediately I understood the appeal of the Targa… this car just got better and better!’ With both parties convinced that the car was going to the right home, a deal was struck and Neil drove it back to his home in Reading.
Neil explained, ‘So, it’s a 1981 911SC Targa Sport, which was supplied with the pu-rear (all rubber) spoiler, front chin spoiler, Bilstein dampers, sports seats, 16-in Fuchs and a limited-slip differential’. This car was ordered with a dark blue leather interior and, as you can see from the photographs, it’s in superb shape for a 38year-old vehicle. Fitted with the 204hp 3.0litre 930/10 engine (which was 20hp more than the earlier 3.0 cars), the Targa is a blast to drive and sounds awesome thanks to the fitment of an aftermarket SSI exhaust and heat exchangers. Neil said, ‘People often comment that the pre-’87 915 5-speed transmission is clunky and less desirable than the later G50 units and, whilst I’d admit that a good part of my original test drive was spent coasting in neutral/trying to find 3rd or 4th gear, I soon mastered the art of driving my car and now consider it to be part of the ‘involvement’ when driving a classic Porsche!’
Inside the car, Neil replaced the original
I’d always assumed I’d buy a coupe and hadn’t really considered a Targa, but I immediately understood the appeal
3-spoke steering wheel (which had seen better days and was flexing a little) with a Momo Prototipo before treating the leather to a thorough clean. The seats were then treated with a professional leather conditioner, which not only moisturises the leather and restores the lustre but also helps to nourish the hides, thereby preventing dry cracking and adding years to the life of the interior trim.
Neil commented, ‘At present the car is fitted with a modern ‘budget’ Sony head unit, which doesn’t sound great through the old speakers!’ As Neil enjoys his music, he has plans to replace the speakers with top quality items and also fit some low-profile sub-woofers beneath the seats. He’s also researching period-style digital/bluetooth head units right now, as the key is to keep the audio installation all looking period correct and/or hidden from sight.
As mentioned earlier, Neil also owns a Westfield, which he built at home; hence it’s fair to say that he knows his way around a toolbox. Therefore, servicing and maintaining his own cars is all part of the experience as far as Neil is concerned and that’s also one of the reasons why he made the decision to purchase a classic aircooled Porsche over a modern, computerladen model. Thus far he’s worked his way through niggles such as the fresh air blower (which had no slower speeds and a screaming fan bearing!), a faulty hot air pump, worn front wheel bearings and creaking door check straps. He told us, ‘Right now I’m working my way through the Bosch K-jetronic fuel injection system to fix a cold start issue – it’s the early Constant Injection System (CIS), which has a reputation for being problematic, but I’m confident I can fault-find the issue at home!’
Future plans include swapping the Bridgestone tyres for Pirellis (as recommended by various Porsche owners) and possibly dropping the ride height just enough to fill the gaps in the wheel arches, however, that’s as far as Neil plans to go as his priority is to retain the original charm and character of the car.
In closing, Neil commented, ‘I’d like to thank my wife, Jane, for putting up with my car hobby for all these years and the weekends spent in the garage, or at car shows, rather than taking her out. She still doesn't accept that I bought the 911 purely so that she could join in – the Westfield's too noisy and windy for her to consider travelling anywhere in it!
Also thanks go to the previous owner, Roger, for the 32-years of care. I just hope I can keep the car to the same standard that he'd be proud of, while driving and enjoying it, as he wished the car to be used!’ PW
experience” Servicing and maintaining his cars is all part of the
Above middle: The SC’S 3-litre engine is a tough unit. Right: The all rubber rear spoiler is exclusive to the SC
Interior is in great shape for a 38-yearold car, with the original leather responding well to treatment
Neil’s 911SC got most of the popular upgrades of the day, including front and rear spoilers, 16in Fuchs wheels, Bilstein dampers and limited slip diff