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911 Porsche World - - You And Yours: Neil Hatton - Words: Paul Knight Photos: Aaron Good

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

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