Stu­art Al­li­son and his 993 Targa

911 Porsche World - - This Month - Words & Pho­to­graphs: Paul Knight

Hav­ing grown up around hot-rod rac­ing and a long line of clas­sic and sports cars owned by his late fa­ther, Tony (a renowned hot rod/short oval track race driver in the early ’70s), it’s lit­tle sur­prise to learn that Stu­art Al­li­son has al­ways had a soft spot for a good car. He ex­plained, ‘As a child my brother, Jeff and I would spend our week­ends watch­ing Dad race his Mini at Ip­swich or Wim­ble­don, while our un­cle Dave (Able) would be work­ing away in the pits, and I can re­call rid­ing in the back of Dad’s As­ton Mar­tin DB6 around the streets of Ley­ton­stone, which is cer­tainly where my pas­sion for all things au­to­mo­tive was born.’

Grow­ing up, Stu­art was also a fan of the iconic 911 cars of the ’70s and, whilst he’d never ac­tu­ally rid­den in one, there was some­thing about the rear-en­gined lay­out and strik­ing de­sign that just caught his at­ten­tion, as he’s been a fan of the mar­que ever since.

Stu­art told us, ‘At 17 I couldn’t af­ford any­thing too sporty, hence I started out with a Mk2 Es­cort, which I owned when I first met my wife, Tracey.’ As ever, life, work and kids came along and the sports car dream took a bit of a side­line as more sen­si­ble fam­ily cars were a nec­es­sary part of daily life. ‘Even­tu­ally we get to that point in our lives when the chil­dren are that much older and we can start to think about what to do with that long-for­got­ten lux­ury that is free time and en­joy­ing a bit of self-in­dul­gent me-time once again!’, joked Stu­art. With his el­dest daugh­ter, Holly, away at uni­ver­sity and younger sis­ter, Becky, spend­ing more time with friends than with her par­ents, Stu­art started to con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of a week­end car, which didn’t nec­es­sar­ily need to fit a fam­ily of four (plus all of the as­so­ci­ated clut­ter of fam­ily life) and could be more ‘fun’ than ‘func­tion’, at long last. He told us, ‘Chat­ting with Tracey, we de­cided it might be the right time to book a hol­i­day in Italy with some friends to cel­e­brate my 50th, which would al­low me to ful­fil an­other dream, i.e. to drive down to Lake Garda via the Stelvio Pass etc.’ This left just one small prob­lem – the lack of a suit­ably sport­ing ve­hi­cle to make the most of that fan­tas­tic road trip!

Grow­ing up, Stu­art was also a fan of the iconic 911 cars of the 70s

Mo­ti­vated to find the right car for the job, Stu­art hit the in­ter­net and buffed up on the nu­mer­ous buy­ers’ guides and fea­tures he’d read about in pre­vi­ous is­sues of 911 & Porsche World. He said, ‘I should men­tion that I didn’t want a late car as I had re­ally set my heart on a clas­sic, air-cooled 911, hence I started out by look­ing for a pre-’74 car.’ He con­tin­ued, ‘how­ever, I soon re­alised that an early car might not pro­vide the flex­i­bil­ity and us­abil­ity that I re­quired as I wanted a car that I could lit­er­ally just jump into and drive to Italy without wor­ry­ing about what the weather fore­cast looked like that week or whether I’d make it without a full tool­box and a box of spare parts.’ In short, it had to be re­li­able and fun yet not the sort of car that was too pretty or pre­cious to clock up miles through­out the year or leave in a ho­tel car park without los­ing sleep.

The next stop was the pos­si­bil­ity of a back­dated car or a re­cre­ation of some kind, how­ever, the kind of cars that ticked the right boxes were at the top end of Stu­art’s bud­get (and the re­ally nice ones were priced be­yond the realms of be­ing jus­ti­fied as a ‘week­end fun car’), hence it was time to re­think the mas­ter plan. For a short while Stu­art con­sid­ered a later (996/997) Turbo or a well-spec’d 4S and, whilst they would cer­tainly have been awe­some cars to drive, he just couldn’t talk him­self into a wa­ter­cooled car. Af­ter all, when you’ve set your heart on a clas­sic, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up re­gret­ting the pur­chase of any­thing else.

Stu­art told us, ‘from here the search moved to 964s and I even­tu­ally found my­self check­ing out a few 993 mod­els, too.’ He con­tin­ued, ‘and that’s when I spot­ted this ’97 3.6-litre 993 Targa, which looked to be in pretty nice shape’. Up un­til that point Stu­art hadn’t con­sid­ered any­thing other than a coupé, how­ever, this 993 Targa had caught his eye as it was some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, so he called the dealer (Wal­lis & Son in Bar­ton, Cam­bridgeshire) and ar­ranged a test drive and view­ing.

Re­plac­ing the 964 model, the 993 was the last of the air-cooled 911s and was pro­duced from 1994 through to 1998, when the 996 model was launched (the first wa­ter-cooled 911). The Targa model was in­tro­duced in ’96 and fea­tured the so-called "green­house" roof sys­tem (es­sen­tially a re­tractable glass roof that slides be­neath the rear win­dow) and, whilst this glass Targa roof for­mat was con­tin­ued on the

“ From here the search moved to 964s and then I even­tu­ally found my­self check­ing out a few 993 mod­els, too ”

996/997 mod­els, less than 5000 993 Tar­gas were built in to­tal. The glass-roof Targa was ac­tu­ally based on the Car­rera cabri­o­let body, al­beit with the new Targa roof assem­bly re­plac­ing the fold­ing/fab­ric ar­range­ment. This al­lowed the 993 Targa to “re­tain the same side-on pro­file as the reg­u­lar Car­rera mod­els – i.e. the wide Bpil­lar/roll bar of the orig­i­nal Targa de­sign had been to­tally re­designed and the elec­tri­cally-op­er­ated slid­ing roof had dealt with the in­con­ve­nience of hav­ing to man­u­ally re­move and store the ear­lier Targa model’s roof panel.

As clever as the new Targa roof sys­tem may be, there can be a few key is­sues to look out for, namely leak­ing roof seals and corrosion around the wind­screen pil­lars etc. For­tu­nately this car had re­cently had the roof over­hauled and Stu­art was able to look through the ex­ten­sive photo records to see ex­actly what had been done. And, happy with the pa­per­work and the over­all con­di­tion of the car, a deal was struck and Stu­art drove the car back to his home in Rayleigh, Es­sex. He com­mented, ‘I was re­ally im­pressed with the way the car drove and, upon closer in­spec­tion of the pa­per­work and notes, I found that it had been fit­ted with a remapped ECU.’

The nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated, 3.6-litre ‘M64’ mo­tor fit­ted to these 993 mod­els is broadly the same unit that can be found in the pre­vi­ous 964 range, how­ever, it is fit­ted with what is known as the Porsche Var­i­o­ram sys­tem, which is es­sen­tially a setup that varies the length of the in­let duct­ing (longer at low rpm and shorter at high rpm – the end re­sult is a fat­ter and flat­ter torque curve). With the ad­di­tion of the remapped ECU, this mo­tor is now push­ing out a touch over 300hp, which is more than enough to make the Stelvio Pass a fun drive!

And so, for now Stu­art is get­ting to know his 993 Targa and fi­nal­is­ing his plans to drive to Italy later in the year. He ex­plained, ‘I don’t have any plans to mod­ify the car as I think it’s per­fect as it is.’ One last thing, Stu­art, don’t for­get to take your cam­era and snap some shots of your road trip ad­ven­ture, we’d love to hear all about it! PW

For­tu­nately this car had re­cently had the roof over­hauled ”

993 Targa ticks all the boxes, mix­ing the 911’s coupe shape with a slid­ing glass roof. Plus, of course, it’s the last of the air­cooled 911s

Stu­art Al­li­son: The kids have left home, you’re nearly 50. What to do? Buy a Porsche, of course

The view from above: With glass roof re­tracted, near open top mo­tor­ing is achieved. Be­low mid­dle: Stu­art’s car boasts the de­sir­able Var­i­o­ram en­gine of later 993s

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