YOU AND YOURS
Stuart Allison and his 993 Targa
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