THE GENERATION GAME
In Porsche circles, few letters of the alphabet evoke such a strong reaction as ʻSʼ – especially when itʼs the model suffix for the 911. Classic Porsche brings together four generations of Porscheʼs original production hot-rod
Family values donʼt comemuch stronger than the 911ʼs, and here, on a windswept Norfolk aerodrome, we have fourmembers of the ʻSʼ clan. Remarkably they span a production period of just nine years, yet each one represents a different generation of the ʻSʼ derivative. And, of course, that suffix represented the pinnacle of the 911 range for six years, from1967 to 1973.
Weʼre here, on this old WW2 airfield, courtesy of Alastair Iles, proprietor of Trofeo Cars, a high-end classic car business. Heʼs brought along the four 911Ss that heʼs collected over the past five years for us to peruse the evolution. Three of them are right-hand drive, in itself fairly exceptional, and they are, firstly, a 1967 2.0 S – the first 911S – a 1970 2.2 S; a 1972 2.4 S; and a 1976 2.7 S.
Alastair has a history of racing Alfa Romeos and owns a Trofeo race car, hence the name of the firm. But he also has a lifelong passion for Porsches, having grown up with a 911 owning father – (see sidebar for details of the company).
Letʼs check them out in chronological order. Finished in Light Ivory, the 2.0-litre Sʼs 1991cc flat-six is fed by two banks of Weber three-barrel carbs, enabling 160bhp at 6600rpm and 179Nm torque at 5200rpm. Back in the day it was good for 143mph, and although we have the benefit of long runways to zoom along for our shoot, the surface is unpredictable in places (even though a Tiger Moth lands mid-session) so we confine ourselves to saner speeds.
Mind you, I wouldnʼt doubt it could easily make 120mph still, judging from its get-up-and-go. Its 0–60mph time was 7.5sec, and having done less than 30,000 miles it seems to have lost none of that urge that so delighted the devotees in the late ʼ60s.
ʻThe light ivory car is quite rare because of its high spec, with black leather, all factory finish, too,ʼ Alastair points out. All engine, chassis and gearbox numbers match, and its 5.5Jx15in Fuchs rims are shod with Continental Contact
Sports, 185/65 R all round. Characteristically, the original black leather seats are relatively low-backed with no headrests, as you would expect of the era.
Charmingly, it has opening quarter lights, opening rear threequarter windows, and the original press button door handle armrests. The mileometer reads 29,313, and itʼs fitted with the original Blaupunkt Köln wireless, obviously a well-used appliance, judging from the way the buttons have been worn.
The 2.0 S probably feels its age the most of the four – and why wouldnʼt it, though thatʼs down to its manner of doing things rather than worn componentry. The dog-leg first and reverse gear slots are a tad vague and way over to the left, so in first the lever encroaches on the passenger seat. It feels pretty basic, but thatʼs how they were, of course. On the other hand, it is delightfully light in the controls and handling, and has possibly the best-sounding flat-six roar of all, really coarse and harsh as I accelerate up the straight.
S-bends and Ss? Itʼs a short-wheelbase car – 2.25 inches shorter than its siblings – but thereʼs no sense that itʼs eager to swap ends in this environment, and it does have the benefit of an impressively tight turning circle.
The 1967 O-series S production run consisted of only 1162 examples, of which just 35 were right-hand drive, of which only seven are thought to remain in GB and, thinks Alastair, ʻpossibly no more than five in the rest of the world.ʼ Interesting to reflect on what it was doing 50 years ago. It was delivered on 30th July ʼ67 via Masters, the Porsche dealer in Bermuda, to Alexander Simpson, a New Zealander residing in Bermuda, and was subsequently registered in New Zealand on 24th December ʼ68, just in time for Christmas.
The most eye-catching 911S here is the Signal Orange 2.2, registered on 4th November 1969 and one of only 34 imported
into the UK by AFN in the 1970 model year. Its colour scheme makes it even rarer, just one of a meagre eight cars built in 1970. Fully restored and rebuilt between 2012 and ʼ14, it had but two owners from new until then.
This one is probably Alastairʼs favourite: ʻThe 2.2 S is the ultimate early 911,ʼ he says: ʻIt was Steve Mcqueenʼs favourite 911, and is said by many Porsche cognoscenti to be a better drive than a 2.7 RSʼ. The engine is undoubtedly the star of the show in the 2.2 S, designated the 911/02 unit, bored-out from 80mm to 84mm to give a performance boost more significant than perhaps 200cc would suggest. Other factors were also in play: Bosch mechanical fuel-injection and a 9.8:1 compression ratio result in a power increase to 180bhp, also expressed as an impressive 166bhp per tonne. Lubrication was, per usual, dry sump and there were stronger connecting rods and magnesium crankcases.
Other significant aspects of the 2.2 S include the aluminium engine lid, dog-leg 901 gearbox and 15in Fuchs alloys, in this case wearing Michelin XWX 185/70 VR 15s. This car also has H1 headlamps with twin sets of reflectors. Immaculate houndʼs tooth seat centres feature large in the crisply appointed cabin, and it has a relatively high seating position compared with the 2.4 car. I note it states 48,000 miles on the odometer. Thereʼs a single Durant rear view mirror and retractable radio aerial.
Using the lengthy shift lever the first and reverse gear throws are long, though not quite as extreme as that of the 2.0-litre car, with extended travel between each ratio. It just takes a bit more time to site them accurately.
“THE ENGINE IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE STAR OF THE SHOW…”
However, this engine is an absolute joy, the way it loves to rev and the needle zings right round the rev counter. Helming it is harder work than the other two ʻclassicʼ 911Ss, though you could argue that makes it all the more involving.
So, we move on to number three, the 2.4 S. Built in July ʼ72, the silver-metallic 2.4 S with its gorgeous red cabin interior is still waiting for new matching carpets, lending a touch of austerity to a car thatʼs otherwise fully specʼd. ʻI think itʼs unique, being the only righthand drive 2.4 S with red Recaro interior,ʼ says Alastair.
The original seat upholstery is called Red Madras Check – soon to be re-upholstered – with leatherette sides and velour on the backrests and squabs, carried through into the rear squabs, too. ʻWeʼre going to have new carpets made because itʼs got to be the red with the little black flecks to match properly; no-oneʼs got the right red fabric, because it was such a rare colour at the time.ʼ
Thereʼs an aftermarket Moto-lita steering wheel, which is very good as far as the driving aspect is concerned and doesnʼt detract from the originality. Thereʼs a red weave strip across the base of the dash, and it has a sunroof, plus rear wiper and two external mirrors. The rest of the instrumentation and controls are all in good shape, and note that reverse is now beneath fifth in the gate, a
“YOU COULD ARGUE THAT MAKES IT MORE INVOLVING…”
manifestation of the all-new 915 transmission.
The 2.4 E-programme model is the first 911 to use the 915 gearbox, descended from the 910 racing car of 1968. This one also has the one year only feature of the external oil filler flap on the right-hand rear wing, as a result of the oil tank being relocated ahead of the right-side rear wheel in the interests of weight distribution. I head off down the runway. Thereʼs a strong sensation of torque from the 2.4-litre engine (#6322525), and Iʼd describe its performance as efficient rather than dramatic.
This ʻSʼ runs on Koni dampers and has quite a hard ride, matched by accurate steering, and Alastair believes it might have done a little light competition work in a previous life. ʻThe previous owner had it quite a long time and I think he hillclimbed it a bit.ʼ
And, finally, up comes the 2.7 S, the only left-hooker here, having been bought from a Los Angeles-based Porsche dealer in 1976. That year, production of California-spec 911Ss totalled 2174 units, though considerably more 49-state 911Ss were shipped. Itʼs a narrow-bodied shell with impact bumpers, but what does make it considerably rarer is the presumed unique special-order colour; itʼs not dissimilar to Mexico Blue, though somewhat paler in hue.
Alastair is delighted with it: ʻIt only had two owners in the States before it came to me, itʼs still got the factory underseal, and that mileage is genuine at 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 Iʼve personally never seen before. The black Blaupunkt rear speakers are quite unusual, too, and the seats have black leather perforated centres.ʼ
It was specʼd with Bilstein Sports dampers, 6Jx15in Fuchs wheels – currently running Pirelli P6000s – a 380mm-diameter ʻcompetitionʼ 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 overriders have also been swapped accordingly.
Alastair loves the 2.2 S because of the way the 2.2 engine behaves. ʻItʼs wonderful to drive, but the blue 2.7 S is probably the unsung hero, because itʼs the narrow body and the only difference is the impact bumpers – which donʼt detract from it – and it being slightly newer technology. Itʼs so easy to drive, too. I took it to Le Mans Classic and didnʼt feel tired at all.ʼ
As for the 2.7-litre engine, Alastairʼs had it rebuilt to 180bhp
Hereʼs an exciting date for your midsummer diary. On Saturday 18th August, renowned air-cooled specialist BS Motorsport of Westcott, Buckinghamshire, is holding its first open day in five years, with free admission for all. And as anyone who attended the last such event will surely testify, having witnessed proprietor Neil Bainbridge spiritedly demonstrating Mike Mooreʼs Martini RSR tribute car at three-figure speeds, it promises to be another one to remember.
The precise format of the day is still being finalised, but it is expected that visitors will be able to look round the engine-building facility – one of the best-
Above: First up is the 1967 model, the original 911S and possible the best sounding of them all. With fewer than 30,000 miles under its belt, it’s as good as it gets
Below left: 160bhp 2.0-litre engine likes to be revved – it produces all its power high in the rpm range
Below right: Interior features low-back seats, which are comfortable rather than particularly supportive