Sales de­bate

Is a 911 with Spor­tomatic gear­box de­sir­able?

Total 911 - - Wrightune -

It’s no se­cret that in the cur­rent cli­mate of col­lectible sports cars, a man­ual gear­box sits cen­tral to a model’s de­sir­abil­ity. Cer­tain Pdk-only mod­els have of course bucked this trend, in­clud­ing the 997 Turbo S or, more re­cently than that, the 991.1 GT3. How­ever, pre­vi­ous to that 911s with two ped­als just haven’t ap­pealed to the col­lec­tor mar­ket in quite the same way.

This is largely be­cause when we think of a clas­sic, au­to­matic 911 we think of the Tip­tronic gear­box – a thor­oughly agri­cul­tural sys­tem by to­day’s stan­dards. How­ever, delve into the archives and you’ll find Porsche utilised a Spor­tomatic gear­box on some of its ear­lier mod­els, it car­ry­ing grav­i­tas as the unit fit­ted to a tri­umphant 911R at the 1967 Marathon de la Route. The unit was then fit­ted to a se­lec­tion of pre-im­pact bumper and G-se­ries mod­els, even­tu­ally be­ing dropped by Porsche in 1980. Spor­tomatic 911s are a rare find to­day, so does that make them more de­sir­able?

“It’s an un­der­rated gear­box and ac­tu­ally of­fers a re­ally in­volv­ing drive,” says Adam at Craw­ley-based spe­cial­ists Nine Ex­cel­lence, point­ing to the fact a Sporto 911 still in­volves a man­ual gear shift. “There was a pe­riod of time, even fairly re­cently, when Spor­tomatic gear­boxes weren’t as well thought of, and swap­ping the unit out for a man­ual gear­box was a com­mon oc­cur­rence in a 911. Con­versely, that means a gen­uine match­ing-num­bers Spor­tomatic 911 is ac­tu­ally a rare find,” agrees Ken Napier, pro­pri­etor at Nine Ex­cel­lence.

Nev­er­the­less, ac­cord­ing to Jonathan Franklin at Hexagon Clas­sics, a man­ual will of course be worth more. “When peo­ple think of the 911, they think of the man­ual gear­box and a purist driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. While fun, the Sporto doesn’t quite de­liver in the same way,” he says. So what’s bet­ter, an orig­i­nal Spor­tomatic 911 or an ex­am­ple that’s had this unique 925 gear­box swapped out for a man­ual 915? “Good ques­tion,” is Jonathan’s re­ply. “If it’s a mint, low-miles car then orig­i­nal­ity is key, oth­er­wise a buyer will want a man­ual, sim­ple as that.”

Of course, a Porsche 911 Coupe with a man­ual gear­box is al­ways the de­fault choice for those want­ing a purist ex­am­ple of clas­sic sports car driv­ing and there­fore will al­ways be much more de­sir­able than any au­to­matic or semi-au­to­matic gear­box. How­ever, the Spor­tomatic gear­box presents part of the charm of the 911’s unique his­tory – to some, that’s worth some­thing.

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