2.7 911

Is the base 2.7 911 of 1974 the most un­der­rated air­cooled Ne­unelfer?

Total 911 - - Contents - Writ­ten by Joe wil­liams Pho­tog­ra­phy by daniel Pullen

Im­pact bumpers marked a step-change in the 911. To­tal 911 as­sesses the mer­its of the en­try-level 2.7

The year 1974 rep­re­sented great change for Porsche. Af­ter a decade of con­stant fet­tling of its 911, where it wit­nessed in­creases in wheel­base, model des­ig­na­tions, en­gine ca­pac­ity and spec­i­fi­ca­tion op­tions, Zuf­fen­hausen de­cided to ring the changes in what was the first ma­jor re­fresh of the car’s now fa­mous his­tory.

Most no­tably from the out­set, those slen­der lines associated with Butzi’s ini­tial 911 de­sign were al­tered by Tony Lap­ine and his team, the ad­di­tion of im­pact bumpers at both the front and rear of the car a reg­u­la­tory ne­ces­sity rather than a cre­ative en­deav­our. The 911 needed to adopt im­pact bumpers to sat­isfy US crash-safety reg­u­la­tions, and though their pres­ence un­ques­tion­ably dis­rupted the flow of the 911’s ap­pear­ance, it truly was a case of adapt or die. The lat­ter was out the ques­tion, as it had by now gained an en­vi­ous rep­u­ta­tion as a ro­bust sports car ca­pa­ble of out­gun­ning its big­ger mo­tor­sport­ing ri­vals.

The en­gine too was up­dated, the en­tire line-up ditch­ing the 2.4-litre en­gine ca­pac­ity of the F-se­ries cars in favour of the 2.7-litre ca­pac­ity used by the 1973 Car­rera RS. Black win­dow trim was re­tained from that first 911 Rennsport for the top-spec cars, with door han­dles and mir­rors also now fin­ished in black in­stead of chrome. There were mi­nor up­grades to the in­te­rior too, in­clud­ing the in­cor­po­ra­tion of head­rests into a one-piece seat for the first time.

Aside from chang­ing the body and en­gine,

Porsche also took the op­por­tu­nity to re­vamp its en­tire 911 model line-up. Three cars would re­main – un­til, of course, the Turbo ar­rived a year later in

1975 – but the top-spec 911S of the F-se­ries re­placed

the doomed 911E as the mid­dle of­fer­ing, while the

911 Car­rera be­came the new jewel of Porsche’s show­room. At the other end the T was scrapped en­tirely, the en­try-level car now sim­ply re­ferred to as the base 911 for this new chap­ter of Ne­unelfer.

How­ever, while the pre-im­pact bumper 911T is a fairly sought-af­ter clas­sic to­day for the pu­rity of its lines, its suc­ces­sor in the 2.7 911 isn’t gen­er­ally looked at with a sim­i­lar fond­ness. At face value this is un­der­stand­able. The base 2.7 car may be more pow­er­ful than the 911T by 25bhp in Us-spec, but it’s heav­ier by around 50kg too, largely can­celling out any straight-line per­for­mance ad­van­tage, and the G-se­ries cars just don’t pos­sess the pu­rity in ap­pear­ance of the early, pre-im­pact bumper mod­els. How­ever, there are fewer 2.7 911s on the planet than 911Ts, with a quoted 9,320 2.7s built in both Coupe and Targa body styles over the 1974 and 1975 model years, while the 911T was pro­duced 16,933 times be­tween 1972 and 1973.

De­spite this, the base 2.7 has largely been for­got­ten in the clas­sic mar­ket­place, it con­sid­ered less de­sir­able than the T be­fore it or in­deed the cars suc­ceed­ing it, such as the heav­ier SC or 3.2 Car­rera. It’s not like 1974 is an un­pop­u­lar year of pro­duc­tion ei­ther: the top-of-the-range 2.7 Car­rera is revered as a gen­uine col­lec­tor’s car for its cre­den­tials as a ‘se­cret RS’, the 3.0-litre RSS of the same model year gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be a su­pe­rior car to the halo 2.7 RS. It’s fair to say though the mid-spec 911S has suf­fered a sim­i­lar fate to the base 911 in be­ing largely for­got­ten. Has an in­jus­tice been served?

The ex­am­ple put for­ward for scru­tiny to­day is owned by Eric, pro­pri­etor at Hous­ton-based spe­cial­ists Euro­car-werk. Fin­ished in stun­ning Light blue metal­lic, its build date of Septem­ber 1974 means that, given the Au­gust shut­down at the fac­tory to mark the end of each model year, this would have been one of the first of the new G-se­ries cars rolling off the pro­duc­tion line.

As such, this 2.7 911 pos­sesses some unique de­sign quirks which mark the tran­si­tion at Zuf­fen­hausen from F- to G-se­ries. For ex­am­ple, while the car fea­tures black win­dow sur­rounds and side mir­rors in spec with the 1974 model year, its chrome slats on the deck­lid have been car­ried over from the 1973 model year, ev­i­dence of a time when a changeover from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other didn’t mean con­sign­ing left­over parts to the bin. Be­ing an early car also means it has Nikasil cylin­der lin­ers, Porsche switch­ing to Alusil mid­way through the 1974 model year so it could cast a cylin­der block with­out in­sert­ing iron cylin­der lin­ers. This glo­ri­ous 2.7 also boasts de­sir­able ex­tras in­clud­ing Fuchs wheels and a five-speed 915 gear­box, as well as Cal­i­for­nian-spec air con­di­tion­ing mounted be­neath the dash­board. Its ‘sugar loaf’ head­lights are cor­rect US spec­i­fi­ca­tion, too.

In­side, the new one-piece seats of­fer a much more com­fort­able sit­ting po­si­tion, though the steer­ing wheel will have its de­trac­tors. Re­ally, only the horn but­ton is new: the large, thin rim it­self is clearly taken di­rectly from the F-se­ries cars, this base car not get­ting the new three-piece wheel as found on the 2.7 Car­rera, which had a smaller di­am­e­ter and a thicker grip. As such the wheel looks un­con­ven­tion­ally large com­pared to the rest of this rather more re­fined cabin, and that slab of a horn but­ton cer­tainly isn’t the pret­ti­est to look at. Worry not, though, for when driv­ing, your vi­sion will be far be­yond such prox­im­ity, your eyes fixed on the hori­zon ahead.

A Typ 911/92 flat six re­sides un­der the deck­lid, fit­ted with Bosch K-jetronic fuel in­jec­tion, a con­tin­u­ous in­jec­tion sys­tem where mass air­flow

dic­tates a con­stant flow of fuel to the in­jec­tors. Iron­i­cally, Porsche de­buted the sys­tem on the 1973.5 911T from Jan­uary 1973, only months be­fore the ar­rival of the im­pact-bumper G-se­ries, the T oth­er­wise stay­ing loyal to Zenith car­bu­ret­tors since its in­cep­tion in 1968.

Start­ing the car, the en­gine catches im­me­di­ately, set­tling quickly to a con­stant idle. A blast of beau­ti­ful cold air is stream­ing through the car’s vents. It’s very wel­come, the fresh breeze a stark con­trast against the in­tense hu­mid­ity of a late Texan sum­mer out­side.

Out on the high­way, the first thing to no­tice is how well the car rides over a gen­er­ally poor road sur­face. There are no nasty clunks or knocks ev­i­dent, a tes­ta­ment to how well Eric has had this par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple main­tained. The chas­sis set-up, re­ally, is no dif­fer­ent to the 911T be­fore it, but dili­gent main­te­nance means the ride is near to as good to­day as it was at launch some 44 years pre­vi­ously.

The main dif­fer­ence be­tween the two cars is the way in which power is ex­erted. Squeez­ing the gas pedal, power de­liv­ery is de­light­fully smooth. Even from as lit­tle as 2,000rpm the 2.7 911 pulls ad­mirably, but by 5,500rpm the car is run­ning out of puff, and so chas­ing the red­line isn’t quite as re­ward­ing as that of­fered by the su­pe­rior 2.7 Car­rera. It’s a torquey mo­tor though – de­spite the 2.7 911’s of­fi­cial 0-62mph be­ing more than an F-se­ries 911T, here on the road it feels quick, if not out­right fast.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, though, for the 2.7 911 is light years ahead of the 911T in terms of com­fort. Whereas the 911T is far more agri­cul­tural in terms of its power de­liv­er­ance, the 2.7 911 tones this raw­ness down, with more grand tour­ing-like cre­den­tials. The change from one model year to the next is, in fact, quite re­mark­able to com­pre­hend. The 2.7 911 is ef­fort­lessly easy to drive, even with an overly long throw of the shifter – though a spe­cial­ist could fit a short shift kit – and it doesn’t feel as be­sieged by over­all weight as the stat sheet would have you be­lieve. Push it through a turn and the steer­ing weights up won­der­fully, with plenty of grip avail­able to call upon too, it far more sta­ble in these sce­nar­ios than its pre­de­ces­sor. Mak­ing the most of that punchy mid-range torque is key to swift progress in the 2.7, so your ap­pli­ca­tion to the way you drive this is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to how you’d ap­proach other more peaky, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 911s, but it’s still great fun to pedal.

Within min­utes I’ve changed my per­cep­tion of a base 2.7 911. It is quite the un­der­rated clas­sic, need­lessly so, as we’ve just dis­cov­ered. Sure, it’s a far cry away from, say, a 2.4S in terms of its fever­ish char­ac­ter at the top end, but then this car was in­tended as an en­tirely dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion, favoured for the rigours of the road rather than the race track. More­over, the 2.7 911 suc­ceeded in de­liv­er­ing a de­sir­able sports car which would ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence.

As we know, 1974 rep­re­sented quite the step change for Porsche and, with hind­sight, we can say that re­ally the pe­riod was one of the most im­por­tant in the 911’s his­tory. Its most rad­i­cal shake-up at the time, this was a ven­ture which, de­spite ini­tial con­cerns over the dis­rup­tion of the car’s aes­thet­i­cal pu­rity, ul­ti­mately proved suc­cess­ful, show­ing the com­pany its en­thu­si­asts would still ac­cept the 911 as it mor­phed around leg­isla­tive pres­sures – some­thing it has man­aged to do ever since. If you’re in the mar­ket for a good, use­able clas­sic which has a real rel­e­vance to the 911’s over­all story, the base 2.7 911 and 911S should not be so read­ily dis­missed.

“The 2.7 911 suc­ceeded in de­liv­er­ing a de­sir­able sports car which would ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence”

ABOVE Note man­ual win­dow winders, F-se­ries wheel rim, plus Vw-spec vinyl seat cen­ters. Lower dash air con was a must for Cali cars

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