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The air-cooled Porsche Targa

ER Classics Desktop 2022

In 2014, the Porsche Targa with roll bar returned to the delivery program of the legendary brand from Zuffenhausen. From 1994, the manufacturers had carefully stored the Targa's Merk mold in the warehouses of the Porsche factories. The purists greeted the return of the safety item with a smile. 

"Butzi" Porsche in its creation: the Targa, which was embraced by many Porsche fans and buyers. Photo: Pon
"Butzi" Porsche in its creation: the Targa, which was embraced by many Porsche fans and buyers. Photo: Pon

In the beginning

The history of the Targa begins as early as 1961 in Zuffenhausen. That year, designer Ferdinand Alexander 'Butzi' Porsche was commissioned to design an open version of the new 901 – later renamed 911 – under development. Porsche is committed to bringing an open version to the market. About a fifth of the 356 clientele opts for a homeless one; the convertible is especially popular in America. Because American safety regulations seem to be torpedoing a convertible version after an offensive by safety guru Ralph Nader, Butzi is one of the first in the world to develop a smart and innovative concept: a targa with roll bar and a removable folding roof. The car is derived from the 911 Coupé and meets the high demand for an open variant of the 'Elfer'.


Six Targa proposals

Butzi Porsche constructs six proposals for the new Targa in 1963. Ultimately, the choice falls on the model with the style-defining stainless steel targa bracket with three slots and the now world-famous 'targa' logo. Because the threat of an American convertible boycott has now been averted, it is no longer just about the safety aspect, but also about the design. The bracket is patented in 1965 and the name “Targa” – derived from the often successful Sicilian street race “Targa Florio” for Porsche – is registered with a trademark office.

Public attraction at IAA 1965

The Targa is a real crowd pleaser during the IAA in September 1965; the first example of the 'Sicherheits-Cabriolets' does not come off the line until December 1966 and has been in the showroom since 1967. The aluminum and synthetic leather folding roof is easily removable and can be stowed away in the front of the boot. The plastic rear window can be completely unzipped to get even closer to the convertible feeling. Again prompted by American regulations, Porsche develops a fixed rear window made of safety glass for model year 1968. The Targa is therefore already available with this window (option) from 1967. Copies with this window from that year of construction are recognizable by the 'germless' bracket and are very rare and sought after today. The fixed rear window will later become standard. The Targa is a bull's eye. Until 1973, Porsche produces no fewer than 23.358 models of the 911 Targa and 2562 copies of the four-cylinder 912 Targa based on the 'Urelfer'.

 

The 911 Targa from 1974 in time-mind compensating trim. Photo: Pon
The 911 1974 Targa in zeitgeist-matching trim. Photo: Pon

Simply spectacular

When Porsche introduces the so-called G-model in 1973 as a successor to the ur-911, the Targa continues to occupy an important place in the range. There are no or hardly any external changes; the characteristic silver-coloured targa bar is matte black on the top model Carrera Targa from 1975; from 1979 all Targas have that black bracket as standard and the silver colored bracket disappears from the program. The 911 Turbo Targa that Porsche introduced in the 1986 model year is nothing short of spectacular. Until 3,3, Porsche produced only 300 of this top version with its 1989-liter turbo engine with 298 hp. Although Porsche put a convertible into production in 1982, a large proportion of customers remain loyal to the Targa concept, although that number is dwindling in favor of the convertible. Still, 29,2 percent of the 196.932 buyers of the G-model still opt for the Targa (57.349 units).

Permanent all-wheel drive

Porsche introduces the new 1989 in 964. The model is unmistakably a 911, yet 85 percent of the parts are new or renewed. For the first time in the history of the 911, the Targa is also available with permanent four-wheel drive, Tiptronic, power steering and ABS. The very last air-cooled Targa with the characteristic targa bracket and a classic folding roof that can be stowed away in the front, came off the production line in 1993. The Targa version of the 964 is very exclusive: only five percent of 911 customers opt for the concept in the last year. Porsche has built 3534 copies of the Carrera 4 Targa and 1.329 of the Carrera 2 Targa.

 

The last of the air-cooled Targa mohikanen: the 993 with panoramic sliding roof. Photo: Pon
The last of the air-cooled Targa Mohicans: the 993 with panoramic sliding roof. Photo: Pon

Last air-cooled series

The new 993 Targa will be at the IAA in September 1994. Until its return in 2014, the targa bar makes way for an innovative panoramic glass roof on this 911. It can be opened electrically at the push of a button, whereby the center section disappears under the rear window. The new concept mainly benefits the noise level in the interior. Until 1997, Porsche built 4.583 copies of the 993 Targa. It is the last air-cooled series to run off the production line in Zuffenhausen.

 

2 Comments

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  1. Eggplant, the color of a neighbor's 930. Where his Scimitar before had suffered from some aches and pains after a weekend of touring, the 930 turned out to do its air-cooled work without hassle and fast if necessary.
    Fly-over Utrechtsebaan/A4 with 150? Not a peep. Oh yeah. If it couldn't be a little harder. 🙂

  2. They are and remain BEAUTIFUL cars.
    Unfortunately not something for the more limited purse.
    Although the progress with water cooling was good, the sound of such a 6 cylinder boxer with air cooling remains something to remember. Driving around with such sound decor is the end, right?

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