Without a doubt, the "Porsche for the future," introduced as model 901 at the Frankfurt International Auto Show in September of 1963, was lightyears ahead of the old 356C in terms of sophistication of design. But the 911--as the 901 came to be known--was rather expensive to buy and to maintain, primarily due to its mechanically complex 2-liter overhead cam 6-cylinder engine.
Traditionalists in the Porsche camp weren't impressed. Especially the hefty $6,500.00 price tag gracing the new car--a 50% increase over the 356--had old-school enthusiasts up in arms. They had been happy with the spirited but trustworthy 356SC engine and formally complained to the Professor. His prompt reply came in the guise of the Porsche 912.
The 912 was basically a 911; however, instead of the 911's flat six, it was powered by what turned out to be the final evolution of Porsche's 4-cylinder pushrod boxer motor. (Later cars, such as the 914 and the '76 912E were powered by Volkswagen engines.)
But even the 912 was expensive when new, costing almost a thousand Dollars more than the late 356. About 30,000 912s were built from April 1965 until 1969, when production of the "356D" was halted. Today, any rust free, unmodified 912 is a highly sought after collector's item. Here's all the prestige and pure motoring fun of a 911, served up with markedly lower maintenance fees.
More and more enthusiasts discover that the austere 912 actually is a fantastic car to own and drive. After all, any Porsche is fast enough to collect speeding tickets, however, the 912 being much lighter than its big brother, provides more fun, pound for pound, than most sports cars of the period, even super-expensive exotics.
The fabulous 1966 Porsche 912 presented here, VIN *456230*, is one of the finest cars of its kind we've ever encountered. Scrutinizing it closely reveals many desirable traits. It's an exceptional car, and if you are looking to become the proud owner of an exceptionally clean Porsche 912, this one might be it!
Beginning our inspection with the trunk, where neglect and damage tend to manifest themselves first, we are delighted to find an almost concours-ready environment. After removing the gray felt trunk carpeting, we admire nothing but rust and accident free sheetmetal.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Factory tool kit and matching spare (with correct valve clip) are very desirable items for the dedicated 912 owner. Note the genuine bakelite battery cover. Original details abound on this car!
Elevating the car on a hydraulic lift we survey its bottom, inch by inch. Yep, this 912 was sold new in California, has spent its whole life in the Golden State, and it clearly shows. The Porsche factory undercoating is beautifully preserved and has been sealed by a transparent coating that should provide lasting protection for years to come.
Just check out the pristine front suspension pan, the Achilles heel of any Typ901 ! The new owner of this car will not have to worry about corrosion on this Porsche!
While down here, let's look at the car's binders: Quite expensive to overhaul, the 4-wheel disc brakes nevertheless have been completely refurbished and stop the car with authority.
Porsche's drop-dead georgeous body was refinished in its original color, Polo Red (factory code #6602) several years ago, and still looks dynamite. There are some small, isolated imperfections and signs of use, but no flaws that would cause an enthusiast sleepless nights. Glass, brightwork, and weatherstripping are in excellent condition as well.
Turning our attention to the cockpit, we are struck by its inherent beauty and simplicity. Professor Porsche's son and grandson made sure the 912 would adhere to the father's philosophy of functionality. In comparison, most 2008 sports car interiors look like degenerate, fake-aluminum-and-wood-laced phantasies of bubble-headed Art Center of Design freshmen, where form trumps function.
Interestingly, perhaps as a nod to traditionalists, the 912's trio of circular gauges was designed to look more like 356 instruments than the ones found inside the 911. This one also features the super rare, optional oil pressure gauge.
This 912 was delivered new with two additional, very desirable options: the HELLA 128 fog lights (note original fog light switch on dash) and the beautiful wood-rimmed Porsche steering wheel. Everything here works perfectly, guaranteed!
The black interior is simply stunning! Both front seas have been professionally reconditioned, carpeting and dash upholstery have been replaced.
Also new is the white, correctly perforated headliner. Sunvisors are both original and lovely preserved.
Folding rear seats give family men a good excuse to purchase Porsches. There's space for the kids, sure. Hey, the 912 is a real 2+2 Grand Tourer! Everything's factory orignal back here.
Ready for a test drive?
Sure, but let's have a look at the engine bay first!
Wow! Toothbrush clean environment, proudly showing off all the original labels and decals, houses the original, Kardex-matching engine.
Close up photo of engine number *746493*; crankcase number is 616/36.
The flat four runs as good as it looks; it is said to produce 110 lively horses. During the rebuilding process, the owner decided to top off the motor with a set of brand new WEBER carburetors. This 912 is very, very fast!
Underside of engine and transmission look pristinely clean and ready for show, literally.
Note the "winged" KONI vintage series shock absorbers.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Details, from left to right:
- Heat exhanger box
- Heater cables, so often frozen, here in perfect working order
- Correct cylinder heads
- New carburetors with gold cadmium-plated linkage
Undercarriage, the pans: without even as much as a water spot, we call it show ready!
September 10 was just another sunny day here in San Buenaventura. Combining work with pleasure, we headed out into the Ventura hills, then down to historic downtown to grab a coffee at Starbucks.
Driving the 912 brings back memories of the 356SC. Sound and performance are very similar. Of course, the 912 offers vastly improved driver ergonomics and, via its longer wheelbase and lower center of gravity, transmits a feeling of utter safety. Weighing about 250 lbs. less than the early, 130hp 911 and possessing a performance-tuned engine, this 912 compares very favorably.
Unlike more pedestrian cars, old Ferraris and Porsches seem to have a soul. Piloting one can be addictive: true sports car enthusiasts love to have one of Enzo's or Ferry's children in their stable.
Returning home, we bask in the afterglow of a singularly satisfying experience. Somehow, extracting peak performance from this 42 year-old, small-bore sports car has a very high entertainment value!
Here's a unique opportunity to acquire a classic 1960s sports car, one that can be driven daily during the week, then shown on Sundays at the local cruise, parade, or car show with pride. This utterly reliable German is easy to maintain, mechanical parts--if needed--are affordable, low classic car insurance rates apply. It's the best of all worlds!
It is plain impossible to restore a mediocre example to the standard of this Porsche without losing the farm over it. If your heart desires a truly exceptional Porsche 912, this first-year example might be just what the doctor ordered!
We sold this Porsche 912 in January 2009 to a customer in France.
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