The 1967 Porsche 911 S Is an Enduring Triumph of Engineering
Photo credit: DW Burnett
From Road & Track
The inclusion of the Porsche 911 in our search for the greatest sports car of all time was a matter of course. But which one? There are countless options from the 56-year running of the 911: air-cooled or water-cooled, turbo-charged or atmospheric, exotic or scratchy. In the end we went to the old school.
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Short-wheelbase 911s are irresistible. In its day, this 1967 911 Super was the club racer's choice, the kind you pounded on the track all weekend and then drove home. And while there are faster, more valuable, long-hood 911s, we wanted something that wasn't unobtanium when new. Brett Sloan of Connecticut air-cooled specialist Sloan Motors - check it out when you need a good drool - happened to have this recently restored one on the Italian market in Bahamian yellow. The lovely owner of the car let us borrow it.
This is an excerpt from our recent article, "The Quest for the Greatest Sports Car Ever Made," where we rounded up eight of the most important enthusiast cars ever made, tested them on the racetrack at Lime Rock Park, and named them an ultimate winner. Enjoy this chapter on the Porsche 911, but be sure to read the entire eight-part story.
Photo credit: Syd Cummings
When the track surface was dry, Sloan informed me about preflight procedures. Turn the ignition key (known to be on your left) to the accessory position and wait for the ticking fuel pump to prime. Then hold the throttle wide open while starting the engine. First gear is dogleg, left and down, and oh, "turn the shit off." Good of us.
The 2.0-liter six-cylinder of the 911 S is fed by two Weber IDS carburettors with triple throttles and set to a maximum torque of 5200 rpm, with the power only decreasing slightly up to the redline at 7200 rpm. After the warm-up laps, I took Lime Rock's long Big Bend in second gear with increasing engine speed to ensure a crisp exit to the only left-hander on the track.
Above 5000 rpm this wonderfully flat six drives the 911 in a way that denies its stated 160 hp. This 911 is a relic of another Porsche that would sell you a car that wasn't meant for a moment of puttering, just toothless speed.
Almost everyone had problems with this 911's Type 901 transmission - you need to know exactly where the gears are while rowing. Upshifts in first through fourth gear were common, and even those with significant experience in air cooling fell victim. "But when you get the layers right," noted digital editor Aaron Brown, "it's so satisfying."
"I have no idea how short wheelbase cars got their reputation as toothy things," said executive editor Kyle Kinard. "You're friendly like a spaniel."
"Its scary physics never left me," added assistant editor Bob Sorokanich, who emerged from his first turn in an air-cooled 911. "Which is probably unfair. The actual driving experience was docile and predictable. The way the car turns is magical."
The 911's steering is a high water mark even in this group of cars as there appears to be no filter between the thin front michelins and your palms. "Steering feel of a Porsche 356, an experience that is closer to sailing than driving," said Kinard.
Photo credit: DW Burnett
The wide, thinly rimmed wheel adds to this maritime atmosphere. The steering felt surprisingly light given the lack of power assistance. Be patient as you step in and let your weight shift as the car rolls over on the high side walls. Once the chassis is adjusted, use your right foot to set the curve radius. "Get it right and you will see half the fun is getting it right," said John Krewson. "Just don't forget to sign up," Brown added.
Senior Editor Zach Bowman summed it up best. "How happy," he said. “Charming noises. The way the hood just disappears. Nothing is good by modern standards, but I don't care. I just want to hug it. Long live the thin tires. "
1967 PORSCHE 911 S.
2.0 liter six-cylinder
160 hp / 132 lb-ft
Five-speed manual transmission
PRICE WHEN NEW:
An early 911 differs from most of the cars in this test; You have to drive around its quirks. In contrast to the Miata, Integra and Cobra, the Porsche is not a car that you jump and hammer in without experience. It's a car to grow with. I bought a Martin guitar from the fifties once, not because I thought it would sound particularly good in my hands, but because I thought I could eventually pull a good note out of it and it would be fun to get there . Maybe that's why I like these old cars so much.
I am glad we chose this 911 as well. You still get flavors of Porsche Volkswagen origins, which is a reminder that this car was an outlier in its day. The 911 has become so ubiquitous that we often forget that a sports car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled flat-six is weird. But just three years and a month after this car left the factory, Porsche immediately won Le Mans and changed the company forever. This car is a link between the small family business that used to be Porsche and the highly profitable luxury automaker that it became.
Photo credit: DW Burnett
In a way, it didn't matter which 911 we picked. This isn't a dispute with Sloan or the car owner - it's just that this coupe has stood for decades of Porsche sports car history. The 911 has evolved, combining simplicity and charm with ease of use, safety and speed. Nevertheless, it remains the benchmark, the standard choice in the field of high-end sports cars. Perhaps no other model series has remained so true to its core task.
Porsche began building rear-engined sports cars in 1948, just a year after Road & Track began celebrating a new breed of auto culture that emerged in post-war America. We declared the rear-engined car, the 356, to be the “car of tomorrow” in a road test in November 1952, our first Porsche. Porsche still sells you a rear-engined sports car today. It's very different from the old 356, but in the way that really matters, it isn't.
Click here to find out which vehicle won our eight car shootout.
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