My Ten Favorite Porsche 911s

Don Sherman
Paul Barshon A. J. Mueller Richard Newton Martyn Goddard Glenn Paulina

II: 1978 Turbo 3.3

1978 930 Turbo 3.3: For more than ten years, this 911 Turbo remained in production in Europe almost unchanged, with only minor modifications introduced in 1983, '85, and '88. It became a legend simply by being there. The Euro-spec model developed a healthy 300 hp, but the catalyst-equipped U.S. version was rated at a comparatively breathless 265 hp. Although a five-speed gearbox had long been standard in lesser 911s, the Turbo had to make do with a four-speed, which ran out of cogs at high revs and spun too fast at a leisurely pace. This was very much an old-school turbo that suffered from enough throttle lag that one was inclined to rethink every second passing maneuver. Its Matterhorn-shaped torque curve peaked 1500 rpm below maximum power, and it employed one large turbocharger that took ages to build full boost pressure but practically exploded when all 300 horses crashed the gate at once. Starting in 1982, Porsche offered a WLS pack, which added a conservatively rated 30 hp. This version, too, was hampered by Jekyll-and-Hyde running characteristics caused by the fact that the center-mounted blower was connected to the six horizontally opposed cylinders via a spiderlike network of extralong intake pipes. Since test cars at the time were dispatched only to major media, former racing drivers, and friends of the house, I had to wait thirty-two months for my first Turbo experience, but it got me hooked for good. Twenty-three years later, my garage was graced by a 996-series 911 Turbo Cabriolet. It lacked luggage space for my Samsonite, which traveled to and from Munich International strapped upright into the passenger seat, and it was fitted with the lethargic Tiptronic gearbox to make the car drivable for my wife, who tried it one wet winter evening, promptly got scared, and never went near the Turbo again.

930 Turbo 3.3
U.S. Model years: 1978-1979, 1986-1989
Engine: 3.3L turbo flat-6, 265 hp, 291 lb-ft
Transmission: 4-speed manual
0-62 mph: 5.4 sec
Top speed: 163 mph
Weight: 2867 lb
Production: 5817/15,022 (U.S./total)
Original price: $36,700 (1978)

1970s TECHTONICS | By Don Sherman

The second-generation 911 began building muscle by upping the engine size and power output from that of the original 1964 model's 2.0-liter SOHC air-cooled flat six. Stepping daintily to 2.2-, 2.3-, and then 2.7-liter displacements and switching to more sophisticated Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection for the 1974 model year, Porsche mustered the courage to launch the first 911 Turbo in the States in 1976. Code-named 930, it delivered 234 hp, nearly double the output of the 1964 engine. In 1978, the addition of an intercooler and a boost of displacement to 3.3 liters brought 265 hp. Closing out the decade with a bang, a race-prepped 935 version of the 911 with water-cooled heads and four valves per cylinder earned Porsche its fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 1979.

My favorite 911? Any one that doesn't need to visit my mechanic to fund his kid's post-graduate education.
My favourite 911 derivative: the Cayenne. *smirk*

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