In 1967, when Porsche was winning the Targa Florio (the Sicilian road race for which the 911 Targa is named), the first open-cockpit 911 debuted. Traditionally, 911 Targa models featured removable roof panels and hooplike B-pillars.
Then, for the 1996 and ’97 model years, Porsche’s designers decided to ditch the basket-handle look and go with a more streamlined design. As a result, the 911 Targa’s profile now mimics that of the coupe. An electric glass top slides back and out of the way, creating a hole through which solar radiation can infiltrate the cabin. In other words, the Targa is basically a Carrera coupe with a big sunroof.
Taking up where the last 911 Targa left off, the new Targa’s roof is an enormous pane of glass that slides aft twenty inches to create five square feet of open spaceabout twice the area of the 911 coupe’s sunroof (at a weight penalty of 150 pounds). With the roof open, a wind deflector deploys, keeping wind noise and buffeting to a minimum.
The top consists of two separate layers of glass with a layer of ultraviolet-blocking polymer sandwiched between; 95 percent of damaging rays are blocked, the equivalent of slathering your dome with SPF 50 sunscreen. When the roof is closed, a cloth screen further filters the light and serves to insulate the cabin.
For 2002, the rear glass is hinged at the top, effectively creating the first-ever 911 hatchback. Further enhancements, such as the three-spoke steering wheel, optional bi-xenon headlamps, and optional Bose audio system, are shared with the other Carrera models.
The flat-six engine has been upgraded as well. The DOHC 3.6-liter six now develops 320 horsepower (at 6800 rpm), 20 more than last year. According to Porsche, the Targa hits 62 mph in 5.2 seconds, just 0.2 second slower than the Carrera coupe. Top speed is 177 mphthe same as the tin-topped Carrerain case you decide to go catch some rays at the Bonneville Salt Flats.