Six Decades, Seven Porsches

Brian Konoske

1965 356C

Considering it's a variation on the same model, Jeff Leeds's 1965 356C puts out a completely different vibe than the Speedster. It's no Cadillac Coupe de Ville, but the '65 hardtop is a far more refined vehicle than its roofless cousin. The roof and windows are nice luxuries, but the biggest difference is mechanical: four-wheel disc brakes.

The 356 feels similar to the Speedster in terms of power -- maybe a tad slower, actually, on account of its added weight (about 300 pounds) and, on this car, muffled exhaust -- but its brakes are thoroughly superior. And strong brakes are definitely an important asset in a car that exhibits, shall we say, a mild handling idiosyncrasy: terrifying lift-throttle oversteer.

In the Speedster, my distrust for the brakes precluded building much speed on the tree-lined test route. With the coupe, I'm confident enough to drive harder, braking in a straight line and then holding the throttle steady through a big downhill corner. I'm not going that fast -- perhaps 40 mph on a curve rated for 30 -- but I keep my foot on the gas just in case. I find it hard to believe that the tail would come out at this pace, but I'm respecting the 356's reputation. Leeds, for his part, is silent. That is, until I've got the wheel straightened and the corner behind us.

"I was hoping you wouldn't lift," Leeds says. Apparently, my modest speed was still quick enough to have caused an impromptu adventure in oversteer. "It's a swing axle, so lifting changes the suspension geometry," he says. "Once you're used to it, you can use it to rotate into corners. But if you're not used to it..." Leeds just lets that sentence hang. It doesn't bear contemplating, really. But we both know there were quite a few 356 owners who didn't last long enough to buy a 911.

I have recently parted with my 1987 Diamond Blue Metallic coupe. It was by far the most enjoyable car I have ever owned. I removed the cat, added a custom exhaust from B&B, installed a cold air ram system and had it chipped. The car put out way over 300 hp. It was a joy to drive just to listen to the engine. The pedal position was never an issue and nothing short of a turbo is a better car, even today than a late 80's 911 Carrera
And one last thing (this article really bugged me, obviously). Bump steer is not a twitch in the steering wheel when hitting a seem. Bump steer is from a suspension bottoming out, and a typically problem in "slammed" cars that have been lowered by hacks. Come on guys, really. And yes, it was common for sports cars to not have power steering in the 80's. Emphasis on sports cars...the typical chevy Impala did have power steering.
Too bad cars have all grown by one third or more on average. At 6'3" and 220 pounds, I never found a classic 911 too small. And I never had trouble adjusting to the way the pedals are mounted on the floor. The humorous exaggeration doesn't work in this case.
The author had never driven an air cooled Porsche? What is he, 16? At 42, I didn't think I was old enough to have nothing in common with the current crop of auto journalists. I recently read another auto journalist state he'd never driven a Z3. That dude must be all of 8 years old. And he pretends to know what the quintessential 80's yuppie car is? (It's a grey BMW btw). My 86 Carrera still keeps up with most anything on the track. And it's a rock solid daily driver.

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