1973 911T Targa
Tom Frisardi's 1973 911T Targa makes 140 hp and weighs 2380 pounds. Ponder that for a moment -- once upon a time, the Porsche 911 had roughly the same power and weight as the new Ford Fiesta.
If you've never driven an air-cooled 911 (and I hadn't), the first thing you notice is the pedals. They're hinged at the bottom, so the arc of their travel is the opposite of what you expect. Some idiosyncrasies are endearing, but I think I'd have a hard time getting used to floor-hinged pedals. There's barely room down there for my feet as it is, so I have to angle my shoes sideways to get a firm stab at the pedals.
I remark to Frisardi that it feels like there's nowhere to put my left foot. "Well," he says, "on the Targa cars they welded in extra reinforcements to buttress that area, and that makes the footwell smaller." Between this car and the tiny 356s, I'm starting to get the sense that bygone decades were populated by a race of delicate woodland nymphs. Step into the freak tent, and come see the mighty giant who stands five foot eleven!
We get a clear stretch of road, and I give the 2.3-liter flat six some revs. It's not the night before Christmas, but the phrase "there arose such a clatter" springs to mind. A new Porsche six-cylinder feels like it would spin smoothly to centrifuge speeds; this air-cooled contraption sounds like it might fly apart at 5000 rpm. It's wonderful. Between the manual steering and the boisterous sound track, this is the sort of car you could drive all day at the speed limit and still have a great time.
Then again, it's also a 911, and thus calibrated to reward hard driving. For instance, the brakes don't feel exceptionally strong at low speeds, but Frisardi assures me that they get better the faster you go. "The brakes aren't power-assisted, but when the adrenaline's going, they feel great," he says. Who needs power assistance when you've got the power of fear?