1987 911 Cabriolet
I can totally see myself driving this thing home to Greenwich after spending my day hawking junk bonds on Wall Street. Buy! Sell! Coffee's for closers! (OK, wrong era.) I mean, does anything say '80s yuppie like a red 911 Cab?
Paul Tagliamonte bought this car twelve years ago with 7000 miles on it. Now it's got 16,884 miles on the clock. Basically, I'm getting an accurate facsimile of a new 911 test drive, circa 1987.
By that time, the 911's engine was up to 3.2 liters and 214 hp. But the behind-the-wheel experience is remarkably similar to the 1973 car. Driving these two models back-to-back, you can see how glacially the 911 evolved -- and even then, the refinements were mainly mechanical. Legend has it that the styling changed so little over the years that the windshield from a 1964 911 will fit any model up to 1998.
It's been a while since I drove any car from the '80s, but I'm pretty sure power steering was a common feature by 1987. Not on the 911, though. Midway through a corner, I hit a seam in the pavement and am faintly amazed to feel the steering wheel twitch in my hands. Was that just...bump steer? Wow. The Lotus Elise has nothing on a vintage 911 for steering feel.
It's a sunny day, but I keep the top up. Tagliamonte says it's easy to lower the roof, but the two special wrenches sitting on the passenger seat hint otherwise. Even in 1987, you needed tools to put the top down? I'm beginning to understand why Porsche felt the need to develop the 928. By the '80s, the 911 exhibited some alarmingly anachronistic elements. Or charmingly anachronistic, depending on your perspective.
Tagliamonte points out that this car represents a different era, not only for technology but for Porsche's manufacturing methods as well. "I'll tell you what I love," he says. "In 1987 they still did fine coachwork. It was artisan work. They were like the German versions of U.S. hot-rodders -- you poke around the car and see that they used really cool brackets and mounting methods and hardware. Everything was built to incredibly tight tolerances. It's very apparent that the car was handbuilt. The sheetmetal has hammer marks where they folded it over."
They literally don't build 'em like they used to. In the case of the 911, progress is at least a little bit bittersweet.