OLD WESTBURY, New York — We were recently in attendance of one of the country’s largest gatherings for air-cooled Porsches in the heart of Long Island, just 30 minutes east of Manhattan. The second-annual Driven to America car show typically dedicates its tribute to classic and vintage Zuffenhausen thoroughbreds.
This year was particularly special as Porsche is currently in the midst of celebrating its 70th anniversary as a luxury sports car maker throughout the 2018 year. The show also commemorated the cars brought to America by famed European car business magnet and importer, Max Hoffman.
So the show wasn’t just summoning a very large gathering of 356s and early 911s. Later water-cooled models, such as the 928, the 944, and newer variants to the 911 were in attendance in great numbers. There were even a few 914s. For the first time, Driven to America also displayed a Mercedes-Benz W198 300SL Gullwing, a W121 190SL, an original Volkswagen Beetle, a Jaguar D-Type, and a couple of BMW 2002s.
Here are a few picks of our favorites from this year’s Driven to America show, paying tribute to Porsches of all kinds and the legends of famed European car importer, Max Hoffman.
1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Speedster
Using the 3.2 Carrera series that still largely depended on the original 911’s platform dating back to 1963, Porsche introduced option “M503.” For the 1989 model year, at the later end of its 3.2 Carrera series’ life before the Type 964, Porsche paid tribute to its Speedster tradition by essentially taking the 911 Carrera 3.2 “SC” cabriolet from the mid-1980s, applying some modifications and exclusive options, and limiting production. The biggest changes included lopping off some of the windshield for a low-swept screen, deleting any sort of folding roof mechanism, and limiting production to 2,104 examples between January 1989 and July 1989. The result was the Porsche 911 Carrera Speedster. It could be had with either the standard “narrow-look” of the 911 Carrera, or it would be fitted with the same wide-body kit used on the 930 Turbo. Power came from the same 3.2-liter naturally-aspirated flat-six as the standard Carrera with 215 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of twist. Porsche also offered a Speedster version of the 930 Turbo.
Porsche 930 Turbo and 930S “Slantnose”
Easily one of the most distinguished of the late early 911 models, the Porsche 930 Turbo roots the company’s legendary result of slapping a turbo on its renowned 911, making one of automotive history’s greatest performance icons. Built from 1975 and 1989, the 930 Turbo served as Porsche’s flagship model, once taking the title as the fastest production vehicle during its time and the company’s first-ever turbocharged production model. Porsche began experimenting with turbocharging in the late-1960s for its potential use in motorsports. By 1975, FIA homologation requirements continued to require production version of participating race cars in order to be qualified. Thus, the 930 Turbo was born. It launched with 256 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque, which doesn’t sound like much in today’s numbers. But for such a lightweight vehicle with a short wheelbase, it was an incredible amount of power. This also resulted the 930 Turbo in being very demanding and difficult to drive at the limit from being prone to oversteer. And thus, it earned its nickname, “the widowmaker.”
The “Slantnose” 930S featured a unique front-end with hideaway headlights, and a heavily raked front-end, paying tribute to the Le Mans 911 race cars of the period. The package was incredibly expensive, making examples quite rare. And it wasn’t just for looks either as the flat-nose design greatly improved aerodynamics, making it faster than a standard 930 Turbo.
1964-1965 Porsche 904
The mid-engine Porsche Type 904 is most known as the original Carrera GTS from 1964 to 1965. It came to fruition as a production version of Porsche’s new 904 race car. The company sought to compete in the international FIA-GT (grand tourer) racing series having ended its participation in Formula One at the end of the 1962 season. The 904 debuted in late 1963 for the 1964 racing season, succeeding the original 718. For the 1964 season however, the FIA-GT Group 3 rules required a certain number of production street-legal models in order to qualify. So the company obliged. Power came from a choice of three engines: a flat-four, flat-six, and flat-eight, all featuring 2.0-liters of displacement. The result was a 0-60 time that remained under six seconds for all engines and a top-speed of around 160 mph.
1958 Porsche 356 Carrera Zagato Speedster
This unique Type 356 is the first Zagato-bodied Porsche, featuring an exterior design penned and shaped by the renowned Italian coachbuilding firm. Limited in production, this specific example was recently full restored by renowned American vintage car collector and Porsche lover, Herb Wetanson. The aluminum-bodied Type 356 Carrera Zagato Speedster itself was originally built for one of France’s most storied racers and Porsche loyalist, Claude Storez. It featured the 356’s most powerful engine at the time—a quad-cam 2.0-liter flat-four from the Carrera 1600 GS—while weighing less and being more aerodynamic than a normal 356 and was destined to participate in the world-renowned Mille Miglia rally.
1972 Porsche 914-6 GT Tribute by Gasworks Garage
The Porsche 914 might be a bit unloved and overshadowed by the original 911 Carrera. But it came to existence after Ferry Porsche wanted to produce a cheaper model as the 911 became more expensive by moving upmarket, and Japan introduced the significantly cheaper and far trendier Datsun 240Z. In its most basic form, it came with a 1.7-liter flat-four from the lowly Volkswagen Type 4. To try and coax more power-hungry individuals, Porsche later offered a 2.0-liter flat-six, resulting in the 914/6. Though far rarer than four-cylinder 914s, the 914/6 is certainly the more desirable model. This specific example pays tribute to the racing version of the 914/6, known as the GT. The original race 914/6 GT came with a 2.0-liter flat-six, but this custom car done up by Gasworks Garage comes with an official 2.7-liter “911/83” flat-six originally from the 911 Carrera 2.7 RS with 230 horsepower on tap and a variety of other mods to suit its owner.