16 March 2020

More than an old car #136: Porsche 911

Mention the numbers "911" and other than the US hotline number for the police, one would also be reminded of the car as well. 911s have always remained popular in Singapore, with an estimated 40% of all Porsche cars being this model across all generations. Old 911s still retain their old-school charm and inside their shell lies power and enjoyment, ready to be tapped by the intrepid driver. I was thus pleasantly surprised to come across this 1979 Porsche 911 SC just chilling out near my house!

The 911 traces its roots to sketches drawn by Ferdinand Alexander 'Butzi' Porsche (the founder's grandson) back in 1959. At that time, the 356 had been released to much critical acclaim and helped to make Porsche an established brand. However, it was also recognised that the 356 was becoming outdated and the engine was becoming more costly to make. With that in mind, Butzi ordered a new design to be conceived while meeting certain criteria, such as being able to fit at least 1 set of golf clubs in the car boot, still resemble the 356 in shape and having the engine at the rear. Together with Erwin Komenda, the lead designer for Porsche at that time, both men came up with the timeless fastback styling that continues to be recognised all over the world.

The prototype, known as the Porsche 901, was unveiled to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. However, Peugeot subsequently filed a complaint on the basis that in France, it had exclusive rights to name its cars using the "_0_" format (where the blanks are numbers). In order to avoid re-branding its cars in the French market, it was renamed to 911. 82 units of 901s were already made by 1964 before the name changed went into effect, making them extremely valuable today.

Cars considered as a "classic 911" were made up till 1989, with many generations in between. In 1978, a new version of the 911 was introduced, known as the '911 SC (Super Carrera)'. Up till this time, it had undergone a major facelift, with the addition of front and rear bumpers and was known as the G-series. Originally, Porsche intended the 911 SC to be the last 911 model, and were touting its 928 model as its flagship. However, due to strong sales of the 911, it was decided to inject new life in subsequent 911 cars, which turned out to be the right decision. It was powered by a 2993 cc 6-cylinder boxer engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225 km/h with an acceleration of 7 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4291 mm long and weighed 1160 kg, with a fuel consumption of 17 litres/100 km.

Around 58,914 units of the 911 SC were made and this is one of the few units that still remain, more remarkably on normal plates! 911 SCs were first sold in Singapore in 1981 by Ngo Hock Auto Spares Co. Pte Ltd, our first distributor of Porsche vehicles here. It retailed for S$146,557 [S$267,707 in today's money], which was quite a fair sum back then. Singapore units were equipped with air-con, headlight washers and power windows. Reviews back then praised its superb driving capabilities, although it cautioned about the possibility of oversteer for less experienced drivers. This unit has been "backdated", meaning that it has been modified extensively to look like a late 1960s 911. The centrally-located exhaust is a big giveaway: actual 911s have the exhaust pipe coming out from either the left or the right.

I last saw this unit 5 years ago at the same place, and it is nice to know that it is still around. The difference is that I was able to take a better shot with my camera, I hope it looks nicer now...! 911s have always remained legendary status in the classic car world and seeing one in the wild near my area was an added bonus. Even till today, the modern 911s still pay homage to its ancestors by adopting the well-known shape, matched with superior performance and sheer driving pleasure. There are a handful of old 911s still around and they appear once a while, do catch them if you can!

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