During my many miles of walking I do during the week, I run through a lot of hypothetical car purchasing situations. One of those recently was “how much of a discount would you need to buy and own a (pre-PDK) automatic 911?” While certainly not the most common 911s, there are a handful of these traditional automatic gearboxes on the 964, 993, and 996. The 964 and 993 had a 4-speed, while the 996 gained an extra 5th gear. All featured “Tiptronic”, a term Porsche coined and owns, that allows you to select what gear you wanted to be in within some limitations. Most often people who bought these automatic gearboxes were those with a physical limitation who couldn’t drive 3-pedals or the old saying of “so my significant other can drive it too” when in reality that maybe happens twice a year and one of those times is driving it from the garage to the street because the driveway was getting resealed.
Naturally these cars didn’t just go off and disappear because they still have a ton of value, but you’d be kidding if you think all things being equal they would be priced the same as a manual gearbox car. Yes, the look, sound, and feel of an aircooled 911 is still there, but these older ZF gearboxes suck up the power and you notice it. That is exactly what is going on with today’s car, a 1991 C2. This has all the ingredients for a perfect 964. Amethyst Metallic paint, Speedline wheels, and just under 73,000 miles. Problem is, it has the automatic gearbox. Is the price discount enough to make you overlook that?
Let’s say for a moment that you came into an extraordinary amount of money and wanted to go vintage automobile racing. Of course, to prove your worth as an enthusiast, you’ll want to buy a historically significant car that will impress all the long bottom jaws, and few raise more eyebrows in the German realm right now than the 911. Truth told, the 911 is really the ‘new money’ of the vintage world – go try racing antique Bugattis or Ferraris, for example, and you’ll soon laugh at the budgets of Porsche racers…but I digress.
Ironically, there was a point in history where your scenario from today wouldn’t have been all that different from the past. Take the case of Diego Febles. Diego was born in Cuba under the notorious dictator Batista, but left in 1957 for “political reasons” you may have heard of at one point. Finally landing in Puerto Rico, Diego took to racing, and specifically racing Porsches. In the 1970s, this led him to be linked up with Peter Gregg’s Brumos Porsche group, and Diego proceeded to buy and build cars which mimicked Gregg’s famous liveries.
In his own right, Febels was fairly accomplished as a racer. He raced some of the most famous races in the world; of course the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring were naturals that Gregg and Brumos had excelled at, but he also raced at Road America, Mosport, Mid Ohio and finally even at Le Mans. This particular car is claimed to be his last ‘RSR’, but looks can be deceiving:
For some time, the 964 design was relegated to the “least favorite” column for many in the 911 world. Regarded as little more than a bridge between the classic 911 design of the 3.2 Carrera and the sophisticated modern beauty of the 993, appreciation for the clean lines and steadfast simplicity of the 964 has grown. It hasn’t hurt that the cars around it have rocketed up in value, either. So today let’s take a look at a prime example; a ROW 1991 911 Carrera 2 in Paint-to-Sample in Murano Green.
Unlike earlier cars, changes between the ROW 964s and North American cars were relatively minor (minus the special production cars, like the Carrera RS). Power from the 3.6 air-cooled flat-6 was effectively the same as its North American counterpart. The bumperettes were missing on ROW cars, and of course for Euro plates the center rear bumper section was slightly different. Without the 5 mph mandate, ROW cars didn’t have the heavier crash bars behind their bumpers either, nor do they have the collision bars in the doors. As you’d expect, the headlights and tailights are different, and Euro cars had sidelights that were missing on NA cars. Those headlights were adjustable in cockpit via an adjuster next to the key. Foglights were standard on ROW cars and they also had no third brakelight. ROW cars had larger fuel tanks, lower suspension, and a few other minor tweaks. Reading all of that would probably lead you to believe the ROW cars were lighter, and they are – somewhere around 50 lbs or so.
But here it’s not the missing 5-year-old’s weight you’re excited for – it’s just got to be the color:
Here’s another alternative air-cooled Volkswagen from Brazil. We saw the Brasilia recently – Volkswagen do Brasil’s answer to the Golf platform and intended to extend the life of the Beetle platform. Here was their attempt to modernize the Karmann Ghia – the infamous SP2.
‘SP’ referenced São Paulo where the SP and SP2 were produced. The early model had a 1.6 liter flat-4, while the SP2 moved up to a 75 horsepower 1.7 air-cooled flat-4 mounted in the rear. The proportions of the body styling seemed to suggest the opposite though, with the long, low hood and hatchback GT profile looking more like a traditional sports car than any VW had before. Other period designs were borrowed – the Volkswagen 411, the Porsche 924 and Audi’s 100 Coupe S all had similar angles. But it was probably Volkswagen do Brasil’s own Karmann Ghia TC (Typ 145) that looked the most similar.
Only about 11,300 of these ultra-rare, Brazil-only SP2s were produced. They’re about as legendary as air-cooled VWs get in the U.S., so when one pops up for sale it’s worth a look:
Do you ever wonder ‘What if VW had decided to make the Golf platform develop from the Beetle rather than the Audi 50?‘
Me either. But it’s an interesting thought exercise, and what’s interesting is that we actually have an example of what could have been. That’s because Volkswagen do Brasil did produce a hatchback successor to the Beetle, and here it is – the Brasilia. The Brazilian branch of VW utilized a Karmann Ghia floor, a 1600 cc Beetle motor and borrowed the styling from the Type 4s to create a small 3- and 5-door hatchback.
It was reasonably successful, too – Volkswagen do Brasil reportedly sold somewhere north of 1,000,000 of them over a ten year production cycle from 1973-1982. They were sold primarily in Central and South America, never making it past the Rio Grande officially, but kits of the Brasilia were also sent to Africa. The Brasilia remains the only mass-produced air-cooled rival to the Beetle, amazingly. Today, an absolutely pristine example is up on eBay:
In April, 2017, a very rusty, non-running and incomplete 1962 VW Bus appeared on eBay and caused quite a stir. When the bidding ended, the sale number was $20,100 – all for a chassis number. Why so expensive? Because it was a ‘Samba’, in this case a 23 Window version. If the Golf Limited is the most highly prized of modern VWs, the 23 Window shares nearly universal appeal and, consequently, value. You see, unlike the super Golf, the Sambas most definitely aren’t unknown to the rest of the world, and for the last few years they’ve been trading for numbers that make their air-cooled brethren from Stuttgart jealous. They’re so unobtainable, in fact, that I generally ignore them. But when I saw today’s pristine example come across my search criteria, I had to take a closer look because of the outrageous asking price:
This will be my last regular post here at GCFSB so I wanted to go out with a personal favorite: a 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera Club Sport. I won’t say that the 3.2 Carrera CS is the best 911 ever made, but for reasons of history and its particular quality it is my favorite. I grew up in the ’80s so the 3.2 Carrera and 911SC always have held a special place in my heart. As the classic 911 design would give way to the more modern 964 the Carrera CS served as a great way to send off these fantastic machines, which had played such an important role in solidifying the 911’s place at the top of the Porsche lineup.
The Club Sport followed typical protocol for producing a performance-oriented variant: the engine was blueprinted and rev limit raised, the gearbox was modified to provide closer ratios, the suspension was retuned for a more track focus, and unnecessary weight was removed. The CS wasn’t as stripped out as a 964 Leichtbau, but most creature comforts were gone and total weight savings was around 50 kilograms. Only 340 were made.
I have featured the Club Sport a few times over the years, ranging from ultra-rare original examples to modified track cars and in each case they were a treat to behold. I figured we could look at one final example, and it just might be my favorite of those I have come across.
A Tahoe Blue Metallic 964 is a color I used to never see come up for sale and then suddenly it seemed common. Of course, by common I mean that I have come across and posted three different examples over the past 14 months so they aren’t really that common, but given that none seemed to exist before that you get the idea. Of the three I have posted two have been Turbos and one was a C4 Cabriolet. Were I looking for a 964 those really aren’t the models I’d be looking for. What I’d be looking for is the one we see here: a Carrera 2 Coupe. So for me that makes this one the best of the bunch.
When speaking of regular 911s, i.e. not the various limited-production variants Porsche has released, the Targa always has been my favorite model and among the Targas the 964 is the one I like best. With the Targa, I like the slightly different profile the roll hoop provides and really like the versatility of the Targa top. The 964 gives us a little more modern performance and refinement relative to the 911SC and 3.2 Carrera that preceded it and it looks just a little bit better. The problem is we very rarely see them. There aren’t a ton of 964 Targas out there and many of those I do come across really don’t seem to be in great condition. Alas.
This one appears to be an exception: a Grand Prix White 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Targa with what the seller has listed as a Cream leather interior (perhaps Linen?) and 130,935 miles on it. We aren’t provided any details, but it looks in really nice condition given the mileage. It’s pretty pricey. That isn’t surprising with 964 Targas, especially the Carrera 2, but this one is pushing things a little bit. Nonetheless it’s still great to take a look at one of these.
Slate Grey, the preferred color of the famous Steve McQueen. This isn’t one of McQueen’s cars, but those who restored it seem to have had McQueen in mind when choosing how to proceed with their work. This is a 1973 Porsche 911E Targa painted in that wonderful Slate Grey, located in New York, with Tan interior showing a nice set of sport seats and a reported 54,100 miles on it. It has been fully restored and as it sits now looks quite good!
As the seller has noted, the 911E was positioned in between the entry-level 911T and the sportier 911S. It utilized a similar mechanically fuel-injected engine as the 911S, though with fewer horses (160 hp). Hydro-pneumatic struts replaced the torsion bars up front providing a smoother ride than the standard suspension available on the T. The E thus served as the luxury version relative to the more sporty 911S. Values, of course, tend to follow suit with the E slotting in between the other two models. However, the gap from the E to the S is far more significant than between the T and E.