There are few cars that make one stop and stare, yet whenever I see a Porsche 911, I stop and think there goes a man of means who has a superb choice in motoring. Such a man, in fact, is also a member of an esoteric group for last year just over 300 new Porsches went through the hands of their enthusiastic concessionaires, Porsche Cars Great Britain Ltd., who are part of the AFN Group.
In the coming year the number is expected to rise for there is no shortage of customers and the present economic crisis in the USA means that a few more cars should come the way of British dealers. The 1972 model Porsches include several changes which further add to their desirability.
The main change is to the engine, which has been enlarged from 2.2- to 2.4-litres (2,341 c.c. to be exact), and also has various internal changes which give more torque at a lower compression ratio. Internally the engine has a different crankshaft with longer throw, a new camshaft, different pistons and modified fuel injection on the E and S models. This drives through a redesigned gearbox with a new gate pattern which puts fifth in a separate plane by itself. Previously on Porsche five-speed boxes fifth was in line with fourth and first was opposite reverse.
Other changes include repositioning of the rear shock-absorber locations for increased roadholding and driving comfort, the relocation of the dry sump oil tank behind the driver’s door for easier access and better weight distribution and the use of black anodised metal for the grilles and Porsche lettering, etc. On the 911S model there is now a modified anti-lift front spoiler. Otherwise the cars remain unchanged.
There are also a few modifications to the 914 and 914/6 range which are only available in left-hand-drive form. The passenger seat is now adjustable, there are fresh-air swivel outlets on either side of the facia and there is steering column control for windscreen washers and wipers.
The Porsche 911 comes in three models, the T, the E and the S, differentiated mainly by engine power but also by other extras. Basically in DIN horse-power the T comes at the lower end of the range with 130, the E has 165 and the S has 190 b.h.p. The engines are similar, although the T has cast-iron cylinder barrels and runs on carburetters whereas the other two models have alloy barrels and use Bosch fuel injection.
These figures show increases over the 2.2 models of respectively 5, 10 and 10 b.h.p. with a very considerable increase in torque, while the lower c.r. makes the use of cheap two-star petrol possible. Even the S engine only has a c.r. of 8.5 to 1.
AU models imported into Britain are fitted with five-speed gearboxes (Sportomatic is an optional extra) and the 911T is available in standard or Luxe version, the 911E comes only as a Luxe and the S has all the gear anyway. The Luxe includes leather steering wheel, oil pressure gauge, oil tank level gauge, 6 x 15 alloy wheels, electric windows and extra trim.
The popular Targa models which allow fresh air motoring are still only made in left-hand-drive form but are available in Britain for an additional £400. The Porsche 911 is not a cheap car and the range starts with the T at £3,970, including tax, through the E Luxe at £4,827, to the top of the range which is the S retailing at £5,400. Sportomatic is an additional £88. These prices are only provisional at present.
Trip around the Porsche factory
Last month we were invited to join a party of British dealers on a trip to Germany to learn of the model changes for 1972 and see something of the factory and its workings. Readers may remember that some 18 months ago Volkswagen and Porsche, who had worked together on design and development contracts for some time, decided to form a separate company called VW-Porsche Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH (the VG for short) mainly to sell and market the Porsche-designed Volkswagen sports car which we now know as the VW-Porsche 914.
This new public company has blossomed tremendously since then and the VG now handles all sales and spare parts for the complete Porsche range from its brand-new headquarters at Ludwigsburg, just outside Stuttgart. The interesting point is that the VG is a publicly quoted company with two directors from Porsche, two trom VW, under the chairmanship of Dr. Porsche. The Zuffenhausen factory is completely a family business wholely owned by the Porsche and Piech families and this is now known as the “KG” in deference to the company’s official title Dr. Ing h.c. F. Porsche KG. In September of last year the capitalisation of Porsche KG was increased from 3 to 20 million DM and 1970 sales showed a new all-time high.
The Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen is perhaps a little cramped but a tour round impressed us tremendously and one can soon see why you have to pay that extra for quality. The amount of time and effort spent making sure that the bodyshells are perfect is amazing. Occasionally, when Porsche are under pressure, bodies are sometimes produced by Karmann, but the great majority are built in the factory, some of the larger pressings coming from outside. Porsche also spend a great deal of time making sure their engines run well and every power unit is brake-tested for almost an hour before it is installed in a car. A full set of torque and power figures is obtained from each engine and any that do not come up to the specification are rejected. This testing is carried out in a shop with almost 20 test cells each with a Schenk dynamometer.
Once the cars are complete every single one undergoes a road-test and again any with snags are rejected and have to be rectified.
We were greeted by Rico Steinemann, the former journalist and racing driver, who is in charge of the company’s large competition programme. Unfortunately we were not allowed to look through the experimental shop which is at present in the process of being transferred from Zuffenhausen to new premises some 20 miles away. Steinemann promised to let us look over this new department, once it is complete, which should be in December.
For the record Porsche’s turnover for 1970 was a cool 420 million DMs, some of this coming from the development contracts and long-standing franchise agreements. For instance, for every VW Beetle that is made Porsche earns 1 DM.
Just under 4,000 people work at the KG and last year produced 16,800 cars to bring the total of cars ever produced by Porsche to 157,375. Presently the production is split 83% Porsche 911s and 17% Porsche 914/6s. Of the 911s about 32% are produced in the Targa form. Before the recent crises in the States, over 40% of Porsche production was sold in the USA, 31% to other countries and 29% were home sales.
The formation of the VG at Ludwigsburg has brought a new and much more commercial aspect to the Porsche sales and spares organisation. In the latter department a former VW man has organised into smooth efficiency what in the past was a very hit-or-miss system and all the spares are now housed in a brand-new warehouse which utilises the very latest techniques of storage. On the sales side I was able to sit in on a dealer meeting where another ex-VW man was giving the British dealers a pep talk in the best American techniques of salesmanship. It was noticeable that the new sales force at VW-Porsche are particularly impressed with the way the British concessionaires handle their business.
So, despite the recession in the States, Porsche look like maintaining their lead in the prestige sports-car market and may even come up with a new model before long. The whispers were very quiet but perhaps it could be in the Ferrari/Lamborghini category. However, the new Porsche 911s with their increased capacity and performance become even more desirable than ever.—A. R. M.