Today, our in-house Makellos Classics Porsche experts Greg and Matt are discussing the 12 weirdest moments and quirks of Porsche history.  A fly by list of those 12 moments and quirks are:

  1. Porsche T7
  2. Porsche 901
  3. Porsche Targa
  4. Porsche Sportomatic
  5. Porsche Family Drama
  6. Dual Battery Boxes
  7. The Oil Flapper
  8. The Porsche 917
  9. The Cookie Cutter Wheels
  10. 1976 Porsche 912E Impact Bumper
  11. 1976 Porsche 930 Non-Intercooler Turbo
  12. The Near Death of The Porsche 911

You can also expect to hear about some key players in Porsche’s history such as Ferdinand Alexander, aka Bootsy, Ferry Porsche, and Ernst Fuhrmann. The discuss a wide variety of models including the 911, 901, T7, the Targa, the 911S, the Sportomatic, Singer, ‘67S, ‘72S, ‘67R, 917, 911R, 908, 907, ‘73E, 912E, 914, 924, and 930. Matt and Greg also get in specifics when talking windows, wheels, gear destinations, shifting, converters, and so much more. Keep an ear out for mention of races such as the Targa Florio Race and Rennsport. This is just a quick glimpse into what you’ll find in episode four of The Pacenotes: a podcast about all things Porsche. So, sit back, enjoy the episode, and don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe.

Episode Transcript

Matt: (00:00)
Welcome to The Pacenotes, a podcast about all things Porsche. And today we're talking about the 12 quirks of Porsche's history.

Greg: (00:13)
Including the almost death of 911.


Matt: (00:13)
Welcome to The Pacenotes, a podcast about all things Porsche. I'm Matt. And this is Greg. So in Porsche's history there's always been a few just some different quirky things that Porsche has done or that have happened to them. So one of the first things to basically start off the 911 era before the 911 was really even called the 911 or the 901. It was the T7 which was...who was the one that created that?

Greg: (00:41)
That was Bootsy. So that was Ferdinand Alexander, so Ferry Porsche's son or Ferdinand senior's grandson. So that was his first, I wouldn't say first attempt but that was one of the attempts at developing the 901 which soon became the 911, which you know from the A Pillar forward looks a lot like the original 911, 901. But from A Pillar back Ferry Porsche didn't like it.

Matt: (01:10)
A little boxy.

Greg: (01:11)
He's like, "go back and redesign this." And then shortly after he penciled up and it became the 901 that we know of.

Matt: (01:18)
So that was I think in, I think he was doing that in...what was it it? It was the late fifties like fifty nine or something like that. Was it '59 or '57?

Greg: (01:27)
It was '59.

Matt: (01:27)
'59 they did that. Then in '63, finally became the 901.

Greg: (01:35)

Matt: (01:36)
And that's when they started kind of showing off the 901 and then it was released to the public in '64. Correct?

Greg: (01:42)

Matt: (01:42)
And that was only in Europe and we didn't get the the 901's in the states actually. We didn't get 911's until '65.

Greg: (01:52)

#2 PORSCHE 901

Matt: (01:52)
And that kind of takes us into the next point: the 901. So the very first 911 was considered a 901 and that was it. That was the first 82 cars or 901 cars and not 911 cars. And then Porsche got into a little bit of a predicament with Peugeot. Right?

Greg: (02:13)
Right, yeah. Peugeot had the patent on the three. It was basically the numeric designation with zero in the center. And so they had to scrap "901" and change a zero to a one, and it became "911". But you know the funny thing about that is that all the part numbers even through the long hoods and even some of the current ones that they haven't superseded yet still have the 901 part number designation in the first octet which is pretty interesting. So it's kind of like an "eh".

Matt: (02:45)
Those early 901/911's, 901's they had their own little quirks, a few different little quirks. I know the rear, underneath the deck lid, they had a little bar that was in that. Now you'll see all the stickers, and back then it was just a flat.

Greg: (03:02)
There was a stamp for the stickers later on but early on it was just flat. You know your washer bottle on the early models, '64, '65, was a soft bag rather than a hard plastic bottle that was in the front.

Matt: (03:16)
Wonder why that changed?

Greg: (03:18)
I'm sure that lasted long.

Matt: (03:20)
But yeah those 901's, they're cool cars. They're a lot more basic. They're definitely valuable today. If you can find them.

Greg: (03:27)
Yeah, there weren't actually released to the public. They're used for all their promotions and conventions. So, they weren't technically sold to the public but then after, you know 50 some odd years, they also became in public hands.

Matt: (03:39)
Well, the next point where I thought was kind of a quirky moment, and you know it's still a thing today, is the Targa.

Greg: (03:46)


Matt: (03:47)
The Targa started as--- Porsche didn't think they could make a cabriolet that would be legal in the States.

Greg: (03:56)

Matt: (03:56)
Right. I think they said that they thought the States were outlawing convertible cars.

Greg: (04:02)
It was a bit of a misinformation piece there. But you know that was their version of a cabriolet because they felt like they needed to have a structural target bar there to be able to sell within the States.

Matt: (04:13)
It's always the States that messed everything up.

Greg: (04:18)
Of course.

Matt: (04:18)
They didn't see the cabriolet until '83 and the Targa's, they started out as soft windows.

Greg: (04:27)

Matt: (04:27)
And so '67 and then part of '68---you couldn't get soft window cars in '69. They were very rare. And then in '68 they changed to the hard glass. And now, the, you know coupes are probably the most sought after cars but the Targa soft windows are pretty rare, so that's a collectible cars and and people do love those soft window Targa's. And I'd say they're probably about equal value because of the collectability of them.

Greg: (04:58)
I would agree. You know the Targa's, historically have gotten, you know, they take like a 10 percent cut on their overall value versus a coupe, with the exception of the soft windows. It was interesting when they marketed the Targa. To start off it was named after the Targa Florio race, which stuck. Which is a great name, and clearly a lot of other manufacturers have also taken that naming structure.

Matt: (05:25)

Greg: (05:25)
But they market it as a kind of, four in one top because you can have the top off, but the soft window up, you could have them both up, you could have a soft window down but the top on. So it's kind of a weird configuration that came around right around the same time they announced the 911S for 1967.

Matt: (05:40)
Which is one of your favorites.

Greg: (05:42)
It is one of my favorites.


Matt: (05:46)
One of the cars we have right here is the Sportomatic, which is in itself kind of a weird transmission that Porsche came up with. I think they actually had a similar setup in Volkswagens, correct?

Greg: (06:01)
Yeah, not truly an automatic. The first automatic ends up being the Tiptronic for Porsche. It was a clutchless manual system, which you know, we touched on in a previous episode.

Matt: (06:13)
It's similar to a Tiptronic because you can still shift, but you're shifting as you're shifting in a regular manual car. They're kind of funny cars. The first one I drove, I was always putting my hand on the shifter just to rest it there. The car would go into neutral and just rev up.

Greg: (06:30)
Just automatically go into neutral.

Matt: (06:32)
So, it's definitely a weird and awkward thing. It's kind of fun once you get used to it though. Yeah, I definitely like them a lot. It's just one of those kind of quirky things that Porsche did.

Greg: (06:44)
I mean what's odd about it is, yeah, you've got the micro switch on the ship console but then, actually it's you know, a solenoid and a pneumatic valve. So you have to have vacuum to be able to run this whole system and then you get into the shift lever itself or the the gear designations which you had "L", "D", "D3", and "D4", and so "L" was low, but they recommended that you start off in "D" unless it was like you know bad/poor weather conditions or a steep incline. "3" was,, you know they were a little longer gears than your standard third and fourth gear so it just gets kind of confusing for a lot people that just jump in and not see, "D", "D1", "D2", "D3", "D4".

Matt: (07:25)
Yeah, and actually they're such long gears I feel that you can kind of just stay in one for a long time and not even worry about it.

Greg: (07:32)
You could even start in any of the gears because it uses a torque converter, but that torque converter is also a torque multiplier. You can actually start off in D3 and it would go and wouldn't stall out. With these torque converters, you can actually come to a stop without the car dying. So it's a pretty innovative system.

Matt: (07:52)
It definitely is, for that to come out in the 60's. Did it come out in the 60's? When did it come out?

Greg: (08:00)

Matt: (08:00)

Greg: (08:02)
Yeah, it was right around the time of the 911S and the Targa. So I can imagine if you have a soft window, 911S, Sportomatic, then you've got the, call it a unicorn, but that's definitely a weird car to collect.

Matt: (08:16)
That would definitely be rare, I think you'd have to be a collector. So, go on the next topic.


Greg: (08:22)
So, the next piece when I think of Porsche's history was when they started to outgrow their kind of family operation, where everyone in the family was operating Porsche from an executive standpoint. In the early '70s Ferry Porsche, followed Honda's suit. Honda's CEO at the time said, you know, don't have family within your business. Since they were growing so large, he decided, you know what I'm going to bring in a separate supervisory board, which is going to be family members, but the executive board is going to be outside people. Which really, you know, it really bothered a lot of the kids and a lot of the people that were helping grow this business.

Matt: (09:06)
Before that it wasn't just family. It was mainly family running it, and what year was this?

Greg: (09:11)
Early '70s, I can't remember exactly when that happened. But I would say '71, '72, just don't throwing numbers out there. I know '72 is when Porsche design studio, when Bootsy Porsche or FA, came in. He was the one that designed the 901 and 911. He came in and said, "you know what, I'm just gonna start my own thing" and did Porsche design, which wasn't really car related. It was you know high end furniture, luxury watches, you know just lots of stuff, which I've had the chance to go to Europe and Austria specifically where their studio is at. And you know, they did all sorts of design for, you know, they did a Blackberry, a Porsche Blackberry.

Matt: (09:55)
Well, you hear that Porsche is an engineering company first.

Greg: (09:58)

Matt: (09:59)
So you know, it's not the only thing they do is make cars.

Greg: (10:03)
Right. They loan themselves out to a lot of different manufacturers to help them out in different areas. I know they did a lot of work on recent Corvettes as well.


Matt: (10:11)
And you mentioned the year '72, which is another topic we'll talk about in a little bit but that was an interesting one in Porsche's history as well. But before that, I think one of the next things we want to talk about and bring up is the battery boxes, the dual battery boxes in '69. In '69 Porsche lengthened the wheelbase of the cars to put four inches for durability purposes, as well as they added two battery boxes in the front of the car: the dual battery. Which was to even out the ride also. And previously, actually I'm getting to the next one, we'll talk about that next.

Greg: (10:54)
Sure. Yeah ,that was their their form of load balancing. I'm building a '67S here and I know one of the big pieces with that was (and even the non S's), they had bumper weights, which are hilarious the fact. The fact that I even went out and bought them is odd because, why are you gonna want to add extra weight to your car? But it was an originality thing.

Matt: (11:17)
Not speed holes as bumper weights?


Greg: (11:18)
Yeah, exactly. And yeah, just big old weights that you stuck in front. That was their form of offsetting the weight of a rear engine car, especially with a short wheelbase, but they were able to get away from that by lengthening the wheelbase, and then adding things like the dual battery boxes. To the next topic is that in '72, that side oil flapper.

Matt: (11:41)
The '72 is a very collectible year because of that. We've actually had a car like that here. Porsche designed the oil filler also for balance reasons, right?

Greg: (11:53)

Matt: (11:53)
But, the customers would be filling up their gas and their oil doors.

Greg: (12:01)
Which sent oil all over them. So you really have to not be paying attention, but people just weren't used to it. Normally they would be in the engine bay.

Matt: (12:10)
And they would mess up their engines. We actually had a car here that was not matching engine and the story behind that one was that it was a '72S, not a matching numbers engine, because someone filled up the oil tank with gas.

Greg: (12:22)
There's also a vintage race thing as well. So you see them a lot-- '67R had them. So obviously quick access, they didn't want to open up the rear bonnet.

Matt: (12:33)
Well now a lot of hot rods are having that rear oil door.

Greg: (12:38)
Yep, been seeing a lot of them.

Matt: (12:38)
Like the Singers, do the Singers have it?

Greg: (12:41)
Yeah, the singers have it.

Matt: (12:41)
The singers have it and a bunch of other hot rods. So it is a cool thing to do. Now people love it and people actually collect and love '72 to cars just because of that.

Greg: (12:52)
For a longtime people just did not like them, they were undesirable they didn't like the "oil flappers" as they called them.

Matt: (12:56)
I mean, you own a Porsche. You should know where the gas goes unless maybe someone else took the car out or something like that.


Greg: (13:02)
Right. So number eight I see is not so much a quirk as just, a very monumental part of Porsche race history specifically: and that's the 917. You know, there were very successful campaigns using the 907, the 908, which started with a flat 6. The 2 liter came out of the 911R and you moved over to the flat eight.

Matt: (13:29)
How many of those did they make, do you know?

Greg: (13:29)
Oh, 24 including the four prototypes of the 911R. You move to the 908 that was their 3 liter which made about 350 horsepower but what got really crazy is when they moved over the 917.

Matt: (13:47)
How many horsepower would the 908 have?

Greg: (13:54)
About 350. 907 you're about 270 or so out of that 2.2.

Matt: (13:59)
And you're jumping quadruple right now up to 1600.

Greg: (14:02)
I mean a lot of variations depending what race they're doing. If they're doing Can AM or whether they're having turbos in that variant or not, but at the very peak of that 917 is the 917 30. They're putting out 1580 horsepower.

Matt: (14:21)
Which is hilarious because in the '60s you were of our customers came in here and were saying that people would make fun of him because he had a 2.2 Liter and his friend had these American muscle cars and literally like five liters and stuff in them. It wasn't a Porsche thing to have 1600.

Greg: (14:41)
No, they've never played the horse power game. They're all about you know, management and weight and maneuverability. But this thing just dominated. I mean the thing was running 2.7 barra boost, it's nuts. That's what? Over 39 PSI. Even in today's standards, you're going on almost 1600 horsepower. You're in Bugatti realm at that point. The thing was super light, super. That was out of the twelve cylinder. So that was a 5.3 liter, so just nuts! And you have to remember, this is a car from the '70s. So yeah, when you watch these historic races and you go to Rennsport and you watch as things tool around, they're not just puttering. I mean you just you can feel that motor-- it's nice.


Matt: (15:27)
So, number nine: the cookie cutter wheels, which I have never personally liked. They are becoming more popular now though. A lot of people are starting to use them. And that came out, I think '72 or '73.

Greg: (15:42)
'73. I believe '73E's had them as an option because it was a six inch wheel.

Matt: (15:50)
They're lighter. Are they lighter?

Greg: (15:51)
Yeah, they're 6 x 15's. I'd say they're on par with a Fuch, but they're not forged, they're cast. So, you know some people like to use them for race purposes but, you know, I've seen them shatter. Versus just you know a Fuch would just bend and distort.

Matt: (16:12)
Those weren't on the 911's for that long. I think '74, '75 maybe and then they went on to the 944's right? And of course the lower model car which is water cooled.

Greg: (16:25)
A lot of times you would get them in the in the early G bodies. Unless you specified Fuchs, you got the cookie cutter. You'd get the sixteen inch variant of it. And that was a wheel by ATS. And it was a lightweight wheel, for for the cost it was great. It's just, you know, when I associate a wheel to Porsche it's the Fuch.


Matt: (16:48)
Well, I mean it was on the car for how many years? Like 20 something years these car have Fuchs on them, which are beautiful wheels. Moving on, next is number 10 which is that in 1976 Porsche wanted a new base model car or kind of a, what would you call it? A re-created base model car. So they came out with the Impact Bumper 912E. What do you think about these?

Greg: (17:21)
It's a special car. Yeah, I mean they had just decommissioned the 914. The 924 hadn't been developed yet so they needed something to be able to get people into the brand before they got to the flagship 911. So why not reboot the 912? You know, the 912 was a popular car even when they stopped selling it.

Matt: (17:43)
And they put the 914 two liter in those cars right?

Greg: (17:48)
It was a two liter. But what they brought in was from the type 4 which was a 1.7. So not like you'd find in the later 914's. The E staining, that was their fuel injected mod just like you'd see in the 911's. It was very reliable in the stance that, you know, they were galvanized at that point. So as one of the few 912's, or, the only 912 model to be galvanized and, you know, was a great little commuter. But they put so much emissions junk on there that the car resisted. The motor already was pretty underpowered and underwhelming. But then you threw on all that emissions and smog components and it was just bleh.


Matt: (18:31)
So that was 1976. And then in that same year, well for the U.S., they had the '76 930 Turbo, which was the first year for the '76 Turbo, for the 930 into the States. That car came out in Europe in 1975. This is kind of the next quirky thing, and from my understanding from what I heard Porsche wasn't really finished with designing this car. They just had a deadline that they basically just said "okay, we're done."

Greg: (19:00)
Push it out the door.

Matt: (19:02)
And it was a non-intercooler Turbo. These cars today are pretty collectable.

Greg: (19:09)
We've got one sitting right there.

Matt: (19:09)
The function wasn't wasn't all there.

Greg: (19:16)
Yeah, I mean it was the first generation, it was the first turbo car to make it into the States. So, you know, there's all sorts of coinage with that car being the widow maker, people not knowing how to drive turbos. You know, wrapping themselves around trees because they're boosting on a corner.

Matt: (19:31)
That even happened after the after the intercooler in '70. '78 they cut out the intercooler finally. Actually one of the stories from someone wrapping themselves around a tree was from here in San Diego. One of our guys had worked on this car before and basically the owner let his assistant drive the car and didn't really know how, and basically ended up boosting into a tree. So that was in San Diego. That was one of the last times of that happening and then the U.S. basically said, "no, we're not going to have these cars". Or, no, I don't even think that the US outlawed them, but because of all the bad press Porsche was getting from the US, he stopped importing those until 1986.

Greg: (20:24)
Right. And that's where you got your grey market turbos.

Matt: (20:27)
Yep. Which are great!

Greg: (20:28)
Yea, they're fun. But I mean yeah, today you wouldn't even think of having a turbo without an air cooler in some form. We've gotten to '76 and '77 where you get to stop lighter. You know you're stopped in traffic and it's hot. It's already an air coolant. So you're worried about that but then you know there's turbo.

Matt: (20:52)
That's why we're doing the air to water cooled on the '79 hot rod.


Greg: (20:52)
Exactly, that'll be exciting. And number 12...drumroll. Is the death of the 911...or proposed death.

Greg: (21:03)
So you've got in the early 70's, CEO Ernst Fuhrmann thought that 911 was getting a little long in the tooth. So I guess, the things kind of outlived its life and we need to replace this with a front engine car. The sales of the 911 were declining so it seemed like a great idea. So, the 928 began its development and came out in what, '78?

Matt: (21:31)
'78, yes.

Greg: (21:32)
And Porsche fans could not be more livid. They were just upset.

Matt: (21:38)
Yeah well even those cars today they're kind of a pain.

Greg: (21:41)
Some would go as far as boycotting that car and it just did not really stand for what Porsche had been standing for.

Matt: (21:50)
They still stayed out till '92 I think, is that right?

Greg: (21:53)
They had a good run. It's just, it wasn't...

Matt: (21:57)
It wasn't the 911. Well even today I mean Porsche tried to take the manual transmission away from the 911 because the PDK is so awesome. But the purists want the 911, and even now people are talking about moving the engine. You know, I think they do admit, the engineers admit they're moving it up a little bit. Eventually talk about mid engine you know, either they're talking about, what if they made all the cars Turbo. We know a lot of purists were upset about that.

Greg: (22:24)
So, for your GT variance, you know, it's that balance. Especially when you're selling a consumer product where you're going between what is the most efficient, the most effective because you're trying to win races. And what's making the best lap times and then what the consumer actually wants to drive. And you know, I've experienced both. I've had both. You know PDK, it's snappy and fast.

Matt: (22:48)
But how fast can you really go on the street?

Greg: (22:49)
We're talking the length of a second and now granite, PDK is definitely going to shift faster. You know, again kind of derailing ourselves from the story but yeah it's was on the same par. The 911 sales were still strong and they're so strong that eventually the 928 just kind of petered off.

Matt: (23:15)
Which they were trying to anticipate it. You know you got to give them some credit for that. But at the same time, they tried to kill the 911 and no one liked them for that.

Greg: (23:23)
The way that story goes is during one of the board meetings the individual that was in charge of engineering and design basically walked up to a chart with a black pen and there was the timeline of when the 911 was ending and all the other models were coming out and he just extended the timeline off the chart. and said this is what we're doing. And it's been great. You know what, I can't imagine.

Matt: (23:47)
He's correct to now.

Greg: (23:48)
I can't imagine not having the 911 in our lives. And that wraps up our 12 weirdest moments in Porsche history. So if you guys know of any others we might have missed, feel free drop in the comments below, subscribe.

Matt: (24:05)
So thanks for watching The Pacenotes, a podcast about all things Porsche.

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