Why is the Porsche 911 so cool? What is it that gives this car its undeniable special charm? Do you have a rich uncle?
How are the above three questions related?
O.K. Let’s start.
I do have a rich uncle. Built his business right from the bottom up, he did. Lots of grinding and seven-day work weeks; lots of stress and worry; lots of inspiration and brilliance. But mostly just working day after day at it…..and then more days working.
A 911 Means Success
But then a day came when my uncle said to himself: “Now, I’m successful.” In fact, in future years he would become much more successful, but on this first “successful” day, as he told the story, he decided to reward himself. He went out and bought a used Porsche 911. Then, over the next few days, he called all the extended family to have a look, and more importantly for me, to have a ride in his German wundercar.
I remember my first sight of that white 911: It was tight, compact, small even (remember, I was a pukka Canadian boy brought up on American iron all the way). It was strange looking, the lines sort of “flowed” from the low center point of the front bumper rearward to the low boat tail at the back. The headlights stood high and bright in contrast. Overall it was very pleasing to just look at. Unique and pleasing. And here we are beginning to answer the questions with which we stared this post: What gives this car its undeniable appeal? Well, good looks, for one.
Playing with the Porsche
My uncle then played a silly game with each of us and said: “And let me show you the engine. It’s fantastic.” He proceeded to the front of the Porsche and opened the bonnet while we peered in and saw this:
“Oops!” he burst out. “Sorry. It’s back here, hee, hee.” And led us to the back, opened the engine cover and showed us this:
The adults said “Wow!” and we kids said “Huh?” and everybody clambered for a ride. My uncle spent the better part of that afternoon tooling each member of the family around the town, joyriding in his cool 911. So, does having a rear engine automatically make a car cool? No, not by itself, but this fairly uncommon engine position, at least among very high performance machines, does increase the “cool factor” of the Porsche 911. Definitely.
Supercar vs Muscle Car
Going from boyhood memory here, I’m pretty sure my uncle’s 911 was a 1967 model, same year as my Dad’s Mustang 289, and the differences between the two cars and between their design ideals was a constant source of energetic argument between my Dad and my uncle.
“Bill, those Euro cars like your 911 may well nip and zip around, but there’s no real beef to them. You put the pedal down and not a lot happens compared to the noise you’re getting. And they spend lots of time in the shop.”
“But, Tom, look, what’s the point of all that acceleration if you can’t truly harness and control it with good handling and braking?”
Then they would get into an, to me at the time, arcane debate about the benefits and limitations of air cooling and its effects on specific power potential, engine all up weight, etc., etc. and on and on. I didn’t understand what they were talking about, though I do now.
Now my Dad’s criticism of those early 911s had some truth to it: the Canadian winters were hard on European metal generally (but my uncle did not drive his Porsche in the winter, anyway) and overall reliability of a 1960’s European sports or performance car was not equal to the reliability of a fundamentally simple American car like his Mustang. Porsche reliability dramatically improved in later years, however.
When my turn for a ride came, I was just thrilled, and thrilled with how different the 911 was, how we really stepped down into the car, how the cabin was tight, and how the engine was just so…..noisy!
“WRAK…PUTOK…PUTOK….BLAAA!!” And off we went. If was fun! It was special! It was cool! It was an air-cooled Porsche 911.
So I’d say that the high “cool factor” and the special charm of the Porsche 911, and especially of the classic air-cooled 911s that were in production until 1998, is due to the beauty of line and uniqueness of concept: A rear-engined, air-cooled supercar.
But was my uncle’s old 1967 a “supercar”? I mean, for all that wonderful engine noise, it wasn’t really all that fast, it seemed to me at the time. Recall that most of my in-car experience had been in my Dad’s Mustang 289ci (4.7 liter) V8 with an easy 0-60 time in the low sevens, whereas those early 911s had a 2 liter flat six that was not the most torqy engine in the world so that, on Canadian gas, I don’t think that my uncle’s car was running sub eight seconds.
911s Get Hotter, and They’re Hot Now In Japan
Things started to change real quick in this area in the world of Porsche 911s though and, by the early 1970s, the cars start to put on beef and power; as this excellent full side-on shot of a 1973 911T shows so well.
Engines go up to 2.4 liters and 0-60 times drop to sub six seconds. At this point our beloved 911s are solid supercars, and are leaders in the supercar world; and they never lose that lead.
And yes, this power and performance does add to the cool factor and the charm of the Porsche 911. Amazing unique looks, special layout and design, power…these, and more, are what make the 911 so special in the world of supercars. I guess that now we’ve answered the first two questions with which we started this post.
A Bit of Bragging
We have had great success here at Japan Car Direct in finding good used Porsche 911s, both at the Japanese used car auctions and at the specialist dealers. And we’ve talked here about why it is that if you are looking for a good, clean used Porsche 911, importing one from Japan has got to the first option you look at.
The reasons for this are many and, if you’ve been thinking for a while about doing a self import on a used Porsche from Japan, you likely already know them; things like the overall excellent condition of these cars due to them usually being given excellent care and love and regular maintenance and being garaged year round. The climate is mild here in Japan and salt is not used on the roads in most places. And the mileage of used vehicles in Japan is generally very much on the low side.
Now let me show you (O.K…..let me brag a bit) some of the excellent Porsche 911s that we have exported direct from Japan to very happy new owners in Europe (EU), Britain, the USA (really good over 25-year-old cars that easily clear the import regulations to the States), Canada, and Australia.
You will not get more on target in the world of high-performance air-cooled Porsches than this:
A 1988 911 Turbo 930. Coming out 21 years after my uncle’s early 911, this 930 series car will leave that old two liter NA far behind as it hits 60mph from a standing start in about five seconds. We scored this car in Tokyo at a used car auction and if you ask 911 fans: “Is it this perfect Porsche?” Many will give a resounding and enthusiastic “YES!” Check him out on our main site here.
If you want your 911 just a wee bit calmer, this Carrera-2 here that we recently exported gives you the 3.6 liter air-cooled flat six with normal aspiration (NA) and an automatic transmission.
With these cars that we are sourcing in Japan, older does not at all mean that there will be more miles on the odometer. The 1993 Carrera-2 came to us with 84.000kms (52,200 miles) miles on him; pretty well the same as with the Turbo 930. But this very clean 1987 Carrera here
had an amazingly low 36,174kms (22,500 miles) on him. The looks and design of this car are just so pure.
We have sourced and exported quite a number of really excellent Porsche 911s, as you will see if you poke around in our Exported Vehicles section here.
We don’t put all our vehicles in this section, heavens no!, but you’ll get at least some sense of the 911s, older and newer, that we deal in here at Japan Car Direct. What’s on there is just a sample of what we have found here in Japan for happy 911 fans overseas.
Not Only 911s
And it’s not only 911s that are coming to us from the Porsche fleet in Japan. We’ve recently exported a very nice 2003 Boxster
which you can see here.
and a rather more practical (and very well priced) 944 Turbo,
which is on our site here.
Again, these are just a sample of “our” Porsches. I’m shamelessly bragging here, I know it, but these used Porsches from Japan are really worth it.
And as you look around our Exported Vehicles section you’ll see more of the stunning (and stunningly good value) German supercar iron that it has been our privilege and pleasure to export; cars like the SL55 AMG that I mentioned in Part 2 of this series of blog posts.
And how about this one here for you guys looking for AMG’s modern take on the classic sedan-bodied supercar? A 2011 CLS63.
Great European Supercars, like what I’ve shown you in these three posts on European Supercars from Japan, and more, are available here in Japan to provide just what you want when you are looking for a good condition, low miles supercar, be it a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz AMG, Porsche, Maserati, or others. From older classic to more modern, newer machines, the used car market here in Japan is indeed excellent.
And if you want a super, classic, air-cooled Porsche 911 like the one my uncle had, they are available here, even now; I’ve seen them. They are as beautiful, as charming, as unique, and as cool as they were back then in those happy days when he said: “Now, I’m successful.”