Point One

This forgotten 911 SC variant packs a punch.

December 10, 2009

Also from Issue 180

  • 997 Sport PASM vs. regular PASM
  • Preview: 2011 Boxster Spyder
  • 2009 Corvette ZR1 vs. 997 GT2
  • Troutman-Barnes four-door 911S
  • Patrick Long 2010 GT3 Cup Tire Test
  • Modified 997 GT2
  • Market Update: 1989–98 911
  • Interview: Dirk Werner
  • Project Cayman: Lightweight Seats
  • How Not to Own a 944, Epilogue
  • Tech Forum: TPMS Part 1
Buy Excellence-180-cover
911 SC 3 dot 1
911 SC Engine
911 SC Cabin
Point One 4
Point One 5
Point One 6

Set Bill Blincoe’s 1980 911 SC next to one of its contemporaries and you won’t see anything to distinguish its stance. Start its flat six and you won’t hear anything to distinguish its rumble. Tool around at mundane speeds on partial throttle and you won’t feel anything to distinguish its performance.

If you roll hard on the throttle in third gear, though, you know something’s up. As the revs build from 2000 rpm and go past the big 3 on the tachometer, it’s clear that this isn’t your average SC. It feels more like a Carrera 3.2 than an SC 3.0 —and yet the car is entirely stock, just as it was delivered from the factory.

In 1984, Blincoe’s penchant for Por­sches had him frequently looking to add something different to his garage. A friend traveling to Hamburg happened into Raffay Porsche, where a unique, low-mile Targa caught his eye. A call was made, and Blincoe quickly jumped at the chance to acquire a very unusual piece of Porsche history: a factory 3.1-liter SC. In acquiring the car, Blincoe took advantage of a loophole in the law.

“In the 1980s, you could import all the cars you wanted, provided you converted them to EPA specs,” he begins. “But each person could do a one-time exemption on the EPA standards.” DOT standards still had to be met, but that was easy; the key was that the mechanicals could be left alone. Still not sure precisely what he’d purchased, Blincoe arranged to have the 1980 SC shipped across the Atlantic.

Porsche’s 3.0-liter 911 SC, successor to the 2.7-liter 911, came at an interesting time in Por­sche’s history. Tightening emissions requirements (both noise and exhaust) made it more difficult to develop soul-stirring power from its air-cooled six. Concurrently, Porsche made moves to pin its future on something other than the rear-engined 911 platform. More specifically, Ernst Fuhrmann ushered in two performance-oriented, front-engined players: the 928 and 924. And he positioned them to chase the 911 into its sunset.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the 911 received short shrift from a development standpoint in the late 1970s. Aes­thetically, the SC was little different from the 2.7, gaining only a pair of modest rear flares. Mechanically, the transition to 1978’s SC resulted in a simplification of offerings. Notably, Rest of World buyers were no longer offered a high-performance variant when the popular Carrera 3.0 was terminated after 1977. 1978 model-year buyers received 180 hp from the SC’s detuned 3.0. Though this was a bump of 15 hp from the previous generation, the performance improvement was tepid because the 911 continued to add weight, moving up by about 100 pounds between 1977 and 1978. The situation was particularly disconcerting to RoW performance enthusiasts who no longer had that 200+ hp option — unless they bought a turbocharged 930.

Meanwhile, magazine coverage of the likely 911 phase-out caused a backlash from aficionados who voiced strong preference for the 911 as the “true” Porsche. Fuhrmann’s stance on the future of the 911 tempered slightly: “We will build this car as long as people want to buy it… Only when production volume falls below 25 per day will we have to end it.”

Softness in demand for the first-year SC rebounded moderately in 1979. And since the production-level threshold to continue manufacture was comfortably exceeded, the 911’s future grew more secure. No doubt, this confounded not only Fuhrmann but those automotive journalists who felt Porsche had finally created a 911 at the zenith of its technology-demand nexus.

Connect with Excellence:   Facebook Twitter