Less is More

Also from Issue 205

  • 2004 Boxster "Spyder"
  • 2014 918 Hybrid
  • The Vault
  • 1983 911 SC, rally style
  • 2012 Panamera GTS vs. 4S
  • PCA Parade Autocross in an early 911
  • Smart Buy: 1995 993
  • Driven: 2012 Carrera S Cabriolet
  • Windshield protection
  • Interview: Vic Skirmants
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As I use a normal 50-mm lens to shoot all of the photos, I wonder if I’ve seen a more beautiful example of a 912 coupe. Its original color is stunning, and its stance appears perfect for rural roads, with a rakish attitude and adequate ground clearance. When I’m done gawking, I ask for the keys. Before handing them over, Pomares asks the question that’s been on his mind for years: “What if you could have 911 power and 912 balance? Wouldn’t that fill the need for the propulsion of the upper-end 911 series yet retain the handling of the 912?” I guess I’m about to find out.

Even at an altitude of 4,300 feet, this 912 pulls like a freight train from a dead stop. The strong push in your back will have you believing there’s a hot-rod flat six behind you. It feels like a 2.4-liter 911E on steroids, with a flatter torque curve and more grunt throughout the rev range, especially from 4500 to 6500 rpm. It is not unlike a stock 3.2-liter Carrera flat six.

The sound it makes is glorious, with a snappy bark that bounces off the canyon walls. Pull the slick shifter straight back from second to third and you get that same effortless, linear thrust all over again — with no reduction in acceleration. The willing powerplant gets a second wind at 5900 rpm and pulls hard right up to the 7200-rpm redline. This is no underdog.

Back in second gear to carve through yet another curve, the Koni dampers — set to their middle range — feel ideal. The sense that the car has been fully sorted is undeniable. There are no squeaks, annoying rattles, or unwanted noises anywhere. The controls are butter smooth, with no slop. It’s among the very tightest classic Porsches I’ve driven. The grippy tires stretched over wide rims are unbendingly planted, and the chassis remains flat in the curves.

There’s less tendency towards oversteer in this 912 compared to a short-wheelbase 911, and it’s a touch nimbler. The resulting confidence inspired by this stable platform is welcoming. Even though I’m unfamiliar with the car, I never feel like I’m in the wrong gear or lacking for power when I need it. Speaking of gears, spacing of the ratios could not be better, and the tall fifth gear is perfect for freeway cruising.

You sit high in the seats, but their tall side bolsters keep you supported and their tartan plaid inserts add flavor to the experience — complementing the OJ-colored exterior perfectly. The big wood steering wheel is perfectly appropriate, and the plaques and decals speak of times past and present. The custom gauges, wood shift knob, brushed-aluminum dash, and vintage radio complete the look. The only thing that’s out of place is the passenger-side mirror, which is so small and low that the only one who can actually use it is the passenger. I love it.

As early 911 prices head for the stratosphere, the 912’s elegant simplicity becomes even more appealing. It has the same alluring lines as the 911, and the view inside the cabin is essentially identical. And, with a Polo motor thoughtfully placed in back, you’d be hard pressed to tell any difference in performance — though you might be traveling faster through the corners.

Polo motors may not come cheap, but “handles like a 912, goes like a 911” certainly has a certain ring to it…

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