911 (1974-89): The Golden Age

The second-generation 911 offers classic looks and an exciting driving experience at a reasonable price.

1976 Turbo Carrera (930)

In 1974, Porsche introduced the second-generation 911. While the new car remained true to its rear-engine, air-cooled roots, a multitude of changes, ranging from a larger flat six to a revised body, made the new car a radical departure from earlier models. While some purists bemoaned the 911’s shift away from its minimalist sports-car roots, there was no denying the updated Porsche was a better car than its predecessor.

The most obvious revision could be seen at the front and rear: new “5-mph” bumpers that met new U.S. Department of Transportation standards intended to help protect a car’s bodywork and lower insurance premiums. While most manufacturers simply mounted larger bumpers on shock absorbers — aesthetics be damned — Tony Lapine’s styling department came up with perhaps the most elegant solution in the industry, so-called “impact bumpers” that were at once functional and elegant. The design was good enough to carry through to the 1989 model year, and even inspired legions of early 911 owners to “update” their cars by adding the heavier bumpers. Yet while the 911’s body remained mostly unchanged during this period, in typical Porsche tradition the rest of the car steadily evolved, with each new iteration becoming more powerful, more refined, and easier to drive.

Today, these cars deliver a tasty blend of old-school 911 looks and handling with good reliability and reasonable creature comforts, all at an affordable price. With more than 170,000 produced between 1974 and 1989, there’s a good selection of these 911s in the marketplace. In addition, with coupes, Targas, Cabriolets, Turbos, and several limited-edition models, there’s a car for every taste.

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