Porsche presented its new 911 Carrera 991 Targa at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This legendary version of the 911 is back with a roof that pays tribute to the great Targas from the 1970s. Let’s have a look at the details of this brand new Targa, with a bit of history, and some technical details to understand how this new roof system works. Text : Mickael B. © Images : D.R. & Porsche ©
The first Porsche Targa was presented back in September 1965 at the IAA Motorshow in Frankfurt. The Stuttgart brand decided to design this special car due to a possible decision of the United States of America Department of Transportation, which would ban convertibles on the road, due to safety reasons when they overturned. As the US market was very fond of convertibles, most manufacturers decided to get to work to find an innovative solution. The idea of a removable hard top, which was the solution Porsche kept, was first proposed by Triumph on the 1961 TR4, with its roof simply called a surrey top. The Targa name Porsche adopted went from the famous italian race Targa Florio, where Porsches had been very successful.
1965, the world was introduced to what was going to become a myth : the Targa
The targa top was indeed composed of two removable parts. The front aluminium diecast frame with leather cover front part which was foldable, and the mini fabric soft top with plastic disc. Both parts could be removed separately and stored in the trunk of the car. In 1969, a heatable safety glass was mounted at the rear. Four years later, in 1973, Porsche planned to replace the top by a solid aluminium roof but enthusiasts and owners didn’t want that solution so in april 1974 the standard folding rood was back as standard, being not anymore available on option. In 1975, the safety bar was changed from silver to black, change which has been continued from the 1979 Porsche 911 Targa.
The most desirable and rare Targas were built in 1987 and 1988. 193 units of the 911 flagship, the Turbo, were built as Targas, with a four speed manual gearbox and sold for a little over 130’000 Deutsch Marks. 104 additional Porsche 911 Turbo Targa were built in 1989. An other unique Targa was built based on the 1989 911 Carrera Club Sport. In total for the 911 G-Model, the Targa was a real commercial success, with 57349 units built, which corresponds to almost 30% of the total 911 G production.
With only 301 units built, a Porsche Turbo Targa is a rare sight. And the Clubsport Targa must be a lifetime event !
In 1989, when the 964 generation of the Porsche 911 was presented, the Targa was made available with two or four wheel drive transmission. Both had the same 3.6 litre flat-six engine with 250 horsepower, and the same announced performance, although the four wheel drive version was significantly heavier. 4863 examples (1329 Carrera 4 and 3534 Carrera 2) of the Targa went out of the brand’s factory in Stuttgart.
The 964 was the last Targa to have the traditional removable roof, until now…
When the 911 Type 993 Targa was launched in 1995, most of the Porsche enthusiasts thought the Targa spirit was gone. Only available with an electronically operated panoramic glass that was not removable, it changed everything. Not based anymore on the coupe, but on the convertible, it was only modified to accommodate the three retractable glass panels and the wind deflector. The panels were made of green tinted three-layer laminated safety glass. The amazing technical achievement of this car was that the glass roof was assembled as a single unit before being glued and screwed to the body. 4583 Porsche 911 Targa 993 were sold in total.
The 996 Porsche 911 introduced the world to a big new change, as it was the first water-cooled flat-six engine of the marque. The Targa inherited this major change in consequence but apart from this, the basic structure was the same as on the 993 : three retractable glass panels. The only notable innovation came from the rear window, which could flip up and could be electrically unlocked for loading or unloading luggages in the rear compartment. This manipulation was only possible with the roof closed though for security reasons. The 3.6 liter flat-six engine developed at the time 320 horsepower, available for the first time with a five speed automatic Tiptronic sequential gearbox or the more usual six speed manual.
With the Porsche 997 Carrera generation in 2006, the Targa was only available with the four wheel drive transmission but received for the first time the more powerful engines of the S version. The less expensive Targa 4 had 325 horsepower, whereas the Targa 4S inherited the 355 horsepower engine. The main differences in the Targa structure was the cusped rear side window and the two-sided anodized and polished aluminium trim which covered the car from the A pillar to the rear side window. Apart from this, it still had the three glass panels electrically retractable roof introduced on the 993 and the flip up rear window introduced on the previous 996. The innovation the 997 incorporated was an electric sunshade which prevented the car’s interior from being too hot or too cold.
Although the 2014 Porsche 991 introduced us back to the real Targa, with the return of the fixed roll-over bars, a classic soft top and a rear window in one piece, it is still sadly only available with four wheel drive transmissions, in the standard or S versions. But let’s not spoil our pleasure, this brand new 911 Targa is finally a real Targa in terms of design at least… The roof disappears beautifully in the rear compartiment throughout a complex – yet amazing – procedure which lasts 19 seconds, in either opening or closing, showed in the video below :
The 911 Targa 4, which prices start at 109’338 €, incorporates the 350 horsepower 3.4 litre flat-six, with the seven speed manual gearbox or Porsche’s home made dual-clutch sequential paddle-shifter. It does 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, for a top speed of 282 km/h. The more powerful 4S version starts at 124’094 €, with a bigger 3.8 litre 400 horsepower powerplant, and performances of 4.4 seconds from 0-100 km/h and a top speed nudging 300 km/h.
The 991 targa incorporates a few retro elements from the original 1965 Targa, such as the side letterings, the painted cast aluminium B pillars or the rear curved window which is made using lightweight laminated glass technology. It has as well a sound absorber material under the convertible top which has a second positive effect of isolating thermally the car’s interior.
This new Targa generation was designed for sport, safety and comfort in Porsche’s own words. It has as all new Porsche 911s the brand’s electric steering, the torque vectoring, the active suspension management, the dynamic chassis control, the traction management system which helps distributing the power correctly to the four wheels. It is offered as standard with an anti-slip regulation and an automatic brake differential. talking about brakes, the Targa can be fitted on demand with Porsche’s PCCB carbon ceramic brakes, although the standard steel brakes are clearly sufficient. All the tweaks previously mentioned are mostly adjustable from the Porsche Communication Management screen on the center console, with the usual modes like Sport or Sport Plus or individually to the driver’s wish.
The interior is exactly the same as standard 991 Carrera, with the usual key entry on the left and the five round dials. The black Alcantara trim of the soft top and the black fabric lined on the front roof are the only changes along with the rear curved window which allows loads of light in the interior, giving a great impression of space.