Such are the concerns of a young company, intent on not completely destroying its core and growing market, by the introduction of a product that may take its already loyal audience too far, too quickly. This was the issue that faced the engineering and design teams at the Porsche business in 1963/4.
In 1963 Porsche’s plan was to launch the Type 911 – see our earlier post here Porsche 911 Targa with its flat opposed six cylinder engine to succeed the very successful four cylinder 356 range that had been selling well for over a decade – see our earlier post here – Porsche 356 B Cabriolet Concerned that the hike in sales prices between the last 356 model and the incoming 911 – $5,500 in the US at launch – would prove too much for the developing market, an idea was mooted to widen the brand appeal by introducing of an entry level car with a body shell substantially similar to the 911 but with a low weight 1.6 litre four cylinder engine based substantially on that of the 356 and a commensurately lower price tag.
The bright, compact and hugely iconic Porsche 912 was overseen by Dan Schwartz and was, as a coupe, launched on 5th April 1965. The 912 was introduced to the US market at the New York Auto-Show in September 1965. At launch, the 912 coupe cost $4,000 in the US. It initially outsold the 911 by a margin of two-to-one!
The 912 was discontinued in 1969 as sales of the 911 seemed assured – yet the 912 returned to the US in 1976. The total production run of the 912 coupe was just under 30,000.
Between 1966 and 1968 Porsche produced 2500 Targa body versions of the 912 – an absolute favorite of mine. The Version I was available until 1967 and had a zipper fixed rear window – hence its nickname, the “soft-window Targa”.
From January 1968, the Version II became the “hard-window Targa” effectively giving the car a removeable roof.
On 21st December 1966, 100,000th Porsche built was a 912 designed to be used by the German autobahn Polizei!
In 1969, the 912 was succeeded by the 914 that was produced as a result of a joint venture with Volkeswagen – and never a favourite. In turn the 914 was discontinued in 1976 and the 912 was re-introduced to North America and styled the 912E.
Although it shared the 911’s “G-Series” bodywork it had a 2.0 litre VW air-cooled engine – a true combination of Porsche flair and VW reliability. Total production of the re-introduced 912E was 2,100 with the majority sold in the USA.
First things first – you are definitely going to need an Owner’s Manual! Click the link below the image
Sometimes it pays to do your homework – what better place to start that this excellent 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic Porsche 912. Click the link below the image
Fancy a Visit to the Porsche Museum In Stuttgart? Access to the Porsche Museum can be seen here – via the Porsche Website here – Porsche Museum
Just in case you are not ready for the real thing, these scale and beautifully executed models – imported from Japan – are just perfect? In classic Irish Green or Red – Click the link below the image
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Images by courtesy of Porsche AG and RM Sotheby