Catching Up, Part 2

We continue our transcription of Stirling Moss’s review of the 1975 Porsche 911.

1974 Porsche 911 interior: source

“The Porsche is a two seat coupe which does have room in the back for extra token passengers, thanks to an ingenious pair of folding seats, but on anything but the shortest of journeys they would suffer. The front seats are, however, very comfortable, with high seat backs which offer plenty of support. They are beautifully finished and upholstered, and sensibly shaped and positioned, with good visibility all round: you can see both the front wings very clearly, so that pointing the car securely through corners and gaps becomes simplicity itself.

There are all kinds of pleasing little details, which show how much thought has gone into the original design and the improvements which have been added over the model’s lifetime. For instance, there is a knob under the dashboard which unfastens the petrol filler cap, but before the garage man can

1975 Porsche 911 3.0 interior: source

reach the pipe he has to unfold a piece of plastic which protects the bodywork. There is a useful light over the lock for the dashboard glove box, you have an extra wiper fitted to the rear window, a really good sized mirror on the passenger’s sun visor, and a distinctly noticeable air of quality about everything in the car.

But the Porsche’s real pedigree is something which strikes you straight away – a cliché which really means something in this case. The car feels race bred, as if the company’s unrivalled experience in sporting competitions has vitally affected the way in which the car has been designed and put together.

Even before you turn a wheel, you notice things like the instrument layout – five crisply marked matching dials, including an electric clock. The largest one, behind the padded steering wheel, is the rev-counter rather than the speedometer. Others tell you how much fuel is left in the tank, the pressure and temperature of the oil and even, when you leave the engine to tick-over, just how much oil is left in the sump.

1975 Porsche 911 and lots of road: source

There are other sporting touches: the beautiful five-speed gearbox, the way in which the car squats on the road, the turbine hum of the engine, and the electrifying performance. Even when you use the throttle hard, the car stays flat on the ground, and feels almost glued to the tarmac.

If you corner quickly in the wet and apply power too hard you will find the back end of the car will move outwards, but it always feels controllable. If you find you want to overtake someone in a hurry, you drop down a gear and press the accelerator, and the car really does respond. It moves almost instantaneously, once you give the order.

Of course there are some disappointments. I have not yet encountered a car which was perfect, and I am sure it would feel very dull if I ever did. For instance, I would have welcomed brighter reversing lights, and found the oil filler cap was impossible to use without carrying a funnel, which rather sad when you remember the trouble they went to with the petrol filling arrangements.

The front luggage boot is best forgotten since it mostly full of spare wheel, leaving room for perhaps a couple of coats but little more. There is a useful space behind the seats, if you have no extra passengers, but there you have the drawback that all your luggage is uncovered to anyone who passes. And the windscreen wipers, with no less than three speeds to choose from, work well but tend to be noisy.

Yet these points in no way mar the excitement of the car. It is one of the nearest things you can buy to a genuine racing car in feel and response, and for that reason it needs a little extra care to drive properly. You have to remember to blip the accelerator when starting, you have to be sparing with the right foot in the wet, and you have to watch the very powerful brakes and use them with respect. An inexperienced driver could be caught out by the sheer speed with which the car reacts to the brakes or throttle.

But perhaps the Porsche’s most unexpected virtue is its economy. So efficient is the engine that it will run happily on two-star petrol, and if you are happy to cruise along gently, it will take you a good 28 or 30 miles on a gallon of petrol, or some 500 miles on the contents of the useful 17 and a half gallon tank.

On the other hand, if you want to put your foot down and drive the car hard, it responds immediately in a manner which few other sports cars could match. If that isn’t having the best of both worlds then I don’t know what is.”

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

One thought on “Catching Up, Part 2”

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