I was introduced to my first 911 a long time ago – waaaay back in 1972. I had several 356’s in my ‘shop’ with rusted out bottoms that I made feeble attempts at fixing. I'll go into those details at a later date or we will need to change the name of this blog. The car in question was a 68 Irish Green soft window Targa. I found the car listed in a local newspaper and the car was only 5 miles away. I made arrangements to look at the car the next Saturday morning with great anticipation.
Truth be told, I knew nothing about the 911, nothing about the engine, nothing about short wheel base, AND I knew nothing about Targas, This was the first year in America of the Targa and with the top off and the back window zipped out it was a dazzling looking car. Different than the popular coupe – but in many ways better looking. This Targa I went to see was now 4 years old but the paint looked like new, the interior was perfect and purred like a kitten. After a discussion with the owner pointing out the virtues of the Targa, a deal was struck and I drove it home. Remembering back, the Targa Top might have been a little worn and that might actually have been my very first Targa Top restoration. How time flies.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is an important, small detail about the engine. The reason it purred like a kitten instead of roaring like a lion was because it was a 4 cylinder 912 not a 6 cylinder 911. My first ‘real’ 911 was a 1972 911S Targa sportomatic and I’ll write about it in a future blog. But first, back to the Irish Green machine.
I LOVED that car, my boys practically grew up in the back of that 912 Targa. We drove it to soccer games, Porsche picnics, Watkins Glen – ohhh the memories. My kid’s favorite memory was when the back end caught on fire one cold winter morning while I was spraying some ‘boy scout juice’ into the carbs to help get it started. My aim was a little off, boom, backfire, poof, flames. I can still see the look on the boys faces. There’s just something about the smell of a combustible engine firing up on a cold morning that gets you going.
I drove that car off and on for about 20 years and every minute was pure, low horsepower driving enjoyment. Then I ended up selling the 912 to a very close friend with buy back rights for life. He drove it for a few years and it’s been in storage for the past 15 years or so. I think it’s time for the 68 912 soft window Targa to come back home. As they say, you can always go home.
Dan Petchel is a Porsche driver, enthusiast and longtime PCA member and he's been tinkering with these beloved German sports cars for close to 50 years. He writes about Porsches, Targa Tops, vintage parts and the people he meets along the way.