I first came across the Porsche 911 Targa in 1971 when I was 15 and my mother bought me the metallic blue Corgi Toys 911S Targa that had just hit the shops in January of that year. I still have this model today.
The only other Porsche model I owned back then was a yellow and red Solido Carrera 6 my father had given me about three years before that. A car-mad teenager, I had no inkling at the time that I would test drive my first 911 barely eight years later, and become hooked on the marque for life.
Because of that Corgi model, I, and probably thousands of others, assumed that the glass rear window and removable roof panel were exactly how the full-sized Targa had always been. It therefore came as a bit of a surprise when, many years later, I saw an early Targa in Germany with a plastic zip-up rear window.
While it's not usual to see early glass rear window 911 Targas today, the very early soft window Targas are not exactly thick on the ground. Like many of the early 911s that lived in the damp northern European climate, they simply rotted out and died.
With restoration costs far exceeding their retail value when they became 20 years old, these more mainstream cars were simply forgotten. In the late '80s classic car boom, all the smart money poured into more "desirable" limited edition models like the 1973 Carrera RS.
I'm once again at Ruf's Pfaffenhausen headquarters. This time, however, I have not come to drive one of his amazing new Porsche-based creations. On a previous visit several years ago, Alois Ruf showed me his classic restoration department across the road from the main showroom and workshop. At the time, this building was shared with the development department and the Maserati service department, so space was at a premium.
Since then, however, things have changed. The Maserati cooperation fell by the wayside and Ruf was able to devote more space and effort towards the restoration of classic Porsche models. Now, more and more existing owners of Ruf cars, well as classic Porsche buffs who value the wealth of expertise of Ruf's engineers and craftsmen, are bringing their older Porsches, as well as rusty or non-running but potentially valuable cars, to Ruf for restoration.
The one I've come to drive today actually falls outside those parameters, as it was once the property of a Ruf employee. Today it's a key model in Alois Ruf's personal collection.
Targa production began in January 1967 and this car was the 67th built. It rolled off the Zuffenhausen production line in May 1967, painted the same Irish Green as the original 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show car.
Porsche made three Targa models in 1967, the four-cylinder 912, the 130-hp 911 base model, and the 160-hp 911S. This green car is the middle model.
"This Targa originally belonged to Jurgen Rinow, a former employee who is now retired," Ruf recounts. "Jurgen already owned the car when we first met in 1974, and shortly afterward he came to work for me."
Early 911s had no rustproofing to speak of, and the green Targa slowly deteriorated over the years. By the late 1980s, Rinow had to make a decision on what to do with the car as it was no longer road worthy.
Since early Targas in good condition were very rare, it was logical that the green car should be restored to as-new condition in the Ruf works. By then, Rinow was close to retiring and no longer needed a sports car.
So when the classic restoration department had finished the work, Ruf bought the car from him. Because Rinow had owned it for so long and even came to work in it most days, the car is known within the company as the Rinow Targa.