Looking at it today, I cannot help but think how small it is. Next to the 997-based Ruf Greenster, which takes it styling cues and paint color from this Targa, it looks like a three-quarter scale model, particularly in width. If you have ever seen a classic and new MINI together, the relative size relationship of these two generations of 911 is similar.
Looking more closely, I admire the fine finish that Ruf's craftsmen have achieved on the bodywork, paint, and interior. The new coat of Irish green is smooth and consistent, with no pinholes or filler sanding lines in sight. The chrome work is also up to scratch. It is not perfect, as on a new car, but looks to be in A2 condition, with the patina of age.
The cabin is similar. There are no imperfections on the seats, which were re-upholstered in original factory material, and the dashboard and all the interior fittings are present and correct. However, the car feels used rather than new, and that to my mind, is an advantage. With 95,865km on the clock, it would indeed be strange if this 42-year-old Targa looked and felt totally zero-timed.
Step in and you quickly realize that the relatively broad and flat seats would come as a culture shock for people used to modern figure-huggers. That said, I recently sat in a 1970s Audi 100 Coupe S, BMW 2002, and Mercedes Fintail, and realized that all the German car makers had broadly (no pun intended) similar ideas for the shape of their seats during this period.
The 130-hp carburetor motor requires the choke and a bit of technique to start from cold. Prod the throttle a couple of times, turn the ignition key-and once it catches, you need to do a tap dance on the gas to encourage it to stay awake.
Once it's running, it still needs weaning off the choke over a couple of miles before it's entirely happy to run smoothly without aid. You can smell the rich mixture in the exhaust, underlining the fact that modern Super Unleaded smells foul compared to four star.
The 130 hp isn't a lot by today's standards, but this early 911 only weighs around 2,000 pounds. Its steering is light and full of feel thanks to low weight and narrow tires. The words "agile" and "lively" spring to mind. Once warmed through, the 2.0-liter engine is sharp and responsive and makes a lovely noise. The gurgle of induction over the flat-six wail is something special. It creates an overlay of fine mechanical sound missing from today's cars, which are stifled by drive-by noise regulations.
Although it sounds a lot more mechanical than today's 997, the early 911 is not noisy per se. The mechanical symphony fills its compact cabin, particularly when the roof panel is off and the windows are down, but then that's what you want. No one seeking isolation from the driving experience buys an open car.
In today's terms, 130 hp makes this car brisk rather than fast, and the long throws of its gearshift lever and the relatively large steering wheel are in tune with its performance capabilities.
The driving experience is not so much about sheer velocity as enjoyment, and it gives off so much sensation through your fingertips, seat of the pants, and the soundtrack that you feel you are alive too. It is the perfect summer Sunday morning companion and you can't help but smile as you lope along in the sunshine.
Typical of early 911s, the long travel suspension and tall-profile rubber deliver a cosseting ride that will come as a stark surprise to owners of more recent Porsches.
Today's 997 Targa becomes an open car in seconds at the touch of a button, and it has been that way ever since the sliding glass roof was introduced with the 993 Targa.