When it comes to remembering the 1973 Porsche 911 S, referring to it as an iconic vehicle that heavily influenced the automobile industry simply becomes part of the math. Ever since the Porsche 911 S began to grace the roads in 1963, it has won itself a fierce and loyal fan following. There are very few models of vehicles that have stayed true to their original heritage as the Porsche 911 series. The first generation of the 911 models ran from 1963 until 1989, before it was replaced by the 964s in 1989, then the 993s in 1994. Between these three models, what started out as $30,000 USD price tags jumped to well over the $100,000 USD mark in what felt like the blink of an eye.
Hailing out of Stuttgart, Germany, Porsche AG has been in the business of automobile manufacturing since 1931. Its founder, Ferdinand Porsche, along with the assistance of Anton Piech and Adolf Rosenberger, first offered its services as a motor vehicle consulting and development shop. When the German government approached what was Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH at the time, the goal was to design a car for the nation's people. As a result, the Volkswagen Beetle got its start. The Beetle became one of the most successful car designs of all time and is still a popular car to this day. The original development of this Volkswagen inspired the 1939 introduction of the Porsche 64. That was later replaced by the Porsche 356 in 1948, which became the company's most performant car before it was replaced in 1963 by the Porsche 911. When it was first introduced, it was supposed to be labeled as Porsche 901. However, France's Peugeot protested, pointing out the signature "0" placed in the middle of three-digit vehicle numbers was a right exclusive only to them.
Porsche 911 History Lesson
The first Porsche 911 made its public debut at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show, replacing its 356 lineup. An instant hit, the flagship of Porsche's sportscar lineup became one of the most popular in the world. Labeled as the Porsche 911 Carerra RS 2.7, it was originally created in 1973 to homologate the Group 4 class of the Eurpoean GT Championship. This improvement since its debut saw a more performant version of what was already Porsche's most capable vehicle at the time. That improvement saw the 1973 Carerra RS 2.7 shed off as much weight as possible, which was made possible by thinner sheet metal and thinner glass. The bumpers and engine were constructed with fiberglass, which improved the vehicle's aerodynamics.
Porsche's 911 models first saw its attempt to improve upon its 1963 original began in 1966, first with what became the iconic 911 S badge. In 1973, the 911 S had a power-to-weight ratio of 12.7 pounds, per horsepower. At one time, the 911 S models were limited to just six cars per dealership. What made the 911 so popular was the rear-engined mechanics, as well as its air-cooling system. Since its 1963 introduction, it went through a series of modifications by the factory, as well as private teams, as they strove to make it the most performant vehicle in racing and rallying competitions. The original 911 series is still regarded as a sports car that has mostly outperformed its competitors more often than any other brand and its lineup.
The first lineup of the Porsche 911 S featured an air-cooled, rear-mounted, two-liter, flat-six boxer engine. It was designed as a more performant version of the similar Porsche 356 engine. It also had the five-speed "Type 901" manual transmission, which was why Porsche originally wanted to label this new breed of the vehicle from the manufacturing plant as Porsche 901. However, Porsche 911 became the official name in response to Peugeot's protests. As impressive as the 1963 lineup was, come 1967 Porsche introduced the 160PS 911S, which became even more powerful than the original design. That, as well as the alloy wheels from Fuchs, and the five-leaf design, became part of the car's new look. There was also a 210PS 911 S version, which was designed to compete in the racing circuit. This speedier version came from the mid-engine Porsche 904 and 906 track cars. There was also a Targa version, which featured the roll bar made from stainless steel. This came about after Porsche was concerned the U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration would ban fully open convertibles. The Targa had a removable roof panel and removable rear window, allowing the vehicle to behave like a convertible without worrying about NHTSA's regulations.
Along Comes the 1973 Porsche 911S
The Porsche 911 S model years of 1972 and 1973 featured the same engines that were introduced to the 1970 lineup, which was a 180-horse-powered machine. However, this lineup featured a larger engine that measured 142.9 cubic inches. It was labeled as a 2.4-liter engine even though the displacement was closer to 2.3 liters. During this time, the 911 E and 911 S models featured a mechanical fuel injection while the 911 T was carbureted. The only exception at the time where the 911 T was concerned was on North American soil in order to comply with the legislations that were in place according to NHTSA. Accompanying this new engine was a stronger transmission. Labeled as 915 by Porsche, it was derived from the Porsche 908 race car but did away with what was referred to as the dog-leg style first gear arrangement. The old 901 and 911 transmissions were replaced with an H-pattern with the first gear located to the left, then by subsequent gears underneath.
1972 was a year that saw an enormous amount of effort poured into the improvement of the 911's handling. The 911S had an unusual engine placement as it was rear-mounted, which meant the bulk of the car's weight was on the rear axle. Because of this, the earliest of the 911 models were prone to oversteering when it was driven at the limit, causing an inexperienced driver to lose control. As a means to better balance the car, Porsche placed the oil tank that originally sat behind the rear right wheel to the front. This improved the weight distribution of the car, allowing it to be easier to handle for drivers. However, this concept was abandoned in 1973 when too many gas stations mistook the oil tank for the fuel tank and vice versa. As a result, the oil tank was placed back to where it was originally located and has remained there until the introduction of the Porsche 964 models. As for the rest of the specs of the 911 S models as of 1970, it featured a discreet spoiler underneath the front bumper as a means to improve the car's stability at high speeds. The overall weight of the 1973 models was 2,310 pounds and is still regarded as one of the best classic mainstreams of this lineup's history. According to The Magazine About Porsche Excellence, the 1973 Porsche 911 S Coupe has a curb weight of 2,370 pounds. It was also able to reach a top speed of 143 miles per hour, which was an impressive performance at the time, often outpacing the competition at a number of world-class racing events.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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