1966 Porsche 911: Clean, Smooth, Timeless

The last several posts of mine, to no one’s surprise, have been various and sundry large American luxocruisers. Well, what can I say? I love them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like other stuff. It doesn’t have to have opera lamps and a Cayman-grain padded vinyl roof to catch my attention. And who could disagree that the early Porsche 911s weren’t beautiful?

911 01

What can one say about the Porsche 911 that hasn’t been said already? For many, it’s been THE Porsche. For generations. Well, there is one thing. Sometimes, I get tired of the pervasiveness of 911s in Porsche books and literature.

How so? Well let me give you an example. I love car books. Especially coffee table style car books. With lots of great big color pictures of showroom condition cars. But when it comes to Porsche books, there’s more than a little bias. Go to any book store, if your town or city still has one. Look for Porsche books. Pick one out at random (if there is more than one, that is). The first ten pages will be the introduction and the 356. Then approximately 92% of the book will be 911s. Perhaps eight pages on the 924/944/968/928. And maybe two on the Boxster. The end.

1963 356B

I have always found this annoying, because my favorite Porsche of all is the original one, the 356. I’ll stop in the local Books A Million and see a new Porsche book and get all excited. Then I will see that about 5 pages of the 105-page book are on the 356. Curses!

1963 356B 02

I mean, the 356 was the only one actually designed by Professor Porsche, for crying out loud! I have always wanted more 356 in my Porsche books, and have been constantly disappointed. So most of my Porsche books are 356 only. One way to solve the problem, ha ha!

But 911 pervasiveness in Porsche books notwithstanding, I do sincerely appreciate the early 911s.

356C

And let’s face it, by 1965 the 356, although still attractive and fun to drive, was getting pretty long in the tooth. Produced from 1948 to 1965, approximately 76,000 coupes, cabriolets, Convertible Ds, Roadsters and Speedsters were built. But it was time for something fresh.

911 04

Yes, new. New body, new engine. Two more cylinders than the 356! But as with the Porsches of the past they would be fun. And the owner of this slate blue example that I saw at one of the Coralville cruise nights clearly is aware of that fact.

911 05

I had previously seen this very car at an earlier show, back when it was held in Iowa City at the mall. But it was an overcast day, and the photos weren’t quite photogenic enough for your author.

911 06

But lo and behold, in July 2013, on the last Friday of the month, I drove westward from the Quad Cities to Coralville to attend the monthly cruise night, and there it was! Looking especially fetching in a nonmetallic slate blue over black leather seats, with factory fog lamps. Zounds! Now that’s a Porsche!

911 07

I was sure it was pre-1968, as it had that most excellent genuine wood trim on the instrument panel, and the 356-style gauges with the green numerals. At the time, I guessed it was a ’67.

911 08

But in the last week, while researching for this very article, I noticed in the 1966 and 1967 Porsche brochures that the more free-flowing ‘911’ logo as seen here last appeared in 1966.

67 Porsche 911 brochure

Starting in 1967, the emblem moved to immediately below the engine lid grille, in a more squared off font, as seen here. So, ’66 it is!

1966 911 brochure

1966 was still pretty early in the 911’s life, as it had been introduced in 1963 as a 1964 model. As most of you will know, it was initially called the 901, but Peugeot bitched about it, so 911 it became! And went on to far more fame than any 1960s Peugeot.

1966 911 brochure 02

Those early 911s had a rough life. Sure, they were loved and cherished when new, but 10-15 years later they were old sports cars and had the bark beat off of them. Then came the 1980s! And they were subjected to all manner of 1980s 911 ‘upgrades’ like 1970s-style accordian bumpers, flares and whale tails. Ye gods! Is there anyone back then who appreciated the smooth, clean aesthetics of the 1960s 911? But they’re being appreciated here and now in 2018. Oh yeah, you bet! With ever-increasing values and auction prices.

911 09

A 1966 Porsche 911 had a top speed of 131 mph. The flat six air-cooled mill had 130 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque. And were they fun to drive? Oh yes. As long as you didn’t inadvertently induce throttle-brake oversteer at any rate, which was a factor in the early 911s, though perhaps not so apparent as in the fire-breathing 1975 Turbo Carrera. But that’s a story for another time.

I was happy to see this car once again, fortunately on the verge of the car show, and sitting largely all by its lonesone, which facilitated much better pictures than my first time seeing it!

Sometimes, I wonder what future generations will think of Porsche. With the four-door Panamera, SUV Cayenne and CUV Macan, could folks a couple of generations from now not realize Porsche’s purpose? Perhaps. Perhaps not. There are certainly plenty of people in the PCA, and perhaps, even more so, in the Porsche 356 Registry, who know what it’s all about, sales chasing and modern conveniences notwithstanding. But if I make it to my senior years, I’ll tell them. It was the 356 and these early 911s. They made Porsche. They’re what it’s all about, and what’s shown in the modern 911s today.

8 Replies to “1966 Porsche 911: Clean, Smooth, Timeless”

  1. John C.

    I love all the wood in the interior, Even seems to be standard by the catalogue shot. Wonder if the later deletion was cost cutting or the automotive presses of the time jihad against any decoration on or in a car.

    I agree with Tom that the early Porsches were quite attractive if perhaps a little serious. In 1955 their were two iconic sports car scenes. You had Grace Kelly and Cary Grant hauling around the south of France in a stylish if traditional Sunbeam. You also had James Dean and his male mechanic doing the same thing in a Porsche Speedster in the Nevada desert. The world was turning from the former toward the latter and there is no doubt track times went down, but a big dollop of style and class went away with the change.

    Reply
    • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

      I believe it was due to U.S. safety standards that came in in ’68. They went to a perforated vinyl insert on the dash instead of the wood trim. My dad’s 1969 912 Targa had it.

      Reply
      • Jeff Zekas

        Yep, safety standards really ruined the style and feel of cars: my dad’s ’64 E-type had the smell of wood and leather and burnt oil, rarely found these days… and I loved the metal dash and iconic hard Bakelite plastic knobs on my ’58 Beetle and my son’s ’64 Chevy pickup…

        Reply
  2. stingray65

    Nice to see an early 911 in its original form isn’t a garage queen. I am always amazed at how small and lean the early 911s were – they looked like a 356 that was into long-distance running, while modern 911s looks like bloated cows. The 1966 was only 67 inches wide, while 991 generation the 71.2 inches in its narrowest configuration, but Porsche needed to widen the body to allow wider rear tires to lessen the oversteer problem caused by sticking the engine behind the rear wheels.

    Reply
  3. -Nate

    Myself, I prefer the four cylinder Porsche, I drove the early 1950’s 356’s and should have bought that near pristine bent window Coupe in the late 1970’s but didn’t .

    I time I bought an unmolested 1963 350B 90 Coupe, it wasn’t the end all be all Porsche I’d hoped for, my ratty 1967 five speed five gauge 912 was vastly better in every way .

    Yes, the early 911 and 912 series had a timeless design than never fails to please me when I look at one but the six cylinder cars have reliability issues that the four cylinder cars don’t .

    -Nate

    Reply
  4. Jeff Zekas

    Back in 1970, I remember looking longingly at a Porsche 356 parked in a driveway on Sunset Boulevard. The original bathtub Porsche always seemed to be a frisky cousin to my ’58 VW Beetle, whereas the 911 was a whole new animal. Not bad, just different.

    As for what the next generation will think: mostly, they will ignore these old man’s cars. How do I know? My sons all love Acura Integras and Toyotas and all the cars that THEY grew up with. My boys all agree that the only “cool” old person’s car is the Shelby Cobra. (though one of my sons briefly owned a Boxster with a bad IMS bearing– which made him dislike Porsche for eternity).

    Reply
  5. 98horn

    As 997.1 S driver, I concur with your love of the 356 and early 911. Unfortunately, they are unobtanium, even on a modest attorney’s salary.

    Reply
  6. rnc

    When I was a kid 12/13 (87′ or so), there was a 66′ sitting in a parking lot on base for sale for $27k, always made my dad stop so we could look at it. Black with red interior.

    Reply

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