THE EARLY 911, FILM AND VINYL – PART 1
You’ve probably read enough analogies of sports cars, fine cameras and luxury audio equipment in high-end lifestyle magazines to get the idea that journalists are passionate about these in a big way. I’m not immune and vinyl records, Leica rangefinders and Porsche 911s have been a primary fascination of mine since 1964. That’s when I bought my first LP, was gifted a camera, and was introduced to the early 911. I immediately fell in love with the feel and sound of the long playing record, the shutter advance of the film camera, and the Porsche 911’s hooligan nature with its air-cooled flat six barking a nasty exhaust note. School and financial obligations kept me from fulfilling my dreams of ownership for a long time, but I promised myself that someday I would have a top notch analog stereo system, a Leica M series rangefinder, and a pre-‘74 911.
Let’s turn our attention first to the Early 911. Just to review what you undoubtedly already know: These fabled Porsches were hand built by craftsmen in Stuttgart Germany between 1964 and 1973. They are exquisitely formed, simple to work on, very functional and lack the smog regulation of later sports cars. They also have a power to weight ratio that was not surpassed until the 1976 Turbo. At less than 2200 lbs and up to 210 HP available, they are both quick and nimble. Accelerating out of an uphill bend with all that mechanical intake noise behind you is a hoot, and the simple exhaust system’s raspy wail is an added bonus. The pure aesthetics, chrome trim and dainty bumpers of Butzi Porsche’s original design are traditional features that make Early 911s the preference of many enthusiasts. They are arguably among the best of the late 60’s and early 70’s automotive icons – true sports cars, not the civilized grand touring types that many marques would later become.
It wasn’t until 1997 that I purchased my first Early 911 – a 1972 911S coupe in metallic blue. It had 48,000 originals miles and had been well maintained by three previous owners. In the words of another Porsche enthusiast, I wanted a “light, visceral, scary, nasty, feels-like-an-accomplishment-to-drive sports car without anything to interfere with my sensory experience” and that’s what I got. No power steering, no ABS, no stability management, no traction control, and minimal sound deadening. I drove this ‘72S to dozens of track events, competed at numerous autocrosses, and toured from Seattle to California via back roads four times over the next eight years. Along the way I also learned how to repair it and find original parts when they needed replacing.
Part 1 of 3