- All the best bits of Porsche 911..
- …rolled in a single limited edition car
- Is it as good as it sounds?
It’s hard to imagine not like the Porsche 911 Sport Classic – a rear-drive manual widebody Turbo with houndstooth upholstery, brown seats and wood trim. There’s a ducktail on the back, Fuch-a-like wheels on the side and a historic Porsche crest on the nose.
A superset of elements rivaling the Chicago Bulls of the Jordan era, this limited edition sports car was designed as a celebration of the late 1960s and early 70s – specifically the 1972 Carrera RS 2.7 – and is the second of four collectible 911 models with a retro look.
But it’s very expensive – far more than a Turbo S – and that means it’s hard not to be a little cynical. If all you want is a rear-drive manual 911, the Carrera GTS is nearly £100,000 cheaper. Even a GT3 looks like a bargain.
But to apply rational thinking to a car like this would be to miss the point, so let’s save that for now.
Who is the Sport Classic for?
Few people, given the limited number of 1250 cars. However, it’s more than the last Sport Classic of the 997 era and a conscious decision to make sure they’re not all locked away in garages, to accumulate value like a bottle of Petrus.
To be properly exclusive, the Sport Classic needs its own place in the 911 range – not easy given the number of engine, wheel-drive, roof-configuration and body-style combinations and permutations offered by Stuttgart.
There’s already a 3.0-litre 911 with a manual and two-wheel drive in the form of the GTS, so that’s it, and the GT3 Touring fills a similar hole but with a 4-cylinder flat-six, 0 liters. That leaves the 3.7-liter unit from the Turbo and Turbo S.
Here we find a winner – not if redline thrills are a priority, but an obvious starting point if you want to create the most powerful three-pedal 911 on sale. Until now, there was no two-wheel-drive Turbo or widebody GTS – the Sport Classic is both.
Niche plugger or identity crisis?
The 911 Turbo is such a naturally talented Olympic-level sprinter that it doesn’t have to work very hard to go fast, and as a result it has a much more relaxed character than you might expect from a cut nearly 600 hp. You don’t use the peak power very often, but you’re always aware of its presence, and it feels good, unlike a very tight NA motor.
That same feel carried over to the Sport Classic, with some galloping horsepower along the way, and the slower (than PDK) manual gear changes, plus the need to manually manage rear-wheel grip, make you take another step back. the irregular edge.
Porsche’s marketing video for this car doesn’t feature an assault on the Nürburgring or a tarmac rally along an alpine pass, but rather models dressed in ’60s fashion cruising along coastal hairpins to the sound of Shirley Bassey. And it manages an extremely satisfying waft for a sports car of nearly 200 mph with old-school charm and a capacity well so deep not even Shell could tap it.
How is it to drive?
Not as quick as a 911 Turbo, as you have to change gear yourself and there’s no all-wheel drive, but when you’re up and running you won’t miss out on that system’s 30 or so hp or extra traction .
Flatten the throttle below 2000rpm if you want to feel the full force of the twin turbochargers – a raw, mechanical soundtrack accompanies a surprising lack of forward momentum, before the revs rise and a torque thrust only pulls you hard to the redline.
The manual gearbox means it’s easy to stay locked into that broad powerband, and the seven forward gears seem well matched to the engine. Well, six of them do, with the last one really only needed for long highway trips. Navigating between so many gears takes some getting used to, though a special gate prevents you from accidentally going up top when you want fifth.
An autoblip feature in Sport and Sport+ modes improves stability when downshifting and can be disabled if you prefer to do it yourself, and the pedals are carefully spaced for heel and toe if that’s your preference.
What about the grip?
Huge tires on 20/21-inch offset wheels provide so much grip you’d need a super-wide road and a laid-back approach to speed limits to upset the chassis. The waning edge of grip can be found if you provoke it, and the rear end is satisfyingly responsive and accessible. Adjustments can be made to your turn angle with confidence.
In the dry, at least, it makes you wonder if all-wheel drive is ever strictly necessary – the Sport Classic still feels strapped on unless you try hard enough and you’re unlikely to overstep that point by accident. The steering isn’t suddenly improved by losing two driveshafts, as it was already quite good, but offers quick direction changes right off the bat and as much feel as you can reasonably expect these days.
Not that it’s specific to this 911, but the way the bodywork stays flat through successive corners while providing a usable ride on all but the worst surfaces feels like wizardry. Being a wide-bodied car, the Sport Classic is quite tall on the road, which only adds to the perplexity of its composure. Particularly when you’re leaning hard on the standard Porsche ceramic composite brakes and your face looks like it’s about to come off.
tell me about the style
Much like a Hollywood movie reboot, this car comes with plenty of classic throwbacks that fans of the genre will be happy to experience – the twin-bubble roof and bonnet to begin with, requiring expensive new reinforced plastic panels of carbon fiber.
At the rear, that classic duck-tail spoiler sits in front of a huge air intake, highlighting the fact that the normal body-side cooling cutouts you see on a Turbo or Turbo S are absent. The body lines are much cleaner as a result and that means this 911 is unlike any other. It looks brilliant, in fact, full of position but uncluttered.
Inside, you’re treated to Pepita houndstooth fabric (from 1965) and Cognac leather for a very traditional pairing – and you can pair it with open-pore wood for a complete “journalist” look. automobile specifying a long term”.
At the more subtle end of the spectrum is the green-ringed tachometer (inspired by the Porsche 356) with following rings indicating where the engine is most in tune and slightly green numbers.
None of these things are particularly groundbreaking, but combined they make for a very different look and feel to your standard 911. It’s the subtle details that do, and on that note, you don’t need to have the race number on the doors if you don’t want it.
Porsche 911 Sport Classic: Verdict
Like I said, this isn’t a car that can be approached as a rational purchase – it’s part performance car and part design showcase. A 911 to be enjoyed visually as well as experientially.
However, giving it rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox setup naturally steers it towards more enthusiastic drivers. The limited production number lends itself to a garage existence, only being released for special occasions. So it’s a funny contradiction.
And finally, the price rules this out as a sensible thing to recommend – forget cars from McLaren, Audi and Ferrari for a moment – the Sport Classic’s biggest rivals come from faster, more capable Porsches further down the 911 range.
But stripped of all these existential considerations, the Sport Classic is absolutely sensational. Not because it can carry more cornering speed or shave tenths off the 0-62mph sprint, but because it takes you somewhere no other current 911 can – deep in the past at a era before dual-clutch gearboxes, Alcantara and active center differentials.
Better to see it as a ready-made restomod, a car with all the stylistic charm of the past but the conveniences of modern technology and 60 years of chassis development – one of Porsche’s greatest successes, which, when is combined, takes on a character all of its own. Peak 911? No, but somehow better for it.