The History of the Porsche 911 Targa: How Porsche Came Up With an Unusual Body

In an effort to stay in the US automotive market, Porsche launched the mass use of a completely new body type.

Porsche has recently expanded the line-up of the 911 Type 992 by introducing the 911 Targa 4 and Targa 4S. Although the German company is not the first manufacturer to create this type of body, its name became household in the automotive world. The history of the Targa’s creation is very interesting!

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Porsche introduced the 911 Targa at the International Motor Show Germany in September 1965. The unique Targa was neither a convertible, nor a coupe, nor even a hardtop. This was something completely new: the world's first convertible with aт arch or the Targa Roll Bar.

Traffic in the open air could now be enjoyed without so much fear for safety. Thanks to a removable roof and a folding PVC rear window, it was possible to vary the degree of openness at will. The Targa concept marked the beginning of a whole model line-up and was also used for designing other models, such as the 914 and Carrera GT.

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How did the Targa appear?

The new concept was Porsche's response to increased safety requirements for open-top cars in the American market, opposing a view calling for a complete ban on convertibles (!) in the United States.

The designers were inspired by motorsport. This is how the classic silhouette of the coupe was supplemented by a stainless steel arch installed just behind the front doors. It is worth noting that the conventional 911 convertibles were also built, but the company did not move beyond prototypes. One of these cars received the bodywork designed by Bertone. Now it exists in a single example.

The Porsche 911 Targa prototype The Porsche 911 Targa prototype

When choosing a name for the model, it was also decided to link it with Motorsport, where Porsche was very successful, and the choice fell on the Targa Florio — an open road endurance automobile race held in Sicily. However, Porsche feared that the automotive world would call the new model “Flory”, which was not quite suitable for a sports car. As a result, Porsche's sales director Harald Wagner suggested using just the name «Targa». Yes, it means a license plate in Italian, but according to the legend, Porsche did not think about this meaning back then and realized it only when the copywriters were already working on an advertising brochure.

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In August 1965, Porsche filled a patent for the Targa concept. In the fall of 1966, the Targa supplemented the 911, 911 S and 912 coupes with tremendous success. From the end of the summer of 1967, Targa models could be additionally ordered with a fixed and safer heated rear window instead of a folding PVC one. The new window became part of standard equipment just a year later and remained the Targa’s more or less unchanged characteristic until 1993.

As for the removable roof, it was dismantled manually and hidden in the trunk, which was traditionally located in the front end of the rear-engined 991.

The first models were equipped with a 2-liter or 2.2-liter petrol engine with a power output of 110-180 hp. In the ‘70s, the power output reached 200 hp due to a slight increase in the engine capacity.

The second-generation Porsche 911 Targa

The 911 Targa also remained unchanged during the release of the second-generation line-up released in the late summer of 1973. The body of the Porsche 911 was modified. It had new protruding bumpers, again, in accordance with the new legislation in the USA. They were able to absorb impacts without any damage at the speed up to 8 km/h. The durable stainless steel Targa Roll Bar is now available in black. The second generation sports car was a deep modernization of the first one, so there were no major changes.

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Even when the 911 SC Cabrio with a fully open top was added to the series in January 1983, the Targa version remained unchanged. This generation of the legendary sports coupe was produced until 1989.

The Type 964 – the Targa remains a classic

In the fall of 1988, Porsche introduced the first AWD 911 Carrera 4 Type (964 body), making it the third generation of the iconic sports car. Porsche kept the classic 911 body shape, but about 85% of all elements were new. Just a year later, an RWD variant was also available in the form of the 911 Carrera 2, but it was still possible to order all three body types: a coupe, a convertible and a Targa.

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The Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Targa and 911 Carrera 4 Targa released before 1993 still had the classic Targa’s arch and a removable roof. The model was equipped with a 3.6-liter 260-hp engine, while the AWD version could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds. During the first three generations of the Porsche 911, 87,663 Targa models were built.

Glass instead of air – the Porsche 911 Targa Type 993

The fourth generation Porsche 911 (Type 993) was introduced in the fall of 1993, and the Targa version appeared two years later. Its key feature was the glass roof, which could be moved back under the rear window using electric drives. Without the Targa Roll Bar, the silhouette of this 911 Targa looked like a regular coupe, only with a large hatch, though with a large panoramic roof and a considerable area of glazing. The advantages of the new solution were reduced wind noise and improved aerodynamics. Besides, we cannot say that it was not a true Targa model.

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However, the production of the Porsche 911 Targa Type 993 lasted only two years, from 1995 to 1997. The model was equipped only with a 3.6-liter 285-hp engine. A 0-100 km/h time was 5.4 seconds. But still, the modern interpretation of the classic Targa was not the same thing.

The 911 Targa Type 996 with a new rear glass roof

The next generation Targa Type 996 retains the concept of a glass roof. Moreover, the coupe debuted in 1997, but the Targa modification was released only at the end of 2001. Porsche built one of the fastest sports cars at that time and the Targa version was not a priority at all. Given the presence of a classic convertible in the range, the Targa was not very popular back then, playing the role of an interesting addition rather than being an independent modification. Just over 5,000 cars were produced in four years. This is not even a tenth of all the 911s of that generation.

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Although it is worth noting that the new Targa was also the first 911 model in which the rear window could be raised. This made it easy to access the rear luggage compartment with a capacity of up to 230 liters for loading suitcases and bags.

However, the Porsche 911 Type 996 was a landmark generation for the company – it was the first time when water-cooled six-cylinder engines were used. It would seem that the classic Targa could be forgotten…

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The 911 Targa Type 991- a return of the legendary Targa

In September 2011, Porsche introduced the seventh and completely redesigned generation of the 911. Following the coupe and convertible, the Porsche 911 Targa was introduced in January 2014 and was a modern classic with an innovative roof. Like the popular classic Targa, the new model had a characteristic Targa Roll Bar! At the same time, the section above the driver and front passenger was made automatically folding, for which it was necessary to develop a whole system of mechanisms: one folds the roof, and the other completely lifts the rear window, where the roof section hides.

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The main feature of this mechanism is that the entire process takes place through a proprietary bar, in which the engineers had to make folding sections without losing the overall rigidity of the structure. Thus, the Targa’s classic idea was successfully combined with the versatility of a folding roof for the first time. After updating in 2015, the Porsche 911 Targa received 3-liter engines with a capacity of up to 450 HP. Thus, the most powerful versions easily overcome the mark of 300 km/h and accelerate from 0-100 km/h in less than 4 seconds.

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