I hope everyone had a great summer and that you are enjoying the final nice weather weeks of the fall (for those of us in the Northern climate). It was a good year and I enjoyed the 968s at a number of events. 2015 is shaping up to be a busy year so I’ll be taking the winter to address a few minor projects on the cars to prepare for some possible “long distance” events. I have a couple of features for you this month including a review of the 2014 Zone 1 event and an article I wrote for the PCA E-brake magazine. I hope you enjoy them.
Dichotomy in a Porsche 968
When looking at the modern day car it is amazing how we can change the personality of our vehicle with just the push of a button. One button talks to my exhaust system and changes the amount of backpressure and related noise that I experience. Too loud?, just hit the button. Another button can talk to my suspension and adjust the shocks for the handling experience that I want. Am I going into some great turns?, just hit that button. Another button can adjust the ride height on my car. Is there snow out there? Just hit that button and up goes my vehicle’s ride height for better clearance. Amazing. But it wasn’t that long ago that the new car buyer didn’t have these great “personality adjusting” options to choose from. The buyer had to make hard choices about which vehicle personality they wanted and typically, they could only choose one. However, some period buyers refused to conform. An example of that thinking was created in the run of Porsche 968s when 1995 coupe SS820272 rolled off the assembly line.
First a little background on two of the automotive personalities found in the 968 series back in the nineties:
First personality up, the “I want to be a track star” 968: The M030 Sport chassis optioned 968 coupes are some of the most coveted examples of the line with only 99 produced for the North American market. The 968 was already a true sports car when delivered in any form but the M030 option took the car to another level of performance. The M030 option consisted of upgraded suspension and brake system components which included struts, sway bars, and larger brakes lifted directly from the 928 S4. Available only on the coupe, the M030 equipped 968 provided the driver with incredible handling characteristics that showed it was ready for any racetrack. Unfortunately, those same characteristics were present with the vehicle during non-track time and provided the same driver with a punishing ride. Period articles from the day both praised and lamented the M030 968. 911 & Porsche world stated that “Even on relatively smooth, suburban roads, this stiffer car proved to be far too stiff for sensible road use” but then they went on to say “it would certainly be in its element on the track.” When production ceased, just 2% (99) of the North American 968 production run was outfitted with M030 sport chassis option.
Next personality is the other vehicular extreme, the “I would just like a nice sporting cruiser” Tiptronic 968. The Tiptronic automatic transmission was all new for the 1992 model year and was heralded by Porsche as “revolutionary” with a design based on the Porsche double clutch “PDK” racing tranny from the 962C. As the offering for those who didn’t want the hassle of shifting a clutch, the Tiptronic was the precursor for the many “sport” automatics that we have today with the ability to push the shifter into a manual shift mode and run through the 4 forward gears, sans clutch. This early nineties technical marvel added $3500 to the 968’s sticker and delivered on its promised operation but it also took a significant toll on the 968’s performance. Period articles criticized the Tiptronic for, not only the high cost of entry but more for the significant impact it made on the car’s performance. A 6 speed manual 968 would do 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. The same car, outfitted with the Tiptronic, would do the same 0-60 in 8 seconds flat. Car and Driver reported that it was a confusing piece of equipment and when a 968 was outfitted with the Tip it could be “smoked” in a stoplight drag race by a V6 Ford Tempo! Still, if driving a clutch-less 968 was the buyer’s intention then the Tiptronic delivered on that experience and provided him or her with that “cruiser” personality that they desired. 23% (984) of the North American 968 production run was outfitted with a Tiptronic trans.
And that brings us to the 1995 968 coupe SS820272. Born black in exterior color with a marble grey/black two-tone interior, it was a sharp looking 968. But what made this car so unusual were two of the factory options that it was outfitted with. They include the rare and coveted M030 Sport chassis which transformed the car into a track beast AS WELL AS, the cruiser Tiptronic transmission, which significantly hindered the car’s performance!!! Of the 2,234 North American coupes, SS820272 is the sole example configured in this way. One must wonder, what was the original owner thinking when he or she ordered such a vehicle? They had truly fashioned “dichotomy in a Porsche” by pairing these two “performance-extremes” options in the same vehicle. Were they pleased with the resulting driving experience from this most unusual of Porsche 968s?
Today’s sports car purchaser can only be thankful that the hard choices necessary 20 years ago are no longer needed. Current technology has allowed the driver to adjust the vehicle dynamics at the push of a button so they can have the vehicle they desire without any compromise and resulting in no dichotomy. Nice!
(SS820272 is NOT pictured below, last I heard, it was somewhere in WI)
2014 Zone 1 Concours/Rally/BBQ
The nice thing about the PCA zone events is that their locations move around within your zone, introducing you to new locations that are far enough away that you may have never visited them, but not so far that it involves a multi-day driving trip. That was again the case for the family and I when we attended the 2014 Zone 1 concours held in Vergennes, Vermont.
You may not be familiar with Vergennes and neither was I. It is located about an hour or so south of Burlington which is the north-most city in Vermont. It is also located on the shore of beautiful Lake Champlain. I have been to Burlington a few times for work so I’ve enjoyed the beauty of the state before, but Vergennes was something new. The event was put together by the great folks who run Zone 1 and was hosted at the Basin Harbor Club. The club is apparently a very popular summer destination with guests traveling many distances to vacation there. It is an “outdoors oriented” resort with great character and many outdoor related activities and amenities. This theme also extended to the great beauty of the resort. There were numerous gardens in addition to the many manicured lawns and an adjacent golf course. The facilities included a number of cottages which is where we stayed. Quaint and cozy, they were nestled in the woods, accessible only by a small roads. With no TV and a small deck with a view of the beautiful lake the resident is left little choice but to take in the beautiful nature around him or her.
Upon arrival we checked into the resort and with the event staff and then made our way to the “chardonnay” cabin and I gave Minty a quick wash. Dinner was at the on-site restaurant called The Red Mill and we enjoyed a fantastic meal. Friday night’s activities were of a social nature with a camp fire and the preparation of s’mores. The fire felt great as the temperature had dipped into the high forties. We chatted with a very nice group of fellow Porsche owners from Albany NY as we talked cars and various other topics.
Saturday had us up early for a hearty breakfast and then we headed out for the show field. Over 100 Porsches of all types were gathered awaiting our review and we enjoyed seeing them. I had heard from a couple of 968ers before the event so I knew I would see a few. As it turns out we had five 968s in attendance. Peggy brought Speed Yellow cab #3. Although I had seen the car a number of times before I had never actually met Peggy as she had previously delegated the driving tasks to her friend Jim. Peggy was a very interesting person and has a very unusual collection of Porsches. What makes her collection unique is that she collects only Yellow Porsches and has examples of many different models including SY cab #3. We had a great conversation and her car looked fantastic as always. There were a couple of guards red 968 cabs in attendance including Peggy’s friend Dave and Dan from NY. Dan is a fixture at PCA events (I met him at the Lake Placid Zone 1 event back in 2000!) along with his great cab and he is also one of the few “original” 968 owners left now that we lost Don in this very limited membership group.
I had also heard from fellow 968er Roberto who was attending from Canada. I was very much looking forward to meeting him and seeing his beautiful 93 midnight blue 968 coupe. One reason was that his 968 is a rare Canadian-spec version (1 of only 121 coupes). Roberto is “almost” the original owner having purchased the car used back in 1993 as a “trade in” with very low mileage. It was neat to see the differences compared to my US-spec 968s including the kilo-speedometer. Roberto and his wife were great people and we spent some time talking 968s.
The rain held off for a while on Saturday but showed up around 1pm, Fortunately, the judging was completed by that time and most attendees had had time to inspect the great Porsches. Awards were handed out a few hours later (we took third in the People’s choice group of 30 or so cars) and then we spent the afternoon taking a ride into town to look around. There were many things to do in the area including a maritime museum.
Saturday evening saw the scheduled barbeque being moved inside due to the rain. The entrees were delicious and included short rips, pulled pork, and many other items. We visited with fellow Zone 1ers as we enjoyed a great meal. Next on the agenda was the announcement of the 2015 Zone 1 concours which will be held next May in Hilton Woodcliff lake, New Jersey, another location that I have never visited. A number of raffle prizes were awarded and then we said our good-byes as we had to head home for a family event the next day. The Zone1 event held a scheduled a rally the next day which I’m sure was great fun.
Kudos to the Zone 1 staff for another great event. If you haven’t attended a Zone 1 event I strongly recommend it. You’ll see more of this beautiful region of the country that we are lucky to live in along with many great Porsches. I know we have many 968 owners who reside in New Jersey so I’m hoping we have a good showing next year. See you in 2015!
Anyone visiting the Porsche Museum in Germany?
If so, I have an important mission for you which will help the 968 Registry. If you can help us contact me before your trip and I’ll let you know what we need. Thanks!
Our Webmaster Adam continues to button up the final details of the new site.He hopes to have it set shortly. I’ll let you know via email when the site is ready. In order to help you fully understand all the great 968 stuff you can find there we’ll be having a “scavenger hunt” to launch the site with a prize going to the winner. There won’t be any better source for 968 production data site on the net. I promise you that. Continued thanks to Adam for his hard work on the new site.
PCA 968 Register Advocate