1970-1972 Porsche 911

All Porsche 911s became incrementally quicker with the 1970 C-Series, thanks to a 4-mm larger bore that upped displacement to 2,165cc (132.1 cid). Compression ratios stayed put, but the T switched to Zenith carbs (40 TIN). Because horsepower and torque were higher across the board, clutch diameter was increased 10 mm (to 225 mm).

Porsche 911
This Porsche 911 is outfitted for law-enforcement work.

On the chassis, the front-strut upper attachment points were moved 0.55-inch (14 mm) forward, which reduced steering effort and kickback. Model-year 1970 also brought first-time availability of an optional limited-slip differential. The 1970 U.S. lineup was as follows:

  • 911T -- 125 DIN horsepower European (145 SAE) at 5,800 rpm, 128 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $6,430.

  • 911E -- 155 DIN horsepower European (175 SAE) at 6,200 rpm; 137 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $7,895.

  • 911S -- 180 DIN horsepower European (200 SAE) at 6,500 rpm; 144 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $8,675.

Porsche used the extra displacement to make the S engine a trifle more composed, with still-better low-end flexibility and a cleaner exhaust. "As impressive as the fact that it meets smog laws is the way the 911S runs," said one tester. "It idles smoothly at 800-1000 rpm and runs without any of the common symptoms of mixture leanness found in today's emission-control high-output engines at moderate speeds."

Even so, the S remained too much car for speed-limited U.S. driving, displaying "very little torque until about 4500 rpm...But going up through the gears...brings out noises that will warm hearts even of those accustomed to exotic V-12s. Glorious noises!"

While the S was in the same performance league as the Jaguar E-Type and Chevy Corvette, it was far better built and achieved its exciting ends through finesse, not brute force.

But it was also becoming quite costly now, rarely delivering for under $9,000 -- though even that had a certain appeal. As Road & Track quipped, the S offered "performance on the order of an American Supercar but without the stigma of low cost."

By contrast, the bottom-line T was relatively affordable in 1970-71 at around $6,500. True, that was more than the E-Type or Corvette, but $1,000 less than a Mercedes 280SL -- fortunate, as the prospective T buyer was quite likely to consider the Merc.

After a little-changed group of 1971 D-Series models came the E-Series Porsche 911s for 1972, with further increases in both displacement and wheelbase. A longer stroke (to 70.4 mm, up 4.4 mm) on an unchanged bore took the flat-six to 142.9 cid/2341cc, though engine-lid badges optimistically stated "2.4" liters. Wheelbase lengthened a mere 3 mm to 89.4 inches (2271 mm), a change that has never been explained.

The extra displacement stemmed from Porsche's desire to maintain performance against the fast-stiffening U.S. emission standards. California, still requiring lower pollutant levels than other states, mandated that all cars be operable on low-lead 91-octane gasoline beginning with model-year 1972.

Detroit responded by simply reducing compression -- and thus performance -- while most European producers went to different pistons and heads. Thus began the disappointing era of "federalized" imports marked by an ever-widening performance/economy gap with Porsches designed for the German market.

Porsche also lowered compression for '72, but the greater displacement more than offset it. In fact, all three engines showed useful output gains, so Porsche 911 performance scarcely suffered. The specifics:

  • 911T -- 130 DIN horsepower European (157 SAE) at 5,600 rpm, 7.5:1

  • 911E -- 165 DIN horsepower European (185 SAE) at 6,200 rpm, 8.1:1

  • 911S -- 190 DIN horsepower European (210 SAE) at 6,500 rpm, 8.5:1

These figures weren't very different from those of Porsche 911s sold in Europe (which would soon enact its own emissions standards), reflecting a corporate philosophy that Porsche publicly declared a decade later: namely, one engine spec and one performance level for all markets (or as many as technology allowed). As if to signal this, Bosch fuel injection was applied to the 1972 U.S.-market T.

Porsche 911
Porsche production became more automated, yet hand labor still went into each car.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356
Porsche 911
Porsche 914
Porsche 924, 944, 968
Porsche 928 Porsche 959
Porsche Boxster Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayman

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see: