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Porsche 911 History

1980-1982 Porsche 911SC

Porsche built 911 number 200,000 during its 1981-1982 business year. It was a happy occasion, but an unhappy time. Though Porsche's global sales had run consistently in the low five-figures since 1967, demand withered in the first energy crisis to just 8,618 cars. A quick recovery followed, helped by introduction of the front-engine Porsche 924 and 928, and volume hit a record 41,350 units for 1978-1979.

Porsche 911
Few changes were made to the 911SC. Here are a 1982 coupe and Targa.

Then came "Energy Crisis II," and worldwide Porsche sales dropped over the next two years by more than 32 percent, bottoming out at some 28,000 in 1980-1981. Of course, other automakers suffered from these events, too, but the unprecedented twin oil shocks dramatically highlighted Porsche's relatively high vulnerability to sharp, sudden market swings.

And why not? As John O'Dell of the Los Angeles Times later wrote, "Porsche makes a product no one really needs," and "discretionary" purchases are always the first to be postponed when people feel pinched in the wallet.

Nevertheless, Porsche made another fast recovery. Sales were up to 32,640 by the time that milestone 911 was built, then went to a new high of 45,240 units for the 1982-1983 business year. Not surprisingly, the feat was owed to the rear-engine Porsche in general and a popular new version in particular.

Period inflation had rapidly escalated car prices in the late 1970s, and the trend continued into the new decade. Aggravated by the dollar's continuing slide against the D-mark, base price for the U.S. Porsche 911SC coupe jumped $5,000 for 1980. Much of that, however, reflected the addition of standard features that had been options: electric front windows, A/C, leather-rim steering wheel, underdash console, and matte-black exterior trim. The Targa remained about $1,500 upstream.

Some bemoaned the 911's "luxury creep," but Porsche was only giving buyers what they wanted, especially in the United States, and doing otherwise never helped anyone make money.

Among the new "fed regs" in effect for model-year 1980 was a requirement for speedometers to be calibrated no higher than 85 mph, with visual emphasis at the 55-mph mark to remind drivers of the national limit in force since 1974.

This legacy of the first gas crunch was absurd for a car like the Porsche 911. But like the starter interlock rule of 1974, this silliness wouldn't last, and realistic speedometer markings would again be legal after 1984.

The "double-nickel" occasioned an even odder change for 1980: an accelerator placed considerably below the brake, Detroit-style, because the factory thought it would be more comfortable at 55 mph! Throttle travel was unaffected, though, and an adjustment was built in so that with an hour of wrench work the pedals could be properly set for the sort of heel-and-toe shifting favored by enthusiasts.

Road testers had long since called the Porsche 911 flat-six "venerable," but the 1980 SC's 3.0-liter felt quite youthful thanks to a more efficient three-way catalytic converter that allowed higher 9.3:1 compression for better drivability and mileage.

Rated power and torque were unchanged, but there were no peaks, valleys, or flat spots in acceleration, and the car could still be dropped to ridiculously low revs in the upper gears without protest.

As with the V-8-powered 928, Porsche issued a special Weissach Edition 911 coupe during model-year 1980, named for Porsche's then-new development center near Stuttgart. Only 400 were built, all for the American market.

Priced at $32,000, this Porsche 911 was perfect for those who felt the $27,770 standard coupe lacked status, being nothing so much as a Turbo sans blower and wide-body tail. Features included stiffer shocks, power-remote door mirrors, a power antenna, sealed-beam halogen headlamps, leather cockpit trim, wider wheels, and special paint.

Porsche press blurbs said the model represented a 15 percent savings over the cost of those items ordered individually, but the hype was unnecessary; there were never enough cars to go around.

Further SC upgrades appeared for 1981: halogen headlamps and rear seatbelts, plus an anti-rust warranty extended to seven years (a palliative, perhaps, for "sticker shock"). Little else was changed.

The story was much the same for '82, when Porsche added a heated right door mirror, an improved sound system, headlight washers, and leather-covered front seats. Vinyl remained in back -- practical for the toddlers most likely to ride there.

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:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911