This 1968 911S is a correct, matching-numbers car that has been given a complete restoration. This car was imported to the United States by Beverly Hills Porsche for a client in 1980.

In 2002, the same client commissioned Beverly Hills Porsche to restore the car, and it has been driven sparingly since.

The odometer currently reads just 23,700 miles, indicating the careful miles covered since importation. It is immaculately clean and painted in the period-correct red over black with the slim bumpers. There are 15-inch-by-5-inch Fuchs alloy wheels on the front and 15-inch-by-7-inch wheels on the rear. This is a fixed-rear-glass model.

Another unique feature on this 911 is its 100-liter fuel tank, commonly referred to in rally circles as the “Big Tank.” A recent drive by a Worldwide specialist confirmed that this 911 is mechanically sorted, has excellent road manners and performed admirably at speed. It is a car that commands respect on the track or show field.

SCM Analysis


Number Produced:1968 911S Targas, 442; 1968 all 911S, 1,709; 1968 all 911, 9,902.
Original List Price:$7,190 before options
SCM Valuation:$75,000 to $100,000
Tune Up Cost:$800 with valve adjustment
Chassis Number Location:Riveted alloy plate at very front trunk panel; stamping on panel above spare tire
Club Info:Porsche Club of America

This car, Lot 86, sold for $118,250, including buyer’s premium, at Worldwide Auctioneers’ Houston Classic on May 5, 2012.

The sale of this car helps bring into focus the increasing interest in — and increasing prices of — desirable “long hood” or “low bumper” early Porsche 911s. These are the 911s built between 1964 and 1973 — before the federal safety regulations clobbered the automobiles of 1974 and subsequent years with raised impact bumpers and emasculated engines.

On the way to introducing the 911, nee 901, at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1963, Porsche had already built a reputation for superlative sports racing prototypes and street sports cars. The race cars started in 1953 with the Type 550 and extended up through the “giant killers” 550A, RSK, RS60/61, Carrera Abarth, and 904. These cars all raced in the under-2-liter classes, occasionally besting much bigger and faster machinery with superior longevity, good fuel consumption, great driving, and wily strategies.

The street-car Porsches of that era were the iconic 356s, most examples of which are already acknowledged collectibles — with some models now well over into investable status and pricing. Back in the day, however, 356s were commonly thought to be somewhat less than beautiful — except among marque aficionados. Several SCMers have pointedly mentioned to this contributing editor that Robert Cumberford, in his “Perspective” on the 1958 356 Carrera GS coupe in the March issue of SCM (p. 52), seemed to strain to say anything nice about the 356 design. Point taken, grudgingly.

Those derogatory points of view largely dissipated when Porsche introduced the 901 in the fall of 1963. While maintaining a familial form from the 356, the new design had flowing lines that generated rapturous reviews.

The 911 (remember that Peugeot nixed Porsche’s use of “901”) was the handiwork of the firm’s chief designer — Ferry Porsche’s eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche — known to all as “Butzi.”

Butzi Porsche just had designed the Type 904, a breakthrough design for Porsche sports racing prototypes, which was also introduced in the fall of 1963 for the 1964 and 1965 racing seasons. The 904 is still revered among Porsche and general car collectors as a stunning design.

The new 911 quickly became Porsche’s most popular model ever — and as we now know, it formed the basis for an enduring and increasingly popular sports car that lives on, more popular than ever almost 50 years later — despite periodic pronouncements of its imminent demise.

The first 911 — faster than a 356

The first iteration of production 911s ran from 1964 through 1968, all powered by the familiar air-cooled, flat-opposed “boxer” 6-cylinder 1,991-cc engine. The engine still hung out behind the rear axle, admittedly a less-than-optimal placement, to preserve the vestigial back seats.

Like the 356s, 911s were 2+2s, with back seats that fit only young children or the occasional smallish adult willing to sit sideways. To help compensate for the rear engine placement, the 911 maintained the torsion bar suspension — but added MacPherson struts with lower wishbones in the front and semi-trailing links in the rear. The result was a car that was much faster and more easily driven than the 356, albeit with trailing throttle oversteer at the limit that could bite a driver who inopportunely lifted in a curve or corner.

More power in 1967

After introduction, the 911 remained relatively unchanged, with continual engineering tweaks, until a more powerful engine package was introduced with the 1967 model. The “S” was a desirable upgrade with an additional 30 horsepower at the time, from 130 to 160. This car rolled on the very first version of the forged-aluminum Fuchs five-spoke wheels, which were initially 4.5 inches wide and grew to 5.5 inches wide for 1968. The S also sported ventilated disc brakes, the first front sway bar and Koni shocks.

Another innovation introduced mid-model-year 1966 was the Targa top, a brushed-steel, covered roll hoop, in front of which was a removable top section that afforded most of the advantages of top-down driving without the wind-blown detriments. Initially, Targas came with a polyethylene and vinyl rear window that zipped out. Two years later, a fixed-glass window became standard, although “soft windows” could be special-ordered through 1970. The Targas were never as popular as coupes, in part because the Targa bar broke the flow of the overall design of the car and looked somewhat ungainly. Today, four out of five buyers prefer a coupe over a Targa.

Big sale not a surprise to insiders

Fast forward to May 2012, and a 1968 911S Targa sold for $118,250. Anyone surprised? You shouldn’t be.

The pages of SCM have documented the rising prices for early 911s, starting with the white 1964 coupe that sold at RM’s Amelia Island auction in March 2011. This was the first street version 911 2-liter to break $200,000 at auction. Prices continued to rise through the Monterey auctions in 2011 and onward.

The fact is that early 911s are hot, increasingly so every month. This reporter’s 911 value chart (see “Porsche Panorama,” June 2012, p. 34) says that an excellent, driver-quality 1968 911S coupe is worth $90,000; investment-grade restored $150,000; with 20% off for a Targa, except soft windows, which are valued the same as coupes. That chart would put our subject car between $72,000 and $120,000.

Why are early 911s hot?

First of all, they’re rare cars in the United States.

The 1968 911S is a scarce item in the United States because it was never imported here. Porsche had to leave the S off its U.S. model lineup for one year while engineers figured out how to manage the new emissions requirements. This problem was solved for 1969 with the introduction of mechanical fuel injection.

For 1968, the twin triple-throat Webers were an EPA liability. Indeed, 1968 had the lowest production numbers for any 911S, a model configuration that lived until 1973.

Further, this particular 911S Targa has an established provenance and very low miles. The auction company description, however, made it sound as if the car carried a color change from original spec, and the rear wheels were later oversized units. The big gas tank is a rarity in such a chassis, and, if borne out as original by the factory Kardex (build sheet), it would add 10%–15% to the car’s value among the cognoscenti. If this 911S is free of accidents and dreaded plastic filler, we see it as well bought and sold.

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