The auction catalog calls the Weber carbs an update, but I call them wrong

After years of building its commercial and racing success around the 356 models, Porsche introduced the larger, more powerful, two-liter Porsche 911 model in 1965.
Maintaining the company's success with rear-engine positioning, the all-new design provided an aerodynamic body over a revised chassis that housed a sophisticated suspension system, a more powerful flat-six engine, and a five-speed transmission. The combination was extremely powerful, making the new 911 faster and more stable at high speed than the 356 model.
Feeling excluded, many Porsche fans yearned for a more affordable alternative to the 911. Buyers did not have long to wait, as in 1966 Porsche introduced the affordable 912 model with virtually the same horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that was used in the 356 Super 90. Despite a weight penalty of 220 pounds versus the lighter 356 Super 90, the Porsche 912 achieved the identical top speed of 115 mph.
Production ran from 1965 through 1969, and 912 Porsches of quality have become increasingly collectible. Today, excellent examples are few and far between, as they proved popular with people who never anticipated their future value. Throughout production, only 8%, or about 2,562 cars, were equipped with a Targa top. Nearly extinct, there are only about 60 known examples.
The 1968 Porsche 912 Soft-Window Targa offered here is in show-quality condition and was fully restored by a marque specialist a short time ago. In the process of the restoration, the vehicle was stripped to bare metal, repainted, color sanded, and buffed. Professional upholsterers updated the interior with new seats, new panels, and new carpeting, and restored the Targa top. A full mechanical service and vehicle detail were also performed. Notably, this example has also been upgraded to include dual Weber carburetors for better performance and driveability. An original California car, this 912 Targa is an exemplary model of a rare breed made even more rare by its exceptional condition.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1968 Porsche 912 Soft-Window
Number Produced:2,500 approx
Original List Price:$5,560 (1967)
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$15
Chassis Number Location:on horizontal bulkhead under front hood
Engine Number Location:stamped below generator on third piece of alloy engine case
Club Info:Porsche Club of America, 5530 Edgemont Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310
Investment Grade:C

This pretty 1968 Porsche 912 Soft-Window Targa sold for $28,600 at RM’s Arizona Auction on January 20, 2006.
I judge the price to be high, but understand how a buyer could feel good about paying this much.
That said, I’m at odds with several of the comments made in the catalog, as much as I enjoy RM’s abilities to corral great cars for sale. In the 1960s, 912s sold at a 38% discount from new 911s, and I believe that gap only widens with age. Basically, 912s are not now and will never be as collectible as 911s.
Does that mean 912s are worth nothing? Not at all. A great 912 is a good car, and if rebuilt properly, it is as fun to drive as all Porsches should be. But a similar vintage 911 will always be both more fun to drive and durable, so it will always be worth more. A 1969 911E Soft Rear Window Targa recently sold in this price range, which makes it an easy call to say this 912 is more than a bit ahead of the market.
There are two things about this 912 Soft-Window Targa that should make the new owner happy: the rare body style and the complete restoration. The Targa was the premium open-car body for the 911 of this era, for which you paid extra. In spite of that, many Targas were made; they are not rare. However, the majority have a glass rear window, making this soft rear window model unusual. The comment about “60 known examples” is a complete surprise to me. Perhaps the 912 Registry has 60 listed, but there is no doubt that many more exist. I’d say there are hundreds of 1967-68 soft rear window 912 Targas.
The second reason is the thorough restoration, and on a solid California car. If well done, this makes the car unusual and exceptional in today’s hot market. But that begs the question, just how well done is this example? Only a careful examination on a lift with a thorough road test will give us the complete answer, but we can get some clues from the carburetors selected.
The auction catalog calls the Weber carbs an update, but I simply call them wrong. And I am not in the least being a purist here. I’m mostly interested in driving my cars, and I’d gladly accept improper Webers-if they made the car drive as well as the original carburetors did.
But Webers were never standard or optional on a 912. Not an “upgrade,” they are usually a shortcut taken by shops unable to make the original Solex carbs work. I’d still have no problem with that if the cars would perform well with Webers. However, most Weber-carbed 912 and 356 cars don’t run as intended.
Be wary of Weber-carbureted cars and carefully observe engine response on the test drive. Look for the famous Weber “flat spot” at the transition between idle and main jets at about 2,800 rpm. This bog is infuriating and one of the unpleasant side effects of most Weber installations on four-cylinder Porsches, along with binding throttle linkages, hard-to-get-at spark plugs, poor-fitting engine sheet metal, and the potential for overly rich running leading to oil contamination and spun rod bearings.
The price paid here represents the purchase of a highly unusual-as opposed to a highly valuable-vintage Porsche in the middle of the winter Arizona sale season, when passions run strong. The buyer got a car he won’t see at every drive-in, even if he lives in Porsche-crazed Southern California. So for the uninitiated, he has a neat car for his money. But most knowledgeable buyers would prefer a 911 at the same price.
Owners of 912s always get mad at us when we bash 912s. There is nothing wrong with Porsche 912s; as the budget Porsche, they were fantastic cars. But the market tells us most Porsche buyers prefer a 911. My prediction is, that won’t be changing. In my opinion, this fellow got a 912 for 911 money. That wouldn’t be my automotive preference.

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