I once stuck my head out of the side of a 1929 taildragger aeroplane while flying over the Coromandel Peninsula just to see what it would have felt like for World War One fighter aces and I can confirm that there’s a speed at which the utopian ‘wind in your hair’ becomes a smidgen uncomfortable. Of course, in the War the Red Baron would have had a helmet of the finest cowhide and goggles; all I had was a pair of sunnies and a reckless curiosity.
The Red Baron would have never believed that half a decade later, in 1963, his countrymen would conceive the 911 with an engine at the wrong end. This is the drop-top iteration (with a few of the option boxes ticked). While the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet isn’t the world’s fastest convertible, it’s certainly capable of getting to a speed where you’d be worried that your little follicles would be hanging on for dear life. In fact it will top out at 285kph, a good 100kph faster than the Baron’s Fokker DR 1 triplane, but 100kph slower than the car that holds the ‘world’s fastest convertible’ mantle, the 9ff-tuned 997 Turbo Cabriolet that produces 910bhp.
But I digress: this 911 reaches 100kph in 5.2s. Fairly quick as far as most cars go, aided not only by one of the best six-speed gearboxes of any manufacturer, but enormous optional 295/35R19 tyres at the rear ably controlled by Porsche’s PSM traction control. Progress is rapid.
PSM also acts like ESP/VDC in other cars — it monitors the direction, speed, yaw velocity and lateral acceleration, detecting if the car is getting out of shape. If so, it will intervene, selectively braking individual wheels to bring the car back into line. The PSM does its best to cope with the inherent power understeer that many Porsches suffer from due to a light front end. And this lack of weight at the sharp end (unless you’re loaded with luggage) also causes the ABS on the front wheels to lock prematurely under heavy braking. That’s about all I can find wrong with this Porsche, so on with the adulation.
When you are putting two hundred grand plus on a car the details must be superb. In this case the Porsche is finished in Basalt Black Metallic — a beautifully deep and sparkly black; the interior features stitched leather on the dashboard, steering wheel and doors; the hood folds away neatly, silently and perfectly in 20 seconds; the leather-clad bucket seats are infinitely electrically adjustable; and I could go on.
But the best part is the noise made under hard acceleration from the 3.6-litre flat-six engine. Drop into the driver’s seat and suddenly you are immersed in the car as if in a cockpit. It fires up with a bark. Snick it into first and bring up the weighty clutch while applying some right-foot weight to the throttle.
Like a squadron of Fokkers ready to defend against the Allies, the Porsche gathers speed with an angry roar, pausing briefly as the pilot gathers up another cog. When it comes to shaving off the speed, large cross-drilled rotors clamped by four-pot callipers act like an arrestor hook on an aircraft carrier.
Dominating the instrumentation is the centrally positioned rev counter. A digital display within the counter shows trip computer and radio information, as well as the accurate speed in kph, which is fortunate because the speedometer to the left is too small to accurately tell the speed — it goes up to 330kph.
Fitting enough airbags in a convertible means having a thorax airbag in each seat. a head airbag in each door, and the driver and passenger front airbags.
Technically a four-seater, in reality it’s a two seater with a useful extra luggage area. The rear seats fold down to form a flat tray, and a cavity underneath where items can be stored out of view. This is handy because interior storage (like most convertibles of any brand) is on the light side.
Functions for the radio and car setup are managed via the Porsche Communication Management console in the centre of the dashboard. The large screen is surrounded by buttons and a data entry wheel, some of which can be duplicated on the steering wheel to the user’s requirements. There are optional navigation and telephone modules, and a 10-disc CD changer can be installed in the front luggage compartment. Nine speakers fill the cabin with a punchy sound and have no problem rising above the increased noise when the hood is down.
After over forty years of development, you’d expect the 911 to be great, and it is. I would personally lay down another five thousand and get the higher-powered hard top Carrera S over the Carrera Cabriolet, though. But that is personal opinion (in part driven by my propensity to sunburn and my dislike of the ‘wind in the hair’ experience). In the end, you are driving an icon, and however you like your roof the Porsche 911 can do the job.
Thanks to Continental Cars in Newmarket for the loan of the Porsche
Price: from $220,000
What we like
- Everything except:
What we don’t like
- Care required as not to induce power understeer from low speeds
- Fronts lock easily under heavy braking
- Cup holders are useless
Words Darren Cottingham, photos Quinn Hamill