Next week at the North American International Auto Show, Porsche is expected to be taking the wraps off a variation of the 911 Convertible, dubbed “Targa.” This name carries a lot of weight in the Porsche community as the Targa has been one of the more unique variants of the 911 to ever come out of Stuttgart. Here’s why.
The year was 1967, and Porsche was looking for a solution to a problem that had not yet actually occurred. Just like today, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration prevented all sorts of technologies and features from being available on cars. Today it might be Audi’s matrix LED headlights, but in the late 1960’s the fear was that convertibles might be outlawed.
Porsche came to the conclusion that if it could offer a stop-gap model that met safety regulations, it would be one of the only players to offer open-air driving if such a ban went into effect. The car featured a roll bar and two soft convertible elements. The top could be removed as well as the soft rear window area. Rather than blend in the roll-bar, Porsche decided to make it a central visual feature, wrapping it in stainless steel.
The car was an instant success. The name conjured up Porsche’s racing pedigree, as it was derived from the “Targa Florio,” an Italian road race in which it had great success. In 1968 the Targa also came with a hard rear window, which offered better protection from the elements.
In the 1970s, 20 special 911 Targas were supplied to the Belgian police, fitted with a 2.7-liter boxer engine. The Targa was offered in subsequent generations through the 1970s and 1980s as well.
In 1996, Porsche revived the Targa, but rather than utilizing the same chrome roll bar and soft tops, it featured a large sliding glass roof. Owners have noted that this design was problematic and had heating and cracking issues. Then again, problems with keeping the elements out was part of the charm of the original Targa.
When the new 911 Targa debuts next week, it is expected to have brightwork in its recognizable rollbar section. Based on several spy photographs, the roof panel ahead of the roll bar will be some sort of soft top, but many questions remain regarding the rest of the top. It appears that it is a hard top, but will it retract? Is it removable? Is it a decoy?
All these questions will be answered when the 911 Targa is revealed next week in Detroit.