Porsche 911 2.0 SWB
The original and for some the best, this is the genesis of the 911. Designed by Ferdinand ‘Butzi’ Porsche it was launched to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963 and was a significant advance over its 356 predecessor.
Originally designated 901, production proper would start a year later, in September 1964. Just 82 901s were built before the model type number was changed to 911 for 1965.
Featuring an all new, all aluminium, high-revving, 2-litre flat-six, the 911 was a truly sophisticated sports car, with a price tag to match. The rear-engined layout was carried over from the 356, but the cylinder count bought with it a whole new noise. Power was 130bhp, hooked to either a four-speed or five-speed transaxle. Enough for a top-speed of 130mph and 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds.
It didn’t take long for the 911 legend to gain traction and a dedicated following amongst enthusiasts, helped by immediate success in motorsport and typical tough Porsche practicality, that made it remarkably easy to live with and encouraged day-to-day use, unlike its more fickle Italian competition. You could say that nearly 60-years on, the above traits haven’t really changed!
The base 2-litre, 130bhp 911 was joined by the 911 Targa and the more powerful 160bhp 911 S in 1966. Confusingly, perhaps, the detuned 911 T became the base 911 in 1968, with the original 130bhp 911, now designated the 911 L.
In 1969, the 911 underwent its first significant change, with new 2.2-litre engines and an increase in its wheelbase from 2211mm to 2268mm. Thus all pre 1969 911s are now commonly known as SWB (short wheelbase) cars.
Which brings us neatly to this exceptional early US 2-litre SWB 911, from the Austin collection.
Originally finished in period defining Irish Green and first registered in March 1968, it arrived in the US at Porsche Car Distributors Inc, in Culver City, California and was sold to its first owner, Lewis George, through Riverside dealer Economotors. Original service books and extensive history suggest just two previous owners in the US, with the second, John Pate, owning the car until 2010.
Renowned 911 racer and expert, Nick Faure, imported it into the UK in 2014, with current owner acquiring it in early 2015. While clearly a good car, and typically very sound in the bodywork dept, thanks to the Californian climate, he set to work driving and drilling down into every facet of this 911s performance and condition. Call him obsessive, but he has handwritten a log of every journey undertaken, from 2016 to 2022, commenting on journey specifics and observations as to the car’s performance on the day.
These keen observations served well for any remedial and restorative work to get this 911 running perfectly, with work being entrusted to West Midlands based Porsche specialist Two Plus Two and, early 911 experts, Gantspeed. The detailed invoices, correspondence and pictures makes for impressive reading/research and explains why this early 2-litre car runs and drives so well and is impressively oil tight. The Devil is in the detail and it is the detail that’s required to really make a 911 flat-six sing.
However, one major detail that he couldn’t ignore, was that of its colour. In its US life, Irish Green had turned to metallic blue. Clearly an excellent job, and perhaps more modern looking, but not its factory coat. Gantspeed were commissioned in 2016 for the bare metal repaint and whilst stripped, he took the opportunity to have the suspension rebuilt and the interior refreshed, where needed. Again the detailed correspondence and pictures tell the story. And it’s worth noting that when stripped, it was clear that every panel on this SWB 2-litre, is still original.
Finished and back on the road in 2017, he continued to enjoy, drive, and attend to this 911 as required taking the mileage from 21,164-miles to 24,102-miles while continuing his driving log. Indeed, the last entry on May 16, 2022, simply reads “Great drive.”
ON THE ROAD
And we wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. It is, indeed, `a great drive` and one that’s benefitted from regular use because 911s need and respond to being driven, particularly the earlier, more mechanical cars on carbs. So many examples we see, just never get driven, which is shame all round.
And the 911 experience doesn’t get much purer or authentic than this. Weighing just 1075KGs with rebuilt suspension and a spritely 130bhp engine to propel it along, this car is simply a joy to drive, requiring only subtle steering inputs to encourage the SWB chassis with that rear-mounted engine into playful action.
Certainly, one of the best SWB cars we’ve had the pleasure of hosting and a credit to owner and all involved. Restored, but not at the expense of originality, retaining enough of its 60s patina, to be ‘real.’ The ultimate accolade to the above, would be to carry on the good work of drive/maintain and drive some more, just as Porsche intended.