Finding, then restoring, the first Targa 911 sold in Germany

Photography Courtesy Porsche

The Targa stood there for almost 40 years in a doorless garage, covered by a plastic tarpaulin,” Uwe Makrutzki, head of Porsche Classic Factory Restoration, says of the Polo Red 1967 Porsche 911S Targa. “The owner at the time had seemingly just forgotten about the car.”

The current owner discovered it in 2016, sitting in Long Beach, New York, on the South Shore of Long Island. The car was in rough shape although mostly complete; it even had a few options, like a Webasto heater, leather seats and a Blaupunkt Köln radio.

As rare as such a car is on its own–Porsche built only 925 soft-window Targas with the more powerful S engine–its current owner soon discovered that it was more than just an early Targa. In fact, it was the very first one ever sold in Germany.

How this car wound up in New York, however, requires a little bit of backtracking. The Hülpert Porsche dealership–located in Dortmund, currently Germany’s eighth-largest city and located in the western part of the country–took delivery of the Targa on January 24, 1967. It served as the dealership’s demonstration model until it was sold to a customer here in the United States sometime in 1969.

The history at this point gets a little fuzzy, but it’s clear that the 911 was put in that fateful garage in 1977, where it wouldn’t move until nearly 40 years later.

What’s So Special About a Targa?

When the 911 debuted in 1963 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, customers could have any body style they wanted–so long as it was a coupe. That’s not to say a convertible version wasn’t on the table from the start: 911 stylist Ferdinand Alexander Porsche is quoted in the November 1966 issue of Road & Track saying, “To me it should have been a pure cabrio alongside the coupe.”

Regardless, that decision was overruled. As Porsche historian Karl Ludvigsen explains, “The open model would still take only a small share of production,” adding that “it would have to use all the structure and rear sheet metal of the coupe.”

[Why not a Targa? Is the open-top Porsche today's best value?]

The Targa that was shaped out of those constraints went on to be a success: Initially almost 40% of 911 and 912 sales were, in fact, Targa models. And those sales remained strong, even as Porsche added an actual convertible to the lineup for the 1983 model. (Even today, a Targa model is available from Porsche–just with a much steeper cost of entry than a standard 911.)

When introduced in 1967, the Targa, named after the infamous Targa Florio endurance race, was equipped with a removable plastic rear window. Cars equipped this way are known as “soft-window” Targas and are particularly desirable.

Later in 1968, however, a fixed piece of glass was also made available to buyers. Those later examples are known as “hard-window” Targas. In the end, it was the hard window that would become the standard, with the soft window eventually being phased out by Porsche.

The 911 Targa made its debut for 1967, and Porsche didn’t build a ton of them, especially with the S engine. Call this car very worthy of a complete restoration. 

Let the Restoration Begin

After the 911S Targa’s current owner–an unnamed soul referred to only as “a long-time collector and Porsche enthusiast” in Porsche’s press release–discovered the car, he enlisted the help of Porsche Classic Center’s Classic Factory Restoration department to bring it back to new condition.

The work started in 2016 and took three years to complete. The bodywork alone consumed more than 1000 hours. 

All of the parts used in the restoration had to come from the Porsche Classic catalog. As Makrutzki puts it, “Replica parts from third-party suppliers are out of the question for us.” Fortunately, their resources run deep: Be it a whole exhaust system or a single rubber seal, Porsche Classic has access to more than 60,000 genuine Porsche parts as well as original technical documents and tooling.

The Targa’s current owner insisted that the car remain as original as possible, which forced Porsche Classic to tool up something new: specifically, the outer skin of the Targa top itself. 

“Today’s material has a different grain and is more robust than the original,” Makrutzki explains, “but our customer did not like it.” Instead, technicians at Porsche Classic had to make the entire new top by hand, slowly working until they achieved a suitable appearance. (As a side benefit, this new cover is now available to other customers.)

The owner also wanted the finishes found on the chassis, engine panels and air cleaner to look factory-correct. To accomplish that, those components were painted as they were originally; most restorers now powder-coat these items. 

The body, however, wasn’t refinished to its exact original state. Yes, Porsche Classic applied the same shade of Polo Red used in 1967, but per the owner’s request, it received a special “painted-on paint protection film with a slight matting effect.” The main advantage of this film, besides allowing for the 911 to be regularly driven without worry of damage to the paint, is that it doesn’t require adhesive. That means it can be easily removed if so desired without any leftover residue.

Now in like-new condition, the very first Porsche 911 Targa sold in Germany is once again running and driving. Truly a fitting reward for a car that spent four decades alone, motionless and exposed to the elements.

This car has one deviation from stock, though: a matte finish due to the easily removable paint protectant.

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