1988 Porsche 911 Targa – A New Girl is in Town

If you’re a long time reader you know that about 2 years ago I lost my Saab Turbo-X. I’ve been on the lookout for what I would get to replace her. Today I took the first drive in my “new” 1988 Porsche 911 Carerra Targa. All I can say is: WOW. I didn’t spend a lot on this car – there’s quite a bit of work to do, but mechanically the car is in decent shape. I did about 18 months of research before I selected this specific model. Why this one and what’s the plan? I’ll start a series of posts with a run down on the car and what the projects will be.

The Basics – why this car?


I’ve always wanted a Porsche and the Targa has always been my favorite – why? Because of the rear glass.Take a look at the classic shape of the glass in this car. The way it curves around the corner. I also like the front profile of the headlights vs. the smooth hood lines – classic Porsche.

The Targa was originally conceived as a solution to the USA potentially banning convertible tops. I like the targa because it is now unique in autos (and Porsche) and is actually a very convenient feature. Take it off – fold it up and get back to driving. Pretty cool. One draw back is that there is quite a bit of wind noise, but more on that later.

With all of this I was a bit nervous getting a car like this. Way out of warranty…over the internet…manual steering and pretty much manual braking. However I was looking for something fun – a project car – and something that is very different from cars today. I looked for quite a while and researched a lot of different cars, but I kept coming back to a 911. After a lot of research I decided the 1988-1989 911 Carerra Targa was the way to go. Its got a great reliability record, it has the G50 Gertag tranny, its got a new rust proofing system, and it has the original 911 styling, but with a few modern conveniences like power windows and locks.

Driving the Porsche 911 Carerra Targa

I’ve never driven a Porsche before so I had no idea what it would be like. Turn the key and the engine roars to life after about 4 turns. I do mean roars. A few puffs of white smoke blow out as well – moisture I think/hope. I have not gone to a mechanic yet so I am taking it fairly easy with the car. I took her out and around with the wife – putting about 60 easy miles on her.

Shifting is smooth and easy, the car is rock solid in turns, braking is good. The engine pulls very strong, but not mind-blowing performance. That’s ok – I didn’t want a track car. It is really fun to drive – the manual steering makes you work and you can really feel this car go. Between the steering, the lowered/stiffened suspension, and the roaring engine you can’t help but feel like you are in a speed machine.

I’m a pretty big guy at six feet and one hundred ninety five pounds, but sitting in the car is no problem. Plenty of room although my shoulders are wider than the seat back. The seats are really comfortable and can be adjusted both manually and thru electronic controls. One of the things that needs to get patched up in the car is the center console. It is very loose – I mention this because it makes shifting difficult. The shifter knob is also missing the screw that holds it on, but despite this I find the shifting quite smooth and easy – the throw is quite long.

The previous owner put in a really nice Pioneer HD stereo with a decent speakers and a 500 watt amp. Driving around with the top down and playing Van Halen’s Diver Down – can’t get any better.

The Bucket List – What Needs Fixing

I got this car so that I would have projects beyond the keyboard I am currently typing on. I want to have a long technology career. In order to do this I think you need to have other activities ( I mean other than beer) to keep you mind fresh and avoid burnout. I’ve got karate, beer, and now this car. I intend to do as much work myself as possible, but we’ll see. Its pretty intimidating to think about rebuilding an engine and of course the tools are expensive. We’ll have to see what I can deal with. Definitely oil changes, routine maintenance, and maybe tune ups are things I can do. Perhaps some brake work too. Definitely the interior work I can do.

I’ll be taking her to a mechanic for a complete inspection next week, but for now here’s my list of things to check into and do:

  1. There’s more oil than there should be on the bottom of the engine after a long drive. Its not dripping off – but need to look into it for sure. The rest of the engine should get a complete look and a tune. In general I think its in pretty good shape for 130K miles.
  2. The car is lowered. I want my mechanic to make sure this was done properly. Its so low in fact that I bark the muffler on my driveway just getting out so I’ll have to figure that out ASAP – build some kind of wood “ramp” when getting in and out.
  3. Brake rotors and pads look decent – the calipers are nicely powder coated too.
  4. Pretty much all the rubber seals on doors and roof need to be replaced. Some places are in pretty bad shape. This should also help to reduce wind noise if I get it all fixed up right.
  5. The center console is not really attached – I think the previous owner probably had a short shifter in and put back the original shifter and messed up the whole thing. I’ve already got a bunch of parts on order to fix it.
  6. The carpeting is new and I’m not sure it is installed correctly so I’ll have to work on that and get it all fixed.
  7. Paint – in general the paint looks great, but there are some dings, dents, and scratches. There’s some bubbling pain under the bumper on the right rear. I’ll have to think about a complete re-spray or just minor fixes here and there. This will come last after everything else is fixed up.

Here’s a gallery of pics – sorry for the low res. I dropped my camera in the ocean this summer so all I have now is the camera in my S3.

1 Response

  1. Beren says:

    Annoying gallery tool has the order backwards. Argh!

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