In 1965, Porsche responded to the increasing safety requirements for convertibles by debuting the 911 Targa at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The unusual concept, which fitted neither description of a cabriolet or a coupe perfectly, was a real head turner.
The name Targa, which interestingly means “number plate” in Italian, was coined by Head of Domestic Sales Harald Wagner when he suggested keeping the first half of the name ‘Targa Florio’. As the Porsche Motorsport Team had seen success at this legendary road race in Sicily, the term Targa was selected over the “911 Flori”. The first 911 Targa had a removable folding roof with a plastic rear window, but in 1969, the optional extra of a fixed glass rear window then became part of the standard look of the 911 Targa.
In 1975 the G model Targa was introduced; aside from having more of a focus on safety, the car remained mainly the same. The impact-absorbing bellows on the side of the bumpers which conformed to US legislation and the change from silver to black for the Targa roll bar were the noticeable differences.
The third generation of the Porsche 911 saw the introduction of all-wheel drive to the marque in 1988 on the 911 Carrera 4 964. There would be a rear wheel drive 964 Targa before the all-wheel drive system reached the 911 Carrera 4 Targa in 1989. The Targa remained an icon of cool alongside the Coupé and Cabriolet. With its removable roof section and Targa roll bar, the Targa hit a build total of 87,663 models by 1993 when the next model began production.
The 911 993 model line saw one of the most dramatic changes to the Targa style. The new body design saw the removal of the Targa roll bar which was replaced with a safety structure and a sloping roof window which ran from the front window frame to the rear of the car. This achieved the silhouette of the 911 Coupé, but with the added driving pleasure of an open-topped cabriolet when the elegant electrically-operated glass roof was open. As well as the wider wings of the 993, these were radical changes to the Targa concept.
The fifth 911 generation was the 996 which saw changes to the 911 at its core. A water-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine replaced the air-cooled flat-six engine in the 993. The Targa joined the water-cooled 911’s in 2001 and kept its electrically operated glass roof, but expanded its surface area into unchartered territory for a 911. One of the window panes which contributed to the most glass ever seen on a 911, was the opening rear hatch. The folding window added access to the approximately 230 litres of rear storage space, making the Targa more practical.
The 997 version of the Targa saw improvements to its weight by using special glass. The reduction in weight wasn’t the only thing that was stripped back on the 997 Targa. The two-wheel drive variants were axed in favour of the 911 Targa 4 and 911 Targa 4S which were both all-wheel drive models. Adding an additional rear lid for further practicality may not have dramatically changed the look of the Targa from the previous model, but the strips of aluminium between the window and the roof were a sure-fire way to identify the 997.
The seventh 911 Targa saw a complete makeover. This model epitomises the term “modern classic” as the original style of Targa roof was seen back in full swing, but with alterations which combined modern technology with classic styling. The iconic Targa roof could now open and close electronically by pushing a button. The roof retracted automatically in a state-of-the-art move and collapsed behind the rear seat. Often labelled as the “return of the Targa”, the 991 was a much loved 911 model.
The most recent 911 Targa pays tribute to tradition with the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition; especially when specified with the Cherry Metallic exterior inspired from the 1950’s. The adaption from the 991 to the 992 can be seen in the 911 Targa 4 and 4S which carry over the traditional Targa roll bar, but the styling of the square bonnet of the 992 makes it easily recognisable as the most recent model. The 911 Targa 4S boasts impressive power of 450 PS from the twin-turbo flat-six rear engine and a top speed of 189 mph. Acceleration from 0-62mph can be achieved in 3.8 seconds. The power and style of the newest 911 Targa firmly identifies it as an icon of cool.