So I’ve done a couple of blogs on the new 991 GT3 up to now. That car is an interesting piece of news for 911 fans, but you know I’m not big into new stuff. Air-cooled is my thing, specifically 3-litre 911s and, more specifically, LHD 3-litres where possible. But, when my friend Simon invited me to come get his sweet RHD 1979 Porsche 911 SC for a day and help him move it up country, what kind of snob would say no to that? I was booking a train ticket faster than you can say “pedal offset”.
The destination was Tower Porsche: south of the river off Tower Bridge Road. I’d not been south of the river for a couple of months and I do miss my old stomping ground after a while, so I caught an early train, got to London at 7 and walked along the Thames for an hour or so, stopping to get some breakfast en route. All those people heading for work in the City and me heading for a day in a 911 SC – what a joy it is to be alive.
My quarry was parked just inside the workshop doors. I had a good chat with John the boss, sharing experiences from our recent trip to Techno Classica Essen, but eventually made a move to let him get on with things as they’re not short of work down in that there London. The SC sprang into life first turn of the key and we headed off into the morning traffic.
LHD vs RHD: Classic Porsche
My first 911 was LHD by choice and I have never looked back. The brake and clutch pedals in the RHD cars are offset well to the left of the column, and that 915 shift is a bit of a pain on the 1-2 plane when sitting on the wrong-hand side of the car. If you’ve never driven a LHD SC/impact bumper and only ever driven righties, you won’t give the RHD setup a second thought, but all my SCs and my current C3 have steered from the left. To me it is how they should be, and it is no great hardship to use here in England. That said, one soon adjusts to new surroundings and attention is drawn toward other issues.
One of the most common complaints with pre-G50 impact bumper cars is the weight of the clutch when in traffic. Later 3.2 Carrera G50s bring the hydraulic clutch and it’s obviously a nice thing to have, but when it has to be paired with a 3.2 engine, I think I’ll stick with the weight and the shorter stroke 3-litre, thanks. No problem with 3.2 Carreras, the 3-litre is just my personal preference.
Simon’s SC has comfort seats trimmed in cool Black Watch Tartan and that makes the cabin a nice place to be. Sunroof open and windows down a touch, the SC’s reduced ventilation compared to post-’86 3.2s is less of an issue – on a dry day, at least – and the Arrow Blue paint turns heads almost better than Orange. This is a very pretty car with no shortage of period details, including the chrome brightwork, cookie cutter forged wheels and periscope headlight washers.
Classic Porsche 911 SC Daily Driver
Lots of us once used our SCs as daily drivers, and the niggles had to be worked around, including those weedy wipers and eccentric heating controls. Not much else grates on the nerves: these are great cars to use every day. The lack of power steering was never an issue and remains a delight. I don’t use the radio in any of my cars (apart from the Cayenne since I stuck in a DAB radio), so the noise in the cabin has always suited me fine. The floor-mounted pedals are proper, the super-plasticky column levers for wipers and indicators/turn signals maybe less so, but they feel right nevertheless.
“We used to think that 3.0 and 3.2s were quick,” laughed John as I prepared to set off. “Now you go on track in one of these alongside GT3s and they just disappear into the distance.” Not much point mentioning a little group of IB hot rods that regularly push the GT3 boys along and I suppose the hot rods are kind of cheating anyway. But as outright lap times are not my priority, SC speed suits me just fine.
These light little cars with their superb traction and torque pull away beautifully, whatever the speed. Third gear in a 915 ‘box is such a flexible ratio: perfect for town or on the highway. This SC had the familiar issue of a sticky fuel tank sender due to lack of use for a while and could have done with the front end tracking sorting, but, all in all, it was a joy to drive. I averaged 25 mpg through London, around the M25 and up to the A5 and beyond. Everything in the car worked, without exception.
Towards the end of my day with the SC, I was parked outside my youngest daughter’s school, waiting for her to emerge. A chap in his 50s walked past, turned around, walked onto the road along my side and gave me a big thumbs-up, saying “love it mate, rock on.” Having spent a few hours in the driver’s seat, I was happy to share his enthusiasm. Perhaps SC fans are all in their fifties these days, but it doesn’t bother me much: youth is wasted on the young, as they say. I’m content to be older now, with kids all growing up, a few good friends to relax with and a few quid to spend on old stuff like this. The SC has also settled nicely into seniority, so we made a good pair on the day.
Old 1970s 911 SCs may not be the newest, fastest or prettiest Porsches (albeit they have long been the prettiest to my eyes) but, as solid all-rounders, nothing comes close. I have a big soft spot for the LHD 964RS, but would otherwise take an SC every time, if a certain stripped-out C3 was not available. This SC is now off to a new home: I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.