911 SuperSport Cabriolet

Have you ever sold something that you later wished you hadn’t? The experts tell us that most decisions made are correct and rational at the time of making, but try telling that to someone just after he has waved goodbye to his classic pride and joy, and as it disappears up the road that terrible sinking feeling begins to wash over him when he realises that he has just done the most stupid thing in the world.

When Terry Davison was elected as chairman of Porsche Club Great Britain (PCGB) in 1993, he thought that he better get himself a Porsche that could stand up to the rigours of driving all over the United Kingdom and Europe attending Porsche events. “I decided the 356 I had at the time wasn’t going to be man enough for the job, and I ought to have a decent car to get around in,” he explains.

Looking around for a suitable Porsche that, not only fell within his budget but would also satisfy the requirements of covering the many miles that went with the chairman’s position, was not going to be easy. However, a trip to London revealed a car that would prove suitable for the job, and although Terry found his rather dusty steed upstairs and at the back of a storeroom and not on the showroom floor, the die was cast. Despite the car wearing a £30,000 price tag, the club chairman was not deterred, and a deal was duly struck.

The car in question was a Guards Red, five year-old, low-mileage 911 Carrera SuperSport Cabriolet, known also as the Carrera SSE or Turbo-Look. Introduced in 1984 (E-Programme) in coupe form only, the Turbo-Look included the Turbo’s wide body, spoilers, suspension, four-piston fixed calipers, 16-inch forged alloy rims and low profile tyres. It was, in the words of Terry Davison, a ‘Turbo without the Turbo engine’.

Although the Turbo-Look Cabriolet, introduced in 1985 along with the Targa, shared the same engine output and performance figures as the standard Cabriolet, it was offered at the substantially higher price of DM100,150 (approx £38,500); about 25 per cent more expensive than the narrow-bodied version. Improvements to the 1985 model included side-impact beams in the doors, and the Cabriolet and Targa models were given additional body reinforcement to cope with the higher forces generated by the turbo suspension.

And so, suitably armed with the right car, Terry set off for his first Club President’s meeting in Germany in the newly acquired SuperSport Cabriolet, together with his teenage son. Collecting the car from the dealer in Chiswick, London, the happy pair set off in torrential rain for the hovercraft dock in Dover for the channel crossing; and all went well until it stopped raining. Unable to switch off the intermittent wipers, Terry tried to encourage his son to call the dealer to ask how to turn the wipers off, but perhaps understandably, he refused, as Terry humorously recalls: “My son wouldn’t phone AFN, as he thought it would be terribly embarrassing to have to ask how to turn off the wipers. Eventually, though, we found this little button on the dash which controlled the intermittent wipers. It was just a case of not knowing the car.”

The journey to Stuttgart continued without incident until, travelling along the road to Upen in Germany the Porsche hit a deer. As the deer landed in the road in front of the car and to the right, Terry instinctively swung left but, unfortunately, this was in the same direction as the poor creature’s mad dash for safety, and the left-hand headlamp hit the startled animal squarely up the backside. Had Davison instead turned towards the animal, its leap would have carried it out of the path of the swerving Porsche. Thankfully, the damage was minor with the left-hand headlamp being smashed and a slight kink in the wing.

Slightly shaken, the pair continued to the gasthaus for the night and the following morning arrived in Stuttgart at Werk 1 where Davison’s altercation with a deer immediately attracted the attention of the Porsche technicians. “They were very amused,” recalls Terry. “They advised me with much laughter that they wouldn’t repair the car and I should just take it back to the dealer and say it’s no good.” It is worth pointing out that at this stage that the car had not been paid for, so Terry was understandably anxious about the incident but Porsche had the headlight replaced in almost no time.

Following a visit around the plant in Stuttgart, father and son hit the road south for the president’s conference in southern Germany, giving him plenty of opportunity to stretch the car’s legs. Being a 1988 model, this SuperSport had spent its early life pootling around London and to date had only covered 40,000 rather pampered miles, which was good news for its new owner who planned to use the car extensively.

Although almost 75,000 Turbo-Look models across the three body styles (Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet) were made between 1984 and 1989, just 75 crossed the Channel to the UK in right-hand-drive form. “It’s actually one of only 26 right-hand-drive SuperSport Cabriolets, so it is a rare beast,” Terry confirms.

He admits that he loves open-topped cars and was keen to find a Cabriolet. Far from looking ungainly, Terry insists the soft-top is actually an aerodynamic marvel: “The aerodynamics of the hood are absolutely wonderful because if you run into rain, you never get a spot of water on the back window, so rearward vision is perfect. The aerodynamics keep it clear, it’s wonderful.”

The only problem with the hood was that the plastic rear window would crease when the hood dropped (electric operation was standard) and, over time, it would distort and even crack – the same problem occurred with early Boxsters. The solution, explains Terry, is to unzip the window and lay it flat before pressing the button to lower the roof.”

The SuperSport Cabriolet did several trips to Stuttgart, and Terry also crisscrossed the UK countless times, running up thousands of miles. Furthermore, annual holidays were taken in the SuperSport in the north of England and Scotland, as the roads there are made for sports car driving. The Cabriolet was enjoyed by both Terry and his wife, no matter the weather, as Terry remembers from one trip in Scotland: “We’ve been all round Scotland with the hood down and once at a club event up there we experienced heavy showers coming down the A9, and I said to Sally, ‘Shall I stop and put the hood up?’ ‘Don’t you dare, put your foot down,’ she replied. You see, as long you’re travelling at speed, the rain doesn’t come into the cockpit.”

The Scottish weekends became legendary and became known as ‘WOTY’ which stands for ‘Weekend of the Year’. On another trip up north, Terry found himself on a narrow Highland road and ahead in the distance were two coaches, and he resigned himself to a long slow journey. To his surprise, though, as he approached the first coach, he found it waiting in a lay-by for him to pass, and the same thing happened with the second coach. “They’d seen me coming and they both waved me through; absolutely wonderful,” Davison chuckles.

The SuperSport Cabriolet was quite advanced for its time, as with the hood down (and the tonneau cover removed!), one push of the button on the key fob would raise the roof, wind up the electric windows and lock the doors – pretty good stuff in 1988.

As to why this model is known as the ‘SuperSport’ in the UK, the name is derived from the car’s full original designation; 911 Carrera SSE Cabriolet, where SSE stood for Special Sport Equipment. Called the Turbo-Look in Germany and the USA, Porsche’s two largest markets, the name quickly became the SuperSport in the UK and this name was then adopted by Porsche Cars Great Britain. However, in an attempt to make the car more of a Turbo-Looker, the first owner had the ‘Carrera’ badge on the engine cover replaced with a ‘Turbo’ badge; one of the first things that Terry did after buying the car was to reinstate the correct moniker.

The only non-original item on the car today is the black steering wheel, as the Porsche would have left the factory with a red steering wheel, colour-coded to match the bodywork. “It’s got a black steering wheel at the moment which, although it’s the correct ‘H-pattern’ it should be red,” Terry explains. “I still have the original red one but it’s worn around the top, where the sun has got it. Also, it looks too gaudy for me!”

At the end of Terry’s tenure as chairman of PCGB, and with the SuperSport having done its owner proud, it was time to move on as Terry now wanted to go racing. He put the SuperSport up for sale in 1997 with a Porsche specialist and before too long the car was gone, and nothing more was heard of it for the next ten years. Terry went racing and all looked well on the western front until that chapter of his life also drew to a close, and it was only when he was looking for a 911 to go hillclimbing with that he received a call from the specialist who had sold his SuperSport so many years earlier. Davison recalls the conversation: “Would you like to buy a Guards Red SuperSport Cabriolet?” his friend asked. “Is it my old car?” Terry replied, and the specialist responded with: “Well you’ll have a job to find another one in that colour!”

And so the journey of the SuperSport had gone full circle, as Terry was reunited with his old car. During the time outside his tenure the Porsche had put on just 5,000 miles, as it had been used for just short distance pleasure trips, and was still in excellent condition.

On the day that he went to collect the car, Terry was just about to reverse out of the seller’s drive when a hand came in through the window, “‘If you ever want to part with it again, ring me first,’ the seller said, which I thought was nice.”

The SuperSport is now a permanent fixture in the Davison garage and Terry’s son, who had joined his father all those years back on that eventful trip to Stuttgart, now uses the Porsche to fetch his own children from school. “We want to keep it as part of the family now,” smiles Terry.

Also in the family…

1960 356B Coupe Super 90

The 356 was ordered new by Hutch Hutchinson, a racing driver, and delivered to him in South Africa. The car was brought to the UK in 1978 and Terry Davison acquired it two years ago.

1978 911SC

Developed by a previous owner for hillclimbing, the SC has PMO carburettors and lightweight glassfibre panels. Terry purchased the car a year ago and has competed in one hillclimb to date.

This was taken from issue 79, for all Total 911 back issues visit www.imagineshop.co.uk/

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