Targa roof: A Porsche 911 history

Since the inception of the iconic Porsche 911 in 1963, Zuffenhausen had been investigating ways of making an open-top version of their range-topping sports car. However, a lack of structural rigidity and changing US regulations had made finalising a conventional design nigh on impossible.

Step forward the 911 Targa. Introduced in 1967, the Targa (so named to celebrate Porsche’s victories in the Targa Florio road race) utilised a unique full roll hoop, thus satisfying the ever-stricter roll protection legislation in America.

The initial short-wheelbase car featured a full, roll hoop, replacing the normal B-pillars. Finished in brushed aluminium (and without the three gills featured on later cars), the Targa also featured a fold-down rear screen, providing a truly open-air experience.

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A year later, with the introduction of the long wheelbase platform, the Targa’s rear screen became a permanently fixed glass number, while the roll bar itself now bore three vertical gills.

This design would live on through the impact bumper era, where the roll bar could be specified in either brushed aluminium or a satin black finish. The latter would become standard on the 964 (released in 1990), where the gills would once again be noticeable by their absence.

For the 993 generation, the Targa would see its biggest revolution since the model’s inception, with the roll hoop being replaced with a panoramic glass roof running all the way down to the decklid. At the touch of a button this could slide back, effectively creating a giant sunroof.

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The design would carry on to the 996, the latest generation of 911 Targa to be available in two-wheel drive, where many customers praised the ability to open the rear screen like a hatchback, adding practicality to the everyday sports car.

When the 997 was introduced, the Targa was again not far behind. However, the panoramic-roofed car would only be available in ‘4’ and ‘4S’ guises, including the wider body shell utilised by these variants.

Now, in 2014, the Porsche 911 Targa is going back to its roots, with the 991 seeing the return of the classic roll bar design. Finished in brushed aluminium (and including the three gills) the roof is no longer removed manually though. Instead, a complex electromechanical design stows the fabric top section away underneath the rear seats (as you can read in issue 113).

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