the ‘other’ 2.7 Carrera

Nobody likes a killjoy, especially an automotive one. If you were a Porsche 911 driver in the mid-1970s, it must have felt as if everyone was wanting to take all of your toys away and spoil all of your fun. A combination of a global fuel crisis, soaring pump prices for petrol and oil embargoes all combined with a sudden attack of conscience as the world woke up to environmental damage and vehicle accident safety. This ended up having a significant impact on the Porsche 911 that everyone loved.

Gone were the beautiful chromed bumpers, replaced with what many saw as ugly ‘Federal spec’ Impact Bumpers. Even the traditional Porsche whaletail wasn’t spared, the German TÜV authorities deciding that the trailing edge was potentially dangerous, leading Porsche to introduce the soft-rubber edging that we know so well today.

In Europe, drivers were spared many of the engine modifications needed for Porsche to continue to sell the 911 in the US. We remained safely enjoying our mechanical fuel injection throttle response and looked smugly across the Atlantic at the Americans and their California law makers, their poor 911 seemingly shackled.

History has not been kind to the US-spec Carrera 2.7. If online forums and hearsay were to be believed, a California-specification Carrera 2.7 would probably have the uphill performance of a Citroën 2CV. Everywhere you could possibly look gives reinforcement of the jaundiced view that the 2.7 Carrera with CIS is to be avoided. Nothing to see here… head over to Europe and seek out a 2.7 MFI.

However, for one man, the chance to own a US-specification 911 proved to be irresistible. “When a friend told me about a 2.7 US Carrera he’d seen for sale, I wasn’t inspired. Like everyone else it was some way down my list of Porsche I’d like to own. However, my friend then said, ‘It’s a non-sunroof Coupe’,” Robin Titterington says.

“That got me interested. After all, I could always swap out the engine, hot rod it, remove the emissions gear. So I bought it with the expectation to change it, tune it, improve it.” “But as I began to put some miles on the car, the entire validity of their tainted reputation came into question. This was a stock engine and I was having fun. Something doesn’t add up here! I’ve driven 1973 Carrera RSs, nearly every year of early 911 T, E, and S models and have owned a hot rod 2.5-litre 1971 911 for years – I’m not easily swayed.”

Robin was actually enjoying driving the US 2.7 just as it was. The performance was certainly different, but a long way from being unacceptable. And compared with other 911s he had owned, it was actually quite comparable. Why should this stock US-spec 2.7 Carrera with all of its alleged shackles and compromises be such fun to drive? Robin tried to
find out more.

“I began doing some quick research, but rather than answer my questions it seemed to turn up lots of conflicting performance data and information. Reviews of the 1974 US Carrera from ‘back in the day’ were overwhelmingly positive, although the performance numbers were all over the map. More recent information and opinion seems predominantly negative. I soon had magazines and books scattered all over my desktop and had to start writing things down to keep it all straight.”

So it appears that all is not as it would seem with the 1974 US 2.7. Robin’s investigations actually posed more questions than answers. “It seems that there were so many different ways to record performance stats in the 1970s. Plus, many automotive magazines didn’t test with the same desire for accuracy that they do today.” Swapping between power outputs measured at the flywheel and then also at the wheels seems to throw many figures hopelessly out of context. Robin’s study of the period data proves to
be very interesting.

He continues, “For instance, Car & Driver’s February 1972 test of the new 2.4-litre Porsche used SAE gross horsepower numbers, giving the 911 S 210bhp, but in its 1974 test of the Carrera they switched to the opposite extreme with SAE net horsepower, giving it only 167hp! No wonder many have come to believe these cars are underpowered. In SAE gross units, the 1974 Carrera US has 195bhp.”

For the full feature, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 169 in shops now or get it delivered straight to your door. You can also download in digital form with high-resolution photography to any Apple or Android device. 

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