posted on September 29, 2020

Charm of the 356 with classic 911 styling 

Since what seems like the dawn of time, Porsche has built some of the most sought-after sports cars. From the early days of the bathtub 356, to the mighty 911 that still reigns supreme over half a century later, Porsche has no shortage of performance pedigree. What a lot of folks may not realize is that the early years of the 911 actually tell the story of two cars. This September, we’re celebrating Daren’s 1967 Porsche 912 as our car of the month!

1967 Porsche 912

1.6L 490 hp11.6 sec119 mph30 mpg$300
1.6L 490 hp11.6

When Porsche launched the 911, the fancy flat-six engine meant a serious price hike, which not everyone was ready to pay. To keep loyal customers happy, the 912 was developed by modifying the 356’s tiny flat-four engine to be used in the “new” car. In turn, buyers could reap the benefits of the new chassis design at a more affordable price point.

From the outside, there’s no denying the iconic shape of Daren’s Porsche. The Ivory White paint and chrome hubcaps on 15-inch wheels complement the clean, freeform 1960s design. Hop inside the 912 and it’s a proper blast from the past. The thin-rimmed steering wheel, the array of mechanical gauges, and crank windows are a reminder of simpler time. You can even listen to some tunes through the vintage Becker radio as you cruise your favorite backroad. 

Fire up the 912 with the Le Mans inspired left-handed ignition and you’ll be greeted to a familiar rumble. Powering the 912 is an air-cooled 1600cc flat-four-cylinder engine as found in the ever popular 356. In the case of the 912, the engine has been tuned to produce an honest 90 horsepower and 90 lb-ft of torque. On paper that’s not much, but Daren’s 912 also weighs a mere 2,100 pounds, so it doesn’t need much coaxing to get going.

Like many European sports cars of the era, the Porsche sends its power to the wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission. Unlike other vehicles, however, rowing the gears of the 912 is more of an occasion, as the dogleg pattern positions gears 2 through 5 right where you need them most for spirited driving.

Once you’re on the move, piloting the 912 begins to make more sense. The manual steering and lack of electronic driver aids provide a genuine driving experience. It’s just you, the car, and the road. The more time you spend behind the wheel, the more engaging things become.

Whereas modern cars can do things instantaneously and have gobs of power on tap, the 912 helps to hone your skills. It is less about powering down the road, but rather balancing the momentum of the car through fluid gear changes and deliberate accelerator inputs. And since the 912 does not have as much weight hanging over the rear axle like its 911 sibling, the handling is more neutral, which makes the car a lot more predictable through the twisty bits of road.

Nowadays a back-to-basics Porsche may seem like a far stretch of the imagination, but it’s the 912 that helped pave the way for Porsche. Cars like the 914, 924, 944, and Boxster all grew from the 912, but the 911 owes just as much of its success to the 912 as well. The 911 was far from a surefire hit when it was first launched, and as a result, more buyers initially gravitated to the more affordable 912 with the tried-and-true engine. The 912 marks a significant chapter in Porsche history, and it’s not often that you get the chance to drive a piece of history.

The next time you find yourself around Los Angeles, give yourself a memorable moment. Enjoy the sun, surf, and sand of SoCal behind the wheel of Daren’s vintage ‘67 Porsche 912. Just remember… first gear is down and to the left.

*Daily price subject to change

Joey is usually thinking about one thing: cars, cars, and did we mention cars? If he’s not talking about cars, chances are he’s tinkering under the hood of his old E30 BMW.