Few systems on an old car offer more potential for persistent troubles than the ignition…
The Porsche 911 has become synonymous with the idea of tradition over the past fifty or so years, but when it comes to resale value the beetle-backed 2+2 prefers to walk its own path. Many sports and specialty cars are worth more as convertibles; for most Porsches, the opposite is true. This odd inversion applies everywhere from mid-eighties 911SCs to the final 996 Turbos, but it is even more true for the years when the only available “convertible” Porsche was actually the rollbar-equipped Targa.
Responding to early-’60s safety regulations in the United States and a concern, generally shared throughout the industry, that American authorities would ban the sales of traditional convertibles, Porsche designed the first 911 Targa as essentially a topless coupe with a giant 20-cm roll-bar and two removable roof sections. Touting the Targa as the first “safety cabriolet”—while ironically drawing its name from the infamously dangerous Targa Florio race in Sicily—Porsche aimed to satisfy expected future federal regulations while keeping a firm foothold in the open-air American market.
The strategy proved a success—mostly. Available either on the base coupe or the S model, the very first 1967 Targas were exclusively offered with a soft plastic rear window, which could unzip and be tucked underneath a cover. Unfortunately, the plastic windows tended to shrink below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, making them impossible to close. This was not only inconvenient but risky from a theft-deterrent perspective. In short order, Porsche offered a heatable glass rear window, which solved the shrinkage problem and reduced the risk of theft while slightly improving visibility and noise level. Thereafter, the vast majority of buyers checked the glass-window box.
Like their coupe brethren, 911 Targas were motivated by Porsche’s 1991-cc air-cooled flat-six, cranking out 130 horsepower in the base model and 180 in the higher-spec “S” model thanks to forged pistons and connecting rods, larger valves and ports, and triple-throat Weber carbs. As did the outgoing 356C, 911s got disc brakes all around. Porsche offered a choice of five-speed manual or almost-automatic Sportomatic transmission, which used a vacuum-operated clutch (triggered via a delicate switch on the shift lever) and was paired with a torque converter to permit the vehicle to come to a halt without disconnecting the clutch. Forward gears included L, D, D3, and D4 (naturally) until the 1975 model year, when it was replaced with a three-speed box better-suited to the new 2.7-liter engine.
In 1968 Porsche grappled again with U.S. regulations, this time regarding emissions that would doom the S-spec motor stateside. For 1968 alone, then, Porsche bolted an air pump onto the base-spec motor, grabbed the ventilated brakes from the S model, and rolled the 911 stateside as the 911L (for Luxe). (The S wouldn’t return stateside until 1969, when it sported mechanical fuel injection.) You can distinguish the one-year-only 911 L by its small side-marker lights, which are not integrated into either the tail or parking lights.
The following year, Porsche swapped out the 911 L for the 911 E as its mid-range 911 offering in the U.S. The “E” designated that model as sporting mechanical fuel injection—but only if you spoke German (“einspritzung” means injection). 1968 was also the last year of the short-wheelbase cars; for the 1969 model year, Porsche added 57 mm to the wheelbase to improve handling.
If you’re shopping for a Targa, you can expect to save a few bucks over a coupe; ironically, the once-avoided soft-window Targa models now carry a premium in the market, likely due to their relative rarity and the fact that these once-practical Porsches are no longer expected to serve as daily drivers. A highly functional glass window on your 1967–68 Targa will dock you about 10 percent in value. The market doesn’t love the Sportomatic-equipped models; that option carries a 15-percent decrease across all 1968 models.
1967–68 911 values either remained steady or tipped downward in the latest Hagerty Price Guide update, and while prices for most ’67–78 911s were down over the past full year, the coupes remain consistently more desirable than either the soft- or glass-window Targas in these early cars. A factory sunroof in a coupe will add 10-percent, while air conditioning in any 911 will bump your car’s value up 10 percent. If we zoom out and look at the past three years, however, 1967 models are up 4–8-percent, and both the 1968 base and limited-run L increased by 9–13 percent.
1967 and 1968 S-trim 911s are the most desireable, and 1967 #2 (Excellent) condition examples (both coupe and Targa) can clear $200,000. 1968 models follow not too far behind their earlier S brethren, notching six-figure values even in #3 (Good) condition: $108,000 for the S coupe and $101,000 for the S-spec Targa. Base models from both years hover between $50,000–$58,000 in #3 (Good) condition; 1967 Targas fall $3500 below the coupes with a #3-condition value of $55,000 and 1968 Targas slip even farther below the contemporary coupe ($50,000 for a ’68 Targa versus $56,500 for the coupe). True to their original hierarchy, the 1968-only 911L models fall in the middle, carrying #3-condition values of $67,500 for the coupe and $63,200 for the Targa.
Despite their slightly-declining values over the past year, these 1967–68 911s remain highly-prized among the first generation of Porsche’s most revered model, and there’s little danger the market will leave them by the wayside. As usual in the market, funky features—like the early Targa’s zippered-plastic windows—and higher-spec sport models catch collectors’ eyes. However, in this corner of the market, coupes remain king.
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