1980 Porsche 911 Review from North America

1980 Porsche 911 Coupe 3.0

Model year1980
Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 3.0 Manual
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 5 / 10
Comfort marks 3 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.0 / 10
Previous carPorsche 968

Summary:

A legendary classic sports car that shines when judged by period standards

Faults:

My car has unknown mileage, but the engine was rebuilt by my mechanic and now has about 19k miles on it. The car needed a lot of other maintenance, however. This is a rolling restoration.

One surprise was that a few of the finger springs on the clutch pressure plate somehow bent, and I had to replace the clutch, clutch fork, and fork release sleeve. The clutch had been previously replaced, so maybe it was a defective part.

It backfires a bit until warmed up. Maybe it's a cold start valve. I haven't checked yet.

The brakes lock up prematurely, but I think it is due to the old brake lines or possibly a caliper. The car sat for a while before I bought it, and it is almost 30 years old. So, I am replacing the brake system as part of maintenance.

General Comments:

After years of sitting on the fence on whether to buy a 911 to go along with my 944 Turbo and 968, I came across a deal that would let me get into the car at a lower price and restore it.

The car is small, with little headroom for people above 6 feet tall. Seating position is awkward, too; I need to recline the seatback so my head doesn't rub the headliner, but this puts me out of comfortable reach for the gear shift. So, I have to move the seat forward more than I would like, resulting in a cramped footwell.

I'm sure the chassis has over 100k miles, but the car is still very solid. It handles pretty well with the old suspension, but I plan on lowering it and adding upgraded parts along with brakes before I push it very hard. I took it to a parking lot and induced power oversteer, which was awesome! It's a tail heavy car, but not uncontrollably so.

It's not as quick as I imagined. My US spec car has 172hp, which is pretty weak today. Even for a 2600lb car. I believe my BMW E30 is a little faster; it has a very similar power to weight ratio.

I guess these cars really come from an era where exotic cars required compromise. This car requires you to adjust to its seating position and respect its rear weight bias. In return, it offers looks like no other car, and a great engine soundtrack. I removed the sound insulation in the rear of the car, which saves about 30 lbs and lets in more engine noise and it's great! The car sounds angry going down the road. Like a race engine... only the pace is much slower.

I expect my maintenance upgrades to the suspension and brakes will transform it into a track worthy weekend warrior. For now, it feels like an antique sporty car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th December, 2009

25th Oct 2010, 12:45

Well, it's me, the original poster. Over the winter, I put an all new brake system; calipers, hoses, rotors, pads, and fluid and the brakes are remarkably improved.

I also totally upgraded the old suspension with polybronze bushings, stiffer torsion bars, thicker sway bars, Bilstein sport shocks, and a lowered ride height. The car handles 10X better, and is nice and firm... some would say too firm, but that's how I like it.

About the only thing that lets the car down now is the awful shifter. I am afraid to track the car as it stands, because it seems too easy to miss a shift unless you are VERY careful and willing to take time to find gears while on the track. I am looking into an improved shifter, which should help a bit. I can't wait to get the car on the track, but want to wait until it's ready.

As for normal spirited street driving, the car is great. Not particularly fast, but it sounds awesome with a sport muffler. It much more exotic feeling than other cars, probably due to the air-cooled rear engine layout.

The starters on these cars go bad due to high engine temperature, and mine failed this summer.

In my year of ownership, I have gotten what I expected, which is a high quality car in need of restoration. I got it cheap and have enjoyed bringing it back to life, so I am pleased. The easier route would be to purchase one in better condition.

Average review marks: 6.0 / 10, based on 1 review