McQueen on 911
Speaking of early 911s, let’s hear what Sports Illustrated’s guest sportscar reviewer, Steve McQueen, thought of the 911 in 1966. This is excerpted from a larger article in which Steve drove the latest sportscars from Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Alfa, Mercedes, Jaguar, and the latest Cobra and Corvette.
Steve Says: “Like the 230SL, the other German car, the Porsche 911, was a six. The Mercedes straight-six is in the front. The Porsche flat-six, with horizontally opposed cylinders—an engine developed from the Grand Prix car of a few seasons ago—is in the rear. I was curious to see how much the Porsche had changed since I raced my Super, which had the four-cylinder engine. Boy, it’s changed. Road noise used to be a problem with that rear-engine location, but on the 911 I got very little noise. The old Porsches had that violent oversteer tendency, and they would get out of whack with no warning. You’d be hung out and locked in your steering with nowhere to go. We used to decamber the rear wheels 2½° to 3½°, so they kind of looked like somebody had sat on them, and toe them in half a degree to get a certain amount of stability. Now the problem has been corrected. The 911 was a very neutral-handling car, very docile, very pleasant to drive, and the five-speed gearbox sure was easy to use. The brakes were just fine. Once a gust of wind caught me on the back straight and slid me over a few feet, but the car didn’t get radical in its handling.
There is a four-cylinder Porsche—the less expensive 912—and I imagine it has a little more snap at low RPM than the 911 but not as much top speed. With that six the 911 honks right along.”
There you have it, the cooler king’s impressions reacquainting himself with Porsche, which of course worked out splendidly for the next few years. After all, like the poster says, McQueen drives Porsche. All that and a bonus handling modification tip for 356 drivers. Thanks, Steve.