True Turbo – A Look Back at an Early Porsche 930
Of all the Porsches the proverbial man-on-the-street now wishes he owned, the early 911 Turbo (Typ 930) has rapidly climbed the charts as one of the most desirable.
It’s not surprising when you consider how quickly it reached the status of cultural touchstone. No doubt, in part due to all the posters of the crouching (or leaping) beast that adorned the bedroom walls of schoolboys in the late ‘70s. And it’s that generation of Porsche enthusiasts (now age 48 to 55) who have the discretionary income to spend on an automotive icon from their childhood.
As we prepare for the new 991-2 Carreras in Turbo-only form, it’s a good time to look back at the original model, a diamond in the rough that first sported the lusted-after Turbo badge.
Benefiting from Porsche’s pioneering turbo technology developed for the 917-10, -30, and the 911 Turbo Carrera RSR 2.1, the 930 was an instant sensation. While the original purpose of the road car was to gain homologation for the 1976 racing season, it promptly became a cult car. By the end of 1975, Porsche had produced 400 examples. The 1000th Turbo was completed in May of 1976.
Right on the heels of the non-intercooled 1976-1977 3.0-liter U.S. Turbos came the 3.3L version, which Porsche delivered to the U.S. for the 1978 and 1979 model years only. Due to changing emissions regulations, it was another six years before a new 930 was legally allowed into America again.
At 2,850 pounds and 265 horsepower (300 horsepower for rest-of-world markets), the 3.3L 930 had power in reserve. It sported the big arches and tail, but added a charge-air intercooler, a first for a production car. The result was faster than the production Corvettes and Mustangs of the time, with a top speed of more than 150 miles per hour. But you still needed to wait for the 4000-6000-rev range before all that turbo magic happened.
Pictured is one of the 461 Turbos legally imported into the U.S. in 1978. It belongs to Mike Hodson of Camarillo, California and is one of the most original examples around. With only 63K miles on the clock, it’s also one of the prettiest in its Minerva Blue Metallic paint and Cork interior.
Hodson was bitten by the Porsche bug early on, “A college friend showed up one day with his girlfriend’s new ‘74 Yellow 911. I was a car freak and driving a ‘68 Camaro at that time. He said, ‘Let’s go for a ride in this thing.’ Afterward, I just went ‘Oh my God, I gotta have one of these!’”
After 23 years of owning a 1969 911T Targa, Hodson was ready for a Turbo. One ride in a neighbor’s Guards Red 1989 example sealed the deal. “The power was intoxicating, as was everything else!” he exclaims.
In 2000, Hodson bought the 1978 930 pictured here off eBay from the original owner, who lived only 30 miles away. “It had been driven 33,000 miles, then hidden away for ten years after a nasty divorce. It took some work to get it running again,” Hodson remembers.
“When I researched the car, I didn’t realize the relative scarcity of the color. I’ve only seen a few 911s in Minerva Blue since. It had the original ‘Turbo’ embossed H-1 headlamps too, until a rock took one out. I received the factory Certificate of Authenticity, but it didn’t tell me too much about the car, besides having the optional sunroof. Fortunately, the serial numbers, color and interior specs all matched.”
Hodson’s pristine blue 930 remains original except for chromed wheels, modern tires, and a later 930S steering wheel. Besides the larger 7 and 9x16-inch Fuchs, the biggest visual change for the 1978 model is the intercooler that dominates the engine bay. It is matched to the 930s’ Kühnle, Kopp & Kausch A.G. (KKK) turbocharger and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection for additional power and torque from the larger displacement 930/60 motor.
For 1978, Porsche’s Turbo rear “whale tail” was also raised slightly and re-profiled into a “tea tray” version to make room for the intercooler and to capture air that spilled off the side of the whale tail. The factory also upgraded the brakes to something similar to those on the 917 racecar. All these improvements gave the 1978 model extra appeal, even though the gearbox remained a 4-speed.
Hodson admires the car most for its comfort and acceleration. The way it draws a crowd at car shows and regional concours is also appealing. “It’s been a magic carpet for me that’s taken me places I never thought I would go,” he observes. Monterey’s Rennsport Reunions and last year’s Werks Reunion are just a few of the events he’s driven to in it.
With a background in aeronautics and a hangar for his plane at Camarillo Airport, Hodson remains humble and likable. He’s currently president of the Porsche Club of America Santa Barbara Region. In 2007, Wolfgang Porsche presented Mike, Pamuela, Christopher and Julie Hodson with the National Porsche (PCA) Family of the Year award.
Nearly 40 years ago, in 1978, the U.S. was in an oil crisis, Jimmy Carter was president, Farah Fawcett and “Dallas” were the big hits on TV, Roman Polanski had fled to France, and illegal drugs were everywhere. That infamous 911 “smuggler’s box” was being put to use – big time.
To own a Porsche Turbo back then, you were rich, cool, or both. It was the ultimate status symbol of success with its $36,000 price tag. Hopefully you knew how to drive too. Because, with it’s infamous turbo lag, tricky oversteer, and rocket ship-like propulsion, an early 930 could get away from you – fast.
This original “widow maker” has not only survived in the good hands of pilot Hodson, it has also garnered the respect that can only be given to a true icon – one that flexes its muscles in a more subtle way than other “Super Cars.” This is the True Turbo – the top-of-the-heap model that Porsche once labeled by that very name alone.
Article Copyright ©2016 Randy Wells. All Rights Reserved.
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