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Porsche Targa tops through the ages

  1. If you hold a tumbler against the latest 911 Targa, which we’ve just driven, you’ll hear the dim thrum of flat-six history. But not, for once, the normal sort of racey, sideways stuff you’d expect from Porsche. In fact, the whole Targa concept was born from American safety legislation, which, during the mid-sixties, threatened to outlaw full convertibles.

    Porsche’s solution was simple - build a drop head, then add a fixed rollover hoop and strap some fabric around it. The former pleases open-air motoring enthusiasts, the latter takes care of those pesky legislators. And so, in 1967, the 911 Targa (after the Targa Florio race), was born, and the name remains a trademark of Porsche AG to this day.

  2. By 1968, Porsche realised that when you drove quickly, the soft rear windscreen got a bit… flappy. So it added fixed, wraparound glass to the back. It robbed the original Targa of some of its almost-convertible styling, but was a lot less irksome to live with.

  3. Even though the US government never did bother outlawing convertibles, the Targa and its unique profile had gathered a bit of a following. So the company kept building them in pretty much the same style, right up to the very end of 964 Carrera production in 1994. Though the traditional removable roof design was about to undergo a change…

  4. In 1993, Porsche brought us the 993 911, and with it a completely re-jigged Targa design. Instead of the trad hoop-and-rear-screen setup, it got a big glass section that slid back inside the car: more of an enormous sunroof.

  5. Following the 993 911 was the ill-fated 996, a generation plagued by reliability issues in non-Turbo form. It kept its predecessor’s Targa design though.

  6. The following 997 generation resisted any major developments in the Targa top design, and used the three-gen-old sliding roof mechanism when it launched in 2004.

  7. About time too. At this year’s Detroit motor show, Porsche finally reprised the original design, adding a slew of 21st-century tech - electric motors lift the whole rear window out of the way, then automatically fold the solid roof panels into a storage compartment. Want one? You’ll need £86,281. Read more here. Then watch it do its thing here.

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