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Porsche 911 2.7 and Carrera 3.0 Buyers’ Guide

Written by Peter Morgan
Photos by Rich Pearce


Model history/Timeline

The auto industry model year (MY) runs from August 1 to 31 July, so a 1977 model could have been produced between 1 August 1976 and 31 July 1977.

1974 MY: New G-programme 2.7-litre models launched including 150bhp 911, 175bhp 911S and 210bhp Carrera. Coupé & Targa body styles with manual and Sportomatic options. All have energy absorbing bumpers, new interiors with new seats and integrated head restraints, door trims and side window demist vents on dash. Option black finish to Carrera 2.7 side window trim and Targa roll-over bar and 'ducktail' rear spoiler. Believed 59 street (6 RHD) Carrera RS 3.0 continues Carrera RS theme for this year only.

1975 MY: H-programme continues 911, 911S and Carrera 2.7 range unchanged. New 'whaletail' rear spoiler option (replacing 'ducktail') and standard colour coded headlamp surrounds for Carrera 2.7. Full width rear red reflector with Porsche script. Carrera 2.7 deleted at model year end. Special edition 'Silver Anniversary' 911 and 911S models (Coupé and Targa) - '25 Jahre Fahren in seiner schönsten Form' plaque on dash.

1976 MY: I-programme offers full hot dip zinc coating for entire bodyshell. Carrera 3 launched with Turbo's new 930 engine (in normally aspirated form), black window trim, improved heat regulation and wider rear wheelarch flares. Electrically operated driver's door mirror introduced on all models.

1977 MY: J-programme detail changes include face level air vents in centre dash and recessed lock buttons in doors.

What's it like?

The general classification of the broader impact bumper 911s made between 1974 and 1989 are often misleadingly termed the G-series cars. In fact pedantically, in period only the 1974 models were referred to by the factory as being from the G programme.

The H-programme followed the next year and so on. But the 2.7-litre 911s and the Carrera 3 built between 1974 and 1977 offer the best value of any air-cooled 911 model. These cars show the transition from the 911 being a fairly raw driver's car to a more comfortable tourer aimed at a wider buying market. Because of their relatively good value, 2.7s in particular (Coupé or Targa) have a lot to offer and are the best value air cooled 911s out there.

Nevertheless, these can be relatively high maintenance cars, with most subject to significant corrosion attack over time and 40-year wear and tear. Mechanically, the flat-6 engine benefits from the then-new Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and this delivers smoother power than earlier models.

The Carrera RS 3.0 limited edition isn't relevant to this general guide and for most, budget permitting, the quickest package is the 1974-75 Carrera 2.7. This model was fitted with the Type 911/83 engine first used in the 1973 Carrera RS (including the earlier mechanical or plunger type fuel injection). However, the comparison with the RS should be made with care, not least because of the appearance, bodyshell and interior changes on the later car.

The Carrera 3 was the first 911 to use the new 930 engine (as fitted to the Turbo) in normally aspirated (K-Jetronic) form. It can be considered as the forerunner to the 911SC and enjoyed many of the features rolled into the later model. Because of its cabin and engine refinement, this is arguably the best all-round 911 in this group.

Which one should I get?

These cars may not be the most powerful 911s out there but it's important to grasp that in most other measures, they are nearly identical to their stable mates. With 150bhp (911) and 175bhp (911S), the 2.7s have performance that equates them to the earlier 911T and E with perhaps only a 25-35kg weight penalty from the elegant new bumpers and evolving interior.

Nevertheless with 0-60mph times in the area of 7-8 seconds, these are very capable 911s that have flexible, torquey engines and are easy to drive. The Anniversary model does have special cachet, but for most a top condition mainstream 911 or 911S will be less hassle.

There are two models that stand out for enthusiasts: the '74-'75 Carrera and the '76-'77 Carrera 3, but both have accelerated away from the mainstream models significantly in value terms. These 911s marked the first (and at the time controversial) use of the race-bred 'Carrera' title to full production models.

Today, both have strong followings and appear assured in terms of future appreciation. It is important to say that Carrera 2.7 values tend to run on the 'coat-tails' of the 1972-3 2.4-litre 911S rather than the Carrera RS.

The Carrera 3 is a trailblazer for Porsche's mid-1970s drive towards the 911 being a world market car. It has the robust Type 930 engine first seen in the Turbo, including the excellent K-Jetronic fuel injection. We also see a trend towards a more comfortable interior and better options that makes it a classic driver for touring.

What are the running costs?

The 2.7-litre 911s with the K-Jetronic fuel injection are relatively simple in terms of technology and the mechanics are generally robust. It will be corrosion (see next section) and wear and tear that inflate most maintenance bills.

Virtually any UK-based 1970s 911 will have needed fairly extensive restoration by now. The problem comes in gauging the extent of that restoration. Bodywork patched over with filler and given new paint will invariably need further work in 5-7 years as the old rust eats its way out again. But with full 'nut and bolt' restorations likely to cost over £40K, it isn't difficult to see why values are so spread out. Condition is everything when it comes to a 40-plus year old 911.

Consequently, it is very difficult to suggest running costs. If you buy a 'made as new' restoration, you can expect routine running costs for regular oil and fluid changes. A project car will demand regular, sometimes extensive, work.

Condensation can saturate key fluids on a lightly used or stored car and lead to accelerated corrosion and wear. An engine oil change is likely to cost around £100 (all estimates are ex VAT) and a brake fluid change perhaps £75-100, so this preventative maintenance can be money well spent.

To get the best road holding, tyres should be changed every 5-7 years, but many enthusiasts find this difficult to do when the tyre appears otherwise in good condition. A set of period correct tyres (Michelin or Pirelli) are likely to cost £1K.

Shock absorbers will last around 20-25 years, assuming they haven't already started to leak. A replacement set will cost around £600, plus fitting. Don't forget to factor in the essential wheel alignment afterwards (cost perhaps £300). Replacement discs and pads will cost around £500 each axle.

The 2.7-litre engine was at the limit of its development in the mid-1970s and there were a few issues with worn intermediate gears and failing camshaft chain tensioners. The latter became something of an infamous issue for the 911. The risk factor from the period sealed tensioners can be reduced by using the new design 'oil-fed' tensioners that were fitted to the later Carrera 3.2.

The engine should run at least 125k miles without a cylinder head rebuild (for new valves, guides, etc), but a poor service record can significantly shorten this. A clutch can last 70K to 100K miles, but the rebuild cost can range from £750-£1100. With the engine and gearbox out, be prepared for the 'while we're in there costs', such as fixing a broken cylinder head stud, a worn second gear synchromesh or a noisy gearbox bearing.

Interior repairs can be expensive with front seats costing £5-700 each to re-upholster, while a set of new carpets can run to £8-900.

Parts availability is very good through Porsche Classic (at your local OPC), but is a little expensive for some of the less frequently replaced items. It is worth looking at what the online Porsche parts specialists can offer, even on these earlier cars.

What should I look for?

The '74-'75 cars received zinc coating to certain areas only and so have been very vulnerable to extensive structural bodyshell corrosion. Even the fully zinc coated cars will be very prone, especially if there has been any kind of damage repair during the car's life. Consequently, checking for bodyshell integrity is the most important aspect of buying a car. Targas are more prone to sill/undertray corrosion because of the higher loads on the floor.

The external signs of a cheap restoration are uneven finish, poor paint matching and panel gaps and overspray on old black seals. A paint gauge can identify where extensive filler has been used (in areas such as the wings, the lower areas of the doors, C-pillars and under the rim of a Targa's rear window), but you will need to safely get under the car with a probe to check the vulnerable areas. These further include the sills, the inner wings (including the rear wing front stiffeners - often called the 'kidney bowls'), front tank support area and the main undertray.

Estimating bodyshell repairs is very difficult until the outer wings have been taken off, but typically a car that needs new sills and reconstruction of each suspension corner/inner wing isn't leaving change from £15-20K. Full new paint can cost from £6-10K depending on quality and the degree of previous paint removal/glass out and corrosion removal required.

Be very wary if the underside is covered in fresh looking undersealer. While under the car, the detail level of its condition can be reflected in the condition of the fuel and brake pipework. Replacing these pipeworks can vary, but expect bills totalling £1-2K.

An engine that smokes, doesn't start or run evenly should be ignored unless you want a project car. Engine full rebuilds can cost £15K. Similarly if a 915 gearbox is difficult to select 2nd or 3rd gear, it probably needs a rebuild. Don't ignore a rusty exhaust. Replacement heat exchangers cost from £3-500 each with the rear silencer a similar amount. A non-working heater can be rusty heater valves (around £125 each) or a faulty fan (can be £4-500 in parts).

Authenticity will be an issue on the Carrera 2.7 and Carrera 3. Carefully check the documentation (a Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche confirms the original data) and compare the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and engine numbers on the car itself. Be familiar with how these numbers should look (as tampering does occur).

Ragged interiors and Targa roof seals tell their own story, but a Targa top restoration kit costs around £300 if you are handy. Worn Targa seals can let in water, so look for crusty or wet carpets that can rot out the under-tray.

Driving the car is essential - not only is this a very different experience to a modern car, but your first impression is very important when it comes to a classic 911's general condition. Listen for rattles and clonking noises suggesting worn suspension. Driving will also reveal a seized brake caliper or other problems with the brakes.

Important issues will show up even in a short drive (5 miles would be typical for an expert).

If you don't have the experience to check the car out yourself, get a pre-purchase inspection expert to look at the car. They will advise on all aspects of the car's condition, what needs replacing now and in the short term and whether the car is valued correctly.

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