Words get thrown around with gay abandon these days – words such as icon. But if you had to pick one performance car to represent the peak of 1970s automotive excellence, you’d struggle to better the Porsche 911 Turbo. Icon? Absolutely no question.
Porsche had been using exhaust gas turbochargers to boost the outputs of their race engines since the 1960s with excellent results, and in 1974 the German firm launched the 911 Turbo to the general public, and a legend was born.
Huge flared wheel arches made the new model 12cm wider than the standard naturally aspirated car, leaving onlookers in absolutely no doubt that they were looking at something very special, but just in case they missed these clues, Porsche fitted a huge rear wing that sprouted from the engine cover and was surrounded by a hard rubber border. People have been copying it ever since.
The wing was made of glassfibre until 1977, when a steel version was launched and it became even bigger, because it now incorporated an intercooler to reduce inlet charge temperatures going into the 3-litre flat six air cooled engine.
Ferry Porsche gave the first Turbo 911 to his sister Louise Piëch for her 70th birthday (mine is still a way off yet so my sister has time to save up). With 256bhp and 243lb-ft of torque the new 911 variant pretty much blew everything else into the weeds, and Porsche’s plans to limit the numbers produced soon went out of the window.
The Turbo was lightning quick but also very demanding to drive on the limit, and due to its short wheelbase and rear engine layout was prone to oversteer. Turbo-lag meant that power could hit several seconds after the driver squeezed the throttle, further complicating the task of taming the beast.
As a result the car quickly became known as the Widowmaker after several crashes and deaths blamed on its handling characteristics, which were unfamiliar to many drivers. Even today, Porsche corporate employees who drive 911 Turbo models are made to take a Turbo Training Course, despite the fact that modern 911 Turbo models are a doddle to drive compared with the original.
So, an iconic model that hasn’t been made since 1989. How much for one these days then? Well, prices vary but don’t expect much, if any, change from £150,000 for anything in really good condition. Nice if you can afford it, but what if you’d rather not sell you house to fund your classic car habit? Enter the Covin 911 Turbo replica.