Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Porsche's Three Stooges: 912, 924, 968

The Three Stooges: Curly, Moe, Larry (left to right)

The Three Stooges have always been misunderstood. To most people, they are slapstick buffoons with limited range and just enough talent to entertain 10 year olds. But true fans, and there aren't that many adults who will admit to being true fans, appreciate their raw talent and the blood, sweat, and tears they put into every short film.

The public's perception of the Three Stooges mirrors the perception of Porsche's entry level models: the 912, 924, and 968. These cars are seen by most car fans as imposters that barely deserve the Porsche badge on the hood. They are weak, uninspired, and unsophisticated. But for a few dedicated devotees, they are just as good, if not better, than their peers.

Porsche 912, Moe. As the oldest of the three cars, the 912 is the elder statesman, relatively speaking. It carried a 356-based four-cylinder engine, a nod to tradition (sort of like Moe's Vaudeville influence). The 912 weighed 250 pounds less than the more powerful, six-cylinder 911, thus improving balance, gas mileage, and arguably, the fun factor.

Porsche 924, Larry. Larry is perhaps the most talented of the Stooges but is heavily underrated, even ignored. This is the story of the 924. With rear drum brakes and an engine from a VW van, the car's internals were not pretty. It was by no means a traditional sports car. People questioned its heritage and wondered aloud whether the front-engined, water cooled 924 was a "real" Porsche. Similarly, Larry Fine was not related to the Howard brothers, Moe and Curly. But with its simpler design and lower maintenance costs (than the 944), the 924 is finally getting some well-deserved respect from weekend racers and hobbyists.

Porsche 968, Curly. Plump performer. That perfectly describes Curly and the 968. They both weigh much more than their brethren and yet they seem to have more energy and power than Moe (912) and Larry (924). And as the last front-engined Porsche coupe, so dies a legend that may never see an equal. R.I.P.



Blogger said...

I used to drive a 1984 944 for a long time, and my head wanted to explode everytime anybody ever said the 944 and the 924 were not "real" Porsches. And then I have to explain to them...

The cars you mention are very much true Porsches and deserve to be recognized as such. Luckily the 912 now has a huge cult following world-wide, and their classic values are rising.

My belief is that the 968 was terminated by Porsche as it became an embarrasment to them: the car was dynamically better than the 911, yet much cheaper; so it couldn't afford the canabilization. The 968 Turbo was killed very quickly as this was a threat to the 911 Turbo!

My hope is one day Porsche will do a retro and resurrect the 924/944 type. But then again, I also hope they get rid of Wendeling Wedeking. (Don't get me started on THAT topic!)

Nice post, thanks!

Maxichamp said...

I don't know anything about the politics going on at Porsche. Is your gripe regarding the head of Porsche based on him diluting the brand with an SUV and a sedan?

Blogger said...

Ha, ha! I am indeed.
No matter how good these vehicles are, no matter how much profits it has made Porsche - it has damaged the brand beyond repair. Never will Porsche represent that holy grail in the minds of consumers that you and I have. The fragile position built over years of dedicated communications, heritage, exclusivity, racing and focus will always be lost. It has, become just another performance mass-brand like BMW and Audi.

The Cayenne is the worst thing that Porsche could have done. In South Africa I have seen it towing a trailer with garden refuse, here in Switzerland mommies use it to do school runs: they are usually dirty and scratched. In New Zealand a plumber uses his as a call-out vehicle, with signage etc. I have seen it towing caravans in France. I could write an essay on how this man has ruined Porsche.

Maxichamp said...

Check this out then:


Blogger said...

LOL! Very funny!