Battle Scars Preserved: 1972 Porsche 911 Targa

Image courtesy of YouTube and Road & Track

There’s an epidemic affecting the collector car hobby. These days, in the pursuit to have the best and be the first, history is quickly stripped away in the interest of cashing in at Amelia Island or Pebble Beach. While there’s an ongoing effort to recognize true barn finds that are not on the verge of structural collapse, too many cars and trucks still end up getting exhaustively restored with nothing left to remind you of its past. That’s not the case with this 1972 Porsche 911 Targa barn find recently profile here on Petrolicious (and subsequently on Road & Track): its owner has made the excellent choice to keep its weathered exterior, rust and all. 

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The 911 was discovered languishing in a carport in Japan, where it had been taken off the road many years ago. The next owner happened to be a Porsche restoration specialist, which would make one think the first move would be to strip away its moss- and rust-covered paint and fix the corrosion on the engine lid and front wings. Not so: this Porsche specialist decided to perform the necessary repairs to all the mechanical components and leave its imperfect finish intact. That’s the most interesting part of the car, he reckons, and it naturally lends itself to sharing the story of how and where it was found and subsequently rescued.

This is very much the path I intend to take with my recent junkyard-find Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16. That car’s story is largely wrapped up in that it was found left for dead in a Pennsylvania recycling facility, despite being one of less than 2,000 ever imported. If I were to paint that car tomorrow, that history is lost and it looks like every other example with flawless cosmetics (don’t worry, I’ll fix the rust). That’s a silly rich man’s game, in my opinion, one that won’t stand having a car that can’t take home the blue ribbon at the car show. This 911’s owner eschews that nonsense in favor of preserving its fascinating past.

And better yet, it runs like a 911 should, emitting the intoxicating air-cooled noise that 911s of this vintage are famous for. There’s no reason our classic cars and trucks can’t be lavished with the best that money can buy under the hood and within the chassis – that’s the smart and safe play, for sure. But the cosmetics are a way for a non-verbal subject like a car to share its story, much like a weathered children’s toy that’s missing an eye and has some loose stitches. Kudos to this 911’s owner for choosing the alternate path and for Petrolicious for sharing it story.

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    Well, I’m not the biggest fan of these, but keep your stinkin’ patina for old GMC trucks, this car deserves much better than this.

    Like 19
    • Jeff LaveryAuthor

      I would say the mechanical restoration performed by a high-zoot Porsche specialist shop is a pretty fitting tribute to a special long-hood like this.

      Like 1
    • Mountainwoodie

      Once again HoA your bombsight is ever accurate.

      Listen…..rust is rust and on an old P-Car…death. No matter how the seller spins it. Maybe he or she should run for President!

      I’m so tired of folks trying to sell rust as a no cost extra. Just stupid.

      That said, I miss my ‘70 911…except for the repaint, all original….I know that’s an oxymoron

      Like 6
  2. J_PaulMember

    “Preserving the story” — that the previous owner didn’t have the time, interest, or money to take care of his car? Not a particularly compelling story, but what do I know.

    Like 12
    • Jeff LaveryAuthor

      Not where I’d go with it. A Japanese-market 911 is a rare bird, and I tend to think of the days when it sprinted around the downtown city streets or maybe took in a track day at Twin Ring or Suzuka or whatever the track destination was when this car was new.

      Almost every car hits the bottom of its value curve and gets parked for one reason or another (aside from those vehicles that are cherished from day one, even when their luster fades), and the ones that are re-born are the ones I find truly inspiring. It had to hit rock bottom in order for that story to be told.

      While others may have written this car off, the universe said, “Not yet.”

      Like 4
  3. Andre

    I’m not sure it’s the case for this car, but I think patina haters need to realize that sometimes people don’t have endless supplies of cash, and in an effort to actually drive a project car safely, sometimes the body is the last piece of the puzzle.

    I didn’t have the cash to finish the body on my ’72 C10 until after the drive train was done, I guess driving it that summer I was a loser with “stinkin’ patina”.

    I must have upset those who were furiously cleaning their tire treads with toothbrushes.

    Like 2
    • HoA Howard AMember

      I wouldn’t say you’re a loser, you missed my point. Your Chevy and my GMC look ok with “patina”, but this is a 911 Porsche, one of the nicest cars on the planet. You got thin pockets, you have no business owning this.

      Like 7
  4. Little_Cars Saul

    Think the Porsche in the TV show “Californication.” David Duchovny doesn’t replace his until the very last season. And immediately started to rag it out. Or how about the movie “48 Hours,” where Nick Nolte’s 63-64 Cadillac gets more ragged over the course of the storyline. Cars have stories to tell, and unless there is a safety or aerodynamic concern with rusty or loose parts…just drive ’em like you stole ’em!!! Nuf said.

    Like 1
  5. KurtMember

    Tear it down and do a total resto, but it will cost a lot…

    Like 1
  6. Cman

    This is precisely the direction I’m taking with the 57 Beetle I found on Barn Finds.
    I have cars that are perfect, but there is something cool about true survivors and the art of preserving them. And it’s waaay less expensive.

    Like 9
    • Gaspumpchas

      Cman, Great little bug you have there. I cut my teeth on these beauties when in high school–30 minute clutch jobs, dune buggies, rebuilding the “Seizers”, king and link could buy a muffler for one of these for $5 and another $2 for the installation kit. The older bugs had a distinct smell to them, not musty but you know it when you smell it. So did the grease they used on them, were you able to get the 36 running? Good luck!!

      Like 3
      • Cman


        Yes, it fired right up after I did an evapo-rust job on the gas tank, rebuilt the carb and fuel pump, points, plugs, cap, rotor, and a new master cylinder.

        Judging from the date codes on the tires and the condition of everything I think it’s been sitting since the 70s.

        I’m trying to decide if I should mint out the interior and leave the outside rough, or leave it as is.

        Like 2
  7. Dracula

    I’d like to take a bite out of that!

    Like 2
  8. lbpa18

    Rust is a cancer. Kill it. Somewhere along the way, “patina” morphed into rat-rod. This is a 911! If you have the ability or resources, at the very least, end the rust.

    Like 1
  9. Bruce

    I worked in a restoration shop during college years and we had a 5 year old 911 coupe come in that was so rusty that it was not reparable. The owner was wiling to dump almost as much into the car as he had paid for it. The rust was internal and everywhere from the welds on the body seams that were not properly done and corrosion had set in and literally all the structural seams and spot welds were coming apart. This car looks worse and it is about the same age. I love this style of 911, I love the way they drive and the only better one would be the roll bar targa that was slightly older. But RESTORE, RESTORE, RESTORE and do it properly. There are few enough of these as it is now. Fix it before it becomes dangerous and gets somebody killed.

    Like 1
  10. Waltguy

    As a former 911 long nose owner, I was attracted to this article mostly because mine was beautiful on the top and a rust bucket on the bottom; this was in the late 70s/early 80s and I didn’t have the means to make it right. At least he washed the windows! To each his own…….

    Like 0
    • Dave

      You buy it you do what you want with it.

      Like 0
  11. Theodore Donahue

    William Hurt . . . “The Big Chill”

    Like 1
  12. bog

    Not a fan of this current “patina” (or as found) phase of the auto ownership deal. Obviously, anyone can do what they want with their ride (within certain laws), but that doesn’t make it tasteful to me. I’ve had enough friends that have owned Porsche’s going all the way back to an Army buddy in Germany that had a ’67 911 in “Forest” (?) Green brown interior. The owner of this particular car certainly has the money and skills to not only fix or improve the mechanicals, but made the BIG decision to leave the outside alone. Hope he only drives it in nice weather….

    Like 0

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