Mechanic’s Special: 1971 Porsche 911S Targa

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A “mechanic’s special.” This used to be a fairly popular concept, with the local repair facility offering a car for sale that the even the on-duty mechanic was tired of dealing with. 30 years ago, you might even see an air-cooled Porsche occupying that space on the corner of the property. Those days are gone, as Porsches of nearly every vintage are snatched up long before they are offered for sale on the local classifieds as a project. The seller of this 1971 Porsche 911 Targa notes that his car fired up after years in a garage, but that it doesn’t stay running. Even as a so-called mechanic’s special, bidding is still quite strong.

The aftermarket exhaust is always a bit of a turn-off on a car that is more often than not fully restored these days, but it’s also a reminder that these were just cheap enthusiast cars at one point in time. The taillights and center reflector look newer than the paint and bodywork, so perhaps those were replaced prior to the 911 being laid up. The Targa for years was the throwaway model of the lineup, but that’s changed dramatically over the past decade as it has become the “attainable” air-cooled model. Throw in the “S” designation and it’s not as surprising as you might think to see the current bid amount.

However, there’s a curve ball: the engine currently installed is not the factory unit, which should limit the top end of the bidding activity to a fairly reasonable number. With the 2.2L “S” engine, this Targa would make a healthy 180 horsepower, more than enough to move the wind through your hair with the Targa top removed. However, the seller has decoded the engine numbers to confirm that this 911 has a replacement “E”-spec motor out back, which takes several thousand dollars off of the valuation. Still, in the world of air-cooled, long-hood 911s, there is almost certainly someone out there with a correct engine just waiting for the right car to drop it in.


The interior is in fair condition with no glaring flaws outside of normal use. The aftermarket floor mats and steering wheel are a bit of a turn-off, and I’d swap those out for the factory wheel and some CoCo mats. A S-specification model was capable of reaching 60 in just over 7 seconds while going on to a top speed of 144 miles per hour. Coupled with stopping power provided by 4-wheel disc brakes, it’s of little surprise that the S model air-cooled 911s are so sought after today. This car is a project but one that will likely be worth the cost of restoration over the long-term, especially if a correct S engine from approximately the same time period and production run can be sourced. Find the 911 S Targa here on eBay in Philadelphia.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Bought right this is a good project but l wouldn’t be in too big a hurry to get rid of that engine. I think going back to the original body pieces is a good idea as now it looks like something that had parts thrown at it. I’ve driven a few cars with the 2.2 S engines and having that power in a light car just can’t be beat when you include the fun factor.

    Like 8
  2. Fred

    Even with its problems, the current state of Porsche prices will likely send this to almost 6 figures.t

    Like 2
    • Bullethead

      Decent project, final bid was $29,600. Well bought.

      Like 9
  3. douglas hunt

    would love to throw this in my garage as a long term project, but as usual the price of 911 admission has gone too high for me….sigh, good luck to someone, will make a fun car for sure. please get some Fuchs though, was never a fan of those BBS mesh wheels, yuck

    Like 3
    • Tbone

      Hey, keep it clean, mister

      Like 1
  4. Joe Haska

    Great write up. Showed me real fast what little, I know about Porsches.

    Like 1
  5. ccrvtt

    Back in the day I worked at Rusnak Porsche/Audi in Pasadena. One of the other guys told me that in truth the 911E was a tad quicker than a 911S, I don’t know if that’s true but it makes a good bar story.

    The 911 Targa in the movie “The Big Chill” is one of my all-time favorite Porsches, just disreputable enough to be utterly charming.

    Like 1
    • Bill

      The amount of quaaludes lost in the seat cushion of the Big Chill 911 probably doubles its current value.

      Like 1
  6. gippy

    Had one just like it back in ’88 and it ran OK, but I was never a fan of the rubber mush shifting and the engine sound. I later bought a 928 which was the best car Porsche ever built- V8 up front, big doors lots of glass.

    Like 0

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