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Auto blogTue, 14 Jan 2014 19:58:00 EST
Despite Porsche having claimed the name, targa tops are nothing new. In addition to the semi-roofless version of the 911, plenty of cars in the past have used removable roof panels - the new Corvette Stingray has one (as have prior generations), and this type of open-air experience has been available on past vehicles like the Pontiac Solstice Coupe and Honda Civic del Sol.
But when Porsche took the top off its brand new 911 Targa here at the Detroit Auto Show, it was indeed cause for pause. Simply put, this is one of the most complicated and intricate electronic roof panel removal techniques we've ever seen, save perhaps, for the setup found on the Japanese-market Civic del Sol from the 1990s.
We won't spoil the video for you, but basically, rather than just the roof panel coming off, the entire rear glass area lifts away the body in order for the small section over the passenger compartment to slide back. This has to be incredibly expensive to repair once it inevitably breaks. And we highly doubt you'll be able to operate this mechanism at any speed.
About a month back, we reported that Porsche was suspending delivery of its 911 GT3 due to reported incidents of the engine bursting into flames. A few days later, Porsche told owners of the new track-ready models not to drive their cars and had their local dealers pick up the cars in question. Just a couple of days ago, we reported that Porsche was working on a fix, and now we have the official details.
Following an internal investigation prompted by two such incidents, Porsche has confirmed that is has identified the problem as resulting "from a loosened screw joint on the connecting rod." The loose connecting rod, Porsche found, damaged the crankcase, which in turn resulted in oil leaking and then - in at least two cases - igniting.
Our source is unaware of Porsche being contacted by GT3 owners concerned about the impact of a replacement engine on their car's collectibility or resale value.
Porsche is beginning to realize that it's sitting on a goldmine of automotive history with its secret vault full of rare cars. Autoblog toured it a few months ago, and we were amazed at all of the curiosities hidden inside. Now, it's starting to let more folks in thanks to a new series of YouTube videos. The first covered the 965 prototype that shoved a water-cooled, Audi V8 into one of its cars. Next up, a mid-engine 911 that acted as the powertrain test mule for the Boxster.
The Porsche 911 is inextricably linked to its rear-engine layout. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, at the time Porsche was developing the Boxster, the company didn't want to lay all of its cards out of the table during testing. As opposed to using camouflage, it put a whole different car on top. The prototype looked just like any other 911 Targa of the day, but the biggest giveaway that something was amiss was the heavily tinted rear window. By obscuring it, inquisitive journalists couldn't peak at the new engine that replaced the backseat.
It might not look like anything too important on the outside, but this is a major piece of Porsche Boxster history underneath. Scroll down to watch the video about this fascinating prototype.