The Carrera 3.0 is one of the least appreciated of all ‘impact bumper’ Porsches, yet it paved the way for the hugely popular 911SC and the much vaunted Carrera 3.2. Maybe it’s time to take another look, particularly with prices on the march.
WHAT TO PAY:
It’s an air-cooled 911, so expect to be putting your hand in your pocket! The market is a bit mad at the moment, and the Carrera 3.0 is something of a rarity. By way of illustration, we found two, good cars on the market separated by £50,000. Given that the most expensive of the two was being advertised at £105,000 (see ‘In the classifieds’ panel) will give you an idea of potential disparity. Fortunately it’s the lower figure that is more realistic, but £35k+ is the norm.
Everybody’s familiar with the later 911SC and the muchpraised Carrera 3.2, but too many Porsche enthusiasts remain unaware of the subject of our guide this month, the Carrera 3.0. Maybe it’s because it only sat in the Porsche line-up for a couple of years, or perhaps it’s been overshadowed by its predecessor, the 1974 – 1975 Carrera 2.7, which shares its drivetrain with the legendary 1973 Carrera RS.
But did you know the engine of the Carrera 3.0 is essentially the same as that used in the mighty 930 Turbo, itself developed from the racing 3.0 RS motor? That makes it virtually indestructible by any standards. But don’t go getting the idea the Carrera 3.0 is some low-compression, lowpower alternative to the Turbo, for the engineers bumped up the compression from a turbo-friendly 6.5:1 to a loftier 8.5:1. The inlet ports were redesigned, too.
All this led to the Carrera 3.0 producing a useful 200bhp at 6000rpm, with 188lb ft of torque at 4200rpm. These figures mean that it was no slouch, capable of accelerating from standstill to 60mph in less time than the outgoing Carrera 2.7!
It is not the easiest car to track down, but your patience will be rewarded with one of the finest impact bumper 911s produced and, of course, you’ll become a member of a very exclusive club.
PRODUCTION AND MODELS
The Carrera 3.0 was launched in the summer of 1975 in all markets except North America. It became part of a three-car Porsche line-up for the 1976 model year, its siblings being the 930 Turbo and the basemodel 2.7-litre 911, sold in Britain as the 911 Lux. The latter was a 165bhp model with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel-injection intended to provide a relatively low-cost entry into Porsche ownership.
The Carrera 3.0 was available from the outset as either a coupé or a Targa, with liftout roof panel. It was also offered with a choice of three transmissions: four- and fivespeed manual, or three-speed Sportomatic. The Carrera 3.0 was dropped from the range (along with the 2.7-litre 911) for 1978, making way for the new 911SC. It is interesting to note that the Carrera 3.0 was lighter than its successors, weighing in at 1093kg, some six per cent lighter than the SC (at 1160kg) and almost 10 per cent lighter than the Carrera 3.2 (at 1210kg). Just 3687 Carrera 3.0s were built, compared with 58,000 911SCs! Production ended in 1977.
STYLING / BODYWORK
The arrival of the impact bumper 911 in the 1974 line-up was greeted with a certain amount of disapproval at the time, although perhaps not as much as later historians might suggest. The new look was necessary to satisfy the requirements of stringent new safety laws in the USA and Europe, the larger bumpers meeting the infamous ‘5mph impact’ test, which required all cars be able to withstand a minor knock without sustaining damage.
Porsches had long been prone to rust as very few precautions were taken to prevent its onset. Porsche tackled the problem by utilising hot-zinc-coated steel for all the body panels – and so confident was the Stuttgart manufacturer that this would solve the corrosion problem once and for all that it became the first manufacturer to offer a six-year warranty, guaranteeing the integrity and freedom from rust of the main bodyshell (except the wings…).
With a bore and stroke of 95mm x 70.4mm (2956cc), the Carrera 3.0’s engine was essentially that of the 930 Turbo, but minus the turbocharger. The compression ratio was increased, from the Turbo’s 6.5:1 to a higher 8.5:1. The Carrera 3.0 engine had larger inlet ports, too, as Porsche had restricted the port size of the Turbo’s engine to help off-boost performance.
Based around essentially the same aluminium crankcase as the Turbo, the normally-aspirated engine also shared the same Nikasil cylinders and enlarged oil pump, but came with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel-injection. The 3.0-litre unit also incorporated a few other Turbo-only tricks, including new camshaft housings, with four bearings, rather than the three used on other engines. Cam timing, however, was different to take into account the very different breathing systems of the two engines. A five-blade cooling fan was used, giving a distinctive engine note.
The Carrera 3.0 was available with a fourspeed transmission (Type 915/46), but the five-speed transmission became the norm, at least in the UK – indeed, the factory brochure didn’t even hint at the four-speed. The unit is rugged but noisy, especially at low speeds. A three-speed Sportomatic was also available at no extra charge for those who preferred to shift gears without exercising their left leg. A ZF limited-slip differential was also available as an extracost option on the Carrera 3.0.
The Carrera 3.0 benefited from Koni dampers, as opposed to the 2.7 and the Turbo’s Bilsteins.
At the front end, a pair of torsion bars were mounted longitudinally, one each side, acting as the inner pivot points for lower wishbones. Struts with internal dampers connected to the body in turrets located inside the front luggage bay.
At the rear, semi-trailing arms were used along with a pair of transverse torsion bars, which connected to the rear hub assemblies via trailing arms, known as ‘spring plates’.
WHEELS AND BRAKES
Wheels measured 6Jx15 and 7Jx15, front and rear respectively, shod with 185/70 (front) and 215/60 (rear) radials, necessitating the continued use of the wider ‘Carrera’ wheel arches at the rear. While the basic 2.7-litre 911s came with ATS ‘Cookie Cutter’ wheels, the Carrera 3.0 was equipped with the traditional Fuchs rims. The ATS rims were optional. Disc brakes (non-servo-assisted) are featured all round, but the aluminium calipers used on the earlier 2.7-litre Carreras made way for less expensive, heavier castiron calipers on the Carrera 3.0.
The Carrera 3.0 features what have become colloquially known as ‘tombstone’ seats – those familiar shapely perches with integral headrests. Available in a variety of materials, from leather to velour, they are reasonably supportive on long journeys. The dashboard is the usual 911 hotchpotch of switches, with the centrallymounted tachometer. The chunky threespoke steering wheel feels good; the driving position arguably better in left-hand drive cars, due to pedal offset on RHD models. The optional Targa roof causes only limited wind buffeting at speed.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
The Achilles’ heel of any early 911 is rust, and in theory the Carrera 3.0 should fare better in this respect, due to its galvanised main body structure. However, this early attempt at rust-proofing didn’t translate into a trouble-free long life. As soon as any repairs were carried out following even a minor accident, the zinc-coating would be breached, exposing the steel beneath to corrosion. At the rear, it’s important to check the condition of the sills (inner and outer), jacking points, kidney bowls (ahead of the rear wheels, behind the wheel arch) and all round the torsion tube area.
At the front, look for rust around the fuel tank support panel and front suspension mountings. Examine the base of the windscreen pillars, too. Wings can be replaced easily, but repairs to the main structure can cost you dearly. Be warned. Inside the car, look at the state of the floor, and also the rear seat bases – you may be unpopular with the vendor, but really you’ll need to lift out the rear seat squabs and have a good poke around.
On Targas, look for blistering around the bottom of the rear window – even small bubbles here will point to serious rot below. Mechanically, the engine is very strong but will still need to be checked closely. Look for oil leaks, which may point to leaking cylinder-to-head joints, the possible result of a pulled head stud. Any start up smoke should disappear quickly – if not, it could be worn valve guides or rings. Carry out a leakdown test or compression check if possible. But on the whole, there’s nothing specifically problematic about the Carrera 3.0. It’s finding one that’s tricky.
The Achilles’ heel of any early 911 is rust, although the Carrera 3.0 was galvanised.
Below: 3-litre engine was based on the 930 Turbo engine, with different pistons for a higher compression. Power is a healthy 200bhp.
Car Parts 911 carparts911.co.uk
O/E and good quality pattern parts at great prices
Porscheshop – porscheshop.com
A great range of O/E and quality pattern parts, plus good value tuning parts under
Porscheshop’s EuroCupGT range
Specialist Porsche dealers
A Carrera 3.0 is very much specialist Porsche dealer territory. With very few out there, it will pay to keep an eye on classifieds and dealer websites. A private sale is highly unlikely
Servicing and tuning parts from a comprehensive stock list, plus Design 911’s own Designtek tuning parts range
IN THE CLASSIFIEDS
1977 Carrera 3.0
73,200 miles, Grand Prix White, tartan/ leather interior, FSH specialistcarsltd.co.uk
1977 Carrera 3.0
87,000 miles, orange, black leather interior, parksidemotors.co.uk
There was a time when our Targa studio car would have been marked down in terms of value against a Coupe, but not anymore.
Interior is traditional 911 and if you find one as immaculate as this then you’ll have done well.
Porsche Carrera 3.0
Engine: 3000cc flat-six
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Max power: 200bhp at 6000rpm
Max torque: 188lb ft at 4200rpm
Brakes: Vented discs. 282mm/290mm front and rear
Wheels & Tyres: 6x15in (f), 7x15in (r). 185/70xVR15 (f), 215/60xVR15 (r)
0-60mph: 6.5 secs
Top speed: 143mph
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
“Use too much throttle gunning out of a side turn and inevitably 200 horsepower will break the adhesion of the big back tyres and send the car into a self-correcting slide – self-correcting because you don’t so much as apply opposite lock as release the wheel and let it unwind. Sounds suicidal, but it works”
Motor, June 1977
“The legendary Porsche fist treats its passengers to an unimpaired punch. Only 6.3 secs pass when the speedo indicates 100kmh”
Sport Auto, Jan 1976
(Prices supplied by grouptyre.co.uk and carparts911.co.uk)
Tyres (each) £186.99 front, £203.49 rear (Continental N rated))
Front pads (set): £49.14
Front discs: £37.14 (each)
Exhaust system: £275.94
Front damper: £85.20
(Prices supplied by Northway Porsche: northwayporscheltd.co.uk)
12,000-mile service: £240.00
Brake fluid change: £50.00