Early 2.0-, 2.2- and 2.4-litre Porsche 911S index
The S stood for ‘Sport’ and the faster, more powerful and sharperhandling 911S duly delivered. We explore the history, tech, values and investment potential of the 2.0-, 2.2- and 2.4-litre cars.
Written by Tim Pitt
EARLY 911S INDEX
Porsche Index: 911S
Everything you need to know about the early 2.0-, 2.2- and 2.4-litre Porsche 911S, with key advice from experts
HISTORY AND TECH
Until the Carrera 2.7 RS debuted in 1973, the S was the flagship of the 911 range. Launched in 1968 (for Europe only – Americans had to make do with the similar spec but less-powerful 911L), it used an uprated 2.0-litre engine with a higher compression ratio and twin Weber carburettors. The result was 160hp – an extra 30hp over the mid-range 911E – and was able to achieve 0-62mph in a swift 8.0 seconds. Only the ultra-rare 911R went quicker.
Available in Coupe and Targa body styles, the S was the first 911 to wear Fuchs alloy wheels, which were initially just 4.5 inches wide. Chassis upgrades included Koni shock absorbers and ventilated brake discs, together with thicker 15mm front and new 16mm rear anti-roll bars. Inside, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and basketweave trim on the lower dashboard added a modicum of luxury. The innovative Sportomatic semi-auto gearbox was an extra-cost option. B-series cars arrived in 1968, with a longer wheelbase and Bosch mechanical fuel injection increasing power output to 170hp. The 45-amp battery was swapped for a pair of 12-volt, 35-amp units: one mounted in each front wing to evenup the 911’s weight distribution. Other changes included an additional oil cooler, wider 6x15-inch Fuchs, a smaller steering wheel and a hand throttle between the seats.
More exciting news came in 1969, with the introduction of a bigger-bored 2.2-litre engine: good for 180hp and 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds. It also marked the end of the ‘901’ flat six, with the new motor assigned a ‘911/02’ designation. Paul Stephens, founder of Paul Stephens Porsche in Essex, rates the 2.2 as a sweet spot: “They need to be kept on cam, but that’s part of the appeal.” These C- and D-series cars also gained a larger 225mm clutch, improved suspension geometry and the option of a ZF limited-slip differential. Option code M470 deleted all of the car’s luxuries to create the lightweight, race-ready 911 ST.
The 911S reached its zenith with the E- and F-series cars of 1972-1973. Increasing engine capacity to 2.4 litres (achieved by lengthening the stroke to 70.4mm) boosted output to a maximum of 190hp in 1973 – only 20hp shy of the fabled RS. Porsche also introduced the 915 manual gearbox, which had a conventional H-pattern gate rather than first gear on a dog-leg. And the S gained a subtle front splitter (optional on the T and E), designed to improve high-speed stability.
From 1974 until its demise in 1977, the 911S was demoted to the second-tier model, in the shadow of the new Carrera. Despite a larger 2.7-litre engine, it could only muster an emissions-limited 175hp, which could achieve 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds. Impact bumpers make these G- to J-series cars easy to spot – and they offer a more affordable route into 911S ownership.
THE VALUES STORY
Back in the 1980s, these were sub-£10,000 cars,” recalls Paul Stephens. “A car we have for sale at £235,000 changed hands for just £5,600 in 1980.” Likewise, Alan Drayson of Canford Classics remembers pulling parts off a right-hand-drive 2.4S before it was taken to a scrap yard: “It simply wasn’t worth anything.”
A 2.2S cost a then-substantial £4,766 when new. Prices may have peaked in 2015, when English artist and “father of pop art” Richard Hamilton’s 1973 black-on-black 2.4S sold for £393,500 at Goodwood Festival of Speed, although the star power of Steve McQueen’s 2.2S made £1.1 million at auction a few years earlier. Such cars are the exceptions and can easily distort the market, however, which today is less frenzied, albeit still in rude health. Prices stretch from £50,000 for a basket case to £300,000 for the very best, says Alan, with the majority of cars in the £120,000-£200,000 range.
“When you’re paying top money, the details absolutely need to be right,” says Alan. “But equally, plenty of older 911s don’t have their original engines, and that’s fine as long as you understand what you are looking at. Ultimately, buying a car like this is a privilege – it should be fun.”
ABOVE The lack of power steering and a longthrow gearbox means you need to be fully engaged when on the road. But that’s all part of the fun
The German car was far less flashy than some rivals, but few of them could get anywhere near it as a machine to drive… Most other cars feel quite dead by comparison.” So wrote the late Tony Dron, Porsche racing driver and motoring journalist, reviewing the 2.4-litre 911S for Motor in 1972. Part of the magazine’s 2,019-mile road test, incidentally, included a trip across France “to measure the 911’s top speed” (an exact 150.0mph).
Like any early 911, the S demands your attention; dawdling around on auto-pilot isn’t an option. Its unassisted steering is endlessly animated, its long-throw gearbox takes time to master and its pendulous tail end can be tricky. Factor in ‘classic’ brakes and an austere cabin, and the experience is very different to a modern 911.
The rewards are worth it, though. Whichever version you choose, the air-cooled flat six is vibrant and visceral. With the exception of 2.7-litre cars, the S feels less muscular low down than a 911E, with peak torque developed at 5,200rpm or beyond, coupled with peak power at anywhere up to 6,800rpm. However, this tuned engine loves to rev, particularly the highly strung 2.2, so exploring those upper reaches is all part of the joy.
Unlike the more focused RS, the 911S strikes a fine balance between a thrilling sports car and comfortable, long-legged grand tourer. We can’t think of many better cars for taking on a road trip to the Alps or Côte d’Azur – even if the days of ‘measuring’ top speed on the autoroute are sadly long gone.
BUYING A 911S
Buy the best you can afford” is the mantra repeated by both of our Porsche specialists. With the cost of parts and materials for restoration rising, and the number of experts in early 911s dwindling, a cheap S is likely to prove a false economy.
Like most cars of this era, rust is the number one enemy. Porsche began galvanising the 911’s underside from the 1970 2.2-litre D series cars onwards. It then extended this zinc-coating treatment to the body (except the roof) in 1976, and finally the whole shell from 1977. Nonetheless, all classic 911s are susceptible to corrosion – “and don’t assume that ‘dry-climate’ cars are immune,” says Paul. Companies such as Dansk offer pattern panels for the 911S, but we’d advise using official Porsche parts if possible; they will ensure a perfect fit and protect the value of your investment.
When it comes to engines, a few minor oil leaks can be expected, particularly around magnesium casings, but the aluminium crankcase is very strong. A full engine rebuild can cost up to £25,000, cautions Alan: “If you want it done properly, we even change the rockers, which are £1,000 a set.” Interestingly, very low mileage isn’t necessarily good news, due to the high cost of recommissioning cars that have been stored for long periods. “Consistent maintenance and use is best,” says Paul. “Classic 911s like to be driven!” The interior of the 911S is fairly basic. Even with the optional Becker or Blaupunkt radio, there’s a pleasing lack of electrics to worry about. However, don’t underestimate the cost of refurbishing a tatty cabin, because many parts are no longer available from Porsche. “Specialists will have them, but they know their rarity and value,” notes Paul. Bright cars with black interiors are highly prized by collectors.
Unless you’re lucky enough to discover an unrestored car lurking in a barn somewhere, every 911S will have seen some restoration work. Even the youngest 2.4S is now over 50 years old. It’s worth noting, however, that the depth of quality of this work generally improved as technology advanced and the cars became more valuable. For example, a 911S restored in 2002 probably isn’t finished to the same standard as one that was completed in 2022. Signs of a poor job include uneven panel gaps and the ‘sinking’ of paint around filler holes. Specialists or Porsche Club GB can help with part numbers and build data, too. The 911S was manufactured in relatively small amounts, and the number of unmodified cars is smaller still; many were raced, rallied, backdated, forward-dated (back when that was fashionable) or turned into RS replicas. “We even saw an S with fibreglass wide arches and a whaletail,” reveals Alan. “Do your due diligence first. Everyone who buys an air-cooled Porsche is somewhere on the OCD spectrum – and rightly so. Detail matters to us.”
ABOVE AND BELOW The 911S famously has an austere cabin, but even restoring one can be tricky due to a lack of genuine replacement parts
In previous periods of economic turmoil the value of collectible assets, such as classic cars, promptly nose-dived. This time around, though, that hasn’t been the case. “People buying these cars are doing so with disposable income, rather than borrowed money, which should keep things stable,” reckons Paul. “When values rose rapidly between 2013 and 2016, we saw more cars being restored. I’d caution against getting into a full restoration on a 911S today, though, because the cost of the work can exceed the end-value of the car. You can soon spend £100,000 or more.”
Paul highlights the early 1967 2.0S, the 1972 E-series 2.4 (with its quirky, one-year-only external oil filler) and late-model 1973 2.4 as being particularly sought-after, but says all pre-1974 ‘long bonnet’ cars are worth similar money, all else being equal. The 1974-1977 impact-bumper 911S was made in much larger numbers (17,124 in total) and isn’t so collectible, but prices reflect this.
Right-hand-drive cars are very rare and command a price premium of “at least 25 per cent”. Finding an unrestored car – the Holy Grail for collectors – has become “almost impossible”, but any 911S with proven provenance and a specialist or Porsche dealer service history should prove a good investment.
ABOVE The 911S launched with narrow, 4.5-inch Fuchs alloy wheels. The B-series version featured wider, 6x15-inch Fuchs. ABOVE The 2.4-litre engine of the 911S could generate 190hp, just 20bhp shy of the 2.7-litre RS
TOTAL 911 VERDICT
An early 911 offers an experience unlike anything else. From its tingly steering to its breathy aircooled engine, it peels away the white noise to leave you with joyous, unfiltered feedback. Drive one and you will fall under its spell, guaranteed. Faster, more poised and better-braked, the 911S only enhances these qualities. It’s beautiful, turning heads without looking extroverted or aggressive, and wonderfully compact by modern standards. It’s also more comfortable and less compromised than many potential rivals (or indeed an RS): a car you could take on a European road-trip and enjoy both the autobahns and Alpine switchbacks. Not to mention being reliable enough to get you home again.
The S has staked its claim as a blue-chip classic, and prices are towards the upper end of the classic 911 spectrum. Look after one, though, and it should look after you. Above all, this is a superb sports car – and one of the high-points of the 911’s younger years.
“Many examples of the 911S were raced, rallied, backdated, forward-dated or turned into
DESIRABLE OPTIONS COOL COLOURS
The so-called ‘safety colours’ – retinascorching shades such as Signal yellow, Lime green and Tangerine – are popular with collectors. “Rare, quirky colours always sell,” notes Paul, “although everyone wanted Slate grey after Steve McQueen’s 911S was sold at auction.”
Porsche’s semi-auto Sportomatic transmission was available for the S. However, the four-speed ’box – which operates like a manual without a clutch pedal – doesn’t particularly suit the car’s character, and some 911s have been retro-fitted with the five-speed 901 manual.
Yes, really. Many original 911S owners opted for a Touring package (similar to that offered on the 2.7 RS), with electric windows, tinted glass, Recaro seats and a sunroof. That makes a “basic and pure” car with keep-fit windows very desirable, says Paul.
The optional ZF limited-slip differential had either a 40 or 80 per cent locking factor, offering extra traction well before any 911 had four-wheel drive.
A pair of additional driving lights could give your 911S the retro rally car look. Other stylish add-ons included chrome bumper guards and chrome-plated Fuchs wheels.
Launched in 1975, the 930 Turbo overlapped with the later 911S. Part of its appeal is undeniably aesthetic. Who didn’t have one on their bedroom wall? But the original Turbo’s performance was something else, too – particularly when the 300hp 3.3-litre version arrived in 1978. Scalpel or sledgehammer? The choice is yours.
Like a 911S, the final air-cooled Turbo blurs the line between B-road weapon and upmarket GT. Unlike a 911S, it adds genuine supercar performance to the mix, with a 408hp 3.6-litre twin-turbo engine, four-wheel drive and powerful ‘Big Red’ brakes. A classic 911 that you could happily drive every day.
An RS might be slightly out of reach, but our budget easily buys you a low-mileage Gen2 997 GT3. For one of the best driver’s cars Porsche has ever built, that’s arguably a bit of a bargain. Manual only, with a naturally aspirated engine that revs to 8,400rpm, future classic status is assured. Prices for the 911S cover a broad spectrum. Taking a median point of £150,000, here are some of the similarly priced alternatives.
The earliest 2.0-litre 911s, built between 1964 and 1967, will always hold a special appeal for collectors. A modest 130bhp easily overcomes a kerb weight of just 1,075kg, while a shorter wheelbase and skinny 165-section tyres keep you on your toes. They’re proof that Porsche got the basics right first time.