- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2004

The year was 1963 when Porsche removed the wraps on its first six-cylinder model, the 901, at the Frankfurt Automobile Salon. The car went into production as the 1964 Porsche 911 Carrera, successor to the 356, Porsche’s original sports car.

After nearly 40 years, the 911 continues as Porsche’s foundation vehicle and benchmark among world-class sports cars. Every year, the 911 seems to get infinitely better despite the fact that the previous example was perceived to have reached the pinnacle of perfection. The 911 is exceptionally well balanced and exciting to drive. It is more than simply a machine; it is a collection of ideas in a form that is both graceful and muscular.

The 911 Carrera comes in three body styles: Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa. They’re all highly desirable sports cars, all retaining a traditional look through evolutionary styling changes. The fully liquid-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine has become progressively simpler in design, and physically smaller and lighter than its air-cooled predecessors. The displacement is 3.6 liters, developing 315 horsepower.

Transmission choices include a refined, six-speed cable-operated manual or five-speed Tiptronic automatic shifter. Clutch and brake pedals are suspended from the top rather than projecting from the floor. A rev limiter protects the engine from overzealous drivers. Traction control, Auto Brake Differential and Anti Slip Reduction, along with four-wheel disc brakes featuring mono-bloc calipers for better heat dissipation, and telescopic force-sensitive power steering all contribute to sophisticated overall vehicle control.

The Cabriolet is the most desirable 911 Carrera as it provides the traditional opportunity to commune with nature while underway. For those concerned about open-car safety, supplemental safety bars deploy when either zero gravity or a 56 percent roll factor is sensed. The top may be operated externally with the key or inside by a switch within a 20-second cycle to either raise or lower.

The test car was a 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The base price of the Cabriolet was set at $78,400. The final sticker came to $89,440. after adding in the metallic paint, leather, power seat package, Xenon headlamp package, heated front seats, optional 18-inch wheels and tires, wheel caps with colored crests, Porsche Stability Management system, Bose high-end sound package and destination charge.

The Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet is an absolutely gorgeous car, yet somewhat understated.

It is a feel-good car that delivers a rewarding emotional experience every time you slide behind the wheel. The power is exhilarating and the handling superb.

Accents of brushed aluminum add a pleasing touch to the functionally sculpted contours of door handles, storage bins and center console.

Gauges and controls are legible and user-friendly with familiarity (except for the analog speedometer with calibration that is still difficult to decipher).

The Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet is a superb driving machine — an incredible collection of ideas and technology that provides maximum exhilaration while surpassing most fantasies.

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