911 SC (1978-83)

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The 911 SC came along in 1978, as the 911S and 911 Carrera disappered. The 911 SC was available for all markets. It held a 3.0 liter engine, producing 180 horsepower. It remained pretty much the same over its lifespan, with different options taken and added here and there. In 1980, a special edition 911 Weissach came out to boost sales. However, the 1983 911SC carried the biggest change in the 911's history, it became convertible!



It was called the 911SC Cabriolet, and was the first convertible Porsche since the 356. This became an extremely popular car, and was heralded as the fastest convertable in the world. They were sold out more than a year in advance. The Cabrio led Porsche into 1984, where the 911 Carrera took over.


a 1983 SC Cabrio

Thirteen years after the first 911 hit the roads, the 911 was going from strength to strength. The 911 was now a more subtle, refined grand tourer which you could depend completely.

As the 1979s had progressed, Porsche had deliberately sought not just the enthusiast drivers who until then had made up the core of its customers, but the company also went looking for a new type of owner. This new type of owner wanted easier driveability, better reliability and good value for money. The first two factors were achieved, but poor value for money was a recurring comment in contemporary road tests from around the world. The factory argued - and still does - that exclusivity had to be paid for.
To buy a Porsche was to he associated with success, with much kudos being derived from Porsches association with success on the race track. After the impact bumpers of 1974, the 1978 911 SC saw the introduction of a fully galvanised bodyshell, an industry leading development that at last offered longevity over years of exposure to salt covered northern hemiphere winter roads.

Porsche was also out to seek complete reliability. The 2.7 unit had been good, with a broader torque curve than the peaky 2.4, but it had stretched the original design to its limits. Some parts had tended to wear at a higher rate than was expected in a Porsche and the engine ran hot in warmer climates. Although this engine was reliable compared with most others, it did not offer the bulletproof reliability the engineers were seeking. The new Turbo's 3 litre engine, unblown, offered that potential.

The SC was now the only normally aspirated 911 Porsche available, replacing the 911S in the US and Canada and the 2.7 in Rest of the World markets. For Americans the SC offered a useful extra 15bhp over the 911S, but for all other buyers power fell from the Carrera's healthy 200bhp to 180bhp. However, the engineers had worked to achieve a flatter torque curve, thus increasing the appeal of the car to that much sought new type of customer. The new buyer probably would not have noticed new details like the brake servo (fitted for the first time across the range), that greatly improved derivability around town and reduced pedal effort when the brakes were cold.


a 1979 SC Targa

The SC was Porsche's first attempt at a 'world' car, for an exhaust emission air pump was fitted even to European models. Hardened 911 enthusiasts, who also grumbled about the new 'soft' brakes having lost their feel, soon had these air pumps decorating their garage walls. The SC used the same mechanical components as the Carrera 3.0 and kept the attractive flared rear wheel arches. Outright performance was not much changed by the loss of 20bhp, but the effect of advancing the timing of the same camshafts by just six degrees allowed the SC to pull confidently from surprisingly low revs - a feature of the 911 that has remained ever since. The problem for enthusiasts was that as the 911s appeal was broadened to a wider market, it was losing power (in Europe at least) and putting on weight. The SC's increase in kerb weight to 1160kg (2558lb) ensured that it was not the best performer among 911s. And with the addition of item like electric windows, an electric sunroof and, from 1980 especially, air conditioning in the US, weight continued to rise

The 911 was due for replacement in the early 1980s, but demand continued strongly with the SC outselling its declared successor, the 928, by nearly 50 per cent. Power improvements hurriedly introduced in 1980 (not for the US) and 1981 (this time including the US) were intended to give the car new life in its twilight years by addressing criticisms that it was becoming middle aged and, with all the weight, slower. To be fair, these power rises were accompanied by useful improvements in fuel consumption, even if the 1981 204bhp 'world' model reverted to using premium 97 RON fuel. By 1981, however, the factory had changed its mind over the future of the 911 and with this new direction the SC began to rediscover some of the aggressiveness that had it had lost with the Carrera 3.0.

The 1978 models were known as the K-programme and bodily were largely unchanged from the previous year, except for colour variations. The SC kept the flared rear wheel arches from the Carrera, while the SC Targa lost the opening front quarter lights that had been unique to this model.





BODY TRIM & FITTINGS

The SC came with chrome trim as standard, but the black-look option (M496) first seen on the 2.7 Carrera was growing in popularity. The usual comprehensive range of other factory options was offered for the SC in all markets. In the larger markets, importers would often group a collection of options together to make life easier for their customers. Typical of these was the Sport package offered to UK customers. These models were identified by an whale tail, front spoiler chin extension, Bilstein gas dampers and forged alloy l6in wheels with Pirelli's new low profile P7 tyres. Inside the driver and passenger were held firmly in place by sports seats and what the press handout called 'a high quality stereo cassette/radio player with electric aerial'. The 1980 models had the black-look as standard on the coupé and the Targa (including the rollover hoop). This also meant the headlamp surrounds were colour coded to the body. The protruding headlamp washers were replaced with units that were flush fitting to the top of the bumper surface. In 1981 side repeaters were fitted to the front wings - a good way of spotting the later 204bhp models.

In September 1981, a revised and more elegant form of rear spoiler structure was fitted to the SC, with a large flat central cooling grille as on the Turbo, but cut back on the underside. On the new Cabrio, both driver and passenger door mirrors were standard. From the 1982 model year the options fitted to a particular model could now be found (by M code) on the vehicle identification plate.


INTERIOR TRIM

The smart interior choice of pinstripe as well as popular tartan schemes were carried over from the Carrera 3.0, but into the 1980s Porsche became much more adventurous with its interior fabrics. For 1980 came a wavy check upholstery style called Pascha, probably one of the more controversial Porsche fabrics that had been first seen on the 928 - you either loved it or hated it. The following year the more conservative Berber fabric was introduced. Until the 1980 model year the steering wheel diameter had been 400mm (15.6in) except for the 380mm (14.8in) wheel used on the 2.7 Carrera and the Turbo, but from August 1979 the 380mm three spoke wheel was transferred to the SC. This attracted some criticism from road testers as it was now more difficult to read the speedometer quite important in a 911. For 1980, the folding rear seats were upholstered in the same cloth material as the front seats, A centre console, first seen on the Turbo, now kept cassettes and oddments tidy. For the 1982 models the heater control was revised to improve warmth at low engine speeds, and on 1983 models the over-ride lever for the heater (positioned between the seats) was deleted, On the new 1983 Cahrio model the automatic heater control, standard on most 911s, was replaced by a manual system because the automatic system could become confused during open air motoring. The rear seat backs were reduced in height by 125mm (4.9in), and the Cabrio was unique in having leather seats as standard.

DASHBOARD & INSTRUMENTS

The introduction of an oxygen sensor in 1980 for US models resulted in an 'OXS' warning lamp appearing on the upper dash between the rev counter and the speedometer. This would light when sensor replacement was due at 30,000 miles. As with the Carrera 3.0 and the 2.7s, the SC was equipped with a 7000rpm rev counter. The Euro cars did not see the O2 sensor until the Carrera 3.2 model was introduced.

LUGGAGE COMPARTMENT

The new brake servo and fluid reservoir fitted from 1978 reduced the space in the rear area of the front compartment. In 1981, the engine compartment received a light.

ENGINE

The SC used the Turbo based 930 engine of 2994cc (182.63cu in) that had been developed for the European Carrera 3.0. The extra capacity was achieved by increasing the bore size from 96mm (3.5in) to 95mm (3.71 in). Stroke remained at 70.4mm (2.75in) although a new crankshaft with larger main and con rod bearings was used. The crankcase was made from diecast aluminium, whereas between 1968-77 it had been magnesium. The SC continued the use of Nikasil for the cylinder barrels. Milder camshafts pushed up the maximum torque and improved the engine's flexibility.

The cooling fan reverted to an 11 blade item that was smaller at 226mm (8.8in) than the previous five blade fan, although it ran at the same 1.8:1 speed. A new capacitor discharge and contactless introduced for the ignition this system was introduced for the ignition - this system can be recognized because the distributor rotor turns anti clockwise. A dual vacuum advance and retard was standard on US cars from 1980.

Fitting new, taller, black coloured chain guides in five of the six positions reduced camshaft chain noise, with the previous brown guide still being used in the lower right hand position. The reliability of the chain drive was improved again in 1980, when a new timing chain tensioner idler arm was introduced to ease the workload of the tensioner. Porsche studies had found that a proportion of the unexpected tensioner failures had been due to idler arms seizing on their shafts, so the arm was modified to include a wider double bush. The modified arm needed more space to operate in, so the tensioner body itself was slimmed down (but the internal mechanics remained the same). This improved timing chain tensioner reliability, but the engineers still had not eliminated this notorious problem. A once-and-for-all solution was still a few years away. The front wing oil cooler was revised for most markets in 1980 with the use of a finned brass tube unit that improved heat dissipation. US models retained the older coiled pipe type of cooler until the 1983 models.

The first SCs were fitted with an air injection pump, which was driven from the crankshaft pulley and was fitted for all markets. Its output was controlled by a diverter valve that vented the pump to the atmosphere in conditions of low intake vacuum. The continued efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency in the US also led to the introduction for that market of a new two way catalytic converter in place of the transverse silencer or muffler. Californian cars continued to require Exhaust Gas Recalculation (FGR). The two way converter was replaced in 1980 by a three way unit and, combined with a new oxygen sensor linked to the fuel injection system, eliminated the need for the air injection pump - and the pump was soon dropped on European models as well. A Lambda sensor accurately measured the oxygen content of the exhaust and then adjusted the injection to provide the corect fuel/air mixture to suit the bad conditions.

From 1977, engine fumes were piped back from the crankcase directly to the oil tank instead of into the air cleaner as on earlier models. Another pipe connected the oil tank breather to the ribbed throttle housing upstream of the air flow sensor.

The 1980 engines were 'optimised', to use the factory's description. The improvements that led to an extra 8bhp in Rest of the World markets were revised ignition and camshaft timing, a tightening of design tolerances in certain areas of the engine, and an increase in compression ratio to 8.6:1. As well as more power, there was a claimed 10 per cent improvement in fuel consumption. In the US, power was held at 180bhp in 1980, but the compression ratio was increased to 9.3:1 and, combined with the ignition timing improvements, the effect was to make the new model American SCs more flexible and lively.

In January 1981, the power deficiency of emissions-equipped SCs widened when Rest of the World cars received yet another output rise. The engine was uprated to 204bhp, but fuel consumption improved still further. On 1982 and 1983 models the engine changes were minor: the camshaft sprockets were attached to the cams by bolts rather than nuts and for the US the oxygen sensor was upgraded.

TRANSMISSION

The 915 five speed gearbox became standard for all markets on the introduction of the SC. It differed from the transmission in the Carrera by having even taller ratios, to take advantage of the flatter torque curve and to benefit emissions by reducing engine speed. A new design of clutch hub with a rubber centre overcame low speed gear chatter. This would, in time, prove to be more trouble than it was worth, as the rubber centre tended to part with the rest of the clutch. XXX tech paper Clutch adjustment was simplified on the SC and a new transmission mounting for the linkage overcame some reliability problems found with the earlier design. Sportomatic was now offered only as a special order, but its popularity was waning and the stick shift semi-automatic was deleted altogether after the 1979 model year.

ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT & LIGHTING

On 1978 US models, a 770 watt alternator charged a single 66Ah battery, but for the 1979 model year the alternator became the 980 watt unit that was already in use on Rest of the World Cars. In 1982 the alternator received an integrated voltage regulator and output went up to 1050 watts for all markets.

SUSPENSION & STEERING

All 911's were initially build as left hand drive models, but after a 30 minute compulsory test drive the vehicles destined for right hand drive markets reentred the Stugurt factory and were "converted" to right hand drive. A performance option for the 1978 SC Targa was Bilstein gas shock absorbers, but when these were fitted they tended to accentuate the fact that the Targa had a fairly flexible bodyshell. The following year, in markets where the Bilsteins had been offered as part of a performance package on the Targa, they were replaced by the Boge struts that had been fitted to earlier models. The 1981 model SCs had slightly stiffened rear suspension with torsion bar size increasing from 23min to 24mm.

BRAKES

The big braking change on the SC was the introduction of a Hydrovac servo, lightening the pedal significantly and making the 911 less attractive to those who wore gold medallions around their necks. The attraction of the servo was that it did not make the brakes ultralight, but just assisted them. The improvement was most noticeable around town, especially when the big ventilated SC brakes were cold. The SC diameters were now 287mm (1 1.2in) front and 295mm (11 Sin) rear, and the cast iron calipers were the A-type front and the M-type rear.

WHEELS & TYRES

The standard specification for the SC were the ATS 'cookie cutter' wheels with Dunlop SP Super tyres, sizes being 6J x 15 wheels with 185/7OVR tyres at the front and 7J x 15 wheels with 215/6OVR tyres at the rear. The UK Sport came with 16in diameter forged alloy Fuchs wheels with Pirelli P7 tyres, sizes being 6J wheels with 205/55VR tyres at the front arid 7J wheels with 225/5OVR tyres at the rear - these sizes were an option in other markets. The Fuchs wheels of the 1982 models had highly polished rims with black gloss centres.


SPECIAL EDITIONS

The 'Martini' model was never actually a main stream variant of the SC because any 911SC from 1978 could be specified with option number M42 which gave the owner a set of side stripes similar to those first seen on the 1976 British Motor Show 911 Turbo.

That car had been a 'special', to celebrate the combined victories in the World Manufacturers' Championship (with the 935) and the World Sports Car Championship (with the 936). It was also the fourth season that the factory racing team had been supported by the Italian drink company Martini & Rossi. The stripes proved so popular on the Motor Show Turbo that they were quickly made available as a factory fit or retro fit option, usually on cars in Grand Prix White. A total of 468 'Weissach' limited edition models were produced solely for the American market in the 1980 model year. With the option number M439, the standard SC was embellished with special paint - half were in Black Metallic and half in Platinum Metallic. The interior was full leather in Doric Grey with Burgundy piping. Otherwise, the specification was similar to a UK market Sport model, with a flexible lip added to the front air dam and a whale tail rear spoiler added to the rear. Bilstein dampers gave a firmer tide, and special Fuchs wheels with Platinum Metallic centres were used irrespective of body colour. These wheels were fitted with Pirelli CN30 tyres of sizes 185/76VR15 front and 215/6UVRJ 5 rear, on 6in and 7in rims respectively. Other decorations included a passenger door mirror, electric sunroof fog lights below the front bumper and an electric aerial with speakers fitted in the doors and on the rear shelf.

The 911 SP 'Ferry Porsche', a special model to celebrate 56 years of the Porsche company, was finished in Meteor (grey with a tint of purple) metallic paint and had a full burgundy leather interior. Other trim was in burgundy/grey striped material with cutpile velour carpet in burgundy. These models carried a 'Ferry Porsche' autograph on the head restraint area of the seat hacks, and were to a high general specification, equipment including a rear wiper, an electric aerial and colour coded 7J and 8J Fuchs wheels using 185/7UVR1S and 215/66VR15 tyres. A total of 266 were built from the start of the 1982 model year.

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