1979 Porsche 911 AC Electric National European Sports Car Examiner com

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1979 Porsche 911 Electric

April 22, 2011

Porsches are made for men who wear plaid. Men with names like Bruce, Steve, and Kevin. It’s for men who make a good living as accountants, bankers, and dentists.

Porsches are not wild, flashy or jaw dropping, and neither are their owners. They are precise, humorless cars.

So if, in 1979, one of these men were in the market for a sports car, they would look past the Ferrari 308GTB, and the Lamborghini Countach, and go right to the 911SC. And for good reason, with 180 brake horsepower, the Porsche would reach 60 from a … stop in around seven seconds.

Porsche provides bookish men the ability to blend-in and still enjoy the excitement of driving a European, rear-wheel-drive sports car without the watchful—and often judging—eyes of their fellow citizens.

Still, today if you are in the market for a vintage sports car, the 1979 Porsche 911SC is the perfect choice. With a fair-market value holding around $12,000, they’re still available for a reasonable price compared with its aforementioned contemporaries. Classic lines, simple interiors, and aftermarket parts still being manufactured make the ’79s even more accessible. The Porsche flat six-cylinder motors has proved sturdy, reliable, and easy to modify and made more powerful.

Even nicer is the fact that these quirky German coupes are still quick by today’s standards.

Like all aging sports cars, the ‘79s do have their detractions. The bus-sized steering wheel does not provide much leg room for anyone over 6’2”. Shifting is especially difficult for tall drivers when in first gear. This is due to the fact that the steering wheel will trap your leg between the itself and the gear shift lever. I’m 6’5” and it was impossible to move my right leg at all when in first gear.

I compensated for this design flaw by slamming the throttle and quickly jumping to second. Not the most annoying flaw but would inhibit me to drive it daily without looking like a jerk.

The Germans are very exacting and scientifically minded people so it would stand to reason their cars—specifically the climate controls—would reflect this mindset. Not so in the ’79. Normal cars have one slider for temp fading from blue to red and a knob that controls the blower motor. If you’re lucky, you also get a button to operate the defrost and floor vents. Porsche had to make it more difficult than that in the 911SC.

There are three sliders. Each has a mind-boggling number of unrecognizable symbols slashes and colors. There is little to no separation clarifying which symbol corresponds to which slider.

The power of the 911 is sadly no where near what your 10-year-old self imagined it to be. Understandably, for the late 70s, this car was quick. But today, it’s a bit sluggish until the crankshaft RPMs near its rotational limit.

This isn’t a huge problem but just underwhelming when you climb into the cabin of this bright red Porsche, fire it up and hammer the gas pedal. Mileage isn’t great either. Fuel injection has improved a lot in the last 30 years and like most cars from the 1970s, the Porsche does not allow for much room in terms of fuel efficiency.

But what if a classic European sports coupe without any of those problems existed? What would that look like? For Porsche enthusiast Chris Morgan the answer was simple: make it electric .

Morgan bought the body of a 1979 Porsche 911SC and had it completely restored. In place of the flat six-cylinder engine, he had a 200-horsepower electric motor installed with over 100 lithium ion batteries dispersed throughout the car. From the exterior, it looks completely stock. The first hint you get of what this car has become is when you hear it whiz by.

When the car is on, it’s silent. But when the accelerator is pressed, this car is anything but silent. The best way to describe it would be the sound of an animalistic scream.

Now that the weight distribution has been drastically altered by the increase in battery weight, the car no longer corners like a sledgehammer. Instead, it is closer to that of a Lotus Elise with a bit more under-steer.

Legroom is greatly improved due to the fact that the shifter has been replaced with a series of switches that control the electric motor. The transmission has been stripped, too. Gone are four of the five forward gears, along with reverse. What’s left with is second gear with a racetrack ratio.

Second gear allows the car the benefit of off the line performance (in electric cars all horsepower is available at zero RPMs) and highway speed capabilities. In fact, this car is so quick it is faster than a Tesla (the only all-electric sports car on the market today) over 60 mph and costs about half.

The biggest downfall of this car, however, like most electric cars is the range. Morgan said that he could get 120 miles to a charge. But when I drove it, I got something closer to 57, which was annoying.

Arguably, I was driving it like a crazy person so that certainly skewed it a bit. When the car runs out of juice on a heavily populated thoroughfare, the driver will be forced to ask the neighbors to borrow some electricity.

As silly as it might sound, driving fast is not the point of this car. It’s not supposed to be the sports machine that it looks like. It’s more of a “vintage, electric, cruiser,” Morgan explains.

To truly appreciate this car, the normal, track inspired Porsche mindset must be forgotten or at least temporarily denied. Though it has the capability of being a powerhouse, it’s best suited just below the speed limit. Turn off the high-powered stereo, take the Targa top off and just cruise. The electric Porsche provides a level of driving enjoyment paralleled by no other vehicle.

It’s a bright red whisper gliding through the air, leaving no ecological mark. If you can step into that world long enough, you might not want to leave.

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