1985 Porsche 911 Long-Term Road Test - Comfort


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1985 Porsche 911: Fantastic Seats

March 28, 2012

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Like a really good baseball glove, the seats in our 911 have been used, possibly abused, and broken in in a way that can only be done by time and wear. And you know what? They're great.

First look at how long the seat bottom is! Imagine all of that thigh support! Shorter drivers or those with shorter legs might not like it, but it's perfect for me.

Next up is the seatback. It's narrow, but not too narrow. The bolsters don't hamper your ability to get in and out of the car, but once you squish into the seats you feel snug, comfortable and like you have enough lateral support to do some serious driving. And, unlike some other cars with sport seats (Evo, I'm looking at you) the guys who designed the 911 seats had shoulders and tapered the top of the seat to not try to squish the normally triangular male torso shape into a tiny rectangle.They're as good for quick mountain road attacks as they are for long hauls.

Now if only they were heated...

Mike Magrath, Features Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Stagger and Squeal

February 01, 2012

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Just a few more notes on the Porsche and its new tires. The foremost being noise.

Yup, the new tires are loud. When I'm coasting to a stop, they're really noticeable. Perhaps not as bad as mud tires on a Jeep, but they're not that far off, either. It becomes less of an issue when I'm on the gas, since the air-cooled Porsche flutter takes over. I also noticed some brake squeal coming from the right rear.

Finally, there's the appearance of the new tires. The new front tires a just a bit narrower than the old ones, and they don't fill the wheel wells as fully. Too bad, I think, since they looked pretty freaking cool before, but then again, I might be the only one to notice.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Two Days With the Plague

November 30, 2011

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The sign-out board came around to me the other day with some interesting cars still available, including the Mustang and the NSX. But I took the 911. I haven't yet driven our NSX, and this was the first time it was available to me. And I'm dying to drive it. I had a week with a Rio Yellow NSX several years ago, and it was pretty memorable. The sound and feel of that V6 pushing almost nothing but subframe was pretty addicting.

But I still took the 911.

It had been awhile. And the Porsche is not the go-to car for the Orange County commuters here at the office. Truth is, Josh Jacquot and I (just two of the OC crew here) are big sissies. We tend to look for the most comfortable, drama-free conveyance to carry us back behind the Curtain after a day at the office. That's not the 911.

A ride home in the 911 is a loud, clanging, and jarring trip. With its 8 billion spot welds by obsessive, chain-smoking German linemen, the 911 just rattles and vibrates for fifty long, often-neglected highway miles. You feel EVERY Botts dot of every lane change. The radio is useless, though no fault of its own. It just doesn't have a chance against the road, wind and engine noise.

But, still -- the 911 has mojo. I can't explain why I felt compelled to take it for two consecutive nights and mornings for what basically amount to simple, boring straightline runs to home and back. There's simply something about the car. It has nothing to do with cachet. Sure, it's a Porsche. But it's an old Porsche. It means nothing to people who trade in the superficial currency of Los Angeles and Orange County.

A 1985 Porsche is not getting you in the door of any clubs, nor getting you a number from the brunette who just stepped out of her 3 Series at Starbucks (although it may spark a conversation with your attractive Turkish neighbor just stepping out of her Rabbit. Maybe).

No, our old Porsche's real value lies in the sensations it conjures. The sound of that flat-six. The effortless upwelling of torque that you hardly notice when shaking Racer Civic Guy off your rear bumper. Or how you just laugh to yourself when the guy in the 5.0 pulls up alongside - the guy whose license plate actually reads "5OHHHHH" with Vortech logos emblazoned along both rear quarters - downshifts, and pops his blow-off valve.

Driving this old Porsche is simply a feeling that doesn't get old. It's plenty of work, and most of the time, we don't want our driving to be work. But now and then, it's good to have that taste. Excuse me, now. Time to find something in the garage with leather, Bluetooth streaming, and dual-zone climate control.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Dumbest Car Ever

November 03, 2011

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Meet my wife. She drives a white Kia Sorento and has two kids. She likes shopping at Target and watching Glee.

Here's her road test of our 1985 Porsche 911.

I love Brent, but his love of cars is ridiculous. The other day I saw him wash this black car and blow it dry with a leaf blower. Then he wiped it with a diaper. Hello, anal. I just don't get it. Ever heard of a car wash? But to help him out, I agreed to drive this "nine-one-one" because he said it's an icon.

First of all, 1985? I left my acid-washed jeans in the '80s, and that's where they should stay. Shouldn't it be the same with cars? And Footloose?

Brent handed me the key. "Where's the button to unlock the doors?" I asked. Brent said there wasn't one. I had to actually put the key in the door! "Turn it to the right," Brent said. I did that. Nothing happened. "Try it to the left," he said. Nothing again. Then Brent grumbled and said that sometimes this happens, and that the power door locks don't always work from the driver side. I had to go over to the passenger side, unlock the doors, and walk back to the driver door. Dumb.

I had to bend down quite a bit to get inside. It's so little! Sitting on the leather seat made me think of sitting on an old leather couch because that's the squeaky sound the car's leather makes.

Everything is so boy in inside. It's all levers and knobs. And nothing makes sense.

porsche_911_storage.jpg Me: What's this?
Brent: Umm, fan speed, I think. Or maybe it's for the air conditioning...it doesn't work.
Me: So there's no air conditioning?
Brent: No.
Me: Oh. Well, I guess I can open the windows.
Brent: Be careful. If you push on the toggle wrong you'll pop it out of the door.
Me: Nice. Well, what about these levers next to the seats? Are they for the seat heaters?
Brent: No. There aren't any heaters. They're defroster vents. I think.
Me: Interesting place for them ... hey, the clock's wrong.
Brent: Yeah. That doesn't work either.

"Alright, enough of that. Start it up," Brent said. OK ... where's the ignition? Brent said it's on the dashboard, on the left. It's not on the steering column? He said all Porsche 911s are like that. What, and everybody who drives these things is left handed?

I guess it's good my dad taught me how to drive stick. But I don't remember any gear shifts like this. Brent was showing me the gears as there isn't a shift pattern on the knob. The stick is wobbly and loose in neutral, like you've got a wooden spoon in a bowl of cake batter.

I turned the key and the car started. It sounded strange. Brent said the engine is a "flat six" (whatever that means) and it's in the back of the car. I asked him why it was like that. He said, "Umm, it's a long story." I suspect he didn't actually know.

So we started off. I didn't stall it, thankfully. Brent said for the shifts that I should go slow. I made it up to fourth gear without too much problem, though second gear was balky. But the steering -- so hard to turn it! Who needs a gym membership when you have this car?

Plus, this car is ridiculously stiff. Seriously, I could feel every bump, tar seam and paint stripe in this thing. Heaven help you if you drive over a pothole. And it's ridiculously noisy, too. However am I supposed to call somebody on my phone? Oh, and this is a "Porsche," right? It didn't seem much faster than my Sorento.

I did like how I could easily see outside the car. That was nice. But then Brent said that's because there aren't any airbags in the roof pillars. "No airbags? What happens if you crash?" I asked, suddenly noticing how close my head was to lots of metal and glass. "Don't crash," Brent said.

Oy. I finished my short drive. I can't believe you guys think this is cool. Dumbest. Car. Ever.

Brent's Wife @ 122,310 miles


1985 Porsche 911: Guess I Needed a Hug

September 01, 2011

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Competently Shot Photo by Kurt Niebuhr

I've spent the better part of the last week sitting over the axle in Ford Transit tour busses and butt-flattened airplane seats with grimy armrests. I'm tired of seats.

Then, I went and sat in our 1985 Porsche 911's 26-year-old driver seat. It doesn't suck. Its lateral bolsters are worn, but they still wrap around me as effectively they did for the first owner. The seat is offset to the left relative to the pedals on the floor, but that's still more comfortable than trying to cram my carry-on and my feet under an airplane seat. And unlike the plane seats, all the power features still work.

Best of all, of course, I'm in command of a vehicle once again, and it sounds and smells a lot better than a Boeing 757.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Not Very Forgiving

August 25, 2011

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Sorry to interrupt the latest report from Pebble Beach, but I have some breaking news: our Porsche 911 rides like crap.

Ok, maybe that's a little harsh, but so is the ride. Look at those tires, though, do they look very forgiving to you? They barely have anywhere to go.

As magical as this car is on the road, modern 911s feel like Town Cars in comparison. Ours crashes and bangs over cracks in the road like the tires are aired up to 89 psi. That said, I still love driving the thing. Maybe not all the way to Monterey though.

Ed Hellwig, Editor


1985 Porsche 911: It's a Classic, But Our 911 Doesn't Feel That Old

May 28, 2011

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Firing up the 911 this morning, I was reminded that although it feels like a classic, our Porsche isn't really that old. It starts flawlessly thanks to its Motronic engine management system and runs strong right off idle. My personal classics are well-tuned machines, but they take a few turns to get going and a good 15 minutes of driving before they fully wake up.

The clutch in our 911 feels solid too. It engages right off the floor which take some getting used to, but the action is smooth and the engagement firm. You can't shift real fast anyway, so it rarely takes much effort to coordinate the two. My biggest problem is getting my feet in the right position as the steering wheel is a little low in my lap. Otherwise, I don't mind the upright driving position in this car.

Ed Hellwig, Editor


1985 Porsche 911: Dream Come True

May 17, 2011

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I grew up on a long curvy road. Every weeknight, I would hear Dr. Sid drive his Porsche 911 home. I loved the sound of that raspy note as it faded up the street. Last night I got a brief taste of that childhood dream in our classic 911.

The perspective of 1985 design really tells you that we're spoiled today. No, I don't think our 911 is lacking. It's just modern cars have a very different feel. The fixed steering wheel was one of the first things I noticed when I got in. I could grip the wheel and touch the instrument panel with my extended index fingers. Raising my hand slightly from the wheel and there was a glass. My feet were offset, being tucked to the right and just behind the front wheels. These were all slightly "off" sensations to me, being used to a modern rearward and inline seating position. All of this just made the Porsche that much cooler. I felt more in touch with the car because I was being asked to conform to the car slightly, rather than the car being tailored to me.

Sitting in our 911 I could smell gasoline. The interior looks it's age and there is a cacophony of rattles and squeaks as this thing lumbers down the street, but it just adds to the rich flavor. Just muscling the unassisted steering wheel at low speeds through the parking garage brought a big grin to my face.

On my way back into the office this morning, I decided to take the long route. Few extra blocks, perhaps a few extra miles. It didn't matter. The job was going to be there when I got there. I was just enjoying the moment.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography


1985 Porsche 911: Smells Like Old Car and It's Good

May 16, 2011

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Not sure why I like the smell of old cars so much. Whether it's my '68 Chevelle or this '85 911, it's the same feeling every time. As soon as I get in, the smell of the car puts me in a different mindset, usually a good one. Our old 308 did it too.

Drove the 911 quite a bit this weekend and was surprised to find that the seats are pretty comfortable. Actually, I was surprised to find they were power adjustable, at least partially. Once I got situated, the driving position didn't seem so awkward. Unlike the Corvette where you sitting down low and stretched out, in the 911 you're very upright and high above the steering wheel. Takes some getting used to, but it does provide a good view over the admittedly short hood.

Oh, and I don't mind the gearbox at all. Takes a little bit more concentration than your average shifter, but it's hardly a dealbreaker.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 114,452 miles


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