1985 Porsche 911 Long-Term Road Test - Interior

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1985 Porsche 911: The Cup Holder Conundrum

April 05, 2012


It turns out, our 1985 Porsche 911 does have a cup holder; you just need to have the right cup to hold.

Caroline's previous post got me thinking: When was the first factory-installed cup holder for a 911? A little bit of research revealed that it was the 996-era car (1998/9-2004/5), but an actual integrated unit that retracts into the dashboard didn't appear in our market until the 2002 M.Y. It's the type that swings out (part 996-552-183-00-01C-OEM). There was one made for the 2001 M.Y. 996 and it pops straight out of the dash (part 996-552-183-01-OEM). Prior to that, Porsche offered a lame clip-on beverage shaker that merely attached to the outboard HVAC vents in either the 911 or the Boxster.

At any rate, here's my solution to the cup holder conundrum. There, I fixed it.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 126,234 miles

1985 Porsche 911: Locate the Gas Door Release

April 04, 2012

Gas Release 911.JPG

OK smarty pants, locate the gas door release.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

1985 Porsche 911 Carrera: The Big Wheel

March 31, 2012

It’s always kind of a shock to me when someone complains about the Black Plague's manual steering.

Then I remember that even in 1985, the Porsche 911's manual steering was a rarity in premium cars and really something more commonly found among the four-wheel troglodytes at the bottom of the automotive evolutionary ladder. Meanwhile, 911 enthusiasts of the time took pride in manual steering and actually were still scandalized by the power-assisted brakes that had come relatively recently to their purebred oh-so-unassisted driver's machine.

I think you can get along way better with the original 911's steering if you go back to Paul Frere's ancient instruction guide from 1963 (though still sold in updated form today), Sports Car and Competition Driving.

Frere's guide has plenty of relevance today because the sports cars he raced and drove in the 1950s and 1960s have a lot more to do with modern street cars than the high-tech racing cars that are usually the reference point in the guides to fast driving that you see today. And unlike driving experts today, Frere didn't have to strut around like he'd won the 24 Hours of Le Mans because he actually indeed had won Le Mans in 1960 while paired with Olivier Gendebien (a fellow Belgian) in a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.

Frere lived in a time of big steering wheels and tall tires with lots of sidewall, so he knew what heavy steering was about. Right in the opening pages of his book, he talks about a proper driving position, which is about both leverage on the steering wheel and the ability to move the wheel through a large arc without having to shuffle your hands.

If a sharp corner comes into view, you move your lead hand to the 12 o'clock position on the wheel and pull down into the corner. This means that you move only one hand on the wheel and minimize the amount of time you spend in a corner with your arms crossed up, which together optimize both leverage and control. If there's a hairpin, then you might move your lead hand all the way around and place it next to your other hand before you pull the wheel around in one smooth move.

You don't see this technique much anymore, of course. Modern driving Instructors like to see you shuffle your hands, because it avoids any nastiness that might happen should your arms be crossed in front of the wheel in a collision when the airbag goes off. Nevertheless, this hand discipline comes in handy for me all the time, especially as my arms get weaker and wispier with every passing year.


Oddly enough, Frere was a Porsche 911 enthusiast and The Porsche 911 Story, his book about the evolution of the 911's engineering details (taken from Porsche factory documents) is still the standard work on the subject. He also drove very fast cars at very fast speeds virtually to the end of his life when he died in 2008 at the age of 91. I spent a nice lunch with him once when he came as Mazda's guest to Laguna Seca for the first time.

So every time I have to bend the Black Plague through a sharp 90-degree corner, I think about Paul Frere. He believed driving is a skill, and he never stopped trying to improve.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

1985 Porsche 911: Fantastic Seats

March 28, 2012

911 seats.jpg
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 Carrera: It's About Time

March 15, 2012


Let's get one thing straight. These are instruments, not gauges.

At least that's what Hartmut Behrens would tell you. Long ago, he worked at VDO in Frankfurt, Germany, when German cars were the latest thing. Instruments meant VDO; gauges meant lights and flashes.

VDO sent Behrens to Detroit to work with the carmakers there, but when he saw how popular German cars had become in the U.S., he left for Los Angeles and took over a speedometer business that had been originally established in 1955. And that's how North Hollywood Speedometer & Clock became the place to take your Porsche 911 clock when it goes bad, as they all do.


Really and truly, there are only two places that make a point of advertising for the business of repairing Porsche instrumentation: North Hollywood Speedometer and Palo Alto Speedometer. It wasn't much of a struggle to get our clock fixed. We brought in our clock (it has been pretty intermittent in that whole time-keeping thing) to NoHo Speedo, and $120 and a day later, it was all over.



Not too much else to report, aside from the fact that this clock reminds us of the days when all cars had clocks on the dash -- real clocks with big hands and little hands, too. (It's a fashion that's coming again, we've noticed.)

Also it was kind of a pleasure to look up at the storefront of North Hollywood Speedometer and see the names of the other brands of automotive instruments that Behrens and his specialists repair, like A.C., Moto Meter, Smiths, Veglia and Veigel. In times gone by, it was difficult to find instruments that could put up with not only the vibration of the automobile but also the crude mechanical drives and later the rogue voltage spikes from primitive electrical systems, so instruments meant performance, not simply fashion.


Hartmut Behrens warns us that not all instrument repairs are completed so quickly. He's overwhelmed with work, largely from the restoration of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Porsches and Volkswagens. "Everyone is fixing up old cars," he says. "Soon they will all be on the road again."

At least we're not the only ones fixing up an old car.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 125,323 miles


1985 Porsche 911: What Kind of Parent Will I Be?

January 23, 2012


Eh, what kind of title for a blog entry is that? It's what was on my mind as I drove our 1985 Porsche 911 on an errand last week. I like running around the city in this car. It sounds good, it's always warm inside (so the windows can always be down), it's low-speed so I can take my time getting my shifts smooth, and no matter how our car feels or drives, it looks wonderful and I like being in it -- and being someone who would drive a car like this.

On this day, I was taking our staff car seat to use as a prop in a video shoot. The car seat is a few years old, so we'd never put an actual kid in it. Instead, I used it as a cupholder (not standard on an '85 911), as my camera bag and purse help keep my coffee upright.

The reality is that it wouldn't be legal to install and use a car seat here not in California anyway, because the 911 has a backseat, so all car seats have to be in the back, but the obvious problem is that a modern car seat wouldn't really fit in back. So I won't be the cool parent who still drives a cool, old 911.

What then is a would-be cool parent with a modest income to drive?

It's too late to buy a well-kept 2005-'09 Legacy GT; the maintenance costs on older Bimmers are uncomfortably high and sources tell me it's darn near impossible to find a Mazda 5 with a manual gearbox.

My feeling, then, is that the bar for coolness is now incredibly low, and so, if I drive a manual-shift Honda Accord or manual-shift Mazda 6, I'll be doing all right.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 123,870 miles

1985 Porsche 911: Leaky

December 13, 2011


We got our biannual rain yesterday in L.A. I happened to be driving the oldest car in the fleet. You won't be surprised to learn that it leaks. Nothing major. Just some dripping down the door panels into the door pockets. Both sides.


The fuel log got soaked, but I stayed dry.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

1985 Porsche 911 Carrera: It's Just Like a Panamera!

December 02, 2011


It turns out that the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid I've just been driving is just like our 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera. No doubt this will come as a great shock to drivers of 911s and Panameras alike.

Of course, Panamera drivers think the 1985 Porsche 911 is an irrelevant relic of Porsche antiquity, while Porsche 911 drivers regard the Panamera as a betrayal of all they hold true and lasting about Porsche.

But it turns out that both these cars as utterly alike in the way they embrace a fascination for cleverness, as if the Porsche R&D center at Weissach was actually a kind of halfway house for the obsessively German.


First of all, the Panamera goes down the road like a 911, in that it has that same tire harshness thing, as if the Porsche engineers see tires as pure producers of friction, not suspension travel. The pedal effort level is pretty high, and the brakes respond a bit too strongly and the throttle not strongly enough.

Meanwhile the car is filled with little eccentricities. Mostly there's the thing of one device = one function, a kind of uniquely German thing that seeks perfection by restricting the variables as much as possible. I kind of get it, but it does have consequences, like a proliferation of buttons on the Panamera center console that proves just as confusing as the assorted levers for the ventilation system in the 911.

Then there are little ergonomic flaws in the Panamera. Like the seam in leather upholstery of the steering wheel rim that cuts into your thumbs. Like the little control levers that require so much effort over so little travel that you have to use them just right in order to get them to move. Too much of the Panamera's interior seems to embrace cleverness for its own sake, the same weird search for efficiency that led GM to spell out “Gages” because the “u” seemed like a waste of materials and money.

And yet once the Panamera breaks the 100 mph mark, all the silly stuff is of no consequence, because this car drives very, very well. Just like the 911.

Two cars that could not be more different, and yet it's clear to me that the same company built them.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

1985 Porsche 911: Numerology

December 01, 2011

Just liked the way the numbers fell on the total mileage here. Should've taken this as a sign to put money on the Saints Monday night.

Nine months, 9,300 miles. Seems like we like it.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

1985 Porsche 911: No Rear Defrost

November 28, 2011


Last week I discovered that our Porsche's rear defroster does not work. Pretty sure we'll leave that fix to the 911's next keeper.

That is all.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

1985 Porsche 911: Seat Bolster is Looking Beat

November 21, 2011


Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 113,023 miles

1985 Porsche 911: Dumbest Car Ever

November 03, 2011


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: Ghost in the Machine

October 19, 2011


(Yes, I prefer the whale-tail-less look on our wide-hipped longterm 1985 Porsche 911. Makes the hips more hippy.)

This is a car with a ton of charm, both good and bad, and it's definitely not for everyone. Nearly all of its secondary controls like mirror adjustments, cruise control, sunroof were apparently installed via the barrel of a shotgun, the gearchange is a low-and-forward deal (the gearchange quality you know all about by now), the heater controls are inscrutable and produce more noise than heated air.

But the closely-situated front seats fit fantastically well and the view out the upright windshield is unmatched by any modern car. And I just cannot get enough of that flat-six bark.

For a car that is so unapologetically mechanical, it's not cold. It's quite the opposite -- there is joy lurking in the facets of its operation, all the way down to the clack of the door latch. It requires you pay attention when you drive it. The steering demands both hands, the gearchange wants finesse. I'm not totally won over by its suspension in its current state of "tune," but nor is it offensive.

The potential's there, and every time I drive this car the mental gears start turning. Probably wouldn't put a brace of paired megaphones on a 911 of my own like the little guy pictured above, but would sample selectively from the Singer playbook. I guess I'm more R-Gruppe than concours. You?

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

1985 Porsche 911: Rainy Day

October 05, 2011


I woke up to the sound of falling rain this morning; an uncommon occurrence in Los Angeles, but welcome nonetheless. As I lay awake in bed, I pondered what my drive into work would entail. Heavy traffic is a given, but since I had our long-term Porsche in my driveway, I also knew it would include a soggy shoulder. As I made the seven-mile trek into Edmunds HQ, I discovered a few more notable rain traits.

911Rain_RearDefros.JPG As you can see from the picture above, the rear window fogs up. This was shot only 2 miles into my commute. I'm guessing the lack of ventilation and engine heat are the culprits. The previous morning, Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr and I carpooled to Magrath's place to head up to our annual track day/driving school and he was fiddling with the rear defrost knob. Kurt discovered that if you turn it clockwise, it lights up. We turned it back off then pulled the knob but it didn't light up. Weird.

This morning, when I really needed some rear defrost, I pulled and turned the knob (insert puerile comment and snickering here), but nothing happened. Oh well, one more thing to fix.

The rear defrost is not as big a deal as the amount of water intrusion, of course. This thing leaks like an incontinent racehorse. The worst is the sunroof, which trickles down my neck and shoulder under acceleration. But I also noticed some trickling in near the passenger A-pillar and under the glovebox. That can't be good.

911Rain_CenterDefrost.JPG At least the windshield defroster works like a champ. Once the engine was good and hot, I pulled on the defrost levers between the seats and turned the dial to 3. Hot air quickly dispatched the fogging. Then it got too hot and stifling, so I turned it off and switched to the unheated defroster on the conventional climate control panel. That all worked well until I pulled into our parking garage. Once inside, the windscreen went to full fog in an instant. I think it was the quick temperature difference. It made it so bad that I was just barely crawling along, so as not to take out any pedestrians.

Outside of the visibility and water issues, the 911 is a hoot to drive on slick roads. But I'd caution my fellow editors to be mindful of the brakes. Once they're coated with water, they're pretty much useless for the first 20 feet or so of braking.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

1985 Porsche 911: Guess I Needed a Hug

September 01, 2011


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 Carrera: Rainy Day...

August 02, 2011

Porsche 911-Rain_Cayman.jpg

Ain't no use in gettin' uptight. Sat out a few rain showers in the long-term 911 during this past weekend's 356 Dana Point Concours. That's Road Test Editor Mike Monti and his much better half sitting nice and dry in the Cayman R, probably trying to determine where the bike will fit. Me, I'm hunting leaks with an old red shop rag.

Nothing like a good pouring to find the weaknesses in your car's defenses. And our long-term 911 has a few breaches.

Most notable is a rivulet that flows down the frunk release handle into the door panel pocket. There's also some water coming in from somewhere at the top of the windshield, and likewise from a gap near the top of the rear window. The gaps around the sunroof are also not immune. A small standing pool surged in when I gave it some gas exiting the event parking lot, dripping on the front passenger seat.

Porsche 911_leaky.jpg

Well, if you're gonna have an old leaky Porsche, may as well have one in Southern California. New rubber in strategic places sounds expensive. We'll take our chances with the occasional summer storm blowing up from the Gulf.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

1985 Porsche 911: Sliders

June 28, 2011


Some might consider the levers controlling the HVAC to be archaic. You can't dial in 71 degrees for the passenger in our Porsche. But I actually enjoy using them quite a bit. I find that I can make adjustments with touch, handy when driving at speed in traffic.

In a conversation with Mark Takahashi, he mentioned that they were very aircraft like. Our Porsche's levers reminded him of his experience in a Cessna. Aircraft controls are shaped in a specific fashion as to be recognized easily through touch.

Was that in mind of the designers? Probably not, but I still find that idea and this design pretty cool.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

1985 Porsche 911: Off By a Notch?

June 27, 2011

porsche_onenotch.jpg I think our 911's steering wheel is off a notch or two. It's not very noticeable on slower streets, but it was pretty noticeable to me on the freeway. I thought at first that it might be the crown of the actual stretch that I was on, but I wasn't sure. I spoke with Editor in Chief Scott Oldham about my experience. He had noticed the same thing. “Might have to pop off the wheel and readjust.”

I spoke with two other staff members about my experience. One didn't notice a crooked steering wheel while another suggested it might be tramming. Tramming being that our Porsche is a light car with lots of tire getting caught in the drainage grooves or truck tread wear. It does bother me that I noticed it more on the freeway far more than the slow roads. Now I don't know what it might be

I'm no mechanic, I'm a photographer, Jim. So what do you think? Can you take a guess at the diagnosis?

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

1985 Porsche 911: Slamming

June 27, 2011

I've driven our Porsche a few times now. This time I wanted to enjoy the warm weather, so no better way than to drop the window and open the sunroof. But how do I open the sunroof?

I had to look around for a while until I found a very discrete switch on the lower part of the dash left of the steering wheel. I'm so used to the softly opening sunroofs of today with their multiple steps that seem to purr as they slide open. The 911's is not like that. I hit the switch and with a crude mechanic sound it unceremoniously opened quickly. It's as if the switch yells "Open. NOW!" to the sunroof.

Perspective of 26 years of engineering progress can be funny sometimes.

Scott Jacobs, Sr Mgr, Photography

1985 Porsche 911: I Can't Stand the Rain

June 16, 2011

No, it's not raining in L.A. Misting, maybe, but not raining. But I know for a fact that our long-term 911 leaks. You see, when I'm fortunate enough to snag the Porsche for a weekend, I wash it myself before I head into the office. When I got around to drying it off, I found that water intrudes pretty badly.

The first bit of evidence was found in the bonnet (or frunk, if you prefer). There was a decent amount of water around the edges, on the gray fabric liner. What was surprising to me, was the fact that I wasn't using any sort of pressure washer, just the plain old garden hose (someone cut the end of my hose off and now I can't connect any sprayers). Odds are, we just need to replace some weather stripping.

As soon as I left my place for the office, the instant I applied some throttle, I found the other leak. About a quarter-cup of cold, semi-soapy water began pouring down my head, neck and shoulder. Not cool. The culprit was obviously the sunroof. Again, we probably just need some fresh weatherstipping. I'm hoping we get this all sorted out before the next round of storms blows in – hopefully at least a few months away.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

1985 Porsche 911: Now That's a Cockpit

June 09, 2011


Is there anything more purposeful looking than a row of gauges spread across the dashboard? Even if one of them happens to be nothing more than a clock that doesn't really keep time very well, just the sight of all that information in your face says this is a serious machine.

Also note the close proximity of the steering wheel. When you're at the helm of this sportscar, you're right on top of everything, including the nose of the car. It's a strange feeling at first, sort of like hanging your head out over a cliff. You get used to it, though, which of course makes driving anything else feel detached. It's one of the reasons I look forward to driving this car so much.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

1985 Porsche 911: Speedometer Finally Works

June 08, 2011


Last week we finally got the speedometer fixed, along with a few other things, and the Porsche feels great. It's driving wonderfully. We really found the sweet spot.

But it hasn't exactly been cheap getting it there. A full list of all of the 911's repairs and a tally of what we've spent to date is coming soon.

Honestly, I don't think I want to see it.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

1985 Porsche 911: Portability

June 07, 2011


About a week ago and a little after 10pm, the shift knob in our 911 went all portable on me. Now I can think of a few things that have benefited from portability; computers and water come to mind. Shift knobs, not so much.

And wow did I swear.

I was on a dark stretch of freeway, and with the interior of our 911 being very dark I was at a loss to understand what, exactly had happened. I must have spent a good five seconds in neutral (an eternity at 70 mph) before I tossed the shift knob on to the floor, found the shift lever and put it back in gear.

As it turns out, our Momo knob is not threaded but instead uses set screws to hold itself to the shift lever. Those set screws come lose over time and grant the knob new found portability. It's a bad design. Anyway, it seems this has happened before because in the glove box was an allen key that fit the set screws perfectly. How convenient.

On a related note, I'd like a new shift lever - one that accepts a threaded shift knob.

Hit the jump to see some details of the offending set screws.


Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor

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

May 28, 2011


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: Window Switch is Broken

May 27, 2011


I drove our 1985 Porsche 911 earlier this week. Somewhere between rush hour traffic on the 405 freeway and gridlock on the 110 freeway, I looked down to find the window switch was broken...


Now it is fixed. I just pushed the switch back into place.

There is one thing I like about older cars above all else. Something is always wrong. These cars require some commitment and some forgiveness. Only the owner really knows every little quirk.

Oftentimes these oddities are common to the brand. And the resulting camaraderie between owners isn't far behind. This is why Porsche-guys or enter-name-here-guys get along like they do. "Oh yeah, the window switch... my '83 did the same thing. I fixed it with gorilla glue. Does your A/C still work? I used a wire coat hanger..." To me, this is still what the older car ownership experience is all about.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

1985 Porsche 911: Nein!

May 26, 2011


A shift light. A. Shift. Light. I can't stand these things.

I didn't notice it the last time I drove it. Maybe I was too excited about driving a classic Porsche. Maybe a wire got back into line? Perhaps a fix that shouldn't have been.

Do you even pay attention to these things?

Scott Jacobs, Sr Mgr, Photography

1985 Porsche 911: Pedal Problem?

May 20, 2011


With a car this old, things are bound to wear out. The latest item I discovered is the clutch pedal. It functions perfectly as far as I could tell, but it doesn't quite return to full extension anymore. Upon release, the pedal stops an inch or so before it should (shown in the animation above).

I don't think it's a big deal. Something like this happened to one of my cars when I first started driving a manual transmission. For my car back then (a 1989 240SX), I was resting my foot on the clutch pedal. I thought I was hovering over it, but the slight pressure ended up wearing out a return spring. Solution: use the dead pedal.

The problem for the 911 is, it doesn't have a dead pedal. I've just been resting my foot next to the pedal, on the carpet. That ought to fix that problem for my fellow editors.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

1985 Porsche 911: Dream Come True

May 17, 2011


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


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

1985 Porsche 911: What Does This Mean?

May 03, 2011

Last night, while riding around in our 1985 Porsche 911, I noticed this urgent-looking light was on. It's located under the dash and forward of the gearshifter. Any guesses?

Turns out it wasn't so urgent after all. Just the car letting me know that I had locked one door manually. Pfew, well that's a relief. The speedometer and odometer are dead and the driver door lock is finicky, but at least this warning light works. I kid, I love this car regardless.

By the way, just for the record, like the above picture demonstrates that symbol of the key (as depicted in the drawing in the owner's manual) really isn't clear when the light turns on and it's barely visible when it's turned off.


Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

1985 Porsche 911: Bring Your Cloth Bags

April 26, 2011


No sooner had our Editor in Chief put recarpeted the 1985 Porsche 911's trunk (or frunk in Riswick parlance) than I gave it a test drive at the grocery store.

However, our '85 long-termer's trunk is not the deep, usefully shaped well that you'll find in modern-day Porsche 911s, and I didn't have my space-efficient cloth grocery bags, and so the paper bags I got at the store got mashed. Fortunately, the grocer and I had not filled them to the top, and even my half-gallon of milk was OK. Next time, I'll remember my cloth bags.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor