Earlier this year I took a look at the Porsche Carrera T, a back-to-basics 911 that leverages performance upgrades from the brand’s illustrious GT division to great effect, despite being an “entry level” model. On the opposite end of the 911 spectrum, we have the Turbo. Although it’s nearly twice the price of the Carrera T, the 572-horsepower model is still considered something of a bargain thanks to its supercar-shaming performance and un-supercar-like comfort and reliability.
Logic would normally dictate that a sports car based on the Turbo with less impressive performance figures would offer fewer thrills and a lower price tag as a result. Yet the 911 in question demands more than $75,000 over the Turbo, and if given the opportunity, I’d choose the former over the latter without hesitation. The 2024 Porsche 911 Sport Classic may not make a lot of sense on paper, but in the flesh and behind the wheel, it might just be the most desirable roadgoing 911 on sale today.
Building on the legacy of the 997-generation 911 Sport Classic that was introduced back in 2010, the latest rendition comes as part of the limited-production Heritage Design series, which includes the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition and two other 911 models that will be revealed at a later date. While the new Sport Classic is derived from the latest 911 Turbo (the 992 generation), its mission ultimately recalls the style and visceral driving experience of high-powered 911s from the air-cooled era.
|2024 Porsche 911 Sport Classic
|Price of Model Tested
|$282,810 (with destination fee)
|2 + 2 sports car
|3.7-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six, 543 hp, 442 lb-ft torque
|15 mpg city, 21 highway, 17 combined
|Production limited to 1,250 units worldwide, available now
Featuring a ducktail spoiler inspired by the legendary Carrera RS 2.7 of the early 1970s, along with Fuchs-style five-spoke wheels, a double-bubble roof that follows the concave established by the unique carbon hood, and a myriad of subtle throwback touches, the Sport Classic’s vintage vibe is undeniably charming. Also contributing to its unique look are bespoke Turbo-style widebody quarter panels, which required new tooling to manufacture due to the deletion of the side intakes as well as additional engineering to develop the new intakes hidden beneath the ducktail that keep the engine properly fed with fresh air.
The nostalgic cues extend to the interior as well, where green accents give the gauge cluster and clock a retro-futuristic look, while houndstooth inserts on the seat centers and door panels bolster the Sport Classic’s charisma. Dark Paldao wood trim, ultra-supple semi-aniline leather upholstery, and a serialized badge on the passenger side of the dashboard further enhance the sense of occasion.
It’s the mechanical changes that truly set the Sport Classic apart, though. While the standard 911 Turbo is exclusively equipped with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed PDK automatic gearbox, the Sport Classic is rear-wheel drive and only available with a seven-speed manual transmission. It’s a combination that hasn’t been seen in a Turbo model in nearly three decades, and it makes the Sport Classic the most powerful three-pedal 911 you can buy today.
Review: The Best Porsche 911 for Most People? Try the Carrera T.The performance-focused model cribs some of the GT3’s tricks without the high cost of entry
But that distinction does come with a caveat. Porsche borrowed that seven-speed gearbox from the Carrera lineup, and due to its strength limitations, the 3.7-liter twin turbocharged flat-six mill has been dialed back from the 572 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque that it serves up in the standard Turbo to 543 hp and 442 lb-ft in the Sport Classic.
You’d think that the loss of 29 horsepower and a not-insubstantial 111 lb-ft of torque would be a bummer, but since the Sport Classic ditches the all-wheel drive hardware at the front of the car, it’s nearly 200 pounds lighter than the Turbo, and that actually gives it a slight horsepower-to-weight advantage. This circumstance — along with the fact that the Sport Classic is equipped with Turbo S chassis upgrades like rear-axle steering, adaptive dampers, active anti-roll bars and massive carbon ceramic brakes as-standard — equates to a formidably capable and seriously compelling machine.
Around town, the Sport Classic is as well-behaved as a garden-variety Carrera S. Thanks to its lack of a pronounced front splitter and the included front-axle lift system, the car dispatches speed bumps and steep driveway aprons with relative ease. And due to the amount of weight reduced at the nose of the car, the Sport Classic has also been outfitted with slightly softer spring rates up front, which translates to an admirably civilized ride on L.A.’s pockmarked pavement when the suspension is left in its most relaxed setting.
Like the Carrera T and other 911s that are outfitted with this seven-speed gearbox, the clutch is light yet the engagement point is clearly communicated through the pedal. I wish the shifter felt as mechanically taut as the six-speed units used in the 911 GT3 and Cayman GT4 do, and seventh gear feels largely superfluous even at sustained speeds on American highways. But the greater sense of connection that this manual gearbox brings to the table, even in relatively mundane driving situations, easily outshines any minor shortcomings.
A trek out to the winding roads of the Angeles National Forest northeast of downtown Los Angeles places the Sport Classic in its natural habitat. Here the seven-speed, which has also received some criticism in other 911 models for its notably long gearing, seems ideally suited to the power on tap. Porsche’s official estimate of 3.9 seconds to 60 mph from rest seems notably conversative, as the Sport Classic rockets out of slow corners with stunning urgency thanks to the engine’s ability to reach its peak torque figure at just 2,000 rpm.
The ferocious power is matched by a fantastically balanced chassis and seemingly unending amounts of mechanical grip despite the fact that the Sport Classic’s Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires aren’t as aggressive as the rubber found on some of the more track-oriented 911 models. With less mass up front, the Sport Classic feels encouragingly fleet-footed and eager to change direction, and the massive brakes provide strong, consistent stopping power that’s easy to modulate with precision. It may not set any lap records, but this 911 will definitely entertain both on the street and at the track.
And that really encapsulates the purpose of this car. While other high-end 911s make an impression with staggering performance statistics, the Sport Classic is a love letter to the sensations, aesthetics, and involvement that are often compromised in the pursuit of ever-increasing performance.
At a starting price of $272,300, the Sport Classic is the second most-expensive 911 behind the recently announced S/T. Judged on the surface, some would rightly consider that a tall order for a model that lacks the headline-grabbing figures of similarly priced performance cars.
This car is not for them. The Sport Classic is for the well-heeled Porschephiles who understand that engagement may be difficult to quantify, but its value cannot be overstated. And with that in mind, we have no doubt that every one of the 1,250 examples that Porsche is set to produce will be highly coveted for many years to come.
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