Our protagonist was born in Stuttgart in 1968. With a meagre 110hp produced by a flat 6, one could make the mistake of calling this a lawnmower, but, weighing in at just 1080kg, this early Porsche 911 is a true weekend toy!
There is something undeniably mystical about these first 911s. In one single harmonious stroke of a pencil, much like the most elegant dresses, it is possible to sketch the entire shape of this car without second thought. Simplicity was key at the tail end of the sixties, and this iconic shape has remained largely unchanged since, with mild adaptations and updates through the generations. I might sound like a broken record how I’m always deep diving into the 911 line, but to me it remains the most beautiful car money can buy. From the top of the roof running all the way to the exhaust pipe, the curves of the 911 have become an icon of the German automotive industry, known by enthusiasts and average Joes the world over.
The reason we were entrusted with this beauty in the first place was to shoot our latest summer collection – at least that’s what we said to our wonderful friends at Porsche Geneva before putting 1000km on the clock… The partnership between Porsche and 8JS is as strong as it’s ever been, and from the feedback we receive from our beloved followers and brand supporters, it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. However, our friends at Porsche could sense the potential for a road trip and prior to leaving they said, and I quote: “you can take the 2 litres, but you are going on an adventure there. Don’t worry, she has Porsche Assistance…”.
With experience at the wheel of classic cars, that’s reassuring to hear. The example we were given left the Porsche factory on May 1st 1968, finding its way to Geneva over 50 years, arriving in 2017 to receive a makeover. There was no need for a complete restoration and following some brief tinkering the car was ready to face the challenge of the Tour de Suisse last year. Black Betty – that's her (unofficial) nickname – drives perfectly, proof that the Stuttgart-based firm all those years ago was able to create a car which could withstand miles and miles of torment, even 53 years later! It’s also thanks to the Porsche Geneva team who treat and care for these classic cars like pieces of art that we are able to enjoy them in all their glory as if brand new.
The reckless spirit of the 911 of the time, almost high on its legs compared to its cousins of today, allows it to drive everywhere with ease. No, you will not feel the acceleration in your stomach with a 2.0L from ‘68, but you will have fun rediscovering the joys of driving; checking the meter, anticipating a breakdown, and saying every fifteen minutes, “you realize anyway… she is 54 years old, she runs perfectly!”
Despite my fears of start-up troubles and untimely breakdowns, this beauty from the past gave us a smooth trip, much to my relief. With only 110hp at its disposal it’s perfectly usable, unlike many cars of today where you’ll never make use of more than a fraction of the power.
Our drive through Provence this February was exquisite, the soft light of the evening sun bathing over the silhouette of the most exquisite of all 911s. Drooling over the Porsche in golden hour, it was easy to forget we had an entire collection of clothes to shoot. Within two days, we managed to visit four different locations, driving to each with a thirst for adventure! The feeling of driving that the ’68 911 provides is incomparable and will certainly not return with cars ofthe future. I think of the roads of yesteryear and those who drove them: to the soundtrack spit out by the car radio, to the extravagant outfits, to the jewelry, to the accessories, to the conversations. Even the idea of having a road map on the knees, stopped at a crossroads, with the small wound of pride after taking a wrong turn. These are the experiences and stories that link us to automobiles and no matter how frustrating they can be in the moment, long may they continue!