I will be the first to admit that my initial response to the Sport Classic was less than stellar. Introduced in 2010 at a time when the backdate 911 craze was in full frenzy, I rather casually viewed the Sport Classic press release as a spot of opportune mid-life badge engineering by Porsche. At a price point of £140,000, it was a healthy premium over even a well-specced 997, for what appeared to be simple cosmetic trinkets.
I suspect many others thought the same. We were all wrong. Walking towards the Sport Classic, I begin to realise that, when you see one in the metal, any cynical dismissals of black-centred wheels and that ducktail were a mistake. All 250 Sport Classics are fi nished in this understated shade of ‘Sport Classic grey’. There’s something uniquely retro about the colour, which the design team allegedly saw on a Porsche 356 and fell in love with. Opening the driver’s door, there’s deep brown ‘Espresso’ leather, with retro houndstooth-style panelling. As I climb inside, I can’t help but glance rearwards over the wide wheel arches and beyond to that ducktail rear wing. It shouldn’t really work on a modern 911, yet it looks so right. Closing the aluminium door, the power seat adjusters fall easily to hand. A couple of tweaks of the buttons, then a tug at the steering column adjuster gives me my favourite Porsche seating position, sitting in a beautifully trimmed Recaro with exquisite detailing and more luxurious Espresso natural brown leather.
We have a real ignition key to insert into a lock barrel to start and a mechanical, leathertrimmed handbrake to release. The fi nely stitched Sports steering wheel is thicker than a standard 997 item, the extra diameter of the rim giving a far more tactile experience as we roll carefully off the kerb at a 45-degree angle to avoid catching that low front splitter. Through the town centre traffi c of Chester, the short throw gearshift feels rather stiff for the first mile or so. This Sport Classic hasn’t been used recently, so the fl uids are cold. Clear of the city traffi c, the roads quicken into winding ‘A’ roads. Beside me, Howard, the car’s owner, gives directions to our photo location. With many years of classic Porsche rallying behind him, he can’t help but begin to off er a few notes as the pace builds. “Slight left over crest… this one opens. 90 right, then a big stop for the junction.” That short throw shift, now warmed up, gives a delightful feel to the gears sliding home, the sort of quality gear change that develops a driving rhythm you don’t even think about. This is Howard’s daily commute home.
“Long open left. Just straight across those curves, take the line, it’s fl at. Manhole cover on the inside.” There’s a precision to the Sport Classic steering and initial turn in that is simply superb, while the 20mm ride height reduction and 44mm wider track over its Carrera sister gives a ride that is right on the perfect side of stiff ness, with none of the ‘motorsport’ harshness of the GT3 RS. Tactile. There’s that word again. The enhanced 403bhp, 3.8-litre Powerkitted engine has a smooth and utterly seamless delivery that, matched to the close ratios of the gearshift, gives an involving drive that many 911 drivers might feel was missing in a standard 997. Mindful of the high kerbs on the roadside coupled with the car’s proud owner sitting alongside me, I’m not even using 70 per cent of the car’s ability, or 50 per cent of the stopping ability of those brakes. But I’m enjoying this drive far more than I had anticipated.