A little about Patrick's & Karen's
1971 911T Sportomatic Porsche
[Nostalgia for a friend left behind in California.]
LOOK - No clutch.
We purchased the car in late 1999 from the original owner in Foster City in the SF Bay Area. For a 28 year old car, it was in excellent condition having been lovingly cared for by its first owner. Since that time the only real change we made was to install a set of Weber Carburetors. As the old carbs needed rebuilding, the significant performance boost may have only been partially due to the Webers.
Other things done to the car were:
This 1971 911T Sportomatic quickly settled in to its role as "Karen's car" now based just north of San Francisco. It would provide reliable city transportation and many delightful outings until a family move necessitated it being sold and left behind in 2006. It just didn't make sense to ship this dear German friend to Brussels, so near to its "birthplace." After all, it had been a California car for well over 30 years, and in California it would remain. Fond memories also remain.
Patrick's 1999 switch from British Sunbeam Alpines to a rather unique German Porsche, started an intense study of this particular clutchless sports car. After discovering very little online information about the Sportomatic, he started a web site devoted to the Sportomatic. The Sportomatic.org was hosted by the Wheeler family for several years. However, after selling the 1971 Sportomatic and moving to Europe, it became time to transfer this web site over to others more currently active with these special cars.
About the Sportomatic:
Sportomatics were produced from 1968 to 1979. In early 1972 there was a change to the 915 transmission to handle the more powerful engines.
The excerpt below from Bruce Anderson's 'Tips on buying a used Porsche: 911' describes the sportomatic and its history in some detail (http://188.8.131.52/pcd/generalinfo/bruce911.htm)
"An interesting addition for the 1968 model year was the semi-automatic Sportomatic transmission. Porsche felt that none of their customers would really want to give up complete control of their transmission so instead of a total automatic they combined a torque converter, an automatic clutch and a four speed transmission. They took their excellent four speed transmission and added a torque converter and a vacuum servo controlled clutch. The torque converter was what could be considered a "loose" one with a stall speed of 2600 rpm The clutch was disengaged by the vacuum servo when it received a signal from the micro switch on the shift linkage, so that when you grabbed the shift lever the clutch would release, you could shift and when you let go of the shift lever the clutch would engage again. With the high stall speed of the torque converter you could be a very lazy driver with one of these transmissions starting out in second gears and shifting directly to fourth when the car came up to speed. Or if you wanted, the car could be driven quite aggressively using all four gears and it would give very little away to the other 911s with their more conventional four or five speed manual transmissions.
911s with these Sportomatic transmissions were a good solution for the people who still wanted a sporty Porsche, but spent quite a bit of their driving time stuck in commute traffic, because you could greatly reduce the amount of shifting necessary with this transmission. Unfortunately for the Porsche customers that liked their Porsche driving sans clutch this transmission was not an idea that really caught on in the U.S.A. and about ten years after its introduction Porsche ceased production of the Sportomatic.
There are still some people that swear by the these transmissions saying that they offered the best of both worlds. It would be very difficult to pin down exactly when Porsche quit building the Sportomatic cars. The newest Sportomatic that I know of in the US is a 1980 911SC that belongs to a friend in the Porsche Club. 1980 was the last year that the Sportomatic transmission was listed as an option, even in Europe. However, I did notice at Le Mans in 1985 that the car that Wolfgang Porsche was driving had a four speed Sportomatic installed. The car was a was a Carrera Turbo-Look Cabriolet with the four-speed Sportomatic transmission, so it had to be either a 1984 or 1985 model. But then that is a very special case, isn't it.
As nice as you may think these transmissions are you should really know what they are before you consider purchasing a 911 that has one. You should also know that they sometimes will effect the value of the cars and very often will make it difficult to make a quick sale of a car equipped with one of these Sportomatic transmissions."
Curent Sportomatic.org web site
kpatrickwheeler's blog on the Sportomatic.org web site (old writings, recent dating)
Porsche Club 911T Registry
An old love - Series V, Sunbeam Alpine - just had to part with it when the Porsche entered the family.
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