It’s a Targa. Porsche Targa.


First off, don’t call it a convertible. Got it? Okay, now we can move on. 

They say life is all about compromises but what if you could have the open-air sensations of the shrieking aria that is a Porsche flat-six, but you didn’t have to worry about the open-air compromises of safety, wind buffeting, or general discomfort. A cabriolet experience, without, well, the cabriolet style top. 

Enter the Porsche Targa, the world’s first and only safety cabriolet and one of the most unique driving experiences anywhere on this planet. Bestowed upon the 911 lineup since 1965, the Targa has become one of the beloved versions of the 911, and for good reason.

We’re going to cover the history of the Porsche 911 Targa to learn more about what makes it one of the most incredibly unique and incredibly desirable vehicles on the planet. 

Targa Florio & 56 Years Of History

In the 1960s, there was a battle raging in the United States between those who wanted to drive performance vehicles with the top down, and the insurance companies and lobby groups who believed these types of vehicles were death traps. Porsche, always one to innovate, sought to solve this unique challenge by developing a vehicle that had the feeling of a full convertible (cabriolet for Europeans) but had a fully integrated roll-over bar built right into the structure of the vehicle. To achieve the Cabriolet effect, the roof above passenger’s heads was able to be removed, along with the rear glass just ahead of the rear-mounted boxer engine. Roll the side windows down and boom, cabriolet. 

Porsche needed a name for this new type of vehicle and after some back-to-forth discussion within the product development and marketing teams, the term Targa was derived from the Targa Florio, a Sicilian road race where Porsche had much success in the 1950s.  Legend has it that the Head of Domestic Sales, Harald Wagner, simply asked why they couldn’t just name the new vehicle “Targa”. They caved and it stuck, and before anyone could question what Targa actually meant, the deed had been done. 

By the way, Targa means “number plate” in Italian. Woops. 

The removable rear window and removable center roof section would remain a fixture of the Targa until 1993. Yes, for 28 years thousands and thousands of Porsche 911 models rolled down the roads of the world with the classic Targa top and it wasn’t until the Type 993 Porsche 911 that everything changed. 

Taking advantage of modern materials, advanced chassis design, and all-new styling, the 993 911 Targa adopted an insulated glass roof that extended from roof frame to roof frame and slid back when used. We take these so-called panoramic-style sunroofs for granted today, but in 1995, this was some seriously cool technology. It had the benefit of a much quieter interior while underway, while also maintaining the tapered rear windows of the classic 911 Targa models. 

The 996 and 997 generations kept the glass roof concept but also added in a unique popping rear window that made it easy to stash bags or other gear in the back. 

In 2011, the 991 Targa model would return to form with the classic roll bar design, further enhanced in the brand new 911 jut released in 2020. Modern 911 models (2014+) utilize an incredibly complicated single-piece roof that miraculously pirouettes of the way when called into action. 

Features Of The Targa

So, what makes a Targa, a Targa? 

In the beginning, the goal was to create a design that allowed drivers to remove the center roof panels, as well as the rear window while leaving a roll bar in place to protect drivers. To accommodate this design, the characteristic rear window of the 911 took on a more tapered look, as well as adding in rear quarter windows just behind the roll bar. This design stuck throughout the years and makes the Targa model instantly recognizable among the rest of the 911 models. 

The decision to engineer a convertible-like experience without the convertible compromises (wind noise, and of course, safety concerns) was a conscious effort to retain the driving experience of the 911 by ensuring the structure was “shake” free. Anyone who’s driven a convertible knows that losing a roof means an immediate loss of handling due to a loss of vehicle structural integrity and the Targa’s integrated roof rail effectively eliminated this problem by adding in structural rigidity. 

Targa top operation on modern 911 models is an absolute engineering dream that needs to be seen to be believed. Check out this video by the one and only Doug DeMuro for a full rundown on how the Targa Top works.

Why driving a Targa is more enjoyable

There’s nothing like the wail of a Porsche flat-six and rolling with a removed roof is quite simply one of the most pleasurable driving experiences on the planet. Experiencing nature’s glory while you bounce a straight-six from the engine masters at Porsche off the rev limiter as you blast through the gears is the motoring experience of a lifetime. 

When it’s time to pack away the fun, all you have to do is hit a button in the center console and the roof will pirouette back into place as if it was never gone to begin with. 

Sound like magic? Well, it is and you have to see it to believe it. 

Ready To Hit The Open Road?

So, are you sold that the Porsche 911 Targa is one of the coolest rides on the planet? 

Just wait until you experience this engineering marvel at a handpicked driving experience with the team at Xtreme Xperience! It’s just you, an open Targa top, and some of the greatest roads across America at your disposal. We give you the opportunity to take this beautiful creation and enjoy it how it was made to be enjoyed.

We’re taking reservations for 2022 right now, so check out our website and book an Xperience today!