There are so many variations of Porsche’s 911 that, by now, you probably just tune out whenever a “new” one is announced. You probably figure that it’s merely the latest of an established 911 model, like the new GTS or Carrera S or Turbo S—or one of the other models lacking an “S” in their names. The 2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic is the rare new variant, one that offers up a unique assemblage of 911 components you couldn’t otherwise order together. What do we mean? Well, underneath its retrotastic styling, the Sport Classic is essentially a rear-wheel-drive 911 Turbo with a manual transmission.
Contextualizing that requires pointing out that the 911 Turbo, like its more powerful Turbo S sibling, is only available with all-wheel drive. The Turbos similarly aren’t otherwise offered with a manual transmission; they’re only sold with Porsche’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, the PDK. While normal 911 Turbos’ twin-turbo 3.7-liter flat-sixes pack 572 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, the Sport Classic’s 3.7-liter is detuned to 543 hp and 442 lb-ft to play nicer with the manual transmission. Still, those figures make this the most powerful manual-transmission 911 you can buy, surpassing even the 911 GT3 (502 hp).
Forget the Sport Classic treatment for a second, and this 911 is desirable on its oddball specs alone. But of course, there’s more to it than just an unlikely powertrain and body combination. This is the second “Heritage Design” model from Porsche, the first of which was the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition from 2020, and it’s also sort of similar to the 911 Sport Classic Porsche offered in 2010, at least visually.
Anyway, the idea with this ongoing thread of Heritage Design models is to loosely follow notable eras in Porsche’s history; while the Targa 4S-based model was an homage to late ’50s and early ’60s Porschedom, the new Sport Classic aims at the late ’60s and early ’70s, specifically blending together elements of Americana—hence the California dreamin’ vibes of the photos here—and racier Porsche 911 models that began cropping up around that period such as the classic Carrera 2.7 RS