GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1976 Porsche 911 Targa Belgian Police Car Film Shoot
In the 1970s, the Belgian gendarmerie had its stable of national police cars bolstered by the likes of BMW’s 2002ti, and later on they counted the Golf GTI and Volvo 240 Turbo among their mechanized ranks, but no cop in the country—or the rest of the world—had ever kept the streets safe with the same pace as provided by the 2.7 RS-powered 911 Targas.
Until 1993, the small batch of 911 Targas that Porsche delivered to the Belgian government in 1976 were the fastest police cars in the world, and today they’re some of the rarest; of the original 20, only three are known to exist today (with one tucked away in a museum), with most of the rest succumbing to the rigors of the job—as the story goes, when the next shift’s officers took over duties in the 911, the car would come into the station and wouldn’t even be shut off in between these personnel changes.
The lucky officers that drove these beautiful workhorses had to pass stringent testing, and Ari Epstein put in two years of his own hard “police work” in order to find this rare specimen. Since cleaning it up and bringing it back to life he’s been sure to drive it often, always obliging the officers who pull the Porsche over so they can take a photo with their retired colleague. For us Americans, this sure beats the allure of an ex-cop Crown Vic on busted shocks with some tired seats and a shotgun holder for novelty.
As Ari says correctly about his decidedly cool Porsche, “This car leaves nobody indifferent.” How can it not, being one of the world’s most recognizable sports cars in the designed-for-your-attention livery of the Belgian police in bright white and eye-searing safety orange—it’s alive in the sunlight, and even when it’s set for the night this thing still emits a glow.
Ari had always fascinated by the Stuttgart automaker’s relationship with police cars, and despite the common trope of a bright red European sports car being on the ticket-paying instead of the ticket-writing side of the law, the history of Porsche’s sporting police vehicles goes back a ways. The first police Porsche was also the first Porsche model—albeit not the very first iteration of it—and after a few 356s were employed as police units, Porsche began a much wider program with the 911. Today, the marque has delivered over 1,000 cars to various national and state police departments around the world. Not massive figures, but still, more than enough to dispel any claims of publicity stunt (though the Porsche marketing department wasn’t likely to complain about working with this news).
Ari had been searching for a few years before he found the car in today’s film, and after obtaining a list of serial numbers of the 20 cars he was cautiously optimistic when he found a Targa for sale with the right digits stamped into its plaques. After double and triple-checking the car’s authenticity he took on the project of deputizing the dusty old Targa once again. The special car had sat in storage for the majority of its life following its retirement “from the force,” and it hadn’t seen much sunlight in its thirty-odd years of stationary existence. It needed some attention, but the essential elements were all there: the rotating blue light, the original sirens, the 210hp motor shared with the legendary Carrera 2.7RS.
He’s since refreshed the car back to its precinct prime, and he loves both the history that lives in the car and the timeless pleasures inherent in driving a well-sorted air-cooled 911. Without the ducktail spoiler, the car takes on a more humble silhouette than some of its siblings but the nice and subtle bodywork is fit for civic duty at high speed. Even the typically more extravagant Targa top option had a practical purpose, chosen as it was for the gendarmerie because it enabled the driving officer’s passenger to stand up and direct traffic more effectively (or to better take control of tire-shooting duties if real life were more like the silver screen).