The auto industry is filled with weird, unique words with origins that aren’t always clear. Some are more obvious than others if you think about them long enough, but sometimes an automaker must educate its fans. Porsche did that, heading to Twitter today to explain why it uses the Targa name on some of its models. Porsche borrowed the name from Targa Florio, a race in Southern Italy where Porsche once competed.
Porsche raced in the Targa Florio in the early 1950s, earning itself some victories there. When Porsche got around to building what would become known as the Targa, which came about in the face of uncertain safety standards, Porsche also considered calling it the 911 Flori. However, the company’s Head of Domestic Sales, Harald Wagner, suggested Porsche name it the Targa.
The word Targa is Italian, meaning number plate or license plate. Porsche allegedly didn’t know about this translation until the copywriters worked on the sales brochure. Porsche applied for a Targa trademark in 1965, and the Targa joined the Porsche 911 lineup in 1966.
Porsche quickly innovated the 911 Targa model, offering a fixed, heated rear safety glass window in 1967. It replaced the fold-down plastic one, and it became a standard feature for the car. The Targa would continue into the 911’s second and third generation before undergoing a massive redesign for the fourth-gen 911 that saw the model’s roll bar disappear from the design and it’d be gone for a while.
The Targa’s roll bar wouldn’t make a return until the seventh-generation 911 that launched in early 2011. Porsche introduced the eight-generation 911 Targa in May 2020, offering the model in 4 and 4S configurations with the integrated roll bar. The entry-level variant pumped out 379 horsepower (282 kilowatts), while the sportier 4S delivered 443 hp (330 kW) when it launched. Both use the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six engine and wear the iconic Targa name. We’re sure the model will continue into the next-generation 911, but maybe the roll bar won’t make the cut.