The inhabitants of Cerda can hardly believe their eyes when ten rumbling and puffing race cars gather on the dusty road running through their Sicilian village on the morning of May 6, 1906. The ambitious and distinguished drivers have been invited to the island by Vincenzo Florio, a Sicilian wine merchant and automobile enthusiast, to showcase their powerful vehicles. At intervals of ten minutes, they roar up the hill and out of the village. The race is a marathon for cars and drivers alike, consisting of three laps of roughly 92 miles each. After 9 hours and 32 minutes, Alessandro Cagno is the first to cross the finish line in his impressive Itala race car—and the first to ever win the Targa Florio title.
And now 110 years have passed since that historic spring morning. The contest itself has taken place one hundred times on different routes—sometimes the endless, breakneck laps of a hilly circuit, sometimes more than 620 miles around the island. This road race has always been an adventure. It has also been the ultimate challenge for the most determined drivers and the best race cars in the world; its winding segments in the mountains demand agility and lightweight construction, whereas the long stretches along the Mediterranean call for sheer speed. And its winners have made history. Along with Le Mans and the Nürburgring, the Targa Florio was a milestone on Porsche’s journey to international racing fame. It has also been a development lab rich in curves for ever-faster and more nimble mid-engine sports cars.
The Targa Florio mystique is a legend in real life
Even today, the mountain roads of Sicily are not for the faint of heart. Anyone who wants to slice curves and shave seconds here needs an iron resolve—and an uncompromisingly aggressive driving machine. A “Little Bastard,” to echo the great Porsche driver James Dean. So what better car could there be to explore the fabled curves of the Targa Florio than one of the first new Porsche 718 Caymans? After all, this coupe doesn’t just carry the iconic type designation of the 1959, 1960, and 1963 Targa Florio winner on its tail. It also shares a number of other features with that famous car, such as a compact four-cylinder engine as well as extraordinary driving dynamics and stability.