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Sheaffer Targa

Sheaffer Targas: 1001 brushed stainless steel c1976 (top),
1005 fluted 23k gold electroplate w/ 14k point c1985 (bottom)

What's a Targa? I don't know; my Italian is limited, and Google just tells me it means "plate." I do, however, know about the famous Targa Florio road race, in which Jet Set international drivers threw expensive and powerful sports cars around on the rugged roads of the island of Sicily between 1906 and 1977. I also know that sports-car maker Porsche created a trend-setting semi-convertible model known as the Targa in honor of Porsche's frequent successes in this race.

Although I'd guess that Fort Madison is about as far as you can get, culturally speaking, from both Palermo and Stuttgart, I imagine that Sheaffer planners decided on this name to evoke a spirit of speed, modernity, and glamorous high fashion. In any case, the Targa (introduced in 1976) quickly became the very popular center of the Sheaffer fine-pen line, and enjoyed good sales in many variations until it was retired in the 1990s

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The Targa was a break with the past for Sheaffer; this was most evident in its relentlessly straight-sided, slightly tapered profile (gone was the influence of the mighty Balance). The Targa was made from a fairly heavy gauge of brass tube with a rather heavily-weighted cap button, and was (in its standard version) much thicker than the Parker 75, so it had a satisfyingly solid feel. Mechanically, it was quite happily unsophisticated but reliable, being a cartridge-converter filler. In fact, the Targa was what I call a "modular" pen, its barrel and clutch cap serving also to house the rollerball version (pencils and ballpoints were also available). On the fountain pen, however, we find the classic inlaid point (its 1950s grace looking somewhat out of place with the 1970s severity of the barrel and cap).

From the start, the Targa was offered in a wide range of finishes. The upper of the two pens above was the entry level 1001 model, sporting a steel point and brushed steel finish; I bought this pen while still in high school and it's the pen I've owned the longest in all my collection. Judging by when I bought it, it must be pretty close to a first-year model.

The lower pen in the picture is a fluted 23k gold electroplate Targa model 1005, with 14k point. It is another old heirloom, given me by my friends on the occasion of my college graduation in 1985. Nor is this the dressiest of the Targas, by any means: Sheaffer cooked up all kinds of lacquers and sculpted or chased designs for this pen, many of which originated from Sheaffer's UK plant. You can see some of the wide variety of these pens in Andy Lambrou's Fountain Pens of the World (Mr. Lambrou seems to be quite the fan of the Targa).

The Targa also later came in a more slender profile, sometimes called the "Lady Targa" or the "Slim Targa."

The Verdict

While I do prize the pens on this page for personal reasons, I will admit to a certain lack of enthusiasm for the Targa. I'd like it better if I had a fetish for jewelry finishes, but my interest is more in the technical side of the pens, and here the Targa seems a bit hum-drum with its basic cartridge/converter filling. Nevertheless, these pens write very smoothly with Sheaffer's traditional rigidity, and they're easy to fill and care for. They're also very well made and quite rugged.

The standard Sheaffer squeeze converter is usually found with these pens; it contains a rubber sac that can petrify over time, and this may well have happened to any Targa that you find in the wild. Fortunately, replacements are readily available from Pendemonium and other sources. If you need a new converter, I'd recommend getting another squeeze converter, rather than the piston-type converters found on later Sheaffers; despite their tendency toward rotting sacs (which can be staved off by keeping the pen flushed out when not in use), I find the squeeze converters to be easier to use and less subject to flow problems.

Maker Sheaffer
Origin USA (also UK and Australia)
Production 1976-c1995
Type Cartridge or converter
Point Steel or 14k inlaid point
Construction Metal barrel and cap in plain, lacquered, or chased finishes.