I've been collecting Sheaffers for a while. Even so, I have to admit it took me a long time to discover the Targa. I heard good things about these pens, but they seemed too modern (I've had bad experiences with some other modern Sheaffers), and too undistinguished in their style. Aside from the white dot and the inlaid nib, there wasn't anything else to obviously identify them as Sheaffers. Eventually a couple of experiences prompted me to give them a try.
These were eBay pens. The Targa isn't old enough to be "vintage", but its years of production were from 1976 through 1998. It's been out of manufacture long enough for supplies of NOS (New Old Stock) pens to become spotty, but not old enough for lots of them to be coming in from estate sales as vintage pens so often do. Many of the Targas being sold today were surplus from the closeout of Sheaffer's US plant and warehouse.
Both of the pens I got were of this ilk, without any evidence that they'd ever been inked, but they came without any box or instructions, so I can't comment on those items. The first pen I received was a model 1000: chrome-plated body with a lined pattern, chrome trim, and a steel F nib. It also came with a typical Sheaffer squeeze converter and, interestingly, a matching ballpoint. The ballpoint is small and very slim. The refill was dead due to age, and the internal mechanism needed some fresh lubrication with silicone oil (Crosman Pellgunoil).
The Targa model 1005 fountain pen arrived a few days later: a gold-plated body with the same lined pattern, gold clip, 14K factory oblique nib, and the same type of squeeze converter, again with no evidence of having been inked before.
Appearance & Design (8/10) - sleek and understated
The chrome fountain pen has one tiny defect in the plating, at the cap lip. It may be due to age, or it may have simply been overlooked when the pen was made.
The metal finish is well polished. The caps fit flush with the body, giving the pen a smooth profile. The clip is equally minimalist, a strip of metal with a decorative slot cut down the center. Both ends of the pen contain "jewels", for lack of a better word. These are merely pieces of textured black plastic. The overall shape of the pen is a cylinder, mildly tapered, with a clip attached. It has a minimalist vibe that some may not find eye-catching, but which I would argue falls in the same category with a Parker 51 or a Lamy 2000.
The chrome pen is marked only SHEAFFER USA. The gold one additionally reads: GOLD ELECTROPLATED, plus it has a little crown and another very tiny symbol that I think is supposed to look like a hallmark -- though the logic of hallmarking electroplate escapes me.
Construction & Quality (8/10) - it's solid
Everything fits together smoothly and solidly. I am particularly impressed with the very smooth slide-and-snap when capping these pens. They feel equally smooth when slipping the cap onto the barrel, making this one of the nicest pens to use posted. It posts securely, with good length and balance.
Weight & Dimensions (10/10) - just about perfect
This is where I think the Targa really shines. It has more metal and a bit more heft than the plastic Imperials that preceded it, but not enough to call it a heavy pen. I'll call it mid-weight.
I also find it a very practical size. Capped, it's just about 13.5cm: a bit shorter than a Sheaffer Snorkel and a wee bit thicker. I've often lamented the modern trend towards bigger and fatter pens, but I find the Targa is just about perfect as a practical, portable pen for everyday use. It's not a "compact" pen, but it'll fit into most loops and pouches without any problem.
It's a particularly nice fit in my favorite Mignon two-pen carry pouch. I've struggled to squeeze recent TWSBIs and Auroras and Taccias into that pouch, but the Targas fit as if the pouch was made for them. The pen's smooth shape and polished surface goes in effortlessly, and the "flat top" cap gives me a convenient place to grab and pull the pen back out, which represents a functional improvement over previous Sheaffers. Their caps were kind of slick and hard to get hold of.
Nib & Performance (7/10) - F needed adjustment, oblique is nifty
Both of these pens have Sheaffer's iconic Inlaid Nib™. The firm, fine, steel nib on the chrome pen was dry when I got it. It wasn't fatally dry, it was perfectly usable, but. . . I didn't like it that way. I adjusted it myself to increase the ink flow. After working on it, it's still just a bit on the dry side. I do like a pen slightly dry-ish for everyday carry and use, especially when I don't know what sort of paper I may have to write on. I also must note that this "fine" nib leans bold, and I'd call it practically a fine-medium. It's fairly smooth and a good all-purpose writer.
The oblique nib on the 1005 is 14K gold and is a fairly wide stub with a mildly oblique angle. It produces excellent line variation, but is quite smooth as long as I keep it on the sweet spot. I found it wet with Noodler's Violet Vote, but then I switched to Texas Blue Bonnet which is a typically drier ink and proved just about perfect for this pen. I actually consider this nib a little crisper and a little wider than my ideal stub, but it sure does make a dramatic impression on the page.
Filling System & Maintenance (8/10) - Sheaffer squeeze converter
What is there to say about a C/C pen? Let's keep in mind, the Sheaffer squeeze converter actually holds more ink than your typical generic converter. This pen also accepts the newer Sheaffer piston converters which are high quality and hold nearly as much.
The section has a metal extension that surrounds, protects and secures the ink cartridge, making sure it's properly centered. The inlaid nib also presents a smooth surface that's easy to wipe down after filling. I'm not a big fan of C/C pens, but this is just about as good as the C/C system ever gets.
As far as maintenance goes, almost nothing can go wrong with this pen. The feed isn't hard to flush, the nib isn't delicate, and the converter is easy to replace in the (unlikely) event that it ever fails. Plus, it's all clad in metal! The chrome finish should be particularly resistant to wear.
Cost & Value (7/10) - affordable, but not selling for peanuts
The chrome fountain pen and ballpoint were $92 shipped, and the gold oblique pen was $113.50 plus shipping. These prices seem right about typical for common Targas on eBay. I don't see them going for peanuts the way Snorkels and Imperials so often do. On the other hand, compared with most other modern pens you see in pen catalogs these days, and taking into account the lack of boxes or warranty, the prices are reasonable. It also helps that the filler won't need restoration.
Conclusion (8/10) - you can't go wrong with these
My bias against the Targa is now left far behind. I look for practicality in my pens, and to me that's what the Targa is all about. It's solidly made, easy to carry, easy to care for, and a good writer. I think it's good looking too, even though it doesn't look like other Sheaffers. These will join the small group of pens that I use regularly.
Edited by tonybelding, 21 February 2011 - 02:13.