- Post is under moderationIt was back down to supercar tuning house #Litchfield-Motors for me this month; it needed some professional photography of a brand-new, Guards red #Porsche-911-Carrera-4S-992 that it had been testing for the last few weeks on its dyno. The guys at Litchfield were confident they could make some impressive power gains out of the new 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged flat six engine following successful tweaks to the previous 991.2 3.0 engine. The turbocharged units in today’s modern era of #911 s are making Porsche more tunable than ever, and when it comes to tuning turbocharged cars, Litchfield certainly knows what it’s doing with its state-of the- art MAHA dyno cell. After just a few runs the team were able to safely increase the power from the respectable standard figure of 450ps to a whopping 580ps at the flywheel – I should point out that this is with just a remap tune and no additional modifications! There’s a plan to add more modifications soon, including an Akrapovic exhaust. Iain Litchfield talked about how it would seem the engines in the 992s are heavily detuned, with lots of exciting potential, and another interesting point is that it would appear that the standard 992 Carrera uses largely the same engine as the ’S’ models but detuned further still, meaning a standard 992 Carrera could potentially be tuned to similar figures that they have achieved with the 4S. I’m personally excited to see the results once they’ve got their hands on a base Carrera.
/ #Porsche-911-Carrera-4S-Litchfield-Motors-992 / #Porsche-911-Carrera-992 / #Porsche-911-992 / #Porsche-992 / #Porsche / #Porsche-911
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- Post is under moderationWINNING RECIPE
Paul Davies recounts the story of the first customer turbo race car, the #Porsche-934 . The Porsche 934 blended the RSR Carreras of the early seventies with pressurised induction to cook up the first customer turbocharged racer.
Can you have a fusion automobile as well as fusion cooking? Take a well-proven chassis, and engine, mix with all you’ve learnt about turbocharging from sports car racing in the United States with the 917, and serve up as one of the most successful customer competition cars to come from Porsche. Only 31 examples of the Porsche 934, officially known as the Carrera RSR Turbo (or simply Turbo RSR), were manufactured ready for the 1976 season, but they dominated their category way into the following decade.
There’s always been a Porsche policy of encouraging the customer to go racing, or rallying if comes to it. Competition improves the breed, and it’s often a fast-track means to develop a new model. More importantly, however, was the Stuttgart family ethos that if a customer went racing, successfully, they became a loyal customer. Give the guy the right tools, help him a bit along the way – and he’ll come back time and time again.
Back in the days of the four-cylinder 356, Spyders and the 904, and later with the Carrera 6, it was private entrants around the world who snaffled most of the silverware and helped create the Porsche legend. A goodly number of the 43 Porsche 917s manufactured ended up with driver-owners, or private teams, receiving varying amounts of factory support; both of the 917 Le Mans wins of 1970 and ’71 went to ‘private’ concerns.
There’s also been a further thread running through Porsche’s motor sport involvement, one that continues to the present day. Except at the very top level, the customer competition car should be based upon a production model. Which excludes the 917 and also the most successful of all competition Porsches, the 956/962 of the 1980s, but think of the hordes who raced and rallied the 356 in all its forms and the many #911 variants of the sixties. By the early 1970s they were looking for a new car to run.
The answer came in 1973 with the introduction of the Carrera RS. A total of 1580 of the 2.7-litre (2687cc) #Porsche-911 coupé were manufactured in both lightweight Sport (M471 option) and plush Touring (M472) versions, and a large number ended up in motor sport of one sort or another. After all, straight from the factory it had most of the right bits that in those days made a club, or national status, race or rally winner. It was the flag-waving 911 that got people queuing for the more ‘basic’ 2.4-litre model of the day.
But Porsche knew their production racer would not be quite good enough for the serious private entrant. Of that production run, just 49 cars (preceded by eight prototypes) were selected for extra-special treatment before they left the factory. With a further lightened and wider bodyshell, a capacity increase to 2806cc with twin-plug ignition, the addition of 917 brakes, uprated suspension with coil springs supplementing torsion bars, and a stripped-out interior with a roll cage, the Carrera 2.8 RSR (M491) was the car for the serious customer racer.
The Porsche 911 was considered a special grand touring car, and back in 1973 you had to make 500 in a year to qualify for entry into the Group 4 category. Further modifications could be made as an ‘evolution’ of the original car. In 1973 the Brumos team RSR ran as a prototype with a full 3.0-litre engine at the Daytona 24 Hours and it won; later in the year a similar Martini Racing car was outright winner of the Targa Florio, and took fourth overall at Le Mans.
In fact the 2.8-litre engine was a bit of an oddball. The capacity, achieved by increasing the bore of the production Carrera 2.7 RS unit from 90mm to 92mm, was right on the physical edge, and proving unreliable. At that capacity it was also way short of the 3.0-litre international class limit. The obvious double solution was to move to a full three litres (2993cc) utilising an aluminium (instead of magnesium) crankcase, and the same 95mm bore that would later form the basis of the upcoming 930 Turbo road car.
By 1974 the Carrera 3.0 RS had become a ‘production’ customer race car. A grand total of 109 were produced, of which about half were built as RSR versions to very much the same competition specification as the previous 2.8-litre. In addition 15 special cars (outwardly RS but with 3.0 RSR engines) were supplied to compete in the International Race of Champions (IROC) series in the USA.
Both 1974 and 1975 were years for customer cars. In these two seasons private teams dominated on both sides of the Atlantic, with Peter Gregg winning both the Trans Am and IMSA GT series in the USA two years running, and the Kremer and Loos teams sharing John Fitzpatrick’s European GT Championship.
Whilst customers worldwide were winning with the 3.0 RSR, Porsche was otherwise occupied, particularly with trying to win the East African Safari Rally (they came second) and also working to bring a new customer car to the starting grid. That car would be the Carrera RSR Turbo of 1976, the Porsche Type 934. The ‘93’ number signified the car was based on the production 911 (930) Turbo – first shown in 1973 but not to go on sale until 1975 – and the final digit that it was homologated into Group 4.
Only, the recipe for the new car required a certain amount of tasting before it was ready for the table. Following success racing in the Can-Am series in the USA, Porsche had got the turbo bug big. At the peak of development the twinturbo engine of the 917/30 was giving in excess of 1000bhp, and it was logical the company should apply the same technology to both mainstream production (the 911 Turbo) and competition. The introduction of the (short-lived) BMW 2002 Turbo to the European market was an additional incentive to match their big rivals.
Several prototype 911 Turbo road cars were produced (first with a 2.7-litre engine) and to test the configuration to the limit Porsche built four prototype race cars based on the Carrera 3.0 RSR but with a turbocharger. International regulations demanded pressurised induction engines should have a coefficient of 1.4, so to duck under the three-litre class limit the capacity was 2142cc. Even so, with single KKK blower, mechanical injection, twin plugs per cylinder, and an air-to-air intercooler between the turbo and the plenum chamber, the output was upwards of 500bhp.
The rest of the specification was similar to the Carrera RSR, but with lightweight and wider body, and the addition of a large rear spoiler. The torsion bar suspension was deleted entirely in favour of coil springs at both front and rear. Factory Turbo RSRs raced in Martini colours during 1974 and proved relatively reliable, although they could not match the speed of the Matras and Mirages of the time. Second places at Watkins Glen and Le Mans were the highlights.
At the end of the season, Porsche was happy with these ‘turbo-trials’ and announced it would take a break in 1975 and leave things to the Carrera 3.0 RSR privateers. Meanwhile, they readied the 934.
Whereas the small-capacity Turbo RSR was, and looked, very much an out and out racer, the limits of Group 4 (500 of the base 911 Turbo had to be produced to qualify, but no problem there) demanded the 934 be a degree or two more sober. Visually, the 50mm plastic wheel arch extensions were the giveaway, along with the deeper front apron that held a big central oil cooler and twin water radiators – more on these later.
Structurally the body was very much like the stock 911 Turbo, complete with impact front bumpers. Obviously there was a roll cage (alloy in-period, but not permissible now) and all the usual motor sport essentials. The interior was devoid of passenger seating and carpets, but it was not necessary for Porsche to resort to lightweight panels and thin glass to achieve the category minimum weight of 1120kg. In fact, the electric operation of the driver and passenger door windows was retained!
Running gear generally followed previous RSR models, with the torsion bars retained but coil spring-over damper/strut units added to do most of the work. A major change at the rear was the use of short, cast aluminium, trailing arms pivoting on extended fabricated mounts on the rear crossmember, designed to reduce camber change. Solid bushes (nylon or uni-ball) replaced rubber where possible. The wheels were centre-lock, split-rim, 16in diameter BBS alloys of 10.5ins front and 12.5ins rear widths.
The brakes were what tend to be, when used on the 911 Turbo, referred to as ‘917’ but that is somewhat of an understatement. Yes, they were as developed for Porsche’s Le Mans winner of 1970 and 1971, but the vented and crossdrilled discs of the 934 were 304mm diameter at the front and 309mm at the rear, and the alloy four-piston calipers heavily finned to improve cooling and extra-wide to allow endurance pads that were some 25mm thick. There was also a balance bar to allow adjustment of braking distribution front to rear.
The engine was (as it had to be) based on the 911 Turbo, and the famed #Porsche-930 aluminium crankcase that would remain in use in competition Porsches in one form or another right through to the Carrera GT3 RS of 2012. Unlike the Turbo RSR prototype of 1974, the capacity stayed at 2993cc, meaning that when the FIA co-efficient of 1.4 was applied the turbo engine had a calculated swept volume of 4190cc.
In detail the engine was in fact a fusion (again!) of the previous 3.0 RSR, the production 911 Turbo, and the small capacity unit of the RSR Turbo. The cooling fan was horizontal and centrally placed on top of the engine, driven by a belt and shaft just like later versions of the earlier race car – if you see what I mean. Valve sizes (two per combustion chamber) were the same as the naturallyaspirated RSR, but the porting was enlarged. There was one plug per chamber, as the road car, whilst compression was a lowly 6.5:1 to allow for the considerable ratio hike with pressurised induction.
The innovation for the customer racer was the addition of the single exhaust-driven #KKK compressor. Like the 2.14-litre RSR, this was mounted centrally low within the rear body panel – unlike the 911 Turbo which had its turbo unit positioned bottom-left. The other new move was the introduction of water to cool the air between the turbo and the inlet manifold. With the earlier racer Porsche had demonstrated that passing the forced air through an intercooler before it mixed with fuel in the inlet greatly increased horsepower. With the new car the company sought the most efficient means.
The intercooler of the RSR Turbo was a simple air-to-air radiator positioned above the engine in the rear bodywork, but for the 934 Porsche mounted two small radiators within the front bumper corners (where you’d find the oil cooler on most production 911) and circulated water, by means of a pump driven by belt off the front of the right-hand camshaft, from them to a pair of alloy intercoolers positioned above each cylinder bank. The system proved effective, and the extra weight was lost within the generous minimum weight inflicted by the regulations – just like the electric windows.
In a further nod towards the production 911 Turbo on which the 934 was based, Porsche fitted Bosch K-Jetronic injection and not the purely mechanical system used on previous racing engines. The transmission was an uprated version of the four-speed Type 915 gearbox of the 911 Turbo, with the addition of a small oil cooler mounted in the rear spoiler.
The result of all this was a tough and powerful race car (albeit, by all accounts, somewhat of a handful to drive on account of massive turbo-lag) that looked little different from the 911 Turbo sitting in the showroom. Early race engines developed 485bhp, but this soon grew to in excess of 500bhp.
The 934 ruled Group 4 from 1976 until the early 1980s. In the USA major teams such as Brumos, Vasek Polak and Dick Barbour dominated with drivers of the calibre of Al Holbert, Hurley Haywood, George Follmer and Peter Gregg. In Europe it was Kremer, Max Moritz and Loos, with Bob Wollek, Tim Schenken, Rolf Stommelen and Toine Hezemens who continually took honours. Go to the excellent Racing Sports Cars site (see contacts) for a most comprehensive list! In the USA, the IMSA organisation announced it would not allow turbochargers in its Camel GT series, so Vasek Polak took his cars to the rival SCCA’s Trans-Am competition. Follmer won this in 1976 and Haywood was runner up. Then IMSA did a mind-change and allowed the cars to run in Camel GT. Porsche responded by producing an extra 10 cars – popularly known as 934.5 – with wider rear bodywork for 15in-wide wheels and an enlarged rear wing for 1977, but IMSA banned it before the first race!
Back in the Trans Am series (this is complicated) the 943.5 won six out of eight races, but failed to take the title because of a protest from a (regular) 934 driver! Actually that’s not the end of things. As in all things Porsche there has to be a footnote. The Carrera RSR Turbo was a Group 4 car, and so to compete in Group 5 with a chance of outright victory on major events #Porsche produced the #Porsche-935 , which by #1979 was to win Le Mans outright. However, that’s another recipe for later.
The 934.5 was built to give Porsche the advantage in the USA, being a Group 4 934 with big rear wing and larger rear wheels. Peter Gregg is seen here at Watkins Glen, 1977.
2.1-litre Turbo RSR was built to test the concept of the pressurised 911 racer, and run in Martini colours in 1974. Here is Gjis van Lennep at the Nürburgring The turbo 934 was, in effect, a development of the normally-aspirated 3.0 Carrera RSR which won the 1973 Targa Florio (below).
Prill Porsche Classics:
Racing Sports Cars:
Jens Torner: Porsche
Nick Faure: Le Mans driver
PORSCHE 934 CARRERA RSR TURBO CHASSIS NUMBER 930 670 0153
Our featured car was the 17th of the run of 31 #Porsche-934 s manufactured early in 1976, and sold to Belgian driver and team owner Jean Blaton – who raced under the pseudonym ‘Beurlys’. After race preparation by Kremer (including a repaint from yellow to white) it was delivered to the Le Mans 24 Hours to be driven by Nick Faure (GB), John Goss (AUS) and ‘Beurlys’.The car was retired due to a number of turbo failures, but restarted to finish the race, although it was officially ‘not classified’. Turbo technology was new, and it is likely the drivers were unaware the engine had to be idled to reduce turbo temperature whenever it came into the pits.
After Le Mans, Blaton sold the car to Jean-Pierre Gabon and it contested the following two Le Mans but failed to finish on either occasion. Results included wins in the 1978 Grand Prix of Zolder and the Spa 600kms (Willy Braillard). The car was sold in 1982 to the Vermuelen brothers, who subsequently sold it to long-time owner Walter Pauwels. It was repainted to its original yellow prior to sale by auctioneers Coys in 2014 and is now in the custody of specialist Andy Prill for the new owner.
“The innovation for the customer race car was the addition of a single KKK compressor…”
The KKK turbo is mounted low and central behind the rear bumper panel, oil catch tank is to the right. The engine had to be idled for one minute before switch off to stop the bearings overheating.
Rear suspension has coilover damper on screw platform and torsion bar with adjustable spring plate. Adjustable anti-roll bar uses uni-ball joint and nylon bushing.
A small gearbox oil cooler is fixed behind the grille in the rear spoiler. Engine oil and twin intercooler water coolers are mounted within the front bumper.
Horizontal cooling fan (as 917 and Turbo RSR of 1974) is more efficient than stock 930 Turbo vertical configuration. Small tank (top RH) is header for turbo intercooler water. Watercooled alloy intercooler is mounted above each cylinder bank and helped to reduce induction temperature from 150 deg C to 50 deg C.
Turbo wastegate hides lower left. Normal boost pressure was 1.3 bar (18.5psi) which gave 485bhp, but greater pressure could deliver figures up to 580bhp.
NICK FAURE REMEMBERS HIS 1976 LE MANS WITH ‘0153’:
‘It was brand-new from the factory when the Belgian team turned up with it at the #1976 Le Mans. These cars were a completely unknown quantity on the track and it was early development days for turbos in racing. The car arrived at the race in bare white from Kremer and I painted on the team colours in the pits.
We had to race the car in production weight with electric windows and a lead weight bolted to the passenger floor. Crazy! What neither Porsche, or Kremer, realised at the time was that when the car came into the pits the turbo was still turning at colossal speed and without being allowed to cool down it blew apart.
When it got to changing the fifth new turbo during the race, Jean said that he’d had enough. So he parked it up until the final laps and then just drove it slowly to the finish to complete the race, albeit many laps down.
In the middle of the night when we were changing something like the third turbo a ‘tired and emotional’ Duncan Hamilton turned up in our pit with his Aussie friend Jumbo Goddard, offering his advice. He explained that Jumbo had a turbocharged XK120 so he might be able to give us some help!
Of course in those early days it was a single large turbo with huge lag, but at La Sarthe that did not matter so much as it was a very flowing circuit with only two slow corners at Mulsanne and Arnage. I was offered the car for £10,000 after the race but sadly that was more money than I could have raised.’ Nick Faure.
Well braced front compartment includes a 120-litre fuel tank and a 22-litre oil tank, both with fillers accessed through flaps in the lid.
Bilstein front strut has coil spring, but Group 4 regulations demand stock torsion bar is retained. The brakes are 917 ‘endurance’ specification, with superthick pads.
Standard wheel fitment for the Group 4 car was the split-rim #BBS alloy with centre-lock fastening. Note the rear wheels have the tyres bolted to the rims to prevent movement.
The 934 proved to be a popular – and successful – entrant in sports car racing long after its intended lifespan. How many can you count in this photo!
“Structurally, the body was very much like the stock #Porsche-911-Turbo-930 , complete with impact bumpers…”
CARRERA RS/RSR ENGINE DEVELOPMENT
Engine Bore/Stroke Capacity Induction Power (bhp) Torque (lb ft)
The #Porsche-934-2.7-RS 90mm x 70.4mm 2687cc Mechanical inj 210 @ 6300rpm 188 @ 5100rpm
The #Porsche-934-2.8-RSR * 92mm x 70.4mm 2806cc Mechanical inj 300 @ 8000rpm 217 @ 6500rpm
The #Porsche-934-3.0-RS 95mm x 70.4mm 2993cc Mechanical inj 230 @ 6200rpm 202 @ 5000rpm
The #Porsche-934-3.0-RSR * 95mm x 70.4mm 2993cc #Bosch Mechanical inj 330 @ 8000rpm 230 @ 6500rpm
The #Porsche-934-Turbo-RSR * 83mm x 66.0mm 2142cc Turbo/mech inj 480 @ 7600rpm 340 @ 5400rpm
The #Porsche-934-Carrera-RSR 95mm x 70.4mm 2993cc Turbo/ #Bosch-Jetronic inj 500 @ 7000rpm 430 @ 5400rpm
(* twin spark ignition)
RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
The two works 911s entered for the #1978 East African Safari Rally were billed as SCs and presented in red, white and blue Martini colours. The car (14) crewed by locals Vic Preston Jnr and John Lyall finished 2nd overall, with Bjorn Waldegård and Hans Thorszelius (5) placing 4th. Painted in white and red Esso Eminence livery, the Alméras SC saw action at international level in the #1982 Tour de Corse, while the Prodrive cars emerged as Rothmans SCRSs for Henry Toivonen to take five wins in the #1984 European Rally Championship.
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- Post is under moderationNEW DIRECTION PORSCHE 911 996 DESIGN HISTORY
The New Generation is how Porsche referred to the two entirely new models that would be the hoped-for saviours of a company which had witnessed some lean years. We look at the development of one of those models, the #Porsche-996 … Words: Keith Seume. Photos: Porsche Archiv.
We hated that drip rail so much! We tried so hard to get rid of that!’ Those were the words of Pinky Lai, the Hong Kong-born stylist responsible for the smooth looks of the 996-series 911, in a reference to the old gutters (drip rails) that were a feature of earlier 911s, and of virtually every car designed in the 1950s and ’60s.
Of course, getting rid of these archaic details wasn’t the prime reason for giving the 911 such a comprehensive overhaul. The main reason was that the car was starting to look old – and the company had been in financial trouble for some while. In styling terms, the first radical redesign of the 911 had been its transformation from the plastic-panelled 964 – itself little more than a waistline down revision of the original 1963 design – to the more sensual 993. Suddenly the #Porsche-911 was beginning to look a little more up to date.
Jointly, the 964 and 993 had represented considerable mechanical updates compared to the original air-cooled, torsionbar suspended 911, the roots of which could be traced back to the late 1950s. Coil-spring suspension, with subframes to isolate the body from the running gear, along with technical delights such as power steering and four-wheel drive, meant that the last of the air-cooled 911s were a far cry from the originals, arguably better in dynamic terms, if not to everyone’s taste with regard to styling.
Porsche had made a loss – no, make that ‘considerable losses’ – back in the early 1990s, and boss Wendelin Wiedeking knew there was only one option available: Porsche had to spend its way out of the financial hole if it was to survive.
Referred to as ‘The New Generation’, two new models were proposed, one being the mid-engined Boxster, the other a new 911 – the 996. The ‘New’ of ‘New Generation’ was as much a reference to the way the cars were to be manufactured as to any aspects of their design.
They were the first cars built by Porsche to share major components – and the first ‘world’ cars, where there would be relatively few variations in specification between models offered for sale in different export markets. The first modern Porsches, in fact. Wiedeking persuaded the board to set aside the sum of DM1.5million for the development of the new models, with half – DM750,000 – allocated to each project. In 1994, when the decision was made to proceed, this called for a massive injection of cash into the company’s ailing finances.
Porsche’s management had already recognised the need for investment, following the lacklustre sales of the 964. But then the 993, which had been produced on something of a tight budget – it was, arguably, little more than a new body over old mechanicals – had turned out to be a big seller. This came as a surprise to the board, some members of which had been expecting the worst.
The success of the 993 was almost the undoing of plans for the New Generation. Nobody expected it to sell well, so every effort was put behind creating a new car to drag the 911 into the rapidly-approaching 21st Century. Had the board had an inkling that the 993 would sell as well as it did, they might not have been so keen to invest so much money into coming up with a suitable replacement!
Wendelin Wiedeking and Porsche’s chief financial officer, Walter Gnauert, had successfully argued the need to release funds, pointing out that, despite falling sales, the company was still asset-rich, and had plenty of money tucked away for a rainy day. Plans were drawn up to slim down the workforce and, ultimately, to reduce the product range to just two cars, which shared 36 per cent of their components. But in the meantime, the 968 and 928 would continue in production until declining sales suggested it was time to pull the plug.
We can thank the research and development department’s Horst Marchart for pushing forward the idea of the two-car line-up. While others favoured the idea of concentrating on one new model – the Boxster – Marchart was a keen backer of the two-car New Generation. But it had to be cost-effective in every way. That meant looking at sharing as many components as possible, including the front bodywork and underside, doors and other components. The challenge would be to give the two cars their own separate identity.
Ulrich Bez, as head of research and development, turned to senior designer Harm Lagaay to work on the new projects, Lagaay having returned to Porsche and being largely responsible for the 968 and 993. Hong Kong-born Pinky Lai had also been invited by Bez to join the design team (known as ‘Porsche Styling’) as studio chief under Lagaay, having previously worked at BMW (as had his boss). The two had joined Porsche in January 1989 at the start of what was to be a critical era in the company’s history.
Although it was clear the #Porsche #911 needed to be updated – and not only by the loss of the drip rails and the sharing of components with the Boxster – it was vital that the ‘DNA’ should be clear for all to see.
Lagaay is quoted by Karl Ludvigsen in his masterwork Excellence was expected as saying of some designers that ‘(they) just cannot do a Porsche. Simplicity has always been a Porsche trait. Proportions and graphics are important, but above all it’s the Formsprache (‘form language’). It’s the sheetmetal being shaped in such a way that you cannot compare it with anything else.’ In other words, it was imperative that a new Porsche had to look like a Porsche.
There was much discussion about how to achieve a coherent family style with the two new models. In theory, if they could be made to share the same front-end sheetmetal, they would at least look like members of the same family in the rear view mirror. Whether they would be recognised as a member of the Porsche family was another challenge…
One of the most significant features of the new look also proved to be by far the most contoversial: the so-called ‘fried egg’ headlights. Loved or hated – there was no middle ground – the new light units chosen for the Boxster and 996 were likened to a frying egg, the yoke of which had run to the edge of the pan. It wasn’t a particularly flattering comparison…
From Lai’s point of view, the project was a designer’s dream challenge come true. The new 911 had to look like a 911 – had to look like a Porsche! – had to look good, and had to be fresh and different.
The 993 had a distinctive slotted nose, a feature carried over to the #996 and used to accommodate two radiators at the front of the car – the new models being watercooled. Lagaay felt that the design, with two intakes either side of a central number plate, was now recognised as being a ‘symbol for Porsche’. Both the Boxster and the 996 displayed an overall ‘corporate’ look, but detailed differences helped identify them as two separate models.
The design process was not simply a case of a couple of stylists being given a sheet of paper and a pen, and then told to go away and design a new 911. There was an element of competition about it, with four teams within the design department given the opportunity to prove their worth.
Each team was asked to lay out their designs as full-sized tape ‘drawings’ on a blank wall, as well as showing a range of sketches to demonstrate how they had reached their decision. Pinky Lai recalls being stressed as each team tried to outdo the other, but there was a happy twist to his tale, as Ludvigsen once again recounts.
In addition to the drawings, the teams were tasked with creating a full-sized clay model of their proposed design. This called to the services of the highly-skilled in house modellers, among who was an Eberhard Brose. Brose was legendary among the designers, having been part of the team responsible for finalising the shape of the original 901 (911) prototypes.
After looking at the various design ideas on show, Brose turned to Pinky Lai and casually said, ‘Pinky, I’m going to do yours’. Lai recalls that ‘When he picked mine, I knew I had a winner.’
Lai’s design was chosen as the best of all the submissions, having succeeded in retaining the original 911’s character yet bringing it firmly up to date. Gone was the need for widened rear wings – the new, more subtly-curved bodywork could accommodate wider rims than before – but the 911’s trademark ‘boomerang’ rear quarter window profile remained, albeit tweaked to give a more modern feel.
The windscreen was raked back to an angle of 60 degrees, compared to the original’s 55 degrees, while the higher tail and sleeker roofline helped make the car more aerodynamically efficient. Door mirrors were relocated, too, now being mounted in the front corner of the door windows as opposed to the door top itself. The raised tail helped in three ways.
First it added a ‘power bustle’ to the profile, emphasising the rear engine location and hinting at the car’s performance potential. It also helped airflow over the rear of the car, and finally it provided more space for the bulkier new engines.
As a carry over from the days of the 964, the engine lid featured a combined intake grille and spoiler that would raise automatically at speed.
Harm Lagaay is quoted as saying the 996 looked more ‘relaxed’ than the rather more aggressively-styled earlier cars. ‘With the 993,’ he said, ‘we had exhausted the visual possibilities. I wanted the new car (the 996) to look more relaxed, and I think we achieved that.’
Amusingly in hindsight, he likened the two cars to the two famous American sprinters of the time: ‘The old 911 is like the athlete Ben Johnson, packed with muscle and aggression. The new 911 is like Carl Lewis, still powerful but with a slimmer figure, more elegant and much more perfectly proportioned.’
Clearly Lagaay was impressed with Lai’s design, going on to say ‘If it doesn’t stir anything inside you, inspire you, then it isn’t a Porsche…’
Lai’s design wasn’t all about sleek looks, though – it was also very efficient, with a drag coefficient of just 0.30. Whereas in its early days the original 911 had been plagued with problems of rear lift at speed, the new design had a lift factor of seven per cent at the front and just three per cent at the rear. Testing showed that, at 170mph, the overall lift was just six per cent, an extremely low figure.
Such efficiency was achieved by a number of small but significant details. Early wind tunnel tests showed that drag over the rear bodywork was high, calling for changes to be made that wouldn’t adversely affect rear lift. Underbody cladding helped greatly here, as did a small lip that reduced air pressure in the engine bay, also aiding airflow through fans which helped cool the engine compartment.
Porsche examined the possibility of using aluminium to build the 996’s basic body structure, with plastic panels used for the front and rear ‘bumpers’. This technque had been used by Honda on the NSX, but Porsche was unimpressed with the way the Japanese company had used the material. Whereas in more recent times cars with an aluminium substructure, such as Audi’s A2 and A8, treated the lightweight material in a different way to steel (smaller complex pressings welded together to make a light but rigid structure), Honda preferred more traditional techniques, similar to those used to press steel body panels.
This technique left Porsche’s engineers unimpressed, but it was also clear that the process used by Audi was simply not cost effective – indeed, it is still claimed that Audi lost money on every A8 sold, while repair costs were (and still are) so high that many cars would be written off after suffering relatively little damage. Neither problem appealed to the bean counters. In the end, zinc-plated steel body panels were decided upon, these being stamped out by BMW – this was truly a time of cooperation between rival companies, all of whom had been through lean times in the early 1990s.
Modern manufacturing techniques, such as using laser welding equipment, led to a reduction in the time necessary to complete a body ready for paint. In fact, according to Ludvigsen, the 996 body took 20 per cent less time to make than that of its predecessor, the 993.
This wasn’t the only major improvement over the old model. The 996’s bodyshell was some 30 per cent more torsionally rigid than that of the 993, with bonded-in glazing, front and rear, accounting for 21 per cent of that increase.
The torsional rigidity helped the 996 to be one of the safest cars in its day. ‘Our goal was to build the world’s safest highperformance car,’ said Horst Marchart, ‘and all our tests show we’ve done that.’ Whereas the old 911, with body engineering dating back to the early 1960s, was never a car in which you’d expect to have a major accident and walk away unhurt, the 996 was a very different proposition. Increased public awareness of vehicle safety meant that Porsche, like all other manufacturers, was keen to promote this aspect of its product design.
The latest computer modelling – FEM, or Finite-Element Modelling – was used to demonstrate on-screen how strong the 996 was. This system, which referenced no fewer than 180,000 separate analysis points, allowed engineers to look at the bodyshell in a way that their predecessors could only have dreamed.
FEM allowed them to simulate crashes from all angles, reducing the amount of time and expense associated with the destruction of prototypes at a preproduction stage. Project leader Bernd Kahnau is quoted as saying that his team ‘put a lot of effort into designing a new car that would meet all anticipated crash safety requirements. It was a fantastic effort!’ Porsche’s engineers would spend literally hours – as many as 40 or more per computer session – assessing the damage inflicted on a 996 bodyshell, primarily in frontal impacts. Only when they were happy would a ‘real’ crash test be performed on a prototype.
It was the responsibility of Bernd Kahnau, as project leader for the 996, to see that the new car had sufficient customer appeal to be a success. After all, the 911 family had been the flag wavers for Porsche since 1964. With two new cars being marketed alongside each other, it was important that customers be able to differentiate between them.
To this end, the decision was made to market the Boxster as a more youthful product, the emphasis being on ‘hedonism’ rather than the ‘success’ and ‘evolution’ of the 996 – references to the 911’s long bloodline and competition history. However, the sharing of components and, to a certain degree, styling inevitably meant there was a cross-over between the two models. It was potentially a challenging situation, the task of the sales and advertising people being to separate the products and sell them into two different markets.
As has been mentioned previously, there was more component sharing here than at any other point in Porsche’s past, unless you compare the six-cylinder 911 and its four-cylinder sibling, the 912, in the 1960s. This was different, though, as the Boxster was an entirely new concept, rather than a ‘less expensive’ 911, its mid-engine layout clearly defining it as a stand-alone model. The front suspension was shared between the 996 and the 986 Boxster, consisting of a MacPherson strut design with aluminium lower links, on an aluminium subframe.
At the rear, the 996 featured a far simpler layout than the suspension assembly of the 993. The old car had required a substantial aluminium subframe to carry the suspension components, but the greater torsional rigidity of the 996 body allowed the engineers to do away with the 993’s subframe in favour of a less complex design with just one main crossmember. Mounted on four rubber bushes to the bodyshell, the new set-up was both lighter and cheaper to manufacture.
Of course, there was one other major component shared by the two ‘New Generation’ Porsches: the engine. Both models were now water-cooled, largely to satisfy noise and emission regulations, but the Boxster was equipped with a 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine, the 996 a larger 3.4- litre version. This in itself is a subject worthy of an archive feature in its own right, so we’ll leave the development history of the latterly much-maligned M96 engine to a future issue.
For Porsche, the launch of the New Generation was a very big deal. On these two models rested the fortunes of a company which had seen many highs and lows over the previous decade. So what did the media think of the new 996?
Damned as a ‘bastard son of the Boxster and the 928’ by one critic, the 996’s styling came in for a lot of comment. But the influential Auto Motor und Sport probably summed it up best of all, tipping its hat to the efforts of the stylists, Harm Lagaay and Pinky Lai: ‘That the traditionalists sulked a little was only to be expected. The bigger overall dimensions, the nose from the Boxster, with the oddly-shaped headlamps, the lack of muscular bulges on each rear flank, even the loss of the drip rails – all must evoke sadness in a fan of the old 911. But next to the new 911, the old one looks like a relic from days gone by.’
Time has been cruel to the 996, with its engine problems and criticism of its lack of character, but it was a success for Porsche in marketing terms. It also, along with the Boxster, helped the company keep its head above water…
The 993 Targa had been seen as a controversial design by many but a triumph as far as the stylists were concerned. The same sliding roof concept was considered at an early stage for the 996, too, as demonstrated here in this 1996 sketch.
Crash testing took place only after considerable time had been spent acting out various scenarios on computers. But once the design had passed with flying colours, it was time to hit the road – much of the long-distance testing was carried out in North America, while Weissach’s wind tunnel honed the final details (GT2 pictured).
It’s probably true to say that no other Porsche before had undergone such rigorous preproduction testing as the 996. On the far left a Carrera undergoes wetweather testing, while left and centre, 996 GT2 and Turbo undergo suspension and wind-tunnel evaluation.
The 996’s bodyshell was some 30 per cent more torsionally rigid than that of the 993…
At first glance you might guess this was a 993 Carrera 4S, but in fact it’s the original test mule with all the underpinnings of the soon to be released 996. Bonnet pins, roll cage and small bulge in the bonnet hint at something out of the ordinary…
Under Wendelin Wiedeking (centre) several different projects were investigated, including a stretched four-door cousin to the 911. For the first time, computer modelling played a major part in a design process that led to the creation of the new Porsche 996.
With the 993, we had exhausted the visual possibilities. I wanted the new “car to look more relaxed…
Pinky Lai lays out a full-sized tape drawing of his new design. His idea came out on top at an early stage, but he found the whole process ‘stressful’.
Narrow rear to the glasshouse on this 1994/5 drawing resembles that of the much later Cayman. Sensuous curves reflected a desire to make the 996 look more modern than its predecessors, including the 993, which had itself been regarded as a major departure from the established 911 shape.
Left front is Harm Lagaay, with back to camera, while behind him is Pinky Lai – studying the painted clay model in daylight for the first time.
Pinky Lai (in the background, with glasses) watches over the creation of the clay model of his design in. By this stage, the overall style had been established – now it was time to concentrate on the details, such as the controversial ‘friedegg’ headlights.
The go-ahead was given to the new project in 1994 and within a few months, all kinds of ideas were being kicked around by Harm Lagaay and Pinky Lai, as this range of sketches proves.
Crude 1995 design sketch (above) demonstrates the stylists’ desire to give the 911 a fresh, modern look. Pinky Lai’s solution was more sensuous than earlier models, but hopefully it was still recognisably a Porsche 911.
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When 911&PW launched in 1990, the lead story in the news pages was the impending arrival of the 964 Turbo, the pinnacle of the 911 range. In order to assess the passage of 25 years of 911 development, we pitched the 964 Turbo against the current 991 Turbo. You can’t stop the 911 and you can’t stop progress.
Porsche 911 & PW 25th Anniversary Happy Birthday to us! 25-years ago the 964 Turbo was the top dog. We pitch it against the current 991. What better way to illustrate 25-years of #Porsche progress, and 25-years of 911&PW, than by pitching the two top dog 911s of their respective eras. Enter the 964 Turbo and the 991 Turbo for an evolutionary, time travelling showdown.
“The past is a foreign country – they do things differently there.” An overused quote (the opening line of LP Hartley’s #1953 novel, The Go Between), but overused for a reason, that being its eloquence and descriptive power. Does any other line sum up the power of progress quite as well? I don’t think so.
In these days of rapid and rampant progress, subtracting 25-years from 2015 to arrive at 1990 appears to be just a short hop back in time, but truly it was a different time. Imagine going back there now? When 911 & Porsche World launched in April 1990, as a finger in the air exercise of publishing, the only way to gauge whether there would be an audience for the title was by simply doing it and putting it on the shelves of WHSmith and a few specialist Porsche dealers.
The brief was simple: To cover all things Porsche and to represent the interest and passion of all things Porsche for owners and enthusiasts. In a world devoid of any form of digital media and communication, that is how things worked. Paper, words and pictures. Copy was typed, pictures were committed to film, pages were stuck together with glue. Typesetters and compositers turned it into reality. What we can do now in seconds, used to take days. 1990 might have seemed all very modern and exciting, but if time travel were possible, anyone from the ’60s would have been able to adapt very quickly indeed. Hell, plenty of cars still had carburettors and points!
Inevitably 25-years of 911&PW, for its eclecticism, also reads like a Porsche timeline from its launch to now. We’ve followed the fortunes of the marque from near bust to a sonic fiscal boom and back again. We’ve followed each new model and have chronicled five generations of 911 from the 964 to the 991, or exactly 25-years of the 911’s timeline. No, the 911 isn’t the be all and end all of the magazine, but its constant presence creates an essential point of reference, just as it does for Porsche the company. No other sports car has been developed to the same degree as the 911, with each generation exploiting the technology of the time. For the first 25-years progress was pretty sedate, but the following 25-years, the 25-years that this magazine has been around, like the rest of the technological world, it’s been rapid indeed, thanks largely to a digital revolution that has left no part of life untouched.
So how best to illustrate this in our own little world? Well, if the 911 is the constant by which the magazine is measured, then why not gather the ultimate 911 of 1990 and wind up the KKK turbo for a bit of time travel and propel into its own future to meet its 2015 future self. Sure there’s a void in between, but all the better to accentuate the massive progress of the past 25-years. We’re going to make one giant leap, rather than a number of incremental steps. Hold on!
Fittingly, the ultimate 911 of 1990 was announced in the news pages of the very first issue of 911&PW. “911 Turbo for the nineties,” was how we introduced the 964 Turbo. Following hot on the heels of the normally aspirated #Porsche-964-C2 and C4, the Turbo featured the same aero front and rear bumper treatment and side skirts, plus 959-style five spoke ‘Cup’ wheels, that temporarily seemed so modern compared with the Fuchs of old. And big too. At 17 inches, they seemed huge. Aero wing mirrors were another improvement, but ultimately there was a feeling that the 964 Turbo wasn’t much of a leap forward over the 930 Turbo and it stuck with the 2WD drive layout, despite the 964 range being launched with a flagship 4WD version. Put it this way, there wasn’t much sense of this containing a great deal in the way of trickle down technology from the 959, which was kind of surprising looking back now, or even then, but we’ll come to that.
Whereas the normally aspirated 964 got what were essentially all new 3.6-litre engines, with twin plug heads, the Turbo rather made do with the 930 Turbo’s 3.3- litre engine and an extra 20bhp, bringing it up to a not inconsiderable 320bhp, thanks to its larger #KKK turbo, larger intercooler, #Bosch-K-Jetronic injection and revised air intake system. Like its 964 siblings, the Turbo also got coil spring suspension all round, with MacPherson struts at the front with aluminium transverse links and semitrailing arms at the rear.
The modernising front and rear bumper treatment deserves more than just a throwaway reference. Without having to do much to the main body shell, Porsche used the front and rear aprons to dramatic aerodynamic effect, but unlike the normally aspirated C2 and C4, the Turbo didn’t get the retractable rear spoiler, but remained faithful to the Turbo defining ‘tea tray’ lid, which rather accentuated its connection with the 930, rather than the rest of the 964 range.
There was, then, a feeling that the 964 Turbo was something of an afterthought compared with the base 964s, which were clearly a leap forward from the G-Series cars that they replaced in terms of sophistication and modernity. But that was then and this is now and 25-years into the future the 964 Turbo has rather come of age. After years in the doldrums it has been reinvented as the last of the old school, rear drive only 911 Turbos, and as such it commands a price above the 930 Turbo. And of course because it’s an air-cooled 911, that price is not inconsiderable.
Above all the 964 Turbo is a product of its time and was constrained by the engineering solutions of the day. It is very much ‘mechanical.’ Much as computers had little to do with the day-to-day production of 911&PW, they had very little to do with the development of the 964, and nor did the 964 have much in the way of on board computing power. Take out the Bosch ECU and you’ll find a few RAM chips to control the fuelling and ignition, with about as much operating power as a 2015 cordless phone. There is also what Porsche optimistically describe as an ‘onboard computer,’ which features an LED screen in the bottom centre of the rev counter, which gives basic distance travelled info, outside temp and boost pressure. There is an equivalent in the 991 Turbo, which will even display Gforce and the engine’s torque curve.
But let’s not sneer. Even if it were possible to convey such info to the driver in 1990, it probably wouldn’t have crossed the engineers’ minds. Why would it? Twenty-five years on it’s just a bit of tech froth, that would only appeal to teenagers and Nissan Skyline drivers. But that’s progress for you and the endless digital revolution, that makes all this stuff possible, some of empowering, essential usefulness, some, like an onboard torque curve readout just a gimic.
On board the 964 is a familiar air-cooled place. The interior of this immaculate example is era defining light grey. The dash is essentially a modernised version of the 1963 original, while the prominent centre console is about the only 959 feature to have made it into the 964 Turbo, and sits on top of the redundant transmission tunnel. The deep bolstered Sports seats are fabulously comfy and offer a modicum of electric adjustability, while the four-spoke ‘lozenge’ centred steering wheel is fixed in all plains. The pedals, naturally, still pivot from the floor and are offset on this right-hooker. For 911 pilots of old, it’s all part of the package, here in the modern world you objectively wonder as to how some of the 911’s quirky features could have lasted for 25 years and beyond. Even in 1990 this essentially ‘modernised’ 911 must have felt rather oldfashioned compared to the competition like the #Honda-NSX , or the #Ferrari-348 (actually the 348 wasn’t a prancing horse, but more a lame donkey, with a gearbox full of rubble. The NSX, however, was a game-changer, held back only by its badge). But that, as we know, is all part of the 911 charm and mystique. If you have to ask, then clearly you don’t understand. Or is that just making a virtue out of a necessity?
But it could, and should have been so much different. Of course the #Porsche-959 hadn’t been forgotten. The car we could have been driving today, if everything had gone to plan, and Porsche hadn’t gone though one of its many financial blips, was called the 969 and was clearly the son of the 959, with a 370bhp 3.5-litre twin turbo engine (other engines were considered, like the V8 Indy car engine – seriously), with water-cooled four-valve cylinder heads and a sophisticated four-wheel drive system hooked up to Porsche’s own PDK transmission, or a manual ’box if the buyer preferred. The 969 was due for a #1991 launch and would happily hold 185mph around the Nardo bowl. It featured the sloped back headlights of the 959 and hoop rear wing. Sixteen prototypes were built. It would have been the pinnacle of the #Porsche-911 range and in all likelihood another form of Turbo would have slotted in underneath.
Internal machinations and costs killed the #Porsche-969 . Too expensive to build, technology not quite there yet, with a potential price tag that could have been beyond market forces and a financial crisis within Porsche, and on top of that the 969 would have launched straight into the early ’90s recession.
So that’s what could have been. It’s what the #993 Turbo vaguely became (twin turbos, four-wheel drive and a lot of the 969’s styling cues) and certainly what the #996 Turbo achieved. But the 964 Turbo? Yes, it really was something of a rush job, stop-gap model, particularly in its first 930-engined based iteration.
So, it would have been great to have been driving the stillborn #969 , and it would certainly have had rather more of a connection with the 991 Turbo, but we’re not, so let’s just get the 964 Turbo fired up. Who’s got the key?
‘Fired up’ is a bit of a misnomer. Typically it ‘churns’ into life and settles into a soft, muted idle, the turbo and the new fangled catalytic converter acting as effective silencers. The 964’s new power steering takes the heft out of steering and the relatively new G50 ’box is an ally in the soon to be forgotten and interactive art of changing gear. Those floor-mounted pedals might feel weird, but the clutch is light enough and the throttle pedal allows full foot coverage. Lifting your footing completely off the footwell to operate the brake is, well, just one of those 911 idiosyncrasies.
Off boost, below 3000rpm, it feels soft and lethargic. Get the big old turbo spinning and the fuel pumping and it picks itself up with a hard-edged vigour. Unlike some old supercars of the era, the 964 Turbo isn’t going to get blown away by a modern turbo diesel. A modern hot hatch maybe (a Golf R would humiliate it), but on boost the 964 Turbo feels like it’s got every one of those 320 horses working, although typically tall gearing (80mph in second) will see it easily drop off boost. It’s a feeling that’s accentuated by the very stiff suspension, that has the Turbo leaping about these not entirely flat North Yorkshire moors. It’s not 964 RS stiff, but it’s not far off, a product of the new to the 964 coil spring suspension, which doesn’t have quite the sense of detachment from the road surface that the G-Series cars did, with their torsion bars. The big 17in wheels and 50 profile tyres don’t help either, but those big wheels do allow massive – for 1990 – 333mm front discs and hefty four-pot calipers, that even now haul the Turbo up with impressive retardation.
In the corners and the 964 is a natural understeerer. It has to be bullied and worked to get to the apex, but then get the boost right and it launches itself out with that characteristic rear-end squat, and charges off with a turbine howl. If the corners are coming thick and fast, then be prepared to work very hard. There’s massive amounts of grip, but the Turbo doesn’t much like changing direction, so a lift at the right moment will activate the tail, but that’s a bit like juggling chainsaws. Get it wrong and it will hurt.
In today’s context it feels old-fashioned, but in an endearing sort of way. It’s got old school Turbo twitches and tendencies. You absolutely know it’s there, influencing the whole demeanour of the car. It’s either on or off. Even in 1990 it was a bit of an animal and not exactly the car that was expected. Uncouth and unsophisticated, something of a thug. But then as we know now (and what wasn’t appreciated at the time), this wasn’t the Turbo that Porsche had intended to bring to the market.
And so to the 991 Turbo. Are we travelling backward in time here or forward? Well forward obviously, but so mightily fast is the 991, and so comprehensively evolved and sophisticated, that an ability to time travel back to 1990 for a look at its predecessor, wouldn’t be a surprise. I’m sure if you were delve in to sat nav settings the time travel option would appear. Just tap in North Yorkshire Moors 1990, and in Terminator style the 991 would appear in a frisson of pulsing, arcing electricity to scare the sheep.
The 991 Turbo is progress on a massive scale, made possible by the advances in digital and engineering technology, but mainly by the former. Its whole build and design was conceived electronically, from the design process to the build process where engineering tolerances are micro managed by computer-controlled machinery. The integration of computer and mechanical is almost cyborg in nature. The machines are taking over and in the shape of the 991 Turbo, and much more in modern life, it’s very much true. We live in a time when a tiny pocket device, originally conceived to simply make phone calls, puts every conceivable piece of information, book, piece of music and visual image within instant reach. Imagine predicting that in 1990?
It’s only when you jump the void from #1990 to #2015 that you realise just how extraordinary the 991 Turbo is, and how we now take all this stuff for granted. Maybe we will refuse to be astonished until cars finally shed their wheels and we start to hover everywhere, or they simply drive themselves, but the only thing that connects the 991 Turbo with the 964 Turbo is the 911 designation, its evolutionary silhouette, its engine location and the fact that it’s got four wheels and a steering wheel and still runs entirely on petrol and, come the next generation of #Porsche-911 , we can certainly expect some form of electric assistance.
There are many things that astound about the 991 Turbo, but the most beguiling and frankly mind blowing facet is just how ludicrously easy it is to make it go fast. Teleport the 964 Turbo owner of 1990 forward 25-years and stick them in the driver’s seat of the 991. They would be able to grasp the concept of putting the PDK-only transmission into drive, the rest is purely turning the wheel and pressing the go pedal. From that point on, the machine takes over. It will take a little while for 1990 911 Turbo man to actually keep up with what’s going on, such is the speed at which the modern Turbo responds to instruction, and that’s before you’ve employed any of the go faster functionality. Best save Sports Plus and Launch Control for another time.
Compared with its 25-year-old ancestor, the 991 defies any semblance of physics. It shouldn’t be able to corner like it does, it shouldn’t be able to change direction like it does. It does so because it has a raft of electro mechanical components that look conventional, but are anything but. Dampers? Yes, they look like dampers, but they’re controlled by electro magnetic valves. The roll bars? They’re electronically controlled too, stiffening to support the side of the car that needs it. The centre diff? Electro magnetic again to deliver power and traction back and forth in a nano second. The rear end steers itself, and Torque Vectoring speeds up the inside rear wheel to facilitate turn in. Hell, even the engine mounts clamp the engine tight when the going gets twisty. And all that’s before you even start to consider the traction and stability management controls and the small matter of nearly 600bhp, not far off twice the power of the 964 Turbo.
The 991 Turbo is fast, but it’s artificially fast. Like a modern fighter would fall out of the sky without its flight control systems, so modern 991 Turbo would fall off the road without all its electronic systems. They are what enables it to function and do the mind altering stuff that it’s so capable of, in the background, making modern 911 Turbo man look like a complete hero.
But that’s progress for you and there’s no going back. The 964 Turbo is like a warning from the past as to how these things used to be. It’s a quaint reminder of the pre digital age. A Sunday toy for a bit of heavy-duty mechanical interaction. The 991 Turbo is a thrilling, flying on the ground, 21st Century marvel and a fitting pinnacle of where the 911 is right now, and I know which one I’d take.
THANKS: Sincere thanks to all at Specialist Cars of Malton for the loan of the #964 Turbo, which is currently for sale. Tel: 01653 697722 specialistcarsltd.co.uk
The 991 Turbo would fall off the road without all its electronic systems.
Far left: The launch of the 964 Turbo as we covered it in the first issue of 911&PW in 1990. Left: What could have been. The sole surviving 969 Turbo prototype, a clear descendant of the 959, but canned for financial reasons.
Direction changes and grip levels in the 991 Turbo border on extraordinary. It has a raft of technological solutions geared entirely to getting it round corners as fast as possible.
Interior is similar to 911s of old, with the curve of the dashboard and placement of the air vents all following #911 tradition. #PDK sevenspeed gearbox is the command centre, with its three modes: Normal, Sport and Sport Plus.
Right: The #Porsche-991 Turbo is bristling with detail. Wheels are massive 20in, diamond polished cross-spokes, with centre lock fixings. Equally huge six-pot brake calipers clamp on to Porsche PCCB discs. Braking is awesome in the true sense of the word.
Unlike some old supercars of the era, the #Porsche-964 Turbo isn’t going get blown away by a modern turbodiesel.
Model tested: #Porsche-991-Turbo-S
Engine: 3800cc, flat-six DOHC, twin turbo
Transmission: Four-wheel drive, seven-speed PDK
Body style: Coupe
Suspension: MacPherson struts (f), multi-link rear
Top speed: 198mph
0-62mph 2.9 secs
Power: 552bhp at 6500rpm
Pale grey interior is very early ’90s. Deep bolstered ‘Sports’ seats are among the best Porsche have ever made. Cockpit feels tight and compact, but visibility is excellent.
Even in #1990 this essentially ‘modernised’ 911 must have felt rather old fashioned compared to the competiton.
964 Turbo looks terrific in white, like a refugee racer on the road. New front and rear aprons, plus side skirts and aero mirrors were a styling success. Tea tray rear wing a 911 Turbo trademark.
Model tested: #Porsche-964-Turbo
Engine: 3300cc, flat-six DOHC, single turbo
Transmission: Rear-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: Coupe
Suspension: MacPherson struts front and rear
Top speed: 167mph
0-62mph 5.0 secs
Power: 322bhp at 5750rpm
Damp, cold North Yorkshire moors roads focus the mind in an old school 911 Turbo, with absolutely no driver aids whatsoever. Not that the 964 feels anything other than grippy and competent.
Left: Distinctive and huge intercooler sits on top of the 964’s 3.3-litre, air-cooled flat-six. Power is 320bhp. Clocks are resolutely analogue, while four-pot alloy calipers were considered huge for 1990.
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With prices continually rising, getting on the #911 ownership ladder has never been trickier. We consider an underrated air-cooled classic: the 911SC, plus the #911T and #964 – all should make for appreciating classic investments in #2015 … 911SCs. Long the poor relation of the Carrera 3.2, the 911SC is now being appreciated for what it really is – a great 911. Values are rising accordingly so now could be the time to buy one – while you still can… 964 v 911T. Got a little more cash to splash on a 911? Two decades apart, the E-Series and 964 proffer alternative prospects for around £35k-50k…
Living In the shadow
Long the poor relation of the Carrera 3.2, the 911SC is now being appreciated for what it really is: a great 911. Values are rising accordingly so now could be the time to buy one, while you still can… Story: Philip Raby. Photography: Anthony Fraser.
Did you know that Mozart had an older sister who, at the age of 12, was considered to be one of the best pianists in Europe? And then her pesky kid brother got in on the act and overshadowed her, to the extent that Maria Anna has been all but forgotten while little Wolfgang Amadeus went on to become a legend. It’s not uncommon, being eclipsed by a young brother or sister – psychologists call it younger sibling syndrome and it can lead to all sorts of conflicts, as you may well know if you have children of your own.
It’s happened with the Porsche 911, too. For instance, the #996 today lives in the shadow of the arguably better-looking 997, while the 964 was long usurped by the curvaceous and supposedly more reliable #993 . And then there’s the 911SC which always struggled to play catchup with its golden child replacement, the Carrera 3.2. The 3.2 has long been portrayed as the perfect air-cooled 911, for first-time buyers and enthusiasts alike, while the poor old 911SC has been seen as second-best, the car you’d buy if you couldn’t afford a Carrera 3.2. I’ve always thought this was rather unfair, so now is the time to set the record straight once and for all.
The 911SC arrived in #1978 and was significant as it streamlined the previous somewhat confusing range of 911s – which comprised the base 2.7-litre 911, the sportier (but also 2.7-litre) #Porsche-911S and the top of the range Carrera 3.0 – into one single model. If you wanted to buy a normally aspirated 911 in the late 1970s or early 1980s, your choice was made for you: an SC, take it or leave it. To create this one new model, Porsche took the bare bones of the previously range-topping Carrera 3.0, rejigged the 2994cc engine with reduced power (180hp) and a cheaper aluminium rather than magnesium crankcase, while the impact-bumper bodyshell and interior remained largely unchanged.
The moniker, meanwhile, was never explained by Porsche. Some have said that SC stands for ‘Super Carrera’, ‘Sports Carrera’ or even ‘Special Carrera’, while others have argued that it signified the S version of the C-programme of 911 development. I once even heard someone suggest that it meant ‘Single Carburettor’! Personally, I like Super Carrera but am happy to accept the name SC for whatever it may stand for. Incidentally, the SC was a landmark Porsche in that it was the last 911 for many years to actually carry a ‘911’ badge – later cars all had a ‘Carrera’ label slapped on their rumps. It wasn’t, then, the most auspicious start to a new 911. There was nothing at all wrong with the SC – far from it – it just, well, didn’t offer anything particularly new. The engine was a peach, though, even in its original 180hp guise, as it produced more power and torque at lower revs than the rather peaky Carrera 3.0’s unit, while remaining remarkably free-revving and eager. Power on non-US cars was increased to 188hp in 1980, thanks to revised timing and a higher compression ratio. Then, the following year, the output was raised to 204hp by hiking the compression ratio further, which demanded 98 octane petrol. US-market cars, incidentally, were stuck with 180hp throughout the SC’s life – and Yank owners were incessantly reminded of this unfortunate fact thanks to a speedometer that read to just 85mph!
For the rest of us, though, the 911SC, especially in 204hp guise, remains a lot of fun to drive. Its low-end torque makes the car a relaxed and easy cruiser when you want it to be but drop it down a gear or two and the engine really comes alive as it eagerly revs to the redline. Indeed, drive an SC back to back with a later Carrera 3.2 and it’s the older car’s engine that shines, while the 3.2 feels just a little bit reluctant (a trait not helped by higher gearing) and its extra power (the 3.2 produced 231hp) can be hard to notice next to the enthusiastic SC engine. Porsche quoted a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds together with a top speed of 148mph for the SC and, even today, that seems quite achievable.
It’s not just the engine that stands out, either. The SC retains that wonderful lightness of feel which is such a classic 911 trademark. Sure, the non-assisted steering is heavy at parking speeds (by the late Seventies the tyres were much fatter than when the 911 was conceived in #1963 ) but once on the move you can pilot the SC with your fingertips. The rack is quick and the feedback through the wheel is remarkable. It’s a car that encourages finesse as it dances delicately through the corners. Yet it’s also surprisingly forgiving, thanks in part to the relatively supple torsion bar suspension, so long as you don’t try anything silly, in which case that rear-engined bias can bite back. Get it right, and an SC can be so much more rewarding to pilot than a modern 911 with its extra refinement and driver aids which get in the way of the experience. It may sound pretentious (and it probably is) but drive an SC hard and you really do feel at one with the car, as its compact dimensions shrink around you.
Yet despite its directness, the SC is also surprisingly refined and it makes a superb touring car. Those high-profile tyres are forgiving and don’t transmit the road noise which is a bane of modern sports cars, while the seats are supremely comfortable and the whole interior remains solid and rattle-free. It’s a car you can cruise in all day and get out of feeling refreshed – and there aren’t many Seventies sports cars you can say that about.
It’s a tough old unit, the SC engine, too. Sure, you hear stories of broken head studs (although that’s not exclusive to the SC) but, on the whole, there’s no reason for a well-maintained example not to cover 200,000 miles without any major work needed. The slightly more stressed 3.2 powerplant, on the other hand, while also strong, is more likely to require at least a partial rebuild by around 140,000 miles (which, to be fair, is in itself good going).
The SC is mechanically reliable in other ways, too. When new, the model gained a bit of a bad reputation for transmission problems because it was originally fitted with a rubber-centred clutch. This was meant to reduce gear chatter at low speeds but, in reality, it had a habit of breaking up so Porsche dropped it in 1981 while most earlier cars were quickly updated by conventional – and trouble-free – clutch assemblies. The five-speed 915 gearbox was carried over from previous 911s and was criticised in some quarters for its agricultural feel, plus many suffered from poor synchromeshes. However, start with a good 915, treat it gently (especially while the transmission oil is still cold) and, once you’ve mastered the changes, the ’box is a real joy to use and part of the appeal of an older 911.
The big killer with SCs, as with all 911s from the Sixties and Seventies, is rust. The SC had a fully galvanised bodyshell when new but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Galvanising will slow down the rust process but won’t stop it, while there’s a fair chance that most SCs out there will have had at least some bodywork damage at some point in their lives, which can break the galvanised coating and give corrosion a foothold. Indeed, it’s rare to find an unrestored 911SC that doesn’t suffer from at least some rust. And once you find some rot, there’s a fair chance that there will be more lurking under the surface, ready to hit you with expensive bills when it’s uncovered. The 911 has a complex bodyshell and proper repairs aren’t cheap – you have been warned!
Get a good one, though, and an SC is an appreciating asset. We’ve seen prices rocket in recent years. Just six years ago, I wrote that £13,000 was top money for a 911SC and, for that money, you’d expect to get a lowish mileage example with an impeccable history, with less good but still acceptable cars costing under £10,000, which made the SC the perfect ‘first 911’ for those with a tight budget. How things have changed! Today you wouldn’t even buy a rough example for £13,000, with most starting at around £23,000 upwards. Increasingly, though, good cars are selling for in excess of £30,000 with a few exceptional ones going for over £40,000. In fact, SC prices are now generally slightly higher than those for the previously more sought-after Carrera 3.2. Despite these increases, I still believe that the SC is undervalued and we shall see further price rises. Although over 60,000 were built during its production run, which isn’t much less than the Carrera 3.2 that followed, the SC is today the rarer car. That’s because, during the many years it was unloved, many were neglected and ended up being scrapped, crashed or modified in some way. Which means that good, original 911SCs are now few and far between. That rarity, combined with people’s realisation as to what a great #Porsche-911 an SC is, and the fact that earlier (and later) aircooled 911s are still going up in price, means that they’re in great demand, in the UK and overseas.
However, I think it’s wrong to buy a 911 as an investment. It’s far better to buy a Porsche that you can use and enjoy and, if it happens to go up in value during your ownership, then that’s a happy bonus. And an #Porsche-911SC is certainly a 911 that you can both use and enjoy, while remaining affordable to buy and to run, refreshingly rare, and more than likely to appreciate in value. What more could you ask for from a car?
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you of the SC’s worth, here’s something else to chew on. It could just well have been the car that saved the 911 from extinction. You see, back in the 1970s, Porsche’s then boss, Ernst Fuhrmann, thought that the 911’s days were numbered – it was just too old fashioned and not advanced enough to lead the company into the 1980s, so he commissioned the 928 – a larger, more sophisticated front-engined car – which would eventually take over from the 911. The #Porsche-928 made good inroads but the SC was always the better seller (in #1983 it sold in double the numbers of the 928), a fact that wasn’t lost on new chairman Peter Schutz, who also realised that the 911 was the only model #Porsche was actually making any money on, so he made the sensible decision to keep it in production. For which we should be forever thankful.
So there you have it. The 911SC has at last been dragged out from the shadow of its little brother, the equally talented in its own way #Porsche-911-Carrera-3.2 . Now it’s time to let it flourish and thrive as the great Porsche that it should always have been.
OPEN AND SHUT CASES
The SC was the first ever 911 to be offered in three body styles. First there was the evergreen Coupé, which today remains the most sought-after choice, for its classic looks and rigidity. Then, as with previous 911s, there’s the Targa with its distinctive roll-hoop and clever lift-out roof panel which folds up and stores in the boot. Finally, you have the Cabriolet, which was a first for the #911 and wasn’t introduced until #1982 ; in fact, just 4096 SC Cabriolets were built before the model was replaced by the Carrera 3.2.
Despite its directness, the SC is also surprisingly refined and it makes a superb touring car.
A GOOD SPORT
A popular option for the SC was the Sport package which comprised a whaletail rear spoiler, rubber front lip spoiler, driving lamps, 16-inch Fuchs alloy wheels (up from the standard 15-inch) with #Pirelli-P7 tyres, firmer #Bilstein (instead of Boge) dampers, Sports seats and an improved stereo. Ironically, though, tastes have changed and few people now want the big rear spoiler, preferring the pure lines of a standard engine cover. If the whaletail is removed, though, you should really also take off the deeper front lip spoiler to ensure balanced high-speed aerodynamics, although not many owners bother.
The SC retains that wonderful lightness of feel which is such a classic 911 trademark.
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- Post is under moderationThe Next Level #Porsche-911T vs. #Porsche-911-964 . Got a little more cash to splash on a #911 ? Two decades apart, the E-Series and 964 proffer alternative prospects for around £35k-50k… Got a little more cash to splash on a 911? Although two decades apart, both the #Porsche-E-Series-911T and the #964 offer alternative prospects for around £45,000… Story: Simon Jackson. Photography: Gus Gregory.
There’s a simple and realistic question everyone should ask themselves prior to purchasing a vehicle of any kind. This question cuts through all the hype, drastically reduces any hastily pencilled list of pros and cons, and immediately delivers a sense of serene clarity, and that question is: ‘What am I going to use it for?’. It seems indisputably obvious but it’s not always the first thing a passionate petrolhead considers before embarking on an excitable, sometimes emotional, car shopping journey.
When it comes to Porsches, in particular over 50 years worth of #Porsche-911 variants, asking yourself this question is absolutely imperative. This argument is clarified here with two 911s available for around the same price, both of which are fantastic in their own right, yet which on paper offer very divergent ownership prospects. Indeed, choosing between them could well be a case of deciding exactly what you plan to use them for…
The 964’s transformation in fortunes is almost entirely complete now. Today it’s virtually impossible to purchase one of these post-1989 911s for under £20k, with the exception of the odd rogue convertible or #Targa version perhaps. Once the abhorrent black sheep of the 911 family, today the 964 stands tall as a cherished 911 with a strong following – and rightly so. But despite this reversal in favour the 964 still has some headroom to grow, and prices reflect this steadily rising as the cars become older and good examples become more sought-after. As such, anyone looking above the SC and 3.2 Carrera for a classic yet useable 911 could do far worse than considering a 964 as their #Porsche of choice.
This #1991 #Porsche-911-Carrera-2 , finished in Mint green, is for sale at 4 Star Classics in Hampshire. The lefthand- drive model has been imported from Japan at some point during its lifetime, has covered just 46,000 miles and features the ‘love it or loathe it’ controversial Tiptronic gearbox. As you might imagine given the mileage it’s in exceptional condition, and is offered for sale at £39,995.
Stepping inside the 964, one is reminded of how this model really does bridge the gap between what you might interpret as a true ‘classic’ 911s and more modern versions such as the 993 or 996. The driving position and dashboard layout owe more to Porsches of old than we might have first realised when the car was new back in the Nineties, and this projects a familiar and tangible ‘modern classic’ environment.
With the weather doing its utmost to hamper progress and dampen the day during our photoshoot, the 964 presents a delightful safe haven – it feels old enough to be special, yet current enough to offer the touches of modernity a day like today may require. Heating to effectively and quickly clear the screen, door rubbers capable of keeping copious amounts of rain water at bay, plus a reliable and tractable drivetrain. It all feels wholly useable.
Out on the road that persona remains as the driving experience is exceptionally friendly. This isn’t a Porsche that fights you at every step, rather one that wishes to make life as smooth as possible. In combination with the four-speed Tiptronic gearbox, the engine offers relatively sedate progress, belying the book figures of 250hp produced by the 3600cc flat-six. But when pushed a touch harder the C2 will pick up pace accordingly. For all intents and purposes this is a 911 you could happily use 365 days of the year.
Steering is light yet offers progressive turn-in bite and a depth of feel often missing in more modern machinery, so perhaps the only real flaw here is that often-loathed Tiptronic gearbox, which certainly doesn’t deliver as urgent or progressive a driving experience as a contemporary #PDK system. However, despite how our first choice would undoubtedly be a manual ’box in this generation of 911, the Tiptronic cog-swapper is perhaps not the malevolent piece of devil engineering it is depicted as by some. Worse things happen at sea.
In many regards, for me, the 964 is of a period just prior to the over-indulgence of technology in cars, when form followed function to just the right degree, cars were more lithe and simplistic offering the perfect balance of driveability, comfort and convenience, and straight-talking sex appeal not electronic dominance. For me, the 964’s legacy will be that it was the last truly classically-styled 911, offering a driving experience that looked ahead to the future, while taking a leaf from the book of the past. Personally I can’t think of another 911 I would rather use everyday, but perhaps the 964 has now become too precious for that kind of thing?
As you’ll no doubt be all too aware, early 911s of all variants are incredibly sought after today, so it’s little wonder that even the more basic models which used to offer plausible entry-level 911 ownership not so many years ago, are now becoming pretty expensive investments. The 1970s 911T is one such model that is going through a rapid acceleration in asking prices, and as such it makes a very plausible case for purchase to anyone in the market for a £40,000 (and upwards) classic 911.
The car you see here is an E-Series, available in #1971 - 1972 , with it came a new 2341cc engine which resulted in these cars being commonly referred to as the ‘2.4-litre’ 911. The E-Series boasted Bosch mechanical fuel injection over the carburettor alternative, and is noted for its oil tank (and subsequent filler flap) located between the right-hand door and rear-wheel arch – a feature dropped in the summer of #1972 to avoid owners filling their oil tanks with fuel.
This Light yellow car, offered for sale by 4 Star Classics for £49,995, is a 1972 911T and has covered 81,000 miles from new. It might seem a world apart from the aforementioned 964, but with its five-speed manual gearbox, ventilated disc brakes and mechanical fuel injection system, it is effectively just as useable as its 1990s equivalent – if a touch more precious.
Firing the 911T into action is a smile-inducing experience, as the sound of that traditional aircooled flat-six greets one’s ears. There’s just something so infectious about that tuneful clamour. Moving from the 964 into this 911, two decades its senior, you’d quite rightly expect a level of shock at your basic surroundings to befall you, but thanks to the 911’s gentle evolutionary nature this car doesn’t feel as ‘night and day’ compared with the 964 as you might first expect. Typically period pliant seating offers levels of comfort a few modern machines could learn a thing or two from, and the steering wheel and gear knob provide chunky tactile points of contact for the driver. Pure Seventies. Engaging drive is a characteristically air-cooled procedure, matching revs for take-off doesn’t take one too long to master and there’s a reassuringly consistent disposition to all the vital controls – unlike some classic cars of the era which can provide a temperamental driving experience to say the least. Once in motion, as with all classic 911s, the gearbox can take some getting used to, but once mastered and when handled with the correct level of aptitude and care, the change between gears is a satisfying process. Turn-in is a weightier affair than with the 964, but it is direct and confidence-inspiring, allowing the driver to get back on the throttle at his or her earliest convenience. It really is an enjoyable drive.
In pursuit of the 964, the 911T provides perhaps its biggest shock – its level of performance. It feels brisk, in relative terms, fooling the brain into believing that the (over) 100hp deficit to the penultimate aircooled 911 ahead must be some kind of misprint. Unlike the cosseting more modern 964, this car encouragingly feels like a true classic sports car, one you could enjoy on the back routes or on your local track in equal measure. My only complaint is that I wish I was driving this car on a beautiful summer’s day – hardly the fault of the car! The 911T feels like just the right mix of classic Porsche, not too precious that you won’t want to push it from time-to-time, but not too quick that you’d feel the need to rinse it for every tenth of a second just to invoke a thrill through the controls. In many respects it seems to currently occupy a 911 sweet spot…
Of course it goes without saying that these two 911s are very different. The 19 years that separate them may visually represent a typically mild Porsche evolution, but psychically under the skin it’s more of a revolution. So you might be expecting me to tell you that the comparative result is that today they do entirely different jobs, but I’m not going to – because I’m not sure they do…
Given the sought-after nature (and not forgetting their asking prices) of these two variants of 911, both the 911T and 964 have morphed, seemingly in parallel, into Porsche 911s which you probably wouldn’t want to use on a day-to-day basis, and in a way that defines this duo. Deciding which one to buy really does come back to that question we discussed earlier: ‘What am I going to use it for?’.
If you’re looking for a financial investment opportunity that will only appreciate in value, then based on historical evidence either of these cars offer value for money and should be almost bulletproof in terms of depreciation. If you buy the right example you probably can’t go wrong there. If you want a Porsche for high days and holidays, a car to roll out of the garage a few times a year when the sun is shining or for the annual pilgrimage to something like the Goodwood Revival, again, the world’s your oyster with this pairing – just take your pick. Want to drive your 911 to work once a week or enjoy it strictly during your leisure at weekends? Guess what – a 911T or a 964 would make for the perfect partner too. And, if you’re a strictly dedicated enthusiast there’s certainly an argument that either could be used on a day-to-day level.
Of course you might be thinking that there are other Porsches, other 911s perhaps which display this all-round ability, and you might be right. But as the star of both these cars rise up the classified listings in harmony, it’s clear that choosing a 911 in this price bracket has never presented a tougher decision.
Firing the 911T into action is a smile-inducing experience, as the sound of that air-cooled flat-six greets one’s ears.
Comparing 911s from different eras, which in essence offer completely different ownership concepts, is no easy task. In reality there’s nothing wrong with any of the prospects we have examined here; the #Porsche-911SC would make the perfect starter air-cooled 911, and those with a little more cash to splash might consider a 911T or a 964 – two already popular versions of Stuttgart’s icon, but cars which can still be acquired for a reasonable outlay… well, reasonable in Porsche terms anyway.
Naturally there are many other variants of 911 which could sit alongside our selections here, most notably the 3.2 Carrera, and undoubtedly you’ll have your own ideas. But the message is clear; whichever path you choose you’re sure to end up with a 911 you can cherish and use in equal measure, and which, in theory, should not lose value. Of course, that’s not why the majority of enthusiasts purchase Porsche cars in the first instance, but it’s certainly a nice silver lining to owning one of the world’s most iconic sports cars, right?Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRALLYING CALL
Rallying for beginners. Will Page and MacLeman get lost? Navigational events are proving ever more popular, so James Page and Greg MacLeman went to Wales to see if they knew their Tulips from their tripmeters. Photography Tony Baker/Hero Events.
During the 1950s and ’60s, rallying formed the backbone of amateur club motorsport. Across the UK, enthusiasts organised their own events, which often took place at night. A young Vic Elford competed in rallies organised by the Sevenoaks and District Motor Club, while Henry Liddon – who went on to win the Rallye Monte-Carlo with Paddy Hopkirk in #1964 and Rauno Aaltonen in #1967 – was a regular on the BAC Motor Club’s Cross Trophy.
As historian Pete Stowe has noted, these grassroots events were ‘tests of route-finding rather than outright speed’, but even so the RAC began to increase the legislation around them. Clubs branched out into other forms of the sport and stage-based rallies came to the fore.
In the 1980s, however, the late Philip Young instigated a resurgence in events that replicated the cerebral challenge offered by period navigational rallying. It has become a huge scene in its own right, which is why we’ve come to the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation (HERO) in South Wales to see whether we can tell one end of a map from the other.
The company offers an Arrive & Drive package that enables you to compete in one of its own cars – from the #Porsche-911 for which digital editor Greg MacLeman and I make a beeline, to a Lancia Integrale, #Alfa-1750GTV and even an Austin Seven special. It’s not only novices that use this service as a way of trying a rally without having to invest in their own car. Seasoned campaigners from overseas often choose it instead of shipping their classic to the UK. There’s a single-day Driving Experience, too, which introduces newcomers to the various forms of navigation, using HERO’s fleet to head into the Brecon Beacons and surrounding countryside. That’s what we’ll be attempting.
The basic premise of historic rallying is that you have to get from the start of a section to the finish in a particular time. That time assumes an average speed that will never be more than 30mph, and the amount of help you have in plotting your way along the route varies depending on the level of that particular rally. To add to the pressure, secret intermediate controls will ensure that you are keeping on time.
The initial section that MacLeman and I have to tackle is a Jogularity, a system devised for the first Le Jog event in the early 1990s. We are given a printout of the route, with landmarks noted as well as the time at which we should be passing them. So, for example, it might say ‘gate on left’. Look across the page and it tells us that, if we’ve stuck to the required average speed, we should be passing that gate 2 mins 8 secs after leaving the startline. There is also information on the distance and time between each landmark, while junctions are highlighted.
I take the first stint in the navigator’s seat, quickly discarding the interval details (far too confusing…) to concentrate on calling out each landmark and giving #MacLeman feedback as to how we’re doing in terms of time. We have 17 mins 41 secs in which to cover the 8.09 miles.
The average speeds for the section are between 24 and 30mph, which sounds easy enough. For the most part it is, even though much of it is country lanes. The problems start when you miss a landmark and lose where you are on the list. Even on a practice day such as this, there’s a moment of slight panic; on a real event, it must be horrifying.
The other issue is how quickly you go from being roughly on time to 20 secs behind if, for example, you have to stop to let another vehicle come the other way on a narrow section. It happens to us, and MacLeman enjoys a short section of spirited driving to get us back on time.
It all goes to plan until the end of the regularity. Having tracked our progress via staggered crossroads, gates, junctions, warning signs and postboxes, I miss a turning into a lay-by (which would likely have contained an intermediate control were this a genuine stage) only 0.3 miles from the end. As a result, we arrive 6 secs early. After being worryingly vague to begin with (“Er, there’s a gate somewhere up here…”), MacLeman fares better when we swap places and try again, getting us to the finish line only 1 sec before our allotted time.
Our next challenge is a 7.44-mile Tulip route. This system replaces written instructions with diagrams – a ball or blob at one end shows you where you are coming from, an arrowhead shows where you are going. Whereas the Jogularity had given us a near-constant stream of instructions to follow, here the guidelines are much less frequent – there are only seven in total, from going through speed-limit signs to crossing a cattle grid and taking junctions.
The relative lack of information means that a decent tripmeter – which will need to have been calibrated over a set distance at the beginning of the event – is essential to ensure that you really are where you think you are. On the Jogularity section, we had been able to get away with it to a certain extent because the feedback came thick and fast. This time, there is longer between instructions so we need to know that we’ve covered, say, 4.61 miles since the previous one and that this really is the left turn that we need.
Fortunately, it is a relatively straightforward run, and I deliver MacLeman to the end of the section without any navigational errors – or ‘wrong slots’. We then follow a marked route on the map back to the #HERO headquarters. This is the simplest form of map navigation. Others include ‘plot and bash’ (crew receives map references, translates them into locations, and charts a route between them), Herringbone (route is simplified into a straight line with roads ‘to leave’ – ie junctions – drawn above and below that line) and London Rally (a series of waypoints – A, B, C, etc – provide the framework for the route).
‘Plot and bash’ formed the basis for most period club rallies, and if it turns up in an historic event you will need to understand map references. In contrast, you could complete a Tulip or Jogularity section without referring to the Ordnance Survey charts. On some rallies, you will need to be au fait with each discipline.
Take last year’s Le Jog. Competitors received three map books to take them from one end of the UK to the other. The road sections were marked with a black line that you needed to follow. That was the easy bit. Every so often, however, the black line stopped. There was an ominous gap of many miles before it started again, and it was between those two points that the regularity sections took place.
Those legs took different forms. Regularity Section A began at Morvah in Cornwall and finished near Lelant. Crews used six map references that were supplied to them at Land’s End to plot the shortest route. Regularity Section B lasted for almost 20 miles and was a Jogularity. Section C was another Jogularity, D needed to be calculated from a Herringbone layout and E from a number of specified waypoints. Le Jog is renowned for its gruelling nature, though, and not all rallies are so taxing.
“There are certain events where you need the sort of mind that could do a cryptic crossword,” says HERO’s Peter Nedin, who cut his teeth on the Welsh club scene, “but organisers can do that via trickery rather than making the route tough. Different levels of rally have different levels of information in the route book. Jogularity gives you times to be at certain points. Others don’t do that – you have to work it out for yourself, which involves using a separate average-speed table.”
HERO rates its fixtures with a colour-coding system: Green is for introductory rallies, which means daytime driving, in summer, on surfaced roads and using Tulip and Jogularity navigation. Blue is intermediate, Red advanced and Black is expert, involving maps, day and night driving on mixed surfaces, and with an endurance factor thrown in. Cars have to be pre-1986 and to period-correct specification; the focus on reliability rather than performance means that you don’t need to spend a fortune on preparation.
“Most events have a non-competitive touring element for people who still want to be part of it,” says Nedin. “You can get into it that way and then move from tour to trial. It enables you to enjoy it at first before you get more serious. When you do that, if you get the navigation right first, the timekeeping will come.”
Taken separately, neither the navigational element nor the timekeeping one are all that difficult. It’s when you have to combine them that it becomes a genuine challenge. I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to do it in the dark, in the middle of night, having had very little sleep and with hundreds of miles still to go. Road rallying may be cerebral rather than visceral, but it’s no less rewarding for that.
Thanks to Everyone at HERO. To find out more about its events and the Driving Experience, go to www. heroevents. eu
“I started rallying with a Mini when I was about 20,” says #2014 HERO Cup winner Crosby, “but later had to give it up because of other commitments. I only recently got back into it with a #1970 #Porsche #911 – last year was my first full season. It’s not the cheapest hobby, but everyone involved is incredibly friendly and welcoming. “I started at the deep end with the Winter Challenge, which is rated Black by HERO. We finished third in class and – being a bit competitive – I started to really get into it once those points were on the board. “Andy Pullen was my co-driver for many of the events. You can make the last bit of difference as a driver, and a reliable car needs to be a given, but really it’s 75% down to the navigator. How Andy kept going on Le Jog, for example, is beyond me – 27 hours without sleep. It’s all about having fun, too, and I wouldn’t sit next to somebody whose company I didn’t enjoy. You have to share responsibility – having a go at your navigator if something goes wrong isn’t going to help.”
Clockwise, from left: a good tripmeter is essential if you are to keep track of the various instructions; beautiful Welsh roads and coastline, but the navigator has little time to admire the scenery; MacLeman doing the easy bit – driving.
‘IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE DOING THIS AT NIGHT, WITH HUNDREDS OF MILES STILL TO GO’
“The people on this type of event are brilliant, so resourceful and always willing to help,” says Owens, who competes on everything from one-day UK rallies to the Mille Miglia, often with his wife Colette and son Thomas. “Who I take with me depends on the type of event. I do some, such as the Poppy Rally, where I will have a more experienced co-driver. I went on the 1000 Mile Trial with my wife, though, and that was stunning. I was blown away by the scenery. Then I took my son on the Scottish Malts. “They have both been to a rally school to learn about navigation and were told that they were very much in charge in the car; it was their ‘office’. The navigators are the unsung heroes. That’s where you see the youngsters coming through, because you don’t need to own the car, you just need to find a sympathetic driver. There is a skill to the driving as well, but you have to be a partnership. You do see people falling out – I’ve been on events where the driver and navigator weren’t talking by the end of the first day. It can certainly test a relationship.”
Clockwise, from above: the 911 feels like overkill given the low average speeds, but comes into its own when you need to press on; Page checks that he’s got the map the right way up before setting off; an extract from a Tulip section of Le Jog.
‘YOU COULD COMPLETE A TULIP OR JOGULARITY SECTION WITHOUT HAVING TO READ A MAP’
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- Post is under moderationGALE FORCE PORSCHE 911 ROAD TEST #1987 #Porsche-911-Speedster
The Speedster name is back, and with it some styling highlights from the 50s Porsche – witness the hump-back and low widescreen – which first carried the badge. But Georg Kacher is not impressed.
In time for the 25th birthday of the 911, Porsche has released a special version of this classic sports car - the Speedster. Alter the coupe, Targa, Turbo, slantnose. Club Sport and Cabriolet, this is the seventh officially available 911 metamorphosis created by chief designer Tony Lapine and crew. The Speedster was unwrapped at the Frankfurt Show in September: it will go into production at a rate of around eight units per day after the works holidays in August 1988.
The 911 Speedster is a back- to-the-roots car. It looks very much like a #1988 model, but there are still plenty of design details which evoke memories of the ’50s just as Drifters' music, hoola-hoop girls and pink iceboxes full of Coca-Cola bottles do. Not to forget James Dean, although he was killed in the Spyder and not in one of the 4822 run-of-the-mill Speedsters, which even in Carrera form did not muster more than 115 bhp. In the Porsche museum in Zuffenhausen, they still keep a vanilla yellow Speedster powered by the middle-of-the-road 1.6-litre engine. It has a low windscreen, a Bakelite triple-spoke steering wheel, a thin and tight-fitting black canvas top and beautiful brass Speedster badges on the front wings and dashboard.
The Porsche design squad have tried hard to impose the original Speedster theme on the 911, but the result is not as harmonious as the 1954-1959 conversion. The problem is the single-piece cover which fills the opening behind the seats. Somehow, this pvc panel does not look right: the fat black rubber seal disturbs the other-wise smooth profile, the proportions between the tall cover and the lowered windscreen are not well balanced, and the rear power bulge looks ordinary and out of character. Even at this stage. Porsche should consider changing the design.
The remaining revisions are more successful. The windscreen. whose angle is reduced by five degrees, is three inches lower than that of the 911 Cabriolet. For the Speedster, the massive body-colour windscreen frame is abandoned in favour of a thin and elegant black rim made of anodised alloy. At the eleventh hour. Porsche decided to replace the heavyweight rectangular door mirrors with a brace of ostentatiously aerodynamic devices which look like they are worth a million dollars but are about as practical as the token mirrors of a formula one racer. Inside, the Speedster features a mixture of Carrera and Club Sport trim elements. As in the Club Sport, the seats are fixed in the lowest possible position, and are not power-operated. Similarly, the electric window lifts give way to manual winders. And the useful dash-mounted heater and ventilation controls are replaced by an antiquated Beetle-style dual lever arrangement hidden between the seats. As a result of these and other weight-saving measures, the #911-Speedster - which tips the scales at 2552lb - is some 110lb lighter than the Cabriolet model.
The roots of the second generation Speedster date back to September #1982 . At that time, chairman Peter Schutz was told by his American dealers that a modern Speedster was the one still-to-be-released Porsche model all the yuppies between Vermont and Oregon were craving for. The big boss subsequently approved the development of a first prototype which was completed in March #1983 . By then, chief engineer Bott, Lapine and Bezner (the chief project engineer) had put together an exciting, good-looking and pleasantly radical machine which had only one major fault - it would never jump all the legal hurdles which over the years have been erected between Weissach and Wisconsin.
Based on one of the last SC Cabriolets, the Speedster that did not make it lacked such essential items as wipers and a proper windscreen. Instead, it boasted a trick three-part wraparound glasshouse which was only a couple of inches tall but looked great. In line with this leather-cap-goggles-and-gloves approach was the car's shallow hood cover which had commendably narrow outlines and only one subtle power bulge on the driver's side. Those who have been behind the wheel claim that this design exercise felt like a curious crossbreed of motorbike, horse, power boat and roadster - a fair description which also explains why the Speedster Mk1 had not the slightest chance of defeating unsympathetic bureaucracy.
Despite this initial defeat, the team around Friedrich Bezrer were determined not to give in. Bezner, who joined #Porsche in #1954 (the year the original Speedster was launched), ex-plains: 'Instead of fighting the rule keepers for every minute modification, we decided to do two Speedsters. Number one takes a more conformist approach. It is basically a #911 Cabriolet with a twist, and it is street-legal. Number two is the Club Sport conversion. This car has no wipers, a tiny Brooklands-type windscreen and only one seat. It costs more money, requires a little bit of extra skill and patience and is not fit for public roads. But it is a lot of fun.'
In terms of design, however, the Club Sport car is even less convincing than the standard Speedster. Among the controversial styling elements are the bulbous shape of the top panel, the token windscreen, the particularly prominent rubber seal and the crude wiper axle mounting points. Porsche maintains that one man can convert the Speedster into the Club Sport in a mere 20 minutes, but alter watching three Porsche employees at the Frankfurt Show struggle for over half an hour to get all the bits in the right place, I think I’ve decided the official timing appears somewhat optimistic.
And here is how you do it. First, take off the wipers. That's easy. Next, off comes the windscreen. That's difficult - because some of the screws are hard to get at while others are over five inches long, and because the screen is heavy and threatens to tilt once you are halfway through the removal process. Step three deals with unbolting the passenger seat, which is as effortless as it sounds. The most arduous task concerns the fitting of the big and heavy Club Sport panel which replaces the compact Speedster soft-top cover. While the full-length segment uses the same rear hinges as the short Iid, at the front it is secured to the body via the wiper axles.
To enter the Club Sport car, you can either unbolt the front end and lift the entire clamshell (tedious and time consuming), or you open the driver's door and slip in from below (looks funny, and the intervertebral discs might object), or you simply straddle the damn' thing, John Wayne fashion (looks great, but you're likely to split your trousers or do even more serious damage).
Although the Speedster is identical to any other 911 up to the beltline, the driving position is different. Even in the street legal versions, you feel almost as exposed as in a monoposto sports car. Because of the thin frame which becomes almost invisible as soon as you are facing the sun, the windscreen becomes one with the horizon. While the tinted glass still provides a certain amount of protection against the elements, it does in no way impair the stunning panoramic visibility - on a bright day, this car feels like a 3D 363 degrees cinema on wheels. Other bonuses include the improved adjustment range of the seats as well as the extra oddments space, including two lockable compartments hidden beneath the rear lid. On the debit side, you instantly notice the nonsense door mirrors (they are neither heated nor adjustable from inside the cabin) and the high rear deck which catches the wind.
The Speedster is one of these cars which calls for certain preparations by the driver. Of course, you can take it for a ride in Bermuda shorts and Polo shirt, but who can afford a midweek crisis consisting of flu. ear-ache and a stiff nock? All it takes to avoid such misery are a cap, glasses or goggles, gloves, a scarf (preferably shorter than Isadora Duncan's) as well as ear-muffs and/or ear-plugs, plus, of course, a decent sweater. Between Knightsbridge and Clapham, these ingredients may not do more than amuse bystanders and fellow motorists, but once the tempest breaks loose above 45mph, they are absolutely vital.
On the open road, the two most obvious Speedster characteristics are 'thunder' and 'hurricane'. Thunder is a decibel cocktail mixed from the chain-saw yell of the familiar flat-six and hostile accompanying noises. Hurricane stands for the draught of anything from a stiff breeze to a force 10 gale.
Apart from these two idiosyncrasies, the latest #Porsche-911 embodies all the vices and virtues its stablemates have become notorious for. It has a powerful engine which sounds better than my favourite CD. It has a surprisingly rigid chassis and a race-proven suspension which offers plenty of grip and strong roadholding. And it is built to last with quality and durability designed into every single component. But the Speedster is by no means flawless. Take, for instance, the heavy clutch, the vague and rather slow gearbox, or the very unassisted steering which is neither well balanced nor well enough damped. Look at the poor ergonomics, the bad ventilation, or the speed-sensitive heating. And consider the unsatisfactory directional stability, the car's susceptibility to crosswinds and the tricky handling in the tightrope demarcation zone between wow! and ohmigawd!
Fact is though that, as with all 911s, the fascination will eventually outweigh the flaws, The 911 is a challenging car, and although there are now plenty of rivals which offer better handling, better roadholding, more comfort or even more power, it is this challenge of mastering the rear-engined monster which makes you come back time after time. If Porsche had positioned the new Speedster in the same niche of the model hierarchy as the #1954 original, it would have been much easier to excuse the weak design and the drawbacks which result from it. But instead of making this most basic 911 also the least expensive, the Zulfenhausen management nave decided to price it at the same level as - or even above - the 911 Cabriolet. And that is hard to justify because the Speedster is a less complete car than its brethren. It is neither as well equipped nor as competent as the Cabriolet. It is no better as a driving machine than the baseline coupe. And it is not even particularly exciting for a poseur, since the eye-catching Club Sport version is not street legal. Are you perhaps going to think this one over again, Mr Schutz?
Interior of Speedster has elements of 911 Cabriolet and new Club Sport coupe. Scat adjusters and windows manual, to save weight. Hunchback pvc cover does not integrate well, covers solt-top. Mirrors daft.
Speedster based on normal 911, engine and rest of mechanicals are Identical. Styling changes Include shallower windscreen, rear pvc lid. Normal Speedster model - not Speedster Club Sport-is shown. Dash same as 911’s.
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- Post is under moderationBefore the #Boxster , #Porsche made its first mid-engine road car almost 30 years earlier. But is the underrated #914 a good alternative to its modern successor – or a #VW in drag?
GIANT COMPARE BOXSTER VS. 914
Can a classic be too successful for its own good and put the company that made it in jeopardy? Take the #911 as a classic case. Over the decades Porsche has produced equally worthy sports cars and GTs – some to replace the #Porsche-911 – but it all usually ends in failure simply because ‘it’s not a 911’ or ‘it’s not a real Porsche’ in the eyes of enthusiasts. The #Porsche-914 and the Boxster were not intended as replacements for this classic icon but instead viable, cheaper alternatives – and they still are. Okay with almost 30 years between them, nobody will deny that the Boxster is the better car – but would a 914 suit you better?
WHICH ONE TO BUY?
ONLY ONE IS A REAL PORSCHE
Strictly two seats, engine mounted ahead of the rear axle in the best possible place for optimum handling and balance, plus a reasonable amount of luggage space in the nose and the tail. Could be either the 914 of 1970 or the current #Porsche-Boxster , but there’s one big difference – production 914 never carried the Stuttgart badge between its headlights! It’s been a cause for contention ever since. Was it a #Volkswagen , or was it a Porsche? In the USA it was the Porsche 914, marketed by the newly formed Porsche-Audi division. In Europe it was a #VW-Porsche-914/4 sold through another created joint venture, #VW-Porsche Sales.
That Porsche badge appeared nowhere on any production car anywhere. On cars sold in the USA the lettering ‘PORSCHE’ was fixed on the engine grille immediately behind the rear window, and the hubcaps of steel wheel cars were blank; in Europe the grille was unadorned, but both the hub caps and the steering wheel boss carried the VW motif. In England there was an extra complication: the four-cylinder car was marketed as the #Porsche-914S .
Because it never initially relied upon proper Porsche power, the 914 was always stigmatised and it was a lesson the company failed to learn when it launched the sports car’s replacement, the #Porsche-924 . Porker power did arrive, albeit late in the day and its 911-like prices resulted in few sales. That said, the improved 2-litre VW variant but breathed on by Porsche of the early 1970s isn’t a bad all rounder and carried the hallowed SC badge, which was unique to the UK market.
The 1.7-litre version was boosted to 1800cc with fuel injection in #1974 . Most UK cars will be US imports, mainly from California, where the bulk of the originals were sold.
When launched, the Boxster (the name is derived from the word “boxer”, referring to the car’s horizontally-opposed engine configuration) made the likes of a #TVR and Lotus redundant overnight. Here was a (relatively) affordable sports car that was part 911 (996) and some say had the feel and character of an old 911 combined with typical Porsche use-ability and reliability. Still in production after almost 20 years, successive updates have seen larger more powerful engines and better trim; it’s really a case of how much you have to spend. The second generation surfaced in #2005 (type #987 ) and the engine power was upped to match the newly launched Cayman. After another power hike in #2009 the third generation Boxster was introduced in #2012 .
Majoring on the original Boxster #Porsche-986 for this twin test, a choice of 2.5, 2.7 and 3.2-litre engines were offered yielding 201bhp-250bhp with a choice of manual or Porsche’s famed #Tiptronic semi automatic transmissions. Sitting behind the wheel of any Boxster you could be forgiven in thinking that you’re in a #996 (911) as the interior is virtually identical!
WHAT’S THE BEST TO DRIVE?
PAUL DAVIES COMPARES THE TWO
So, how do these mid-engine sportsters four decades apart drive? I well remember the 914S press test car of #1970 . Despite the meagre 80bhp (72bhp on the US version strangled by emission regulations) of the VW engine, but perhaps because of the primarily 911 running gear, it was a ‘nice’ car, mainly because that engine location meant the level of grip, despite skinny tyres, exceeded the power potential. You could not imagine getting into trouble in a 914 – unlike the mid-engine Twin-Cam #Lotus #Europa of the same period where power far exceeded grip!
At the time I remarked, “the handling is superior to any car I have ever driven but, for the price, the performance is disappointing”. Back then the 914S cost a whopping £2260, compared with just £1015 for that #Lotus-Europa and £2502 for a #Jaguar 4.2 #E-type !
Further memories of the 914 revolve around a rather rubbery gear-change (most likely because of the length of the linkage) the hefty pressure on the brake and clutch pedals (non-servo brakes, cable clutch) and the need to keep swapping cogs to maintain good speed. Back then I remarked that, with the limited power available, a four-speed gearbox would have been as good as a five. Oh yes, the heating system was the somewhat vague, and often smelly, blown air type that was also used on the 911 of that period.
Finally, the 914 was only available in the UK in left hand-drive – although bodybuilder Crayford offered an expensive conversion and few were made – and, because of the almost bench seat layout, the handbrake was squashed between seat and door. But there was, briefly, a #Porsche-914/6 . Some 65,000 four-cylinder cars were manufactured against 3300 sixes, and few of these made it to the UK. With the 110bhp (911T) engine, the 914/6 was a darned-sight faster than the 914/4. Even better was the 210bhp #Porsche-911-Carrera-2.7RS engine, Gantspeed, version I drove not too long ago. Which brings us to the Boxster.
Here we have a minimum of 204bhp (2.5-litre) to play with, and handling that surpasses almost anything else – apart from the later Porsche Cayman, which is – basically – a coupé version of the Boxster. Unlike the #Porsche-914/4 (or the 914/6) the Boxster is as quick and easy to drive on the road today at ‘real world’ prices. Like any modern Porsche, everything works just as it should.
Unsurprisingly – because of the 40-odd years between them – the Boxster does just about everything better than a 914. It’s more comfortable, quieter, and extremely well equipped, even more so if the model you find has a handful of the many options Porsche offers. It’s also a true convertible (not a clumsy Targa top) which has the added luxury of electric hood operation.
It should be easier to buy a Boxster than a 914 because there are so many more around. But care is needed, particularly because the cheapest may have been neglected and there’s always that recurring cracked block problem of the earlier Porsche water-cooled engines. Don’t fool yourself; running costs will be high if you want to keep the car in top order.
Snags like this apart, the Boxster is now a sports car bargain and you’ll love every minute. My advice is don’t necessarily go for a bigger engine or S models, the 2.5 and 2.7-litre cars offer oodles of performance, and smaller diameter wheels with (relatively) high profile tyres give a better all-round ride than 19in rims on ultra-low profiles. Also don’t dismiss Tiptronic because it’s automatic – Porsche was well ahead of the game with the latest transmissions, and this one is very slick with steering wheel buttons.
After Bjorn Waldegard’s wins on the Monte Carlo in both #1969 and 1970 in the 911S, the idea of a hat trick on the world’s most famous rally must have been appealing, and Porsche’s #Weissach competitions department was convinced the mid-engine 914/6 was the one for the job.
Alas, the car was not easy to handle on snow and ice of the #1971 Monte. The best the big Swede, and his equally large co-driver Hans Thorszelius, could manage was third, behind a pair of (rear engine) Alpines. A few years ago Bjorn told me why he considered the rear-engined 911 a superior rally car: “The engineers at Porsche thought this was the ultimate car because it had near 50-50 per cent weight balance, front and rear.
“I believed them, until I drove it. They were wrong; it was impossible to drive, so nervous. With the 911 you knew when the back end was going in a nice slide and you could control it. The 914 was very unpredictable,” he said.
OWNING AND RUNNING
BOXING CLEVER? NOT QUITE…
According to Kevin Clark, registrar of the 914 at the Porsche Club GB (01608 652911; 914@ porscheclubgb. com), there’s around 175-200 cars in the UK, but not all are on the road. He admits it’s true that up until a few years ago, the general standard was at best average but this is quickly changing and there are now an increasing number of well kept examples.
Spares are in the main not a problem and he cites reproduction panels from Canadian company, Restoration Designs, as being very good indeed.
Prices for decent 914s start from £10,000 for a 1.7 version and between £12-16K for a 2.0, with the 1.8 somewhere in between, which is about half what a rare 914/6 would make if you can find one. It’s generally accepted that the 2-litre (SC) is the best all rounder, but as Kevin rightly points out due to their sheer rarity, it’s best to buy on condition rather than spec, be it a 1.7 or 1.8. On the other hand a truly top 914-6 can sell of well over £25,000 with ease, so 914 values are on the rise as a whole.
In contrast there’s no shortage of Boxsters around and they can be picked up very cheaply too, from £3000 or less. However, that may well prove to be a false economy as certain repairs – especially to the Tiptronic transmission – can almost exceed the value of some models.
It’s far better to buy the best you can and set a budget of around £6500-£9000 at least (depending upon model) for a good car. Support from specialists is very good which is just as well as the Boxster is hardly a DIY proposition even to diehard enthusiasts. It’s not simply because it’s a complex modern design but also the fact that the mid-mounted engine is well and truly tucked away out of sight.
The 914 is still popular in the US so tuning options are plentiful – including fitting small V8s or Scooby Do ( #Subaru ) engines! The front suspension is early 911 while Porsche brakes can also be fitted. Same again for the VW brakes, which can be substituted for 911 anchors. Even if you like your 914 stock, fitting the later Porsche transaxle from a 930 improves the gearbox no end. There’s no shortage of tuning and custom bits for the Boxster.
“The real appeal of the Boxster to classic fans is the fact they feel a bit like an old school 911!”
AND THE WINNER IS…
You tell us! The 914, despite its faults when new, was a bold, brave attempt to make a 911 alternative that some say is the more purist in terms of design plus boasts better handing. What scuppered the car when contemporary was its price that was too near the 911 to entice buyers. Today they make an interesting and cheaper substitute although, according to experts we spoke to, most are in a shabby state. The Boxster was the nail in the coffin for many traditional specialist makes, such as TVR, because it offered affordable Porsche ownership that two decades on is even more appealing as a used car/modern classic buy. Given the fact that they drive pretty much like older 911s used to feel what more can you ask for?
Boxster looks best hood down. A hard top is available but pricey.
911-like cabin is part of the Boxster’s charm.
Access is bad but performance isn’t – even ‘slow’ 2.5 model!
As modern classics go, the Boxster is one of the best and fi ne value.
Square looks have aged well and the 914 looks pretty good to us.
If anything, the cabin was better designed than a 911. Most LHD.
VW 412 power meant the 914 was sluggish for a serious sportster.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Experts on 914s are thin on the ground yet in Essex two were just miles from each other! PR Services (www.prs356. com) ‘dumped’ the car because there was no money in looking after them. Mike and Paul Smith reckon the biggest problem are owners who won’t shell out for preventative maintenance and as a result end up with bills of £2500 just to prep the car for the MoT plus a service, adding that about 80 per cent of cars out there are pretty ropey. Sad because Paul is a big fan of the 914. Dave Dennett of DSD Motorwerks (07002 911356) broadly agrees and says it’s the cost of shipping etc which really bumps up prices to 911 levels and apart from the 914/6 (of which DSD is making a racing replica for a Belgium enthusiast), their values don’t encourage owners to spend serious money. But given the choice, Dave says he’d always take a 914 over a similar value Boxster because of its exceptional handling that surpassed a 911.
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- Post is under moderationFIRST RIDE NEW AUDI R8 #2015
We ride shotgun in the second generation #Audi-R8-Mk2 ...
When #Audi launched the #Audi-R8 in #2007 , it was both a show of skill and a declaration of war. Inspired by the #2003 #Le-Mans quattro concept, and sharing many core components with the #Lamborghini-Gallardo , Audi’s first ever mid-engine machine was aimed directly at the #Porsche #911 and the junior league Italian supercars.
Thanks to its aluminium spaceframe construction, the R8 is relatively light. Blessed with timelessly elegant mid-engined supercar proportions, it offers stunning performance in a timelessly elegant package, which although basically 12-yearsold in concept, still turns heads today.
In 2008, a mildly detuned version of the Gallardo’s 5.2-litre V-10 was added to the 4.2-litre V8 offering, and the ultra- desirable Spyder version debuted in #2010 . While the charismatic open-gated manual shifter remained available to the end, at facelift time in #2012 , the clunky #R-Tronic automated manual transmission gave way to the smooth and rapid seven-speed #S-Tronic dual-clutch unit that finally rounded off the R8’s dynamic package. Last summer, the most powerful ever R8, the 562hp #Audi-R8-LMX , was launched. This limited edition of 99 cars heralded the technical culmination of the first generation R8, while hinting at some of the features the next R8 would bring, such as laser headlights.
The R8 LMS went racing in 2009, with great success, while a full-electric #Audi-R8-E-Tron was announced in 2013, taken off the menu, and then put back on again when improved batteries made its range acceptable. Audi even dabbled with diesels, showing a #V12-TDI concept, and internally, a #V8-TDI prototype was produced as well.
The Next Generation
A few weeks prior to its official unveiling at the Geneva auto show, we were invited to the #Ascari racetrack for a passenger ride in a prototype of the second-generation R8, which will hit the showrooms in late 2015. We will not be able to get behind the wheel ourselves till the summer, but were quite content to ride shotgun with Audi test driver and DTM racer, Frank Stippler, who knows the new car inside out.
The already relatively light, all aluminium R8 was put on a diet, and has shed between 50 and 100kg depending on the model and spec. The new vehicle architecture, called MSS (Modular Sport System), is an evolution of the previous R8 platform, and is shared with the Lamborghini Huracán.
This is a mainly aluminium spaceframe using carbon-fibre for the rear bulkhead and some other structural parts. Audi say that this halfway house between an all carbonfibre tub as used by McLaren, and an allaluminium one as used by Ferrari on their #Ferrari-458 , is the best cost to strength and weight compromise for a relatively low volume car of this type.
As work on the car had already commenced before #Porsche was integrated into the #VW Group, almost no parts are shared between the R8 and any existing Porsche model.
The lightly camouflaged R8 prototype looks low, aggressive, and contemporary. While it retains the broad proportions of its predecessor, with similar overall length, it is slightly lower and wider than before, and its more angular lines and details make the connection to Audi’s current model line-up.
The rakish front end of the new car features LED headlights as standard or the distinctive optional laser lights, which double the high beam range. These have now been homologated for the US market. Despite many new features, the second generation R8 retains strong styling links to its predecessor. One of these, an R8 signature styling cue, the big vertical blade behind the doors, has been re-imagined into two more subtle half blades, one below the beltline, and one above.
The latter is now an air intake duct for cabin and engine compartment venting, and the visually unbroken strake that now runs from the doors to the top of the side air scoops gives the new car its longer, lower and more homogenous looking flanks. The standard wheel size is 19-inch, with 245/35ZR19 and 295/30ZR19 rubber front and rear. The optional 20s are shod with 245/30ZR20 and 305/30ZR20 tyres. Semislick trackday tyres are an option as are carbon-ceramic brakes.
Initially, the new R8 will be powered by two versions of the 5.2-litre V10, the V10 and V10 Plus rated at 533 and 602bhp, with 540Nm and 560Nm of torque respectively. Both have cylinder de-activation and stop/ start for better fuel economy and lower emissions.
The official 0-62mph (0-100km/h) numbers for the V10 and #Audi-R8-V10-Plus are 3.5 and 3.2 seconds respectively, with 0 to 200 km/h taking 11.4 and 9.9 seconds. Top speed is an ungoverned 200.7mph (323 km/h) for the 533bhp model, and an incredible 205mph (330 km/h) for the 602bhp monster. These Vmax figures are significantly better than the current model, and a testament to the new R8’s aerodynamic superiority. Only one transmission will be available, the lightning-quick, seven-speed dualclutch gearbox with Launch Control as standard. The original R8’s six-speed manual with its wonderful click-clack, riflebolt action has been consigned to history. It seems that take-up rate had dropped to just five-percent in the last year of production, its fate finally sealed by the smooth and rapid S-Tronic paddle-shift transmission.
As we rocket out of the pit lane the new R8 feels and sounds great from the passenger seat as the naturally-aspirated V10 struts its classic, high revving stuff. The throttle response feels linear, the power building smoothly and strongly with revs as Frank coaxes the engine to its lofty 8,850rpm redline in the intermediate gears. This is one rapid and charismatic machine. The increased power and lower weight are telling, and Frank does not hang about. As we slide through a few bends on the bald limit, the new R8’s chassis proves it is a match for the 602 horses.
From this side of the car, the turn-in seems even crisper than before, and as Frank balances the car in varying degrees of oversteer on the way out of each bend, it is clear that the enhanced and rear-biased quattro system is a drivers’ delight. The slightly lower centre of gravity helps dynamics, and Audi has fitted a watercooled front differential, and a mechanical limited-slip differential in the rear to help apportion power. The power steering is electro-mechanical, and variable magnetic ride suspension is an option.
Audi’s Drive Select button offers several modes, including Dynamic, which “allows the driver to notice some action,” to quote one of the engineers. On top of that, there is a Performance setting, which can be adjusted according to the road surface.
The focus with this mode is not on hooning around, but rather on helping the driver achieve good lap times. That said, enthusiasts will be happy to learn that the stability control system can be switched off completely. The counterpoint is Comfort mode, which lowers the noise level and trims away NVH, rendering the R8 an ideal long-distance cruiser.
While the new R8’s exterior is indeed evolutionary, the interior takes a major leap forward. Quality was always top notch, and that is unchanged, but the aesthetics of the cabin architecture and infotainment system are now state-of-the-art.
“The new R8 moves the bar higher in every way”
The flat-bottom steering wheel, carried over from the new TT, is fitted with four additional buttons to start and stop the engine, select the driving modes, and choose the exhaust sound level. The TFT Virtual Cockpit directly in front of the driver, is another TT carryover, and that is a good thing. With the central console mounted screen gone, the strong driver orientation of the new R8 is set in stone.
Even the colour and trim choices are innovative. The standard leather dashboard covering features a high-tech texture, highlighted by hand stitching. Alternative leather and Alcantara upholstery is available, with a wide range of standard and quattro GmbH finishes there for the asking. The new R8 interior is now the class benchmark, and makes the cabins of the Porsche 911, #Mercedes-AMG-GT , and even the #BMW-i8 look dated.
Audi R&D Chief, Ulrich Hackenberg, has confirmed a rear-wheel drive R8 e-tron with a 450 km range, as well as a new Spyder. The new R8 moves the bar higher in every way.
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