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Porsche 911

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A 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS

The Porsche 911 is a famous and distinctive sportscar made by Porsche AG of Stuttgart, Germany. Evolving continually since its introduction, the car is sometimes also known by its internal names: Type 901 (shortly during 1963 before production started), Type 911 (1963-1988), Type 930 (turbocharged models prior to 1989), Type 964 (1989-1992), Type 993 (1993-1997), Type 996 (1998-2004) and Type 997 (from 2004). The 911 has been modified, both by private teams and the factory itself, for racing, rallying and other types of automotive competition, and has been extremely successful both on and off the track since its inception.

Contents

History

A note on designations: the series letter (A, B, C, etc.) is used by Porsche to indicate the revision for production cars. It often changes annually to reflect changes for the new model year. The first 911 models are the 'A series', the first 993 cars are the 'R series'.)

2.0-litre / A and B series (1963-1969)

The 911 was developed as a more powerful, larger, more comfortable replacement for the Porsche 356, the company's first model, and essentially a sporting evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle. The car made its public debut as the 'Porsche 901' (901 being its internal project number) at the 1963 Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, better known to English speakers as the Frankfurt motor show. After a legal protest from Peugeot (on the grounds that they owned the trademark to all car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle), but before production started, the car had its name changed to 911. It went on sale in 1964.

Its 130 PS1 six-cylinder engine, in the 'boxer' configuration like the 356, air-cooled and rear-mounted, displaced 1991cc compared with the 356's four-cylinder 1600cc unit. The car had four seats to the 356's two, although the rear seats are very small, and the car is usually called a 2+2 rather than a four-seater. It was mated to a five speed manual 'Type 915' transmission. The styling was largely by Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche, son of the company founder Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche. Erwin Komenda, the leader of the Porsche car body construction department, was also involved in the design.

The 356 came to the end of its life in 1965, but there was still a market for a 4-cylinder car, particularly in the USA. The Porsche 912, introduced the same year, served as a direct replacement. It used the 356's 4-cylinder, 1600cc 90 PS engine but wore the 911 bodywork and was in most respects a 911.

In 1966 Porsche introduced the more powerful 911S, the engine's power raised to 160 PS. Alloy wheels from Fuchs, in a distinctive 5-leaf design, were offered for the first time. In motorsport at the same time, installed in the mid-engined Porsche 904 and Porsche 906, the engine was developed to 210 PS.

In 1967 the Targa version was introduced. The Targa had a removable roof panel, a removable plastic rear window (although this was soon replaced by a fixed glass item) and a stainless steel roll bar. (Porsche had, at one point, thought that the NHTSA would outlaw fully open convertibles in the US, an important market for the 911, and introduced the Targa as a 'stop gap' model.) The name 'Targa' came from the Targa Florio road race in Sicily, in which Porsche had notable success: victories in 1956, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1973.

The 110 PS 911T was also launched in 1967 and effectively replaced the 912. The staple 130 PS model was renamed the 911L. More excitingly, the 911R was produced in tiny numbers (20 in all). This was a lightweight racing version with thin aluminium doors, a magnesium crankcase, twin-spark cylinder heads, and a power output of 210 PS.

In 1968 the B series was introduced: the wheelbase for all 911 and 912 models was increased from 2211mm to 2268mm, an effective remedy to the car's nervous handling at the limit. The overall length of the car did not change: rather, the rear wheels were relocated aft. Fuel injection arrived for the 911S and for a new middle model, 911E.

2.2-litre / C and D series (1970-1971)

For the 1970 model year the engines of all 911s was increased to 2195cc. Power outputs were uprated to 125 (911T), 155 (911E) and 180 PS (911S). The 912 was discontinued, thanks to the introduction of the Porsche 914 as an entry model.

2.4-litre / E and F series (1972-1973)

The 1972-1973 model years consisted of the same models of 911 – the entry level T, the midrange E and the top of the line S. However, all models got a new, larger 2.3 L (2341 cc/142 in³) engine, although it was known as the "2.4 L" engine. The new power ratings were 130 hp (97 kW), or 140 hp (104 kW) in the US, for the T, 165 hp (123 kW) for the E and 190 hp (142 kW) for the S.

The 911E and 911S used mechanical fuel injection (MFI) in all markets. The US 911T also used MFI, while the RoW (rest-of-the-world) 911T was carbureted, which accounts for its 10 hp (7.5 kW) power difference between the two. In January, 1973, US 911Ts were switched to the new Bosche K-Jetronic CIS (Continuous Fuel Injection) system. These cars are commonly referred to as 1973.5 models.

With the power and torque increases, the 2.4 L cars also got a newer, stronger transmission, identified by its Porsche type number 915. Derived from the transmission in the 908 race car, the 915 did away with the 901/911 transmission's 'dog-leg' style first gear arrangement, opting for a traditional H pattern with first gear up to the left, second gear underneath first, etc. Some say this was because the dog-leg shift to first was inconvenient for in town driving, other say it was due to Porsche’s desire to put 5th gear outside the main transmission housing where it could easily be changed for different races. The Sportomatic transmission was still available, but only as a special order.

In 1972 tremendous effort was made to improve the handling of the 911. The biggest thing Porsche did was relocate the oil tank from its position behind the right rear wheel to in front of it. This had the effect of moving the weight of almost 9 quarts of oil from outside the wheelbase to inside, improving the handling. To facilitate filling of the oil tank, Porsche installed an oil filler door (much like the fuel filler door on the left front fender) on the right rear quarter panel. Unfortunately, this unique design was scrapped after only one year, some say because inattentive gas station attendants were putting gas in the oil tank! The oil tank was moved back to it original position for the 1973 model year, and there is stayed until it was moved back within the wheelbase for the 964 models. 1972 911s are now one of the most desirable early 911s because of this feature.

These cars also gained a discreet spoiler under the front bumper to help high-speed stability. With the car's weight only 2314 lbs (1050 kg), these are often regarded as the best classic mainstream 911s.

Carrera RS 2.7

This model, much prized by collectors, is one of the all-time classic 911s. It was built so that Porsche could enter racing formulae that demanded that a certain minimum number of production cars were made. Compared with a standard 911S, the Carrera RS had a larger engine (2687cc) developing 210 PS, revised and stiffened suspension, a 'ducktail' rear spoiler, larger brakes, larger wheels & wheel-arches, and was about 150kg lighter - most of the saving coming from the thin-gauge steel used for the bodyshell. In total 1636 were made, comfortably exceeding the 500 that had to be made to qualify for the vital FIA Group 4 class. A more powerful version, the Carrera RS 3.0, was also made. The 3.0-litre cars used standard-gauge steel, and thanks to that extra 180 kg the extra 20 PS did not give it a performance advantage.

The Carrera RSR 3.0 and Carrera RSR Turbo (its 2.1-litre engine due to a 1.4x equivalency formula) were made in tiny numbers for racing. The turbo car came second at Le Mans in 1974, a significant event in that its engine would form the basis of many future Porsche assaults on sportscar racing, and can be regarded as the start of its commitment to turbocharging. The large rear spoiler and the 3.0 turbo engine were to be used again in the production 911 Turbo and the 934 racing car.

2.7-litre / G, H, I and J series (1974-1977)

From 1974 a detuned version of the 2687cc engine from the Carrera RS was used in the mainstream production cars. The cars looked rather different from the previous year's thanks to bulky new bumpers front and rear, to conform with low-speed impact protection requirements of US law. The interior was refreshed too. The model line-up was now: 911, 911S and 911 Carrera (the latter now a regular production model). The Turbo was introduced in 1975 (see below). In 1976 the Carrera model was upgraded to the Turbo's 2992cc engine, minus the turbocharger, developing 200 PS. The 2.7 engines proved to be less reliable than the 'bulletproof' 2.4 units. In effect, the 2.4-litre engine had been enlarged with no additional cooling capacity. The engines saw problems, particularly in hot climates, where the different rates of thermal expansion between the magnesium of the crankcase and the aluminium of the cylinder heads contributed to major failure. In addition, some engines saw problems whereby the cylinder head studs would pull themselves out of the crankcase. The 3.0-litre engine of the Turbo and Carrera had not used magnesium, so the move to that engine across the board was welcome for reliability reasons.

Also produced for the 1976 model year, for the US market, was the 912E, a 4-cylinder version of the 911 like the old 912 that had last been produced in 1969. It used the I-series chassis and the 2.0 Volkswagen engine from the Porsche 914. 2099 units were produced.

Position vis-ā-vis the Porsche 928

Although Porsche was continuing development of the 911, executives were troubled by its declining sales numbers and in 1971 greenlighted work on what was intended to be that car's replacement, the Porsche 928. Larger, with a front-mounted V8 engine that was considerably more powerful than the contemporary 911's, the 928 was not only designed to eclipse its performance, it was designed to be a more comfortable car, a sporty grand tourer rather than a focused sports car. The 928 sold reasonably well, and managed to survive from its introduction in 1977 until 1995. Throughout its 17 years, despite its capabilities on the road, it never outsold the 911. Notably, it achieved little success in racing..

Type 930 / 911 Turbo (1975-1989)

In 1975 Porsche introduced the first production turbocharged 911. Although called simply Porsche 911 Turbo in Europe, it was marketed as Porsche 930 (930 being its internal type number) in North America. The body shape is distinctive thanks to wide wheel-arches to accommodate the wide tyres, and a large rear spoiler often known as a 'whale tail'.

Starting out with a 3.0-litre engine (260 PS), it rose to 3.3 litres (300 PS) for the 1978 model year. The early cars are known for extreme turbo lag. As demand for the Turbo soared in the late 1980s, Porsche introduced novelty variants including a flat-nosed, cabriolet version, while not improving the range mechanically. Although these cars could be sold for extraordinary premiums over the standard models, the company's reluctance to invest so much in research and development at that time is now seen as bringing it close to disaster.

Production figures of the car soon qualified its racing incarnation for FIA Group 4 competition as the Porsche 934, of 1976. Many participated at Le Mans and other races including some epic battles with BMW's 3.0 CSL 'Batmobile'.

The wilder Porsche 935, a more highly tuned car in FIA Group 5 and evolved from the 2.1-litre RSR Turbo of 1974, was campaigned in 1976 by the factory and won Le Mans in 1979. Private teams continued to compete successfully with the car until well into the 1980s.

There have been turbocharged variants of each subsequent generation of 911. From the 993 generation, all have been four-wheel-drive. Until 1989 all used a four-speed manual transmission, the five-speed gearboxes of the naturally-aspirated cars being not strong enough to cope with the torque of the turbo engines.

911 SC (1977-1983)

All 911 models standardized on the 2992cc engine for 1977, a unit fresh from the factory delivering 180 PS was still capable of substantial extra tuning, compared with the 2.7 which was almost at its limit. In 1980 that was raised to 204 PS for non-US markets. The weight of all the extra equipment on the cars was blunting performance though, compared with what would have been expected from earlier, lighter cars with the same power output.

The first Cabriolet appeared in late 1982 for the 1983 model year. This was a much better looking car than the Targa, the other open-top 911. But while the Targa was priced to match the regular car, the cabriolet cost significantly more. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since.

911 Carrera (1984-1989)

In 1984 a new 3.2-litre car replaced the 3.0-litre SC model. It was called simply '911 Carrera', the first time the sporty label had been applied to the basic 911. Power was increased, brakes were better, and the car was more refined. The non-Turbo models became available as 'Turbo-look', a style that aped the Turbo with wide wheel-arches and the 'whale-tail', but did not reflect any mechanical changes. Buyers eagerly paid the increased prices.

Limited editions: The 911 Speedster, a low-roof version of the Cabriolet, evocative of the Porsche 356 Speedster of the 1950s, was produced in limited numbers. The Carrera Club Sport from 1987 (340 produced) is highly collectable. It was stripped of electric windows, electric seats, and radio to save a claimed 50 kg in weight. Its engine was allowed to rev higher, and the engine developed a little more power.

Type 964 (1989-1992)

In late 1989 (for the 1990 model year) the 911 underwent a major evolution with the introduction of the Type 964. This would be a very important car for Porsche, since the world economy was undergoing recession and the company could not rely on its image alone. It launched as the Carrera 4, the '4' indicating four-wheel-drive, a decision that surprised many but demonstrated the company's commitment to engineering by reminding buyers that race and rally engineering (of the 959) does affect road cars. Drag coefficient was down to 0.32. A rear spoiler deployed at high speed, preserving the purity of line when the vehicle was at rest. The chassis was much redesigned. Coil springs, ABS brakes and power-steering made their debut. The engine was increased in size to 3600cc and developed 250 PS. The car was more refined, but thought by some journalists to have lost some purity of the 911's concept. The rear-wheel-drive version, the Carrera 2, arrived a year later. The 964 incarnation of the 911 Turbo returned in 1990 after an absence from the price lists, using a similar 3.3-litre engine to the previous Turbo; this was later enlarged to match the 3.6 litres of the other models. A four-wheel-drive Turbo was also produced. Porsche's 'Tiptronic' automatic transmission was introduced on the 964. The 964 was one of the first cars anywhere in the world offered with dual airbags, power steering and ABS brakes.

Type 993 (1993-1997)

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Porsche_993_GT2.jpg
The mid-nineties Type 993 had sleeker bodywork. This is the lightweight GT2 variant.

The 964 was replaced in late 1993 by the Type 993. The bodywork was smoother, having a noticeably more aerodynamic front end somewhat reminiscent of the Porsche 959. Styling was by Englishman Tony Hatter under the supervision of design chief Harm Lagaay. The redesign was widely seen as highly successful, and compares for elegance with the models of the early 1970s before the impact-absorbing bumpers disturbed the design. Mechanically and structurally it is an evolution of the previous car, having the same roof and front bonnet and many mechanical components. Chassis refinements enabled the car to keep up dynamically with the competition. Engine capacity remained at 3.6 litres, but power rose to 272 PS thanks to better engine management and exhaust design, stabilizing at 285 PS, and four-wheel-drive made a return as an option. An RSR version with reduced weight, saw capacity rose to 3.8 litres, with power reaching 300 PS. The RSR version had rear-wheel drive only.

The turbo version became the first standard production Porsche with twin turbochargers and the first 911 Turbo to be available only with all-wheel-drive. The similarity in specification and in performance levels inspired several comparison road tests with the Porsche 959. A non-Turbo model, the 911 Carrera 4S, appeared that used the Turbo's bodyshell and some other components.

The Targa open-topped model also made a return, this time with a large glass roof that slid under the rear window; the model was much better looking than the old Targa, most thought.

The 993 was the last 911 family model to feature an air-cooled engine. Four-wheel-drive versions continued in production into 1998, but the truly new 996 replaced the others in late 1997.

Type 996 (1997-2004)

The Type 996, introduced as a 1998 model, was a major leap for Porsche. For the first time in the evolution of the 911 the car shared no major mechanical components with its predecessor. An all-new bodyshell offered a dramatic 45% increase in torsional rigidity over the 993. The new shape and flush glass bring the drag coefficient down to 0.30. The 996 became the first 911 in the model's history to utilize an entirely water-cooled engine, an all-new unit of 3.4 litres, developing 296 PS. Its mechanical layout stayed the same however, with the six-cylinder boxer engine mounted longitudinally beyond the rear axle. Suspension was by MacPherson struts at the front, as before, with a new coil-sprung multilink system at the rear.

Pundits criticized the 996's styling a great deal, largely because it shared its headlamps - indeed much of its front end, mechanically - with the less expensive Boxster. The 996 had been on the drawing board first and was a more advanced car in some respects, but the cost-cutting seemed inappropriate for an expensive car. Otherwise, the Pinky Lai-penned shape followed the original Butzi Porsche design very closely. The interior was further criticized for its plainness and its lack of relationship to prior 911 interiors, although this came largely from owners of old 911s.

The Type 996 underwent revisions in late 2002, receiving revised headlamps (now differentiating it from the Boxster), a revised front fascia and an increase in both displacement and power to 3.6 litres and 320 PS. The Type 996 spawned over a dozen variations, including all wheel drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S models, the club racing-oriented GT3, and the forced-induction 996 Turbo and GT2. The Turbo, four-wheel-drive and twin-turbo, often made appearances in magazines' lists of the best cars on sale.

Type 997 (2004-present)

Porsche debuted the 996's replacement, the Type 997, in July 2004. The 997 keeps the basic profile of the 996, bringing the drag coefficient down to 0.28, but draws on the 993 for detailing. Its interior is also much revised. The 997 shares about 30% of its parts with the outgoing 996, but is still technically very similar to it. Type 996 versions of the Turbo, Targa, Cabriolet, Carrera 4S, GT2 and GT3 will remain in production until 997 based versions of those models become available. The Cabriolet is expected in Spring 2005 and Turbo and GT3 models are currently in development (as of January, 2005).

Type 998

Porsche is expected to debut its next entirely new 911, the Type 998, in 2009.


Porsche 911 in rallying

The Porsche 911 showed great promise in rallying from the start. The rear engine means that the car has inherently good traction. Here are a few of its more significant rallying achievements.

1965

1967

1968

1969

  • 1st, Monte Carlo Rally (911T, Björn Waldegård)

1970

  • 1st, Monte Carlo Rally (911T, Björn Waldegård)

1974

1978

  • 1st, Monte Carlo Rally (911 Carrera RS 3.0, Jean-Pierre Nicolas)

1980

1984

(The Porsche 953, sometimes called the 911 Carrera 4x4, used the 4x4 drivetrain of the 959, which was still being developed.)

1986

(In the 1980s Porsche developed the Porsche 959, a four-wheel-drive twin-turbo development of the 911 to compete in the FIA's Group B category. This won the prestigious Paris-Dakar Rally of 1986.)

Awards

In 2004, Sports Car International named the 911 number three on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s, the Carrera RS number seven on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s, and the 911 Carrera number seven on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1980s. In addition, the 911 was voted Number 2 on Automobile Magazine's List of the 100 Coolest Cars. The 997 was nominated for the World Car of the Year award for 2005.

References

External links

Notes

  1. "PS" is a common way to specify the power output of German cars. It means horsepower, but is slightly different from British and American definitions, so is usually left written as PS. See the horsepower page for full details.de:Porsche 911

ja:ポルシェ 911 nl:Porsche 911 sv:Porsche 911

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