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Porsche 2.4S, 964 C2, 997.1 GT3 RS, 991 GT2 RS: Driver’s 911s

By definition any 911 is a driver’s car, but the proliferation of Porsche’s sports car, through both time and model variation, means some 911s are that little bit more engaging and interesting to drive than its contemporary models.

As cars become ever more complex, weightier and increasingly remote, we’ve picked some 911 highlights which celebrate what’s arguably been taken away from more modern machinery: the unfiltered joy of pure driving.

Our quartet spans key eras of the 911 in the form of an early car, modern classic, recent Rennsport and the outrageous present, each example putting the driver at the very core of their existence.

A not-inconsiderable tract of time and huge technological advances differentiate the first and last 911s that we’re driving here, but each represents one of the defining elements of the 911, that being driver appeal.

Any of these cars will thrill and engage, each exhibiting character and engagement that’s commensurate with their era, but what is undeniable is that each and every 911 retains a signature that’s unique to it, which is why it’s such a celebrated sports car. Some though are worth celebrating that little bit more…

For the full road test of our driver’s 911s, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 184 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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Porsche 2.4S, 964 C2, 997.1 GT3 RS, 991 GT2 RS: Driver’s 911s

By definition any 911 is a driver’s car, but the proliferation of Porsche’s sports car, through both time and model variation, means some 911s are that little bit more engaging and interesting to drive than its contemporary models.

As cars become ever more complex, weightier and increasingly remote, we’ve picked some 911 highlights which celebrate what’s arguably been taken away from more modern machinery: the unfiltered joy of pure driving.

Our quartet spans key eras of the 911 in the form of an early car, modern classic, recent Rennsport and the outrageous present, each example putting the driver at the very core of their existence.

A not-inconsiderable tract of time and huge technological advances differentiate the first and last 911s that we’re driving here, but each represents one of the defining elements of the 911, that being driver appeal.

Any of these cars will thrill and engage, each exhibiting character and engagement that’s commensurate with their era, but what is undeniable is that each and every 911 retains a signature that’s unique to it, which is why it’s such a celebrated sports car. Some though are worth celebrating that little bit more…

For the full road test of our driver’s 911s, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 184 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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Pour consulter l'article original et complet, cliquez ici.

Porsche 993 Carrera RS road test

“You must push it,” says this 993 Carrera RS Clubsport’s owner, Omar. That’s fine for him to say, but the paradox of driving cars like this is exactly that – driving them.

Just 227 993 Carrera RS Clubsports were ever built. I’m sat in one now, a genuine 993 Carrera RS with the under-bonnet sticker containing the essential 003 code. That signifies Group N GT1 Carrera RS, simply ‘Clubsport’ or, in some markets, ‘RSR’.

My surroundings confirm that: the interior is devoid of anything other than the bare necessities, which means three pedals, a gearstick and a steering wheel. It feels pure race car, because that’s what it is.

A little bit more deciphering of those codes reveals that when ordered it came with a 197 88Ah battery, 459 strut brace, 471 Carrera RS Sports spoilers, 564 no airbag, 567 graduated tint windscreen, 573 air conditioning, 657 power steering and 990 cloth seats.

All came with most of these, the air conditioning optionally (and sensibly) added, as has a powered passenger window, the switch for it located in front of the gear lever in the middle, usually a blanked-off switch position in these. As a C11 model it was originally supplied to Austria, is left-hand-drive and finished in L39E Riviera blue, that bold colour covering every bit of the RS’s beautifully exposed bodywork. 

There’s plenty of it: the rear-view mirror, sat beside a sole sun visor, is filled with the stunning hue, the criss-crossing cage that fills the rear and braces down the door apertures as well as the entire rear area being covered in the bright finish.

There’s no carpet anywhere, save for a couple of mats in the front footwells. The lightweight, fixed seatbacks weren’t a stranger to the spray gun either, the lack of anything even as ‘luxurious’ as headlining means the colour is on the roof above, too.

You’d have to have been intent on really using the Clubsport as intended to pay the additional £5,250 it added to the regular RS’s £62,250 sticker price and, really, like the colour you picked, because there’s no escaping it when you get inside. 

For that additional outlay you lost equipment, the Clubsport binning the RS’s luxuries, such as they were, for an even more purposeful specification. It existed as a means to homologate the Carrera for the BPR GT3 and GT4 categories and is based on the Carrera Cup car, as well as giving more track-focused customers an even more focused machine.

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Porsche 993: the 911 that had to succeed

In retrospect, it’s easy to say Porsche’s mistake was its decision to keep the G-series 911 in production for 15 years, but from the company’s point of view, through the early 1980s the 911 was selling ever more strongly.

Regular updates and revisions ensured it remained at the top of the performance stakes. The robustness which made it a car you could count on day after day meant that despite its archaisms, it was still the ultimate road and track sports car.

However, within Porsche it was also a source of frustration to many of its engineers and designers keen to modernise it, dispensing, for example, with the torsion bar suspension and introducing assisted steering and a less idiosyncratic ventilation system. Journalists in other respects always well disposed towards the 911 observed it was becoming increasingly an enthusiast’s car, lacking broader appeal and depriving Porsche of a wider market.

The 928 launched in 1977 was supposed to address the GT segment of the market, but by the time the Vorstand had approved the next 911, Typ 964 in April 1984, sales of the 928 were already in decline. The 964 itself was a radical step in engineering terms – a completely new chassis and suspension which allowed fitment of ABS and assisted steering, a larger and more potent flat six, and four-wheel drive.

A conservative board, however, would not permit the designers to change anything above the axle line, which meant the 964, despite its revised front and rear bumpers, looked remarkably similar to its predecessor. Moreover its four-wheel-drive, such an innovation when Audi introduced the Quattro in 1981, was no longer a sensation, and early 964 buyers were able to confirm what the magazine testers had found, that Porsche’s fixed 2:1 rear/front torque split made the latest 911 an uninspiring understeerer.

The rear-drive C2 911 appeared a year later, but by then the damage had been done: in a generally morose market, and one which had halved in the US, clearly the 964 would not be the model to rescue an increasingly beleaguered Porsche.

A rolling of management heads saw new blood brought into the company. A former Weissach R&D engineer named Ulrich Bez was enticed from BMW Tech to become engineering boss, and he appointed his chief designer at BMW, Harm Lagaaij, another ex-Weissach man, to reinvigorate Porsche styling. These two were the impetus behind the next 911: the 993.

Bez was particularly critical of the 964’s crude ride and the C4’s handling, and Lagaaij’s remark when he arrived at Porsche’s design studios in October 1989 that there was “nothing going on” has gone into the history books. Work on 911 Typ 993 would start within weeks of the 964 C2 reaching the showrooms.

This time, a chastened Vorstand, which had pensioned off its managing, engineering and styling directors in short order, was prepared to offer Bez and Lagaaij more licence, and the pair took as much advantage as their still-constrained development budget permitted. 

Nevertheless, the new 911 represented a challenge: how could the new 993 retain its defining ‘Neunelfer-ness’ yet be endowed with a more modern appearance and wider appeal? 

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Porsche: concepts mules and prototypes

Before any new model goes into manufacture the design – in various stages of finalisation – has to go through practical testing. These vehicles are prototypes, recognisably and most often visually identical to the subsequent production vehicle.

Far less frequently these days, where more extensive research and dynamic development can be carried out with software simulations, a manufacturer experiments with a radical new idea by building some of the technology into the preceding model. These cars are often referred to as ‘mules’.

In the past, the need to keep particular experiments confidential even led to some mules wearing total disguises to fool both press and competitors.

Examples of this at Porsche include the Audi 100 Coupe, into which Weissach shoehorned the 928’s V8 and running gear; later the 928’s innards would also be built into an Opel Diplomat.

Concepts are used by manufacturers to float an idea, to test acceptability of a particular design or style. A phenomenon which in today’s homogenised and regulated auto industry has become unusual, the most successful example in Porsche history was the Boxster concept, greeted with standing ovations when it was revealed in 1993.

That the resultant Boxster – which would closely prefigure the new 911 – was so similar to the concept was a tribute to Porsche’s original design, achieving homologation with a minimum of compromises which usually dilute and sometimes completely spoil the original idea.

The real workhorses of pre-production are, of course, the prototypes, masked these days if their makers want to hide them by an astute application of chequered tape, which brilliantly sabotages visual perspective.

Of the thousands of prototypes built, virtually all of them are subsequently broken up, occasionally to the dismay of auto historians. In deference, however, to the interest they generate, Porsche has selected a handful of the more remarkable prototypes it has kept, and sometimes displays them at the Museum at Zuffenhausen…

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