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Porsche 911 on safari

Did you know the Porsche 911’s first ever race was, in fact, a rally? The year was 1965, and Huschke von Hanstein, race director and Porsche PR officer, was keen to show off the dexterity of the company’s new sports car, which could be driven on the road and raced at weekends. Herbert Linge and Peter Falk were thrust into a 2.0-litre 911 for the legendary Monte Carlo rally, driving the car from Bad Homburg, Germany, to the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, finishing a creditable fifth overall. A 911 would win the notorious event outright in 1968 in the hands of ‘Quick Vic’ Elford, the first of many key rallying successes which forms an important part of the 911’s 30,000 overall race victories to date.

Meanwhile, alongside the sport kits which formed the basis of Porsche’s famous Sports Purpose manual in 1966, the company offered a rally kit – option 9552. Comprising of a pair of Recaro seats, roll bar, a 100-litre fuel tank with front hood filler, adjustable Koni shock absorbers plus subtle engine modifications, the kit was intended for customers who wished to participate in long-distance rallies.

Notable success on the rally stage has continued throughout the 911’s history. Who can forget the heroics of the factory-supported Prodrive SC RSs in the 1980s, a precursor to the 1984 Paris-Dakar-winning 953 and, later, the 959, which was built for the very purpose of rallying before the demise of Group B just before its release. The air-cooled 911 remains a regular participant in global regulation and speed rallies, with most notable success courtesy of British Porsche specialists, Tuthills. They have campaigned all manner of classic 911s in various rallies of considerable magnitude right around the world, with the late, legendary rally maestro Björn Waldegård often found at the wheel right up until his death in 2014. Current works driver Romain Dumas, meanwhile, developed his own 997 GT3 RS R-GT which competed alongside a rival 997 – again from Tuthill – in the 2015 WRC, with Porsche itself testing a Cayman GT4 Clubsport R-GT in 2018 with a view to joining the WRC series. As you can see, rallying isn’t a mere offshoot of the Porsche 911 – it’s forever been part of its DNA.

Meanwhile, safari 911s have well and truly captured the imaginations of wider enthusiasts in the last two to three years, catapulted into the limelight by pro racing driver and Porsche enthusiast Leh Keen’s imaginative safari builds. Others have since joined the market with their own off-road expressions of the 911, but what are these cars really like to drive? Today we’re going to find out, thanks to an invite from Makellos Classics to test their most remarkable project to date. Matt Kenyon, owner of the San Diego-based company, explains: “Safari cars are popular right now so we wanted to try our interpretation of it. Some cars have the look, but we wanted to build a car that you could legitimately take off-road.”

The 911 in question is a 1978 European SC, which Makellos acquired in April 2018 with 125,000 kilometres on the clock. As Matt describes, its spec was perfect for the project at hand: “When we came across this 911 SC it had a pretty cool factory spec. It had sunroof delete, lower console delete and radio delete. It just screamed at us to build a rally spec 911.” Work started in May and was completed by mid-September, an incredible feat when you consider this was a passion project which Matt, manager Greg Bartley and the rest of the Makellos team had to fit around a busy stream of paying client jobs.

After a strip down the team began with crucial fabrication work to the 911’s chassis, which entailed custom bracing all over the car as well as reinforcement of the rear strut towers. The front strut towers were custom braced, and custom front and rear skid plates were added too.

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Magnus Walker’s latest Outlaw Porsche: reverential 964

It’s been some year for the Porsche brand. Not only have we seen a plethora of exhilarating new releases including the 991.2 GT3 RS and all-new 992, we’ve also been treated to glorious revivals of traditional models including the 911 Speedster and legendary Moby Dick. Hell, we even witnessed an air-cooled 993 Turbo roll right off the production line all over again!

It’s certainly no coincidence that these special cars are proving strong on the nostalgia front: 2018 has marked 70 years of Porsche, and Zuffenhausen has been keen to celebrate the milestone with its customers. We too wanted to pay homage to Porsche’s special 70th year of existence as, simply put, without the sustained presence of Zuffenhausen there’d be no car in your garage, and no magazine in front of you right now. We wouldn’t even have a job!

To do that though, we needed to look outside of Werk II, because although the 911s mentioned above all have one or two key design elements evoking the company’s rich history, we wanted to find a car – a single car – which best offers a design paying the ultimate homage to Porsche’s entire lifespan, from 1948 right through to today.

We soon found the perfect 911. Residing in Downtown Los Angeles, this special 964 became a passion project to deliver something truly unique, the heritage behind its modifications timely, the finished article truly timeless. The owner? One Magnus Walker.

You’ll already know the Urban Outlaw is no stranger to Total 911’s pages, having been a former ‘Living the Legend’ columnist and guest editor of our own 100th special issue. Magnus’ modified cars have garnered a keen worldwide following for their streetable, sports purpose style, and by his own admission, this 964 build is his most comprehensive yet.

“As you know, my goal is to have one of every Porsche model, including every generation of 911” Magnus says as he pulls open the sliding door to his sprawling garage in DTLA, the morning sunshine illuminating the dozen or so cars currently sitting in his collection. “I’d already built short wheelbase cars like my 67 SRT, long wheelbase cars like ‘277’ [originally a ’71T], the ’78 SC which was my first G-series build, so the 964 was a natural progression of what comes next. It wasn’t like I was looking for one, but it came at the right time and at the right price.”

Magnus acquired the 1990 964 Carrera 2 back in 2015 from a friend who’d scored a stash of cars from up north. Previously it had been used as a track day car by a hobbyist racer and gone off the circuit backwards, so it was at best a basket case when it finally rocked up with Magnus in DTLA.

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Rare Porsche 911 Cabriolets

Porsche isn’t one to miss a good marketing opportunity. Throughout the 54 years of 911 production, in which over a million examples of this iconic sports car have rolled out of Zuffenhausen, the company has bestowed worldwide customers with a whole host of special editions to celebrate anniversaries, milestones and notable racing achievements.

The latest addition is Motorsport’s new 935, a track-only car based mechanically on the 991 GT2 RS but styled on the revered Moby Dick of 1978. More interestingly though, there’s also a new Speedster. However, the fact it’s being built to commemorate 70 years of Porsche isn’t particularly significant, and neither is the numbered production run of just 1,948 examples. No, it’s a special-edition, open-topped Porsche.

Think about it, most special-edition Porsche 911s are Coupes. From the 930 S to the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, via the 993 GT2, 996 Anniversary and 997 Sport Classic, these limited cars, often built on a numbered production run, are tin-top. There appears no specific reason for this: all body styles hail from the same production line at Werk II, and it’s not like an open-topped 911 is unpopular – in fact, widespread endearment to both the Cabriolet and Targa is such that Porsche has kept both models running concurrently since 1983. And while it’s true 911 Coupes will always enjoy a certain cache over their open-topped stablemates, what’s not to like about a special-edition Cabriolet?

To find out we’ve come to Long Beach in southern California to sample two stellar open-topped examples of rare Porsche in the 3.2 Commemorative Cabriolet and 964 America Roadster. Owned by serial Porsche owner and Total 911 subscriber Bruce Brown, these cars are used as they were intended, cruising the boulevards and carving through the inland canyons, roof down, revelling under the year-round Californian sunshine.

The cars arrive at the beach just after us, pulling off the highway and driving onto a slipway down to the Pacific Ocean, the 964’s almost V8-like thrum a striking note against the 3.2 Carrera’s more agricultural resonance. Bruce, in the 3.2, and his friend Simon Birch, piloting the 964, kill the cars and jump out, which gives us a chance to absorb both 911s as they cool off in the brisk sea wind.

First, the Commemorative 3.2. Built to honour 250,000 911s having been built, it’s sometimes referred to as the 25th Anniversary – this at a time before Porsche thought of the 30, 40 and 50 Jahre Anniversary models in the ensuing years. The 3.2 Commemorative Edition was available in either Coupe, Cabriolet or Targa body styles.

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991.2 G2 RS Clubsport unveiled

Porsche might have chosen LA to reveal its new 992 series Carrera, but the 991 isn’t going down quietly, having one last hurrah in the form of the GT2 RS Clubsport. A track-only 200 limited-run special, the GT2 RS Clubsport takes the already mighty GT2 RS and strips it for the track, with a single Recaro bucket seat with a six-point harness, instrumentation from the GT3 R racer, an air jack system with three lifts and plumbed in fire extinguisher system. The fuel tank has been enlarged, the Clubsport coming with a 115 litre FT3 safety fuel cell which is filled through the bonnet.

That bonnet, like the engine cover is made of carbon fibre, these fitted in place on the Clubsport with quick release hatches for easy access at track. Above the driver’s seat there’s an escape hatch in the carbon fibre roof, in accordance with FIA regulations. Under that removable engine cover is the same 3.8-litre turbocharged flat-six as the road car, situated on rigid mounts.

Porsche is quoting the power at 700hp, though that’s likely to be conservative, it easier to simply quote the road car’s figure than re-homologate the numbers for the Clubsport. The 100 cell cat and new centre-exiting exhaust is certain to have liberated more power from the already ludicrous output of the GT2 RS.

Visually the Clubsport gains an even more aggressive look, with larger air intakes at the front a larger rear wing situated higher than its road relative and rides on Clubsport specific adjustable suspension with 3-way racing dampers, reinforced tie-rods ball joints throughout. The one-piece lightweight alloy wheels of 10.5J x 18 front and 12.5J x 18 rear wheels feature a single centre-lock nut.

The interior is pure race car, with the single Recaro bucket seat, welded-in cage, a Cosworth ICD with integrated data logger, a lap trigger and Porsche Track Precision Race App and a Sport Chrono Clock. The boost gauge is given a ‘vintage’ finish, while the carbon fibre steering wheel is removable, the centre console featuring an emergency cut off and map switches to adjust the ABS, ESC, TC and switch between different tyre circumferences. Air conditioning is retained in the otherwise stripped interior.

Braking is taken care of by six-piston monobloc racing callipers on the front axle grabbing 390mm diameter steel brake discs, the rear having a four-piston monobloc racing calliper and 380mm discs. Two separate brake circuits feature for the front and rear axles allowing the driver to adjust the brake balance as required.

The 7-speed PDK transmission is retained, it featuring a dual mass flywheel with internal pressurised oil lubrication and a limited-slip differential optimised for racing. Despite the fitment of a cage the Clubsport drops in weight, Porsche quoting a kerbweight of 1,390kg.

Eligible to run at selected race meetings or club motor sport, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars said: “For the upcoming years, our customers will not only race the GT2 RS Clubsport on track days but also at international motor racing events. We are currently holding very productive talks with the race organiser SRO”.

Just 200 will be built, it likely that if you’ve not already secured an allocation then you’ll not be able to have one, even if you have the €405,000 (before local VAT) Porsche is asking for it. Deliveries start from May 2019, so if you want to win any club races in your current machinery then you’d better get busy before the GT2 RS Clubsport arrives….

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New 2019 Porsche 992 revealed: all you need to know

We’ve ridden shotgun in the prototypes, but Total 911 is attending the unveil of the new Porsche 992 series 911 in LA, prior to it reaching showrooms early next year. That it’s visually similar to the 991 before it is no surprise, Porsche’s evolutionary approach to its styling no more obvious than with the 911, but this eighth-generation model brings the company’s iconic sports car up to date, adding connectivity, driver assistance and improved environmental performance all while retaining its driver focus.

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE STATS

Retaining the 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six of the 991.2, the 992 is launched in Carrera S guise, it developing 450hp, which represents an increase of 30hp over the outgoing Carrera S. In rear-wheel drive PDK form that allows a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds, or 3.5 seconds if the optional Sport Chrono pack is fitted. The Carrera 4S reduces that by 0.1 seconds thanks to its traction advantage, the top speed for the Carrera S being 191mph and the 4S 190mph. That’s 0.4 seconds faster than the equivalent outgoing 991.2 model, the 992 boasting performance in the realms of the 997 Turbo.

The consumption and emissions figures quoted for the 992 look less impressive, with Porsche quoting 31.7/31.4mpg and 205g/km/209g/km for the Carrera S/4S respectively. These figures are based on the new, stricter, WLTP testing procedure which give a a greater real-world result, so customers should expect consumption equivalent to the outgoing models, even if the numbers don’t suggest it.

AESTHETICS

Externally the 992’s most obvious visual cue is the new rear light bar, this LED strip spanning the entire width of the rear. All Carreras, from the launch S models, to the standard Carreras that will follow next year will be wide-bodied, with all being as wide as the current GTS/GT3 models. The width at the front axle grows by 45mm, too, the steered wheels being fitted with 20-inch alloys, the rear being staggered with a 21-inch rim.

That widebody is almost entirely constructed from aluminium in a bid to save weight, the 992 set to weigh much the same as the car it replaces. That’s despite the addition of some additional new tech, the 911 embracing driver assistance with the addition of lane keeping assist and lane departure warning equipment, brake assist with emergency braking as well as the availability of Night Vision Assist with a thermal camera. Should you option that, the images will be displayed on one of the screens situated either side of the large analogue rev-counter that sits prominently in front of the driver in the instruments. Convenience in traffic will be added with the option of an adaptive cruise control system with automatic distance control and stop-and-go function.

INTERIOR

The interior is a marked step from the 991, the centre dash dominated by a 10.9 inch touchscreen, it giving access to familiar entertainment and navigation functions as well as displaying the driving modes. To the usual Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual Modes Porsche has added Wet Mode, this selectable mode automatically prepping the PDK shift strategy, traction and stability systems and throttle map when wheel housing sensors detect wet tarmac.

The connectivity of the interior systems is improved, with swarm online data assisting with navigation, and apps including Porsche Road Trip for route planning and Porsche Impact being an emissions estimator that allows you to estimate financial contributions to offset your emissions with your favoured internationally certified climate project.

Engine revisions to help reduce that impact include revised turbochargers and new intercooling with shorter, more efficient paths, as well as an improved direct injection process. The addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission (a seven-speed manual will follow) derived from the Panamera also underlines Porsche’s future climate credentials as it allows the company to add a hybrid electric motor into the transmission at a later, as yet to be confirmed, date.

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