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duck & whale

forward-dated 911 SC: back to the future

The road ahead is deserted, its twisting Tarmac totally bereft of traffic. A thick wall of trees lines the roadside, their density willing us to keep moving our 991 towards the setting sun.

A look in the rear-view mirror reveals much the same story behind us. The highway is empty, save for two hazy yellow lights in the far distance. However, as the minutes tick by, those lights become more prominent. Glancing briefly at the road ahead, my eyes return to the 991’s rear-view mirror, fixated on those yellow lights coming quickly towards us. There’s a red hue visible between them now. A bonnet. A roof. A windscreen. It’s a car.

The rate at which this car is closing in on us is astonishing. It surges up the stretch of road behind us, revealing more detail with each passing second as its features become ever larger in our mirrors. A 964, I think to myself, catching its chunky front PU with integrated side lights. Then, roaring up behind us, the 964 pulls out and shoots past, gliding back in line and charging up the road ahead. Now the confusion sets in: replete with one-piece bumper, full-width rear reflector with clear ‘Porsche’ script, a distinctive tea tray spoiler and wheels with the lip and profile of Cup-spec alloys, the visual cues give this car away as a 964 3.3 Turbo. However, the mechanical howl of that flat six as it shot past certainly wasn’t akin to the noise of a 911 with an exhaust turbocharger bolted on. So, what on earth has just overtaken us on this rural stretch of Swedish asphalt?

Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long to find out. Not 20 minutes later we pull into a gas station and there, sitting by the pumps in front, is our mystery Porsche 911, being fuelled by its joint owner, Andreas. Originally a 1982 SC, the car was converted to a 964-look of sorts before Andreas and co-owner Lennart bought the car, though closer inspection of that one-piece Strosek front PU shows it to be more 944 than 911. We’re also told the rear bumper mimics that of a 3.0 RS. A peek inside reveals the car’s true age, its Pasha interior an obvious giveaway. Not that this car is trying to hide anything: Andreas and Lennart have even left the ‘SC’ lettering on the car’s decklid.

In our contemporary world where backdating a 911 is all the rage, the idea of a forward-dated 911 makes for an odd concept, but one which, in a bygone era, was a popular conversion. Due to the large spectrum of interchangeable parts on air-cooled 911s, many found favour with the idea of swapping a few panels to make an older model look just like one which had only just rolled off the production line at Zuffenhausen. Much like backdating, how convincing the car looked depended largely on how far you were willing to go, or how much you were willing to spend. So what of the car we’ve caught up with?

Andreas tells me he and Lennart bought the car in its current guise, complete with ‘teardrop’ wing mirrors commonly found on later 964s. “We found favour with how different it was compared to other SCs, and especially liked how it drove,” Andreas tells me as he replaces the fuel hose and tightens the 911’s filler cap. So did Andreas and Lennart ever consider converting the car back to standard, or backdating it – as is currently in vogue – to a longhood, pre-impact bumper 911? “No, because a lot of work had gone into converting it to 964 spec. For example, the rear reflector on a 964 sits at a slightly different angle to the G-series cars, so getting this to fit required the previous owner to make some modifications to the rear wings. We believe this is part of the history of the car and shouldn’t be changed,” comes Andreas’ reply.

For the full feature on forward-dated 911s, including a how-to guide from specialists, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 171 in shops now. You can also order your copy here for delivery to your door anywhere in the world, or download to an Apple or Android device of your choice. 

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rise of the Porsche 997

The classifieds can be a dangerous place to spend time. It never used to be so easy, either. As a kid I’d scour the Sunday Times, latterly Auto Trader and Top Marques, though the internet’s killed that. I don’t look too often, but writing here it’s an occasional, occupational hazard.
A potentially dangerous one, too. I’ll happily admit I’d missed how much of a bargain the 997 is these days. As a strong advocate of the 996, I’d pretty much ruled its successor out. Not because I’m not a fan – quite the opposite – just that I was under the impression it is still too new to be affordable, at least in my world. Editor Sibley’s call to write this somewhat changed that.

As I type this, on my other screen there’s an advert for a 2005 997 Carrera 2 manual Coupe for a fiver under £22,500. When did that happen? That’s the first one I’ve found, and I’ve not even looked that hard. While I and plenty of others have been banging on about hoovering up 996s while they’re still cheap, the depreciation curve’s turned the 997 game on its head. Want one? I sure as hell do.

Not to take away from the 996, but the 997 moved the game on significantly. The 996’s close association, both visually and technically, with the Boxster did it no favours among many. That it introduced water to the mix only made its task more difficult. The 997 reasserted the 911 as a more distinct offering after the 996 had softened the blow of the manner by which the 911 is cooled (technically by water, but then that water is cooled by air…).

The 996 was a necessity, creating the format from which the 911 line would follow to this day. That the 996, and in particular 996.2s, have been creeping up in value in recent years underlines a growing acceptance, though we’re at a point now where the 996 and 997 prices are converging, and in many cases the 997 is cheaper. It’d be a staunch 996 owner who’d assert their preference over the newer car. On looks alone the 997 has the 996 licked, but underneath it’s a significant step up technologically.

For for full story on why the 997.1 is the best-value 911 you need to buy right now, get your copy of Total 911 issue 171 in shops now, or get it delivered to your door. Alternatively, you can download the issue to any digital device. 

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930 3.0 v 991: evolution of a species

Second gear, just before the apex of the tightly radiused corner. Squeeze the power and wait for the 930 Turbo to spin up and deliver boost. 2,500rpm and nothing is happening. 3,000rpm and still nothing of significance. In fact, it’s feeling like a slightly flat, normally aspirated Porsche. Three-and-a-half grand and finally we’re feeling a shove between the shoulder blades, the boost gauge below the rev counter now stirring. Suddenly that softly sprung rear is squatting down and the nose is lifting, and we’re being pushed hard at the horizon. The revs rise at a disproportionate rate to what was happening a second ago and I’m readying for that long-throw 915 shift across the gate and into third gear, hoping that I can shift it briskly enough that the engine doesn’t fall off boost.

Ahead of us there’s a vivid, gold 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition that only seconds ago was filling our windscreen and has now almost vanished over the horizon. The 930 Turbo, now on boost in third gear, is covering the ground rapidly, yet there’s just so much distance to make up. An awful lot has happened in Porsche technology in the last 40 or so years… and not only in turbocharging technology. In fact, today is proving to be such an education and reminder of automotive technology advancement that it’s going to take some time to gather my thoughts.

These two Porsche 911 Turbos are both utterly beautiful. The fact that they both happen to be shades of gold that reflect the prevailing fashions at the time of their production is a happy coincidence that makes for an attractive photoshoot here in North Wales. They are both equally stunning to behold, and of course both are rear-engined. However, beyond that the differences are so stark that they provide probably the most graphic illustration possible of how the Porsche 911 ethos of Darwinian evolution has brought us to what is probably the pinnacle of internal combustion engine technology today, without the addition of hybrid power. We have here the beginning of the Porsche Turbo and quite possibly the end, together on the demanding roads of the Evo Triangle.

I’ve driven the 991-generation Turbo before, so its performance is nothing new to me. It’s fair to say that I am a devoted fan of the 911 Turbo as a road car. I fully accept the argument that the GT3 line has a purity of throttle response that is linear and telepathic, yet there’s something about the effortless, devastating overtaking capability of the 911 Turbos of each respective generation that has given me many happy memories over my years of 911 driving. Most enthusiasts would admit that if there were only one Porsche to drive every single day for the rest of their life, it would probably be a 911 Turbo.

It’s for the best that I’m driving the 930 Turbo first. At least that way it stands a chance to impress with that charismatic, early generation power delivery. The nicely adjusted 915 shift has only four gears, and I’m reminded as a former 1979 Turbo owner just how often you use first gear around the town. Those junctions where you may normally dip the clutch a little and keep it rolling in second gear need a slow, deliberate shift down to first that ideally requires a little heel toe and timing to achieve smoothly; you’re using first as an actual gear here, rather than something you select once stationary. Leaving it in second can strand you mid-junction in a black hole of performance that can be a little embarrassing if you’re not careful.

The steering is unassisted and heavy, weighting up in the traditional 911 way as soon as the corners become significant. It’s not difficult – unless you’re trying a three-point turn in a side street – but it’s heavy nonetheless and gives your wrists a workout, with the steering wheel doing its unique 911 feedback dance over road imperfections. The ride is certainly firmer that a standard 911, though it’s far from hard.

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project gold: Porsche remakes one-off 993 Turbo

Porsche has today taken the extraordinary step of remaking a ‘one of one’ special edition 993 Turbo more than 20 years after production of air-cooled 911s ceased at Zuffenhausen. The car, code-named ‘Project Gold’ in teaser videos released by the company in the run-up to its revelation, has been put together by Porsche Classic, with its styling and gold paintwork evoking that of Porsche’s current 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition.

Painted in Golden Yellow Metallic from Porsche Exclusive’s 991, the body of this collector’s item is ‘based on’ an original 993 body shell, with side air intakes present from the Exclusive 993 Turbo S, which was also available as an option on the regular 993 Turbo. Porsche says a brand new 3.6-litre 993 Turbo engine was installed into the car, its quoted output of 450hp suggesting the motor comes fitted with the X50 Powerkit option available at the time through Porsche Exclusive.

Project Gold took one and a half years to build, relying on a pool of over 6,500 genuine Porsche Classic parts, with Studio Porsche responsible for contemporary styling based on the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, which includes black leather seats with gold piping, gold detailing on the tachometer, and carbon detailing inside and out.

Porsche says the car is a ‘one-off production’, which will be auctioned at RM Sotheby’s Porsche-only sale at PEC Atlanta on October 27, 2018, which itself will mark 70 years of Porsche sports car production. However, the winning bidder will not be able to enjoy this 993 on the public road: not road registered, Porsche says the car is “limited to use on private tracks.”

You can see Project Gold for yourself at Rennsport Reunion, Laguna Seca, on September 27, where the car will make its world debut. For the most in-depth report on Project Gold ahead of its appearance at auction, keep an eye out for Total 911 magazine issue 171, due out October 3.

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Our 24-hour 997.2 Carrera S roadtrip

It is ironic that in the same weekend Porsche Motorsport’s 991 RSRs are to spend 24 hours charging around a 13-kilometre track in northern France, Total 911 would be taking part in a European dash of its own.

The call came a couple of days previously; RPM Technik’s commercial director Darren Anderson enquiring as to our whereabouts over the upcoming weekend. Le Mans was of course on the agenda, but rather than travelling to Circuit de la Sarthe, the action was to be watched from the comfort of home via Eurosport. Cue the curve ball: “How would you like to collect a 911 for me?” Darren asked.

The 911 in question was to be a 997.2 C2S, it being no ordinary beast though. Serving purpose as a mule for the company’s critically acclaimed CSR programme, which modifies 996 and 997s in line with its ‘engineering exhilaration’ slogan, the latest phase of development has seen RPM Technik partner with KW suspension. The latter’s trademark yellow springs are a permanent feature under the arches of cars dominating competition on the Nordschleife.

Via Richard Good, director at KW UK, a close working relationship has been formed with the KW factory in Fichtenberg, Germany, to develop a set-up which RPM Technik believes ideally suits its burgeoning line-up of CSR 911s. “We’ve previously used other brands of high-end suspension without issue, but we felt KW offered the greatest diversity of products and those products provide more opportunity for adjustability to cover a wide variety of driving situations. A great set-up for the track doesn’t necessarily correlate to the ideal configuration for fast road driving, for example,” Darren explains. “With KW we can ensure our cars have precise focus and adjustability without compromising ride quality, and that’s across a range of driving scenarios our customers can find themselves in.”

There’s clear intelligence behind RPM Technik’s thesis here. As we’ve seen ourselves, the rush to deliver better and better performance in the aftermarket sector often brings huge caveats in regards to comfort, particularly for examples used everyday, as the 911 is intended. Our interest suitably piqued, we accept the offer to repatriate RPM’s mule, fitted with a freshly developed set of CSR-tuned DDC Plug and Play coilovers.

Arriving at KW’s sprawling Fichtenberg factory, situated an hour east of Porsche’s own Zuffenhausen base, we meet Oliver Scherbaum, who offers to show us around this impressive facility.

Essentially a complete walk-through of how each individual coilover is made, KW’s Ollie is extensive with his divulgence of information, yet engaging in his delivery. We learn the precise methods for building each damper, the exhaustive quality control present at every step of the process, plus the science and technology which goes into making a KW coilover – not to mention the sheer number of components involved (it is quite literally hundreds). All this helps paint a very vivid picture of the technology newly installed under the arches of RPM Technik’s GB-plated car out front. Time is ticking, so we’d better get on with the drive.

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