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issue 122

Automatic gearbox: A Porsche 911 history

Since its launch in 1963, the Porsche 911 has always been viewed as the archetypal sports car. Yet, in recent years, the rise of the automatic gearbox has threatened to take away the purity of Zuffenhausen’s finest creation, with around four PDK 991s sold for every manual neunelfer.

However, an alternative to the manual gearbox is not a modern Porsche 911 phenomenon. In 1967, Porsche released its four-speed Sportomatic transmission, providing enthusiasts with their first two-pedal 911.

While not strictly an automatic gearbox, the Sportomatic unit featured a vacuum-operated clutch, activated via a microswitch whenever the driver touched the gear lever. Along with a torque converter, Sportomatic 911 wouldn’t stall and could pull away in any gear.

Two pedals and a normal stick shift: Porsche's Sportomatic transmission is a bit of an auto oddity.

Throughout the pre-impact bumper era, Sportomatic featured four forward gears (confusingly labelled L, D, D3 and D4) beforethe dawn of the torquier, 2.7-litre G Series cars in 1974 saw the Sportomatic transmission revised as a three-speed, remaining that way until its demise in 1980/81.

The Eighties saw the Porsche 911 offered exclusively as a manual-equipped sports car right up until the 964’s unveiling in 1989. The first major revision to neunelfer legacy, the 964 was offered with the new four-speed Tiptronic gearbox.

Created in collaboration with ZF, this was Porsche’s first true automatic gearbox with a complex computer system designed to recognise different driving styles and adapt the transmission’s shift patterns accordingly. To satisfy the ‘purists’, Porsche also added a ‘manual’ sequential mode.

The Tiptronic 'box was Porsche's first proper automatic shifter. Later versions got steering wheel-mounted buttons for shifting.

In 1995, the Tiptronic S gearbox was introduced on the 993 generation, featuring steering wheel mounted buttons that could be used to control the transmission’s gear changes, while in 1998, a five-speed Tiptronic was debuted on the Porsche 996.

This gearbox would be offered until the end of the first-generation 997’s lifespan in 2008, when Porsche made the move to its PDK system (developed on the 956/962 racers during the Eighties).

Effectively two gearboxes within one casing, the PDK transmission has marked a massive step forward for fans of two-pedal 911s. If Porsche can keep making similarly huge steps for the development of its successor, the future of Zuffenhausen’s automatic gearbox is set to be as bright as its past.

For more historical online features, check out our full selection of ‘Porsche 911 history’ articles now.

PDK has become a huge sales success for Porsche after years of development on the race track. Steering wheel paddles are currently optional.


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SharkWerks’ 997 GT2 stars on Jay Leno’s Garage

Jay Leno, famed ex-host of ‘The Tonight Show’ is an institution in the world of American primetime TV. However, the stand-up comedian is also a huge petrolhead, with an envious collection of classic cars and motorbikes.

Indulging his love for all things motorised, he set up ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’, an online series that airs every Sunday, showcasing both the weird and the wonderful.

This week’s latest episode falls firmly in the latter camp, with the 24-minute instalment starring SharkWerks’ Porsche 997 GT2, tuned to produce around 770hp, and featuring interior and exterior styling by Magnus Walker.

With expert insight from SharkWerks’, Alex Ross and the Urban Outlaw himself, Leno gets underneath the skin of this remarkable Porsche 911, before getting out on the road (at 15m30s for those of you in a GT2-esque hurry) to experience its mind-blowing performance. Enjoy!

For more of the best Porsche 911 films, check out our dedicated video section now.


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Sales debate: Which 911 will steal the limelight in 2015?

The Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS was the car of 2013, while last year saw the Porsche 964 RS shoot up in value. Total 911 asks renowned Porsche experts, Mark Sumpter (Managing Director of Paragon) and Jonathan Franklin (General Manager of Hexagon Modern Classics) which 911 they think will star in 2015.

“Well, 993 GT2s have already gone [up],” begins Sumpter. “The 996 GT2 should [appreciate rapidly] as that’s a sleeper at the moment. If you leave the craziness of the air-cooled stuff behind,” Sumpter feels the first water-cooled GT2 is well placed to rocket in value.

“It’s a super-rare car and they’ve gone from £40,000-50,000 to £50,000-70,000 [in 2014]. But, if an air-cooled GT2 is £600,000, how can a 996 GT2 be a tenth of the price?”

993 RS Comfort

Franklin explains that the effect of the 993 GT2 is sure to be felt in the Porsche market next year, though he believes it will be another 993 that benefits. “We’re seeing GT2s going north of £750,000.

The 993 Carrera RS has got the same seam-welded chassis and a lot of people seem to appreciate the naturally aspirated engine more.”

Therefore, Hexagon’s General Manager feels the last-aircooled Rennsport is well placed to soar into the stratosphere in 2015. With the added cachet of their rarity, the 993 RS – that currently sits “somewhere between £200,000-£250,000, with Clubsports up at about £300,000” – could be touching £500,000 in the next few years according to Franklin.

993 RS Clubsport

“People are looking at Porsches in a big way because they can’t afford a Ferrari anymore,” he explains. “There’s big interest in low-number cars.”

So, will it be air-cooled or water-cooled that thrives at the top end of the market this year? Either way, as 993 GT2s force upward, something will be dragged along.

As Sumpter remarks, “What tends to be happening is, as one 911 goes [up in value] it makes another one look cheaper.” Therefore, whichever 911 hits the headlines this year, its successor in the money stakes won’t be far behind.

For market advice on any generation or style of Porsche 911, check out our full selection of sales debates, where we ask the 911 experts the pertinent market questions so you don’t have to.


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

Le Mans to Tours, France

After visiting the great Le Mans Museum, it’ll be hard to resist the urge to investigate that famous arrow-straight stretch of race track before heading home.

“Drive out of the main gates of Le Mans circuit and turn right three times,” they’ll tell you in in the Museum reception, and sure enough, you see the high circuit wall on your right as you join the D338, before the track slides imperceptibly under your wheels.

Suddenly you’re on the Mulsanne Straight, barriers either side, the road stretching into the distance. You can almost hear the flat 12 of a Porsche 917 and expect to see Steve McQueen in his pretty 2.2-litre 911S parked halfway down.

Le Mans Museum

Every few minutes, you’re reminded of the size of this track as you traverse the new chicanes before seeing the race surface move off beside the road, where you’ll see rubber-stained race track curbs. Without them, it must have been an incredibly intense experience at 240mph.

You can drive through the Mulsanne Kink, which would have been flat in a 917, and into what would be the braking area. Today, you’ll share the road with school busses and daily traffic, yet there’s Armco barriers and crash fencing on both sides.

It’s surreal. At the end of the straight you’ll blend off the track to a roundabout. Glancing to the right, you’ll see the circuit continuing on. Turn right here and you can continue following the circuit towards ‘Indianapolis’.

D338 France


Location: Le Mans, France
Latitude: 47.9081° N, 0.2481° E
Length of drive: 81km
Points of interest:
Le Mans Museum;
The Mulsanne Straight
Mulsanne Village
Food and accommodation:
Great food is everywhere. The Tabac in Mulsanne village is a great place for an Espresso and to top up on Gitanes;
www.lhoteldefrance.fr Famous hotel from the golden days of the 24-hour race


Instead though, you should head into Mulsanne, a small picturesque town with an evocative name and immaculate flowerbeds. South of Mulsanne, you can head out to the D338 again. The road is now caricature French rural ‘D’ road, with trees lining each side, creating a green canopy in the summer.

Hopefully you’ll be in a 911 Targa or Cabriolet, as this is a beautiful stretch of road for open-top driving. There are two ways to drive this: either chill out, admire the scenery and cruise it, or heel-toe down a few gears and revel in the open bends, smooth surface and light traffic.

For 71 kilometres, the road continues like this, passing through villages until you arrive at Tours and the blue Peage signs appear.

Check out our full selection of Great Roads here. And, to find the nearest routes to you, download the Great Driving Roads app now, where you can add your favourite tarmac stretches for the whole world to enjoy.


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Porsche 993 Carrera 4S: ultimate guide

Widebody 911s have historically enjoyed a popular following among enthusiasts, so after successful early renditions in 3.2 Carrera and 964 form, it was only a matter of time before the 993 enjoyed the same treatment from the factory.

The result was the car you see here, the C4S being the first naturally aspirated 993 to receive the widebody treatment when it arrived for the 1996 model year.

Before we explore the detail, it’s worth a reminder of where the 993 fits into the 911 story. Launched in 1993, the Tony Hatter-styled model did much to reinvigorate the automotive world’s interest in the 911.

993 Carrera 4S interior

Sporting a classic outline and smooth new styling, it brought a number of benefits over the outgoing 964, not least of which was a bodyshell claimed to be 80 per cent new and 20 per cent stiffer, and featuring some clever aerodynamic enhancements.

That new shell was hot-dip galvanised so it would last longer, with further changes including a new headlamp design that claimed a 50 per cent improvement in light output, and quirky central pivots for wipers.

For the C4S, the most obvious change was the addition of the Turbo-look rear wings that added 60mm to the width, which was now a broad-shouldered 1,795mm.

993 Carrera 4S front

The electrically activated rear spoiler was retained, the lack of an intercooler negating the need for the Turbo’s fixed item, but those after more significant road presence could always delve into the Porsche Exclusiv catalogue.

A number of buyers did just that, resulting in cars that sported a more aggressive front air dam and an impressively large fixed rear wing, and while such modifications aren’t to all tastes, there is no arguing with the visual drama they bring.

To read our complete ultimate guide to the Porsche 993 Carrera 4S pick up a copy of Total 911 issue 122 in store now. Alternatively, download it straight to your digital device for immediate reading.

993 Carrera 4S detail


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