PORSCHE AT 70 PT2
Our favourite car maker has been building our favourite cars for 70-years. To celebrate, we’re taking it a decade at a time. This month it’s the ’80s
The 1980s witnessed two major evolutions for the 911, morphing from SC to 3.2 Carrera in 1983 and the 964 in 1989, with the 959 supercar prefacing volume production fourwheel drive. Having been seen as the future of the Porsche line-up, the front-engined models – 924, 928 and 944 – became more refined as the decade progressed, only to face the axe as the 911 was rehabilitated with the incoming 964. On the competition front, the marque went from strength to strength, with innumerable successes including seven consecutive triumphs at Le Mans and many wins in WEC Group C events, plus two victories in the harrowing Paris Dakar Rally
The 928S is launched, running a 4.7litre V8, matching the 930’s 300bhp power output. Transmission is either five-speed manual or three-speed Daimler-benz automatic, with cruise control and climate monitoring also woven into the luxury spec, plus small front air dam and rear spoiler.
The 924 Carrera GT is the first competition car derived from the new frontengined ranges. An evolution of the 924 Turbo, it is given the factory type number 937. The body kit is unpretentious as the car is intended for competition work, and it is produced in sufficient numbers for homologation into Group 4. Visually, the 924 Carrera GT stands out because of its plastic front wings and wheel spats, and that distinctive bonnet air scoop. Under the skin, what makes it special is the intercooler that the ordinary 924 Turbo doesn't have, and it rides on a stiffened and lightened platform to provide race-quality ride and handling.
Jacky Ickx and Reinhold Jöst finish 2nd at Le Mans in a 936/80. Three 924 Carrera GTS finish 6th, 12th and 13th. There are fifteen 935s and four 934s also entered. In fact, 24 out of 55 cars entered are Porsches.
Porsche builds single-seater Indy Car in association with Interscope racing; rows between organising bodies over rule changes cause the project to be abandoned.
The 'Weissach' special edition 911SC is a limited-edition run of 408 cars for the USA market only.
The 930 3.3 Turbo is Germany’s fastest production sports car, and anti-corrosion warranty is extended to seven years for the whole car.
The 924 Carrera GT evolves into two derivatives: the GTS and GTR. In March 1981, the two offshoots are announced once the construction run of the road-going Carrera GT is complete for homologation purposes. Although the GTR and GTS are primarily competition cars, with headlights lurking behind Plexiglas fairings rather than the parent car’s pop-up variety, a number are adapted for road use and finished with full cabin furnishings and wind-up windows instead of the sliding Plexiglas type. As well as distinctive flared plastic wheelarches, glazing is thinner than
standard-issue 924 panes.
The Slant-nose 930 is available to special order from the Special Wishes department; stylistically it’s an homage to the 935 race car.
The 936/81 of Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell wins the Le Mans 24-Hours. The 944 GTP – an evolution of the 924 Carrera GT – of Jürgen Barth and Walter Röhrl places 7th.
The Kremer K4 is introduced in June, the ultimate expression of the 935, created by leading Porsche privateer race team Kremer Racing and available to other teams contesting the WEC. And domestic GT championships.
In February Porsche delivers the 100,000th 924.
The 944 is introduced, powered by a front-mounted 2.5-litre water-cooled in-line four-cylinder engine (fundamentally half of the 928’s V8 motor), with gearbox in-unit with the final drive. In production for a decade, from 1981 to 1991, the 944 epitomises the Porsche line-up’s middle ground in the showroom, bridging the price and performance gap between the 924 and the 911SC. Although the body of the 944 is based on the 924, it's distinguished by its blatantly flared competition-style wheelarches. Like the 924, this transaxle model is also produced by Audi in Neckarsulm. A 150bhp catalytic converter version is introduced for 1986 and, for the 1989 model year, capacity is increased to 2.7-litres, enabling 165bhp.
Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell win again at Le Mans with the new Type 956 groundeffect Group C car; Porsche 956s take first three places, and 935s come 4th and 5th.
Aussie F1 World Champion Alan Jones takes eight wins in the Australian Sports Car Championship in a 935 K3.
On 4th September Porsche delivers the 200,000th 911, an SC.
The special edition 911SC ‘Ferry Porsche’ model is released, of which 200 units are created when the company turns 50.
The 911SC is replaced for the 1984 model year by the 3.2 Carrera, available in coupé and Targa format. It’s powered by the bigger capacity 231bhp flat-six, with hydraulic timing chain tensioners and Bosch Motronic ECU; brakes are bigger, too. Specifications differ from one country to another: apart from being right-hand-drive, the majority of 3.2 Carreras imported into the UK are highly spec’d Sport editions, meaning they have the whale-tail rear spoiler, minimal air-dam below the front valance, stiffer dampers, leather sports seats and trim, rear wiper and sunroof. Later cars have 16in instead of 15in Fuchs wheels, while cars sold in the German domestic market are very often non-sport. The catalysed version produces 217bhp, and 207bhp in US trim.
Porsche 956s occupy the first eight places at the Le Mans 24-Hours. The 956 of Vern Schuppan, Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood takes the win.
Works team Rothmans 956 driver Jacky Ickx is World Endurance Champion for the second year running.
At the Geneva show Porsche presents the 911SC Cabriolet, the first drop-top in the range for 17 years.
An all-wheel drive 953 helmed by Rene Metge and Dominique Lemoyne wins the Paris Dakar Rally, prefacing a full-on assault on the 8700-mile (14,000km) Saharan epic the following year with normally-aspirated 959-bodied cars – which
fails mostly through accidents.
Another clean sweep for 956s at Le Mans with Klaus Ludwig and Henri Pescarolo coming 1st in the Jöst Racing 956.
At Weissach, Jürgen Barth and Roland Kussmaul build 21 examples of the rallyspec 911SC/RS. Rothmans Prodrive’s Saeed Al Hajri wins the FISA Middle East Rally Championship.
The 962 is introduced as eligible contender for IMSA GT in North America as well as WSCC FIA/LE Mans events. Now the driver’s feet are behind the front axle rather than in front of it, as in the 956.
Tag-porsche V6 turbo engines power Mclaren’s Niki Lauda 5 wins) and Alain Prost (7 wins) to record F1 points score (143.5). Lauda is champion by half a point from Prost. Between 1983 and 1987 TAGPorsche engines win three World Championships and 25 F1 GPS.
The 930’s bulbous wheel-arches and its bigger brakes and suspension are available in conjunction with the normallyaspirated 3.2 engine and marketed as the Carrera SE (Sport Equipment). More commonly known as the Turbo-look, particularly in the USA, the upside is the formidable appearance and beefier running gear, though the downside is that the wider body creates greater drag, hence delivering a marginally lower top speed than the standard 3.2 Carrera.
The 944 Turbo is launched, representing the top-of-the range model in the 944 line-up. Its front apron is enhanced with integrated fog lights and high-beam headlights, while the black rubber buffers of the standard 944 are omitted. Below the rear bumper is a rear diffuser painted in external body colour. The 2.5-litre turbo engine generates 220bhp, while the Turbo S version of 1988 produces up to 250bhp via its larger turbocharger. For 1989 the 944 Turbo receives the same engine as the Turbo S model, and for the 1990 model year it features a hoop-shaped black rear wing.
On the 3.2 Carrera, Boge dampers become standard, the radio aerial is integrated in the windscreen, there’s a fourspoke steering wheel, electric seats with taller backrests, shorter-throw gearshift, and active carbon filters in breather system.
The 928S receives a 5.0-litre 4-valve V8 engine.
Klaus Ludwig, Paulo Barilla and John Winter win Le Mans in a Jöst Racing 956.
The Turbo-bodied 3.2 Carrera Super Sport, or SS, designated option M491, is initially only available as a coupé via the Special Wishes programme, but is extended to include a Turbo-look Targa and Cabriolet in 1985. The Super Sport Equipment 911 then becomes an official model from 1986, and from 1987 the designation is officially known as the SSE.
Group B rally-spec 2849cc Porsche 959s driven by René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne, and Jacky Ickx and Claude Brasseur place 1st and 2nd in the Paris Dakar Rally. These are full-on 4x4, twinturbo, 400bhp 959s, the three most complex cars in the rally, with Roland Kussmaul coming home 6th in a third, backup 959 to prove the point. Just 67 finished out of 488 starters.
The 924S replaces standard 924, powered by the 2.5-litre 944 engine.
The 944 Turbo Cup kick-starts the Porsche Carrera Cup and Supercup race series. The forerunner of the multi-national Carrera Cup and Supercup series, this is Porsche’s calculated contribution to recreational motor sport. Anyone could have a crack at it, given the wherewithal. In the inaugural seven race series, hobby drivers went head-to-head with professionals in virtually bog-standard 944 Turbos, the 40 contestants sharing a DM45,000 purse at each race. The higher you finish, the more you earn. These 944 Turbo Cup cars are relatively lightly modified compared with later iterations of Cup Cars: the few changes to the standard ’86 944 Turbo include harder rubber suspension bushes, thicker 27mm and 21mm anti-roll bars front and rear, stiffer spring and damper settings, and 8in D-90s or Fuchs with 245/45 x 16 tyres on the front and 9in with 255/40 VR 16s on the back. The package options include 30mm front and 25.5mm rear anti-roll bars, heightadjustable Koni dampers, upgraded inner and outer front drop-link bushes and front castor mounts. Brakes consist of larger 32mm discs, four-pot Brembo calipers with 36mm and 44mm pistons, with ABS. For the ’87 Turbo Cup series, engines are rechipped to 250bhp, along with stiffer suspension. In typical racecar spec, the 944 Turbo Cup cars have seam-welded shells and lighter glassfibre panels, and the Fuchs wheels are replaced with similarly-sized pearl white cast magnesium Telephone Dials. The new technical tweak is switchable ABS, installed so that Porsche can assess the benefits of assisted braking under race stresses. In France, 944 Turbo Cup competitors are given much more leeway with spec and set up. Unlike the German 944 Turbo Cup cars whose original purpose is to promote a road-going racecar ethic, all ‘leisure’ equipment including air-con, hi-fi, central locking, electric windows and power steering is removed from the French cars in the interests of lighter weight.
A spin off from the 944 Turbo Cup cars is the 944 Turbo Club Sport variant. Designated option code M637, the special order model produces 250bhp and goes from 0–62mph (100kph) in 5.9sec with a maximum speed of 162mph. The rim of the seven-spoke forged D90 wheel projects slightly which makes it appear more like a dished wheel, while the spokes join the rim with a shield-like reinforcement at the point of contact with the rim, a feature that doesn’t occur on the cast version.
The 928S4 is launched for the 1987 model year, joined a year later by the S4 Club Sport.
For the 3.2 Carrera range, all models now have the same gear ratios; fatter antiroll bars, bigger rear torsion bars; revised dash with larger air vents, 20mm lower seats, new sun-visors, and cabin temperature sensor.
The Le Mans 24 Hours is won by Derek Bell, Hans Stuck and Al Holbert in a Rothmans-porsche 962C.
The Type 961, the racing version of the 959, wins its class at Le Mans, driven by Rene Metge and Claude Ballot-lena. The 961 is based on the core 911 bodyshell, with rear spaceframe supporting the powertrain. This consists of a 2.85-litre, 650bhp, four-cam flat-six, incorporating titanium conrods and water-cooled fourvalve heads (like the 956/962) with mechanical tappets instead of hydraulic lifters, and duplex roller chain-driven cams instead of gear-driven cams. The compound turbo system has all six pots flowing into one turbo up to 4000rpm, after which three exhausts are routed to the second turbo. That way, there’s swift response at low revs, and a second push when the second turbo kicks in. Behind the wheelarches are two large intercoolers, hence the vents in the bodywork, and the turbos sit just behind them. Their boost pressure is hiked from the standard 959’s 0.8 Bar (12psi) to 3.25 Bar (47psi), with Motronic engine mapping tuned to provide additional charge air intercooling. The six-speed transmission features taller gearing and sintered clutch linings, with electronically controlled four- wheel drive via four race-oriented driving programmes. It is the first all-wheel drive car to race at Le Mans.
The 944 S is released. The S model is identical to the standard 944 in respect of body design and equipment, though it is equipped with a four-valve engine that develops 190bhp.
The much vaunted 4x4 959 “supercar” is introduced as a small-volume production model, built by Baur. It’s the embodiment of revived corporate enthusiasm for the 911 under new CEO Peter Schutz, who overturns the previous regime’s penchant for the front-engined models. The 959 is a technical tour de force: nothing so sophisticated has ever been available before in a performance sportscar. With bulging wings, faired-in headlights and aerofoil hoop it looks like a 911 morphed into a spaceship. Its gutterless roof, front and rear wings plus integral sills, rear bodywork and aerofoil wing are all in Kevlar, while the front panel is polyurethane and the bonnet and doors aluminium. It is racing car raw rather than limousine luxe. The overall effect produces a zero-lift shape, where the same downforce applied at high or low speed, while drag coefficient is reduced to 0.32 – the same as a modern 997 coupé – from the 3.2 Carrera’s 0.34cd. The 959 is powered by a 2848cc flat-six, derived from the racing unit powering the 935-inspired ‘Moby Dick’ Group 5 Le Mans car, with air-cooled block and water-cooled cylinder heads, four-valves-per-cylinder, twin sequential KKK turbochargers with intercoolers, developing 450bhp. Thanks to the sequential turbos, power delivery is smooth across the rev range rather than the violent all-or-nothing that characterises the 930 and its 934 and 935 racing offshoots. In a test conducted on Volkswagen’s EhraLessien test track by Auto Motor und Sport magazine late in 1987, the 959 Sport clocks 0–100kph in 3.7s and on to 200kph in 13s, maxing out at 317kph – new world records
for production cars at the time. The transmission consists of five forward gears plus G for off-road, with permanent allwheel drive and electronic torque monitoring that applies power to front and rear axles according to driving conditions, ranging from wet and dry to ice and offroad. Suspension consists of double transverse links front and rear, allied to coil springs and Bilstein dampers, and anti-roll bars. The 959 has eight dampers, two at each corner, with three settings for stiffness and automatic damping management. Brakes are ventilated four-piston discs, working in conjunction with a sophisticated ABS that controls each wheel individually. On the Komfort version the car’s ride height can be adjusted electronically for negotiating speed humps or uneven terrain, a feature omitted from the Sport variant to save weight.
Derek Bell, Al Holbert and HansJoachim Stuck win the Le Mans 24-Hours again in a 962C.
The single-seater Porsche Indy project is revived for the rival North American CART championship, with Teo Fabi driving: its performance proves something of a disappointment.
The 911 3.2 Carrera gets the new Getrag-made G50 gearbox, replacing the Porsche-built 915 unit, together with hydraulic clutch; new rear torsion-bar housing; two rear foglamps integrated in rear reflector panel, lights in door handles for nocturnal identification. Targa gets improved weather seal; Australia gets own version with timing retarded to run on 91 RON fuel, otherwise premium grade is preferred in ROW.
Chairman Peter Schutz, who oversaw the line-up progress through the yuppie ’80s, is replaced in 1987 by Heinz Branitzski, whose brief is to re-establish the brand loyalty dissipated by fickle and uncommitted ownership.
To celebrate the 250,000th 911 and 25 years of the model’s production, Porsche introduces the Special Anniversary model, painted Diamond Blue metallic, and 875 cars are made in a mixture of Coupé, Cabriolet and Targa. Only 50 are allocated to the UK; the rest are disbursed between the USA and Germany.
The Speedster makes a comeback in its 3.2 Carrera guise, a variation on the Cabrio theme and featuring a slanted windscreen and low-line soft-top canopy. Production runs to 2065 units.
The non-sport model 3.2 Carrera receives Fuchs wheels as standard, replacing ‘Telephone Dial’ alloys. Electrically-adjustable seats become standard, as do headlight washers, central locking, while all brake, clutch linings and gaskets are now asbestos-free.
The 944S2 replaces the 944S. The S2's 3.0-litre four-valve engine generates 211bhp, almost matching the 944 Turbo.
The 944S2 is also available in Cabriolet format.
The lightweight Club Sport version of the 3.2 Carrera comes out. With austere cabin and blueprinted engine, it is calculated to appeal to the more committed enthusiast, and as well as reviving the ethos of the 2.7 Carrera RS, it can do the occasional club event or track evening, and driven to and from the circuit. Only 340 units of the M637designation 3.2 Club Sport are produced over a three-year period, and just 53 are finished in right-hand drive for UK delivery. The entire production from 1987 – 81 cars – is supposed to have remained in Germany. As far as the USA is concerned, only 28 CSS with US Federal emission and safety controls are imported by Porsche Cars North America in 1988 and 1989, almost all painted Grand Prix white with red Carrera graphics. The PCGB Club Sport register gives the kerb weight of the 911 Club Sport as 1160kg, making a CS 50kg lighter than a 3.2 Carrera Coupé with Sport equipment.
The 930 Turbo is available in Targa and Cabriolet versions.
On the 3.2 Carrera, the alarm system is linked to central locking; it also gets thicker anti-roll bars, and 16in Fuchs wheels are now standard.
Production of Porsche's first commercial four-wheel-drive offering, the 964 Carrera 4, begins in January 1989 and UK deliveries start in August. It’s based on the 959 4x4 supercar, and though similar in layout, the all-wheel-drive system employed in the C4 is less complicated than that of the exotic 959, providing a 31/69 torque split front and rear. The electronicallycontrolled system senses individual wheel speed differences and compensates accordingly, improving traction and cornering ability.
The 964 Carrera 4 embodies a major revision of the traditional 911 specification: upgrades include the 3.6-litre twin-plug engines, wishbone suspension, and the allwheel drive C4 version, plus a major facelift comprising new aerodynamic front and rear bumper panels and electrically activated rear spoiler.
The Carrera 2 is announced for the 1990 model year, with Tiptronic transmission optional. The 964 represents the transition from classic to modernity, combining traditional looks and ergonomics with more sophisticated running gear. It’s one of the most significant models in the entire 911
saga. In production for four years, from 1989 to 1993, it is marketed as the 911 Carrera C2 and C4, and is the final evolution of the 25-year-old body shape before the design is softened by the imminent 993. As well as Targa and Cabriolet variants, it also spawns two iconic sporting derivatives: the 964RS and 964 Turbo.
The 964 also embraces several new technical features hitherto unfamiliar in 911 specifications, including ABS brakes, while several previously hit-and-miss creature comforts are introduced, such as dependable cabin temperature, heated seats and an on-board computer revealing fuel consumption and projected range. Although a classic-car boom is in full swing in the second half of the decade, by 1989, sales of new Porsches have tumbled dramatically with the onset of a recession, so the 964 is something of a gamble: it’s regarded as the car that could resuscitate the company and its traditional model line. To that end, the design department is tasked with updating the 911 body and, externally, the main differences between old and new are the 964’s all-enveloping bumpers that merge more fluently with the shell and replace the visually crude, deformable rubber bellows of the 3.2. The traditional Fuchs wheels give way to Design 90 alloys. Although the car's familiar flowing lines remain essentially the same, under the skin the 964 is a fundamentally revised 911 which Porsche claims is 85 per cent new compared with the old Carrera 3.2. The air- cooled flat-six engine is extensively redesigned, and capacity increased to 3600cc, developing 250bhp and 310Nm of torque at 4800rpm. The 0–60mph dash takes 5.0sec, progressing to a top speed of 162mph, 12mph up on the previous model. Twin-spark ignition also enables more efficient combustion.
The 964 receives the racecar-derived flat-bottom treatment, manifest in an undertray beneath the engine that improved aerodynamics and reduced the drag coefficient from Cd 0.4 to 0.32. With virtually zero lift, stability and roadholding are greatly improved at high speed. Integral to the design is a speed-sensitive rear spoiler: instead of the whale-tail fixed wing of Sport Equipment 3.2s, the new spoiler emerges from the engine cover at 7mph and extends above 50mph to improve downforce at high speed. Below 7mph the spoiler folds away to integrate with the engine cover so that, at rest, it merges with the curved beetle-back of the original 911 design. A centre-console switch activates the spoiler manually, and headlamp heights are also adjustable via a dashboard switch.
Ferry Porsche is presented with a oneoff design study based on a 964 for his 80th birthday, named the Panamericana – a nod to the origins of the Carrera moniker.
The 5.4-litre 928GT and GTS V8s are introduced, available only with manual transmission, and therefore the most desirable 928 models for the enthusiast driver.
Final year of 930 Turbo production. For just one year the model is endowed with the 5-speed G-50 gearbox, instead of the longer-geared 4-speed transmission it came with from the outset. The 930 is dropped in July 1989, prior to the end of 3.2 Carrera production, though it will reappear in September 1990 in 964 guise with flared wheel arches.
Porsche’s Weissach competition HQ builds a line-up of 50 cars based on the 964 to contest the Carrera Cup series, due to take off in the 1990 racing season. Output is 265bhp (195kw) at 6100rpm, with a 6800rpm maximum. Compared with the standard model, the performance increase of five horsepower is moderate, and it has to retain the three-way catalytic converter. A five-speed G50 gearbox is fitted, with shortened ratios for 3rd, 4th and 5th gears, along with a limited-slip diff. Suspension is modified with harder and shorter springs and adjustable anti-roll bars, and set 55mm lower than standard. Power-steering is omitted, while the Carrera Cup cars run large internally-ventilated and perforated brake discs combined with the standard ABS system. An aluminium roll-cage, replaced in 1992 with a welded-in steel cage, protects the cockpit and increases the shell’s torsional rigidity. The 964 Carrera Cup car weighs in at 1120kg.
A Targa version of both the 964 C2 and C4 is available for the 1990 model year. The roof panel folds to two-thirds of its initial size to stow in the boot. Meanwhile, the Cabriolet model waits in the wings.
Production of the 3.2 Carrera ends in September, with 80,684 units built. PW