Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The Porsche 930
The 930 (usually pronounced nine-thirty) was a sports car built by Porsche, 930 actually being the "type number" for the pre-964 generation 911 Turbo produced between 1975 and 1989. It was Porsche's top-of-the-range model for its entire production duration and at the time of its introduction the fastest production car available in Germany.
Porsche began experimenting with turbocharging technology on their race cars during the late 1960s, and in 1972 began development on a turbocharged version of the 911. Porsche originally needed to produce the car in order to comply with homologation regulations and had intended on marketing it as a street legal race vehicle like the 1973 Carrera 2.7 RS. When the homologation rules changed, Porsche continued to develop the car anyway, deciding to make it a fully-equipped variant of the 911 that would top the model range and give Porsche a more direct competitor to vehicles from Ferrari and Lamborghini, which were more expensive and more exclusive than the standard 911. Although Porsche no longer needed the car to meet homologation requirements, it proved a viable platform for racing vehicles, and became the basis for the 934 and 935 race cars.
Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche, who was running the company at the time, handed development of the vehicle over to Ernst Fuhrmann, who adapted the turbo-technology originally developed for the 917/30 CAN-AM car to the 3.0 litre flat-six from the Carrera RS 3.0, creating what Porsche internally dubbed as 930. Total output from the engine was 260 hp (DIN), much more than the standard Carrera. In order to ensure that the platform could make the most of the higher power output, a revised suspension, larger brakes and stronger gearbox became part of the package, although some consumers were unhappy with Porsche's use of a 4-speed gearbox whilst a 5-speed was available in the "lesser" Carrera. A "Whale-Tail" rear spoiler was installed to help vent more air to the engine and help create more downforce at the rear of the vehicle, and wider rear wheels with upgraded tires combined with flared wheelarches were added to increase the 911's width and grip, making it more stable.
Porsche badged the vehicle simply as "Turbo" (although early U.S. units were badged as "Turbo Carrera") and debuted it at the Paris auto show in October 1974 before putting it on sale in the spring of 1975; export to the United States began in 1976.
The 930 proved very fast but also very demanding. The 911 was prone to oversteer because of its rear engine layout and short wheelbase; combining those traits with the power of the turbocharged motor, which exhibited significant turbo-lag, made the problem more prevalent. Even though the rear engine layout provided superior traction, sudden bursts of power to the rear wheels in mid-corner could break the tires loose, causing the car to literally spin out of control. This effect was amplified if an unexperienced driver would instinctively lift the throttle in reaction. The vehicle needed to be kept at high revvs during spirited driving to minimise the turbo lag. Skilled drivers quickly learned how to drive the 930 properly, and with that knowledge came the ability to drive the car above and beyond the levels of most other sports cars. Nevertheless, some fatal accidents resulted in product liability law suits brought against Porsche in the U.S.
Porsche made its first and most significant upgrades to the 930 for 1978, enlarging the engine to 3.3 liters and adding an air-to-air intercooler. By cooling the pressurized air charge, the intercooler helped increase power output to 300 hp (DIN); the rear 'whale tail' spoiler was re-profiled and raised slightly to make room for the intercooler.
Changing emissions regulations in Japan and the U.S. forced Porsche to withdraw the 930 from those markets in 1980. Believing the 928 would eventually replace the 911, Fuhrmann cut-back spending on the model, and it was not until Fuhrmann's resignation the company finally committed the financing to re-regulate the car.
The 930 remained available in Europe, and for 1983 a 330 hp (DIN) performance option became available on a build-to-order basis from Porsche. With the add-on came a 4-pipe exhaust system and an additional oil-cooler requiring a remodelled front spoiler and units bearing the add-on often featured additional ventilation holes in the rear fenders and modified rockers.
Porsche offered a "Flachbau" ("slantnose") 930 under the "Sonderwunschprogramm" (special order) program beginning in 1981, an otherwise normal 930 with a 935-style slantnose instead of the normal 911 front end. Each Flachbau unit was handcrafted by remodeling the front fenders. So few were built that the slantnose units often commanded a high premium over sticker, adding to the fact that they required a premium of up to 60 per cent (highly indivdualized cars even more) over the standard price. Several sources claim the factory built 948 units. The Flachbau units delivered in Europe usually featured the 330 hp performance kit.
928 sales had risen slightly by the 1985 model year, but there was still some question as to if it were truly capable of superceeding the 911 as the company's premier model, and for 1986 Porsche re-introduced the 930 to the Japanese and U.S. markets, now featuring an emission-controlled engine producing 282 hp (DIN). At the same time Porsche introduced the Targa and Cabriolet variants, both of which proved popular.
Porsche discontinued the 930 after model year 1989 when its underlying "G-Series" platform was being replaced by the 964. '89 models were the first and only versions of the 930 to feature a 5-speed transmission. A turbo version of the 964 officially succeeded the 930 in 1991 with a modified version of the same 3.3 litre engine and a 5-speed transmission.
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