Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Porsche 959, part 2

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Development of the 959 (originally called the Gruppe B) started in 1981, shortly after the then-new company Managing Director, Peter Schutz, took his office. Porsche's head engineer at the time, Helmut Bott, approached Schutz with some ideas about the 911, or more aptly, a new 911. Bott knew that the company needed a sports car that they could continue to rely on for years to come and that could be developed as time went on. Curious as to how much they could do with the rear engined 911, Bott convinced Schutz that development tests should take place, and even proposed researching a new all wheel drive system. Schutz agreed, and greenlit the project. Bott also knew through experience that a racing program usually helped to accelerate the development of new models. Seeing Group B rally racing as the perfect arena to test the new mule and its all wheel drive system, Bott again went to Schutz, and got the go ahead to develop a car, based on his development mule, for competition in Group B.

Porsche began with an engine they already had, and moved on with development from there. The powerplant, a twin turbocharged boxer six engine, with an air cooled block and water cooled heads displaced 2.85 total litres, about half a litre less than a contemporary 911 engine. The motor had originally been developed for the "Moby Dick" race car, then was redeveloped slightly for the short-lived Porsche Indy Car and several other projects before being "tweaked" a last time for use in the 961, the 959's racing counterpart. The water cooled cylinder heads combined with the air cooled block, 4 valve heads and sequential turbochargers allowed Porsche to extract 444 hp (331 kW) from the compact, efficient and rugged power unit. The use of sequential twin turbochargers rather than the more usual identical turbochargers for each of the two cylinder banks allowed for smooth seamless delivery of power across the engine RPM band, in contrast to the abrupt on-off power characteristic that distinguished Porsche's turbocharged engines of the period. It has been speculated the engine was capable of over 600 horsepower if fully tuned. The engine was used, virtually unchanged, in the 959 road car as well.

In an attempt to create a rugged, lightweight shell, Porsche adopted an aluminium and Aramid (Kevlar or Twaron) composite for body use along with a Nomex floor as opposed to the traditional steel that was normally used on their production cars. The vehicle's light weight (2917 pounds) gave astounding performance:

0-60: 3.6 s.
0-100: 8.3 s.
0-125: 12.7 s.
0-140: 19.0 s.
0-1/4 mile: 11.8 s. @ 119 mph (standing)
Top Speed: 198+ mph

technorati tags:porsche ,ferrari ,jaguar ,lamborghini ,lotus ,bugatti ,aston martin,maserati ,alfa romeo,cars,sports cars, exotic cars

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