January 08, 2006 By Kevin C. Limjoco

The Porsche Saga Continued

 

We complete our last instalment to the massive EVOactive Porsche Saga with a second batch of Porsche owners out for a breakfast run to EVO’s Southern stomping ground, the Sta. Elena Golf and Country Club. Instead of scaring the hell out of every bird in the sanctuary with the high revving bales of Ferraris, we instead treated them to the deep throated rumble of 40 Porsches beginning with Toto Cruz’s immaculate 356 B Super 90 to the incredible 996 GT2 Series II.

It was the largest display of privately owned Porsche that we at EVO Philippines had ever seen! Tammy Campos, Toto Cruz and my uncle Bumbo Guerrero had been tirelessly working on getting as many friends and members of their independent Porsche Owner’s Club together for a morning run, an endeavor that originated last September during a Manila Sports Car Club Sunday breakfast in Via Mare hosted by EVO at the Rockwell Mall. We are very thankful to all the owners who took the time from their extremely busy schedules to make the weekday run a reality. We look forward to hosting more events for not only the Porsche owners but also to all the enthusiasts out there committed to their marques of automotive pride. That’s what an EVOactive program is all about, getting owners to immerse themselves in their passion for cars and celebrate the experience with fellow car guys and gals.

We had a very festive gathering of Porsche owners with a very wide selection of Porsche dating from 1959 to 2005, that’s a 46-year spread of diversity not limited to the 911. We broke up the cars and shot them in groups allowing the owners to have their meals and fellowship as turns were taken. Sometimes having too much creates its own set of issues even if they’re good ones. This many cars on one morning shoot forced us to photograph general groupings to cover all the owner’s effort and Teutonic possessions. Comprehensive individual stories on select models are guaranteed to follow throughout the New Year. This demonstration of marque strength proves once again, that Porsche cars are the vast choice of sportscar in the country and rightfully so. Our demanding road conditions require cars that are capable of taking up the challenge successfully.

This time around, we concentrate our efforts on the older generation cars beginning with the early years and ending with the front engine models.

 

THE EARLY YEARS

We grouped the beautiful classic Porsche 356 B with the early 911 and 912 representing the early years of Porsche passion. The 356 is very significant at it is essentially the origins of the legendary 911 series in form and function. The bodywork and attention to detail on the 356B was magnificent back in 1959 and still is majestic even in modern times. The most incredible thing about this particular car is that it can still be driven on a daily basis! The rear-biased weight distribution and swing-axle rear suspension was hardly a recipe for good handling in the early years of Porsche development; however, the theory, effectively proven for over 40 years of 911 motorsport and commercial success, was sound and dynamic.

The 356 brakes use hydraulically operated drums which were enough to control the car back then with its relatively light weight and modest power. Porsche’s only realistic option for powering the 356 was a Volkswagen-derived air-cooled flat four, an engine that, despite its inauspicious origins, had excellent development potential. Transmission was via a new Porsche Getrag gearbox with patented split-ring synchromesh. Evolution changes made through its life span from 1948 to 1966 were constant in the pursuit of perfection. Total production line of the 356 was more than 78,000 units and above 50% of the entire production is believed to still exist today.

The 911 is the product of Porsche deciding to build a four-seater that would be larger than the 356. Porsche then had no intention of replacing the 356 with this car. During the project, however Ferry Porsche changed his mind. Because if the new car would be a four-seater, Porsche would have to compete with large companies like Daimler-Benz, and that would be a tough competition for a small manufacturer like Porsche. To avoid that competition, Porsche decided the car would have to be a two-seater like the 356.

The 911 however was design to be more luxurious than the 356. It got some of the 356’s styling features, but it also had a more modern look, a roomier interior and a new flat boxer six-cylinder secured the rights of the moniker for their own series of cars.

In the summer of 1964, the 911 went into production (as the A-series). A lot of people argued that this car couldn’t be considered a ‘real’ Porsche, because it was supposed to be too luxurious and too heavy, but most soon grew to accept it and, inevitably, respect it. Media response was enthusiastic. Car and Driver magazine even called it ‘…worth the price of all the old Porsches put together.’

In 1966, production of the 356 was stopped. Porsche therefore decided to fill the gap it left with a cheaper version of the 911, the 912. This car featured the four-cylinder engine from the last 356’s and was less luxurious than the 911. It did however have most of the important features of the 911. The aerodynamic and rigid body, the brakes, the well-damped steering and the looks of the 911 were all shared. The 912 was however significantly cheaper than the 911, while offering almost the same thrills. The 912 became a real hit. In 1966, 9,000 of 13,000 cars sold were 912s.

Another innovation for 1965 was an open 911: the Targa. The name Targa came from the ‘Targa Florio’, a road race in Sicily. Targa however also means ‘shield’, aiming at the protective rollbar. The panel between this rollbar and the windscreen could lift off and the rear window could be folded down, creating an open-air 911. The Targa’s bodywork was based on the coupé’s, because Porsche expected to sell only small numbers of the Targa. Therefore, it was needed to design a strong rollbar. Porsche came up with an elegant solution, making the rollbar a prominent styling feature, instead of trying to hide it. The rollbar was trimmed in stainless steel to emphasize its functionality.

Becoming very popular nowadays especially in Europe, Porsche owners of ‘newer’ 911s from 1975 to 1977 are converting them into the 1973 Porsche 911 RS 2.7 Lightweight replicas. The example here is a 1976 Porsche 911 2.7 with such a transformation. Significant effort is to be able to closely capture the dynamics and mystique of the ultra-rare and much coveted RS but with the use of the more commonly available 911 2.7 which also has had some mechanical and interior improvements since 1973.

 

 

THE DROPTOPS: CABRIOLETS AND SPEEDSTER

  The next groupings were the 911 Cabriolets and the very scarcely seen Speedster. The 911 Cabriolets are essentially identical to the coupé of which their derived from but with some added reinforcement to safely accommodate the droptop function. In 1993 however, Porsche introduced a new speedster based on the Carrera 2. Just like the previous speedster, this car featured a lower, more raked windscreen, a lower top, and a fiberglass cover. The 1993 speedster never was available with the ‘turbo-look’ body, although this was the most popular option on the previous model. The Speedster had Recaro seats with a color-coded back. Wheels were 17” ‘Cup-wheels’, which could be ordered the same color as the body. Although Porsche planned to build 3000, only 936 were ever made and the example on our pages is believed to be the only one in the country.

THE FRONT ENGINE PORSCHE: 928 AND 944

We can’t discuss the 944 and the 928 without first presenting their origins: the 944. The 944 from 1976 to 1988 was the very first Porsche to have a front engine with the classic GT sportscar design of a long hood and short rear. It was a commercial success regardless of the criticism from Porsche fans and motoring media. The 924 helped to take Porsche out of financial ruin and facilitated the revenue stream needed to continue building and developing the 911. The 944 replaced the 924, but the two were produced together for some time. Finally, a two door, 2+2 seat sports car Porsche was affordable to many enthusiasts. The 924 replaced the 914 as the company’s entry-level model, and was the model that finally retired the 912. It was the first Porsche model powered by a mass produced water-cooled, front-mounted engine, although the 928 was designed before the 924.

The 924 was also originally intended to be VW’s flagship sports coupe. VW commissioned Porsche to design the car, who developed a fresh chassis and gearbox that would work with an existing Audi straight-4 engine and Audi 100 drivetrain. They also handled the suspension and the interior and exterior design. Porsche decided on a rear wheel drive layout, and designed a rear transaxle to help provide 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. Due to growing concern over the oil crisis, Volkswagen put the project on hold, eventually dumping it entirely after their eventual decision to move forward with the Quattro Coupé instead.

The 944 is a fantastic car that not only performed very well but was actually very comfortable, looked great especially with the blistered wheel flares, and still prestigious. The 944 outclassed the 924 on every level. The finest example, the 250bhp 2.5 liter 1988 limited edition 944 Turbo S had Brembo brakes with ABS, SRS bags, the capability to go from 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds and hit a 260 km/h top speed! Judged the best-handling car available in the U.S. model’s 143-147hp made the 924 and 924 turbo a quick memory. The addition of a “real Porsche motor” satisfied misguided purist.

The 928 S4 is one EVO’s favorite GT cars of all time. Curiously, the original concept of the 928 in the early 70s was to actually replace the 911, which is absurd. The production of the 928 was delayed until late 1977 as a 1978 model largely due to the fuel crisis. As prices inflated in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s, sales of the big Porsche fell off leading to its eventual cancellation in 1995. The very best model the GTS came in 1993 with the ability to go from 0-100 km/h in 6.3 seconds with the top speed of 274 km/h, only a few thousand still very coveted 5.4 liter 345bhp GTSs linger on world roads.

Over its entire production span, the 928 went through only one significant body change. In 1978, the fourth generation S4 shape was smoothed out for better aerodynamics, given flush taillights, and a new wing. Only the nose and rear changed. The mechanicals were periodically upgraded, but the layout and all features remained basically the same. The 5.4-liter GTS even shares the same block with the first 4.5-liter 928 and still had another 0.6 liters of stroke to go in its design. That says a lot for a design now almost 30 years old. The Cayenne’s 4.5-liter V8 engine is believed to be related to this engine as well.

Strictly speaking, the 928 is more a GT (grand touring) than sports car. It is fully laden with all the best luxury features and a big, powerful motor. The S4 is equipped with Porsche’s 5.0-liter (303 cid) DOHC, 32-valve all-aluminum 316bhp V-8 motor. It was built to fly down the autobahn in excess of 140 mph for hours on end without tiring the driver, but is equally at home on twisty back roads.

Porsche pioneered many technical features on their flagship luxury coupe including the famed Weissach Axle which was later adapted for use on other models. It is an automatic toe-correcting system which can be thought of as a sort of passive rear-wheel steering, the first of its kind available to the public. It helps keep the rear wheels on track in certain lift-throttle or braking situations lending a very neutral, easy handling significant change from the tail-happy 911s in ’78.

Ultimately, there is a Porsche car to fancy every enthusiast’s requirements, suit every passion and almost every budget. But the things that don’t change are the absolute satisfaction of ownership and the divine joy of driving a Porsche.

 

 

 

 

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