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Relentless | 46 years of the Porsche 911 Turbo

Turbocharged 911s are two-a-penny these days. But there will always be one to rule them all...

By Dafydd Wood / Friday, March 6, 2020

On Monday we looked back through some of the highlights of 70 years of Aston Martin Vantage, a fitting way to mark the nameplate's anniversary. So, while 46 years since the introduction of the 911 Turbo doesn't have quite the same ring to it, the launch of the new 992 model at this week's Not Geneva show does provide us with ample excuse to peruse the archives and classifieds alike. This is PorschtonHeads, after all...

  • 911 Turbo (930)

With the 1,100hp of Porsche's turbocharged 917/30 sweeping the floor with all before it in the 1973 CanAm championship, it was never going to take long for the technology to make it into a road car. The 3.0-litre, 260hp 911 Turbo was that vehicle, its launch in 1974 beginning a dynasty which continues to this day. Although the manufacturer only had plans for 500 Turbos initially - enough to satisfy motorsport homologation regulations - demand was such that the model soon found itself in series production.

By 1977 its displacement had been increased to 3.3-litres, with a corresponding rise in output to as much as 300hp. The 930 remained on sale until 1988, and this UK-delivered, right-hand drive car comes from toward the end of that run. Its Guards Red on black leather styling, 16-inch Fuchs wheels and excellent condition all make it appealing, even if it isn't known for being the most accommodating car to drive. As Porsche rather gently puts it, its 0.8 bar of boost does kick in "somewhat abruptly" at 3,500rpm.

  • Porsche 959

Next we have a car which needs no introduction, the mighty 959. Demonstrating the road-going potential not just of sequential turbocharging, but other technologies like all-wheel drive and electronic systems control as well, the 959 was the fastest production car in the world when it launched in 1986. Despite its ability, and its hero status today, however, it was actually a great burden to Porsche at the time.

Its development took two years longer than planned, meaning it missed out on the Group B era it was designed for and its fastest car title was stripped from it after less than a year by the Ruf CTR. And it was ruinously expensive to develop, forcing Porsche to sell each car at a 50 per cent loss. Still, its 450hp twin-turbo flat-six, iconic Dakar victory and incredible rarity make the 959 one of the most coveted Porsches of all time. There are none currently for sale on the classifieds but, well, we weren't going to miss this one out were we?

  • 964

Despite being the first production 911 to feature all-wheel drive, the 964 generation of Turbo initially made do with a 320hp version of its predecessor's 3.3-litre motor. In 1993, however, a larger 3.6-litre variant arrived, producing 360hp. Despite using the same KKK turbo as its smaller-displacement sibling, the 3.6's unit was re-calibrated to produce 0.9 bar which, as the ad for this stunning example puts it, resulted in "torque now spread evenly over the rev range," making the car feel "quicker and more exploitable." Marvellous.

  • 993

Just two years later Porsche unveiled the final air-cooled 911 Turbo it would make, the 993. The last of its kind, it was also the first 911 to use twin-turbocharging - a decision based on its effectiveness in the 959. Unlike that car, however, the 993's turbos were not sequential, instead each supplying one bank of the 3.6-litre engine's six cylinders to produce 408hp and 400lb ft of torque.

When it comes to 993s in the classifieds, we'd be willing to make the switch to left-hand drive in order to get behind the wheel of this beautiful Turbo S. Thanks to larger turbos and twin exhausts, it produces 450hp, a healthy improvement over the standard car, while its silver paint, black leather and yellow calipers look spot-on from where we're sitting.

  • 996

The 996 saw the 911 into the new millennium and, once there, promptly delivered a Turbo version. It still used a 3.6-litre flat-six but, shock horror, it was now liquid-cooled. No matter, though, because the engines found in the Turbo and Turbo S models of this generation were descended from the 1998 Le Mans-winning 911 GT1. 414hp at 6,000rpm and 415lb ft of torque resulted, with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed Tiptronic transmission. Porsche's VarioCam Plus also continued the tradition of technologically advanced Turbos.

The X50 pack, with which this Lapis Blue car from the classifieds is equipped, arrived In 2002. It included larger K24 turbochargers and intercoolers, as well as a revised ECU and a quad-pipe exhaust for a total output of 450hp. Despite its excellent performance, the 996 remains one of the cheapest routes into 911 ownership, and the situation with Turbos is no different.

  • 997

Saving 40kg over the 996 thanks to extensive use of aluminium, the 997 also featured variable turbine geometry for the first time. By altering the angle of the impeller vanes depending on engine speed, its responsiveness could be improved and, although the technology was already well established in diesel engines, for the petrol-powered Porsche it had to be developed practically from scratch.

It was also the final generation of 911 Turbo available with a manual transmission, something which makes this 37,000-mile, £60,000 car very tempting indeed. So equipped, it was capable of 0-62 in just 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 193mph, a level of performance which remains pulse-quickening even today.

  • 991.1

The 991.1 was the final generation of 911 before turbocharging was introduced across the entire model range in the 991.2. Its 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six produced 520hp and 457lb ft in 'standard' guise, or a whopping 560hp and 553lb ft in uprated S form.

The most comfortable, liveable, manageable Turbo yet, it's also arguably the most logical candidate for the Cabriolet treatment. This white, £100k car will undoubtedly upset a great many purists as you pass them by; luckily for both you and them, it won't take very long to do so.

Which generation of 911 Turbo would you most like to see on the driveway, regardless of cost? Let us know in the comments..

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