911 Turbo Cabriolet
date : 23rd May 2004
If you have ever wondered why
there are so many Porsches on the road compared to any other
supercar, it is time you organised a drive in one.
There is simply no other car on the planet that is as
efficient in offering stupefying performance with everyday
And that applies more so than ever with what Porsche calls its
"cruiser" model, the 911 Turbo Cabriolet.
Here is a car that can accelerate from standstill to one
hundred in less than four and a half seconds, top three
hundred and five kilometres per hour, and yet be as docile as
a new-born lamb in peak hour traffic.
What's more Porsches are built to last. Drive around Randburg,
Durbanville or Musgrave Road on a weekday and you are likely
to see examples from the early 1970s being driven as daily
runabouts. And most of them in near-perfect nick.
What makes the 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet so good is
that it is the result of 40 years of Porsche 911 evolution.
This concept remains essentially unchanged from the day in
September 1963 when the first 911 prototype was unveiled -
then badged as the Porsche Type 901.
The car followed on the highly 356 Porsche which was still in
production. In August 1964 the first 911s reached the
showrooms in Germany - and a world-wide phenomenon was born.
Close on half a million Porsche 911s have been produced since
that day and yet the same layout -rear-engine, flat
six-cylinder concept remains unchanged.
Start up a Porsche 911 from the 1960s or a 2004 spanking new
model and the familiar flat bark of the horizontally-opposed
six-cylinder engine is still the theme tune.
It is an uncompromising engine note, purposeful, even brutal
when you hear an un-silenced racing version.
And it is an engine that has won the Monte Carlo Rally three
times, the Daytona 24 Hour, the Le mans 24 Hour, and thousands
of other races over the years.
Since 1997 the Porsche 911 has featured water-cooling as
opposed to the air-cooling system of the early models.
Yet much work was put into ensuring that the essence of the
air-cooled six, the same bark that becomes a shriek at high
revs, was retained in the water-cooled version.
Porsche engineers say it would have been possible to produce
far more than the 309 kilowatts of the turbo model if only
there was more space in the car.
Cooling the engine is the problem and there simply wasn't
enough space to fit in large enough radiators and intercoolers
for the turbochargers to produce all the power inherent in
this three-point six-litre, twin turbo engine.
Beneath the rather unassuming exterior is an array of heat
exchangers, ducting, a dry sump for the engine oil,
front-mounted radiators, pipes, and sophisticated systems for
the four-wheel drive system.
Since the early 1990s the Porsche Turbo has employed
four-wheel drive to put its tremendous power to the road and
this Turbo Cabriolet features the latest mechanical hardware
and computerised software to ensure safe, thrilling car
It has Porsche Stability management, which brakes individual
wheels and closes the throttle when traction is lost. The
difference between the Porsche system and others in use is
that the Porsche processing speed is so great, it sorts out
the skid, closes and reapplies the throttle before the driver
has even realised he or she is dancing on the edge of control.
The four-wheel drive system also constantly varies the amount
of torque going to the front or rear wheels through a viscous
coupling between front and rear axles. Push hard through a
corner on a slippery road and you can feel the front wheels
scrabbling for grip and blasting you up the road.
And yet it is all so civilised too, with an electronic roof
that can be raised or lowered a speeds of up to 50 km/h.
The body shell was designed at the conceptual stage as a
cabriolet, when the latest generation 911 was developed in the
mid 1990s. It shows in the rigidity of the chassis. And also
the stability at high speed.
Were it legal to do so, as it is in Germany, this car would be
safe right up to its top speed of 305 kilometres per hour. In
the right hands, of course.
And yet the Porsche does not require any particular skills to
drive normally at urban speed limits. It behaves like a
well-bred Golf or Toyota, just with a little more growl to its
Until you stand on the throttle; then the engine note becomes
a flat bark, developing into a howl as the revs rise beyond
seven thousand and the hair on your arms and neck rise up in
Right now the 911 Turbo Cabriolet costs a cool one comma eight
million Rand and some change.
Is it worth it? Oh yes.
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