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Porsche history 1981 - 2000

Broadcast date : 23rd May 2004


In the mid-nineteen eighties Porsche had been experimenting with water-cooled cylinder heads on its 962 Le Mans machines. These cars still used the famous 911 flat-six cylinder layout as devised by Ferdinand Piech. But they produced some six hundred and fifty horsepower or close to 4our hundred and ninety kilowatts, thanks to twin turbochargers and loads of boost.

The mid-1980s was also a time of resurgence for the entire performance car industry, after a period of political correctness following the oil crises and a world-wide focus on safety.

The Porsche 959 was the product of Zuffenhausen's wildest engineering fantasies. Initially conceived as a racing and rally special conforming to worldwide motorsport Group B specifications, this Porsche was indeed a glimpse into the future.

Just 250 examples were slated for production in 1988 and it featured twin turbochargers, the first production Porsche to do so, water-cooled cylinder heads, self-leveling suspension, variable torque split four-wheel drive and a six-speed transmission.

Way back in 1989 Porsche engineers were on record that this was in fact a testbed for many features that would be taken for granted in production Porsches of the future.

Many of these components were in action as early as 1993 when the 3,6-litre Porsche Turbo, in 993-series form, was introduced. This car had four-wheel-drive, its air-cooled motor enlarged to 3,6-litres, and twin turbochargers were fitted.

Many people feel that the 993 series Porsche, introduced in the early 1990s with its classic 911 shell but sloped-back headlights, was the prettiest 911 of all time.

But work was already in progress on this car's successor, the completely re-shelled, re-engineered 911.

In 1997, when the current generation 911 was launched as model type Nine nine six, it employed water-cooling instead of fan-induced air-cooling. But it was still a flat six engine true to the original, still hung out the rear of the car behind the gearbox.

Yes, the 996 series model was definitely still a Porsche 911.

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