Classic Porsche Reborn: The Gullwing-America P/904 Carrera

March 5, 2012

The original Porsche 904 GTS Carrera of 1964/65 arrived at the tail-end of Porsche’s exiting from Formula 1 (in ’62) and set the stage for their ensuing dominance in subsequent road-racing efforts (take a long, well-deserved bow, Porsche 917). For homologation purposes, Porsche built 106 street-legal versions of the original 904, of which instantly deemed it a rather rare occurance to see one in-the-metal over the years…

The iconic 1964 Porsche 904 GTS

Since then, the 904 has gathered an almost legendary plume of respect and admiration amongst Porsche enthusiasts, collectors and race fans the world over. To own an original 904 would be a dream come true… To drive one would be a treat unlike any other, as the driving-legend himself, Walter Rohrl, found out last year…

Now though, Gullwing-America has unwrapped its modern-day take on the iconic 904 with its retro P/904 Carrera. Based on the 987 (’05-’11) Boxster platform, the P/904 retains the same 3.4L engine (rated at 295 bhp) and also borrows the same slick 6-speed manual transmission, the ABS and the power-steering unit to aid in the updating of a classic design flourished with modern-day familiarities.

Those modern-day ‘updates’ include a full instrument panel and center console with Sat-nav (GPS) and an iPod dock along with air conditioning as well. Bespoke seats, dashboard and steering wheel are also part of the unique 904 re-creation process. Outside, you’re treated to LED lights, a retractable rear-spoiler, a lowered ride-height and tasty 18″ Fuchs design wheels…

Cost for the total conversion comes in at a hefty 70,000 euros (approx $91,000) not including the donor porsche Boxster… but if you already own an ’05-’11 Boxster and you’re looking to ‘upgrade’ to something utterly unique, sexy and forever desireable then this might just be what you’re looking for… I mean c’mon…. Look at it…!!

-Blake J.
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Porsche: Baby SUV ‘Macan’ On The Way

February 16, 2012

Porsche has been receiving some (deserved?) flak this week, what with their ludicrous statement from 911 project chief, August Achleitner, that the next GT3 could very-well receive a PDK-only gearbox, arguing that “No one complained when we made the Turbo PDK-only”… Really Mr. Achleitner…? Well, if we’re resorting to that level of grade-school justification then it’s safe to say that no one complained when the last two hardcore, driver’s-choice GT3 models (996 and 997) came with three pedals and a proper gear-stick with cogs… 100% approval from customers I’d say- they bought a GT3 for that very reason.

Was known as the 'Cajun', now officially named the Macan

So before I ruffle myself up into a tiz again, let’s move on… The promised Porsche baby-SUV has been confirmed and its name is Macan – translates to ‘tiger’ in Indonesian and is apparently a safe bet for worldwide translations (important when naming a new car). It goes without saying that its main rivals will be the Audi Q5 and the sleek ‘n sexy Range Rover Evoque, what with its compact dimensions (ie: no space inside, yet jacked-up to look like it has space) and ‘sporty’ coupe-like roofline. And, as is the Porsche way, its face and rump looks as though it has been designed by the same lazy designer of every new Porsche over the last 12 years – just imagine a smaller Cayenne… there you go, job done.

It goes without saying that this new Macan is a direct result of Porsche’s long-term expansion plans, with an eye dead-set on China where Panamera and Cayenne sales outnumber sportscars sales by a substantial margin. The numbers tell all – Porsche sold 118,967 vehicles last year, 59,897 of those were Cayennes. One-quarter of Porsche’s total production last year landed on China’s shores…

The old saying (belief ?) goes that Porsche only builds these Cayennes, Panameras and Macans solely as cash-cows to help fund development of their ‘true passion’: sportscars like the Boxster, Cayman and 911 derivatives (and to some extent, the forthcoming halo 918 supercar). But with the current fleet at an even ‘3 on 3’ now and with sales gravitating heavily towards the success of the big ‘n chunky sort in developing markets like China, it will be interesting to see what direction Porsche takes with the brand’s sporting origins amidst the oncoming horizon.

-Blake J.
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Porsche: Next-Gen 911 GT3 Could Be PDK-Only…?

February 14, 2012

I’ve just read an article originating from Insideline that tells of the threat (yes, it’s ridiculous enough news to warrant it as such) according to Porsche 911 project chief, August Achleitner, that the next-gen Porsche 911 GT3 – remember now, the hardcore purists choice of 911 – could very well come with a PDK-only transmission…

According to Achleitner, both manual and PDK transmissions are being ‘evaluated’ for consideration in the next GT3 (and here’s where I roll my eyes) but apparently only one transmission will be chosen in the end for the hardcore GT3 and he reckons the boring-as-mud, poseur PDK will get the nod. Achleitner continues to blither on with false numbers and ridiculous statements, one of which being that ‘only’ 30% of 911 sales are manual stick-shift so therefore PDK is a no-brainer… huh..? That’s just poor business sense if you ask me.

The new 991-gen 911 - oh, how I squint further at thee...

The embarrassment continues when Achleitner says “When we launched the 911 Turbo S, we did not offer a manual, but we have not had a single complaint”. Sure you didn’t Achleitner… But then again, of course he’d say that as Porsche charges (and makes) a load of extra cash on each 911 that is ordered with the PDK. By that token then, I’d think I’d be safe in reminding Porsche that 100% of previous-gen 997 GT3 sales were manual transmission…? Despite what Porsche may think, not every 911 owner spends their time bragging about 0-60 times and impressing their friends with launch-control.

Seeing as how the next-gen GT2 and GT3 will also be fitted with the new (and highly-controversial) electromechanical power steering set-up that has already come under heavy criticism for its lack of ‘feel’ and reportedly synthetic feedback qualities, it seems an unnecessarily brash move against Porsche driving-purists (and proper drivers, in general) to come out swinging with this silly threat of ‘you can have this, or nothing at all’ type of statement.

Could there not be anything more 'wrong' in the sportscar realm than a Porsche 911 without a manual option...?

I call BS on the whole story – this is just Porsche, once again, ruffling-up the feathers of the automotive world and heaving mass attention in their direction for the sake of headlines and discussion…. Does Porsche really, I mean really, think that GT3 buyers will be happy as lambs with electromechanical power steering and PDK-only…? C’mon…

Porsche has been developing (and offering) a new 7-speed manual transmission for the new 991-based 911 already so I don’t exactly buy into Achleitner’s claims that this ‘populist’ PDK-only option/threat has any weight behind it at all.

The GT3 RS 4.0 - the last proper 911 aimed at driving purists/enthusiasts...?

And my friends actually wonder why the new plethora of sportscars continue to fail in exciting me anymore… So thank you, to all the flappy-paddle posers… you have now successfully contributed to the ruination of, what used to be, one of the greatest driver’s cars ever.

-Blake J.
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Photo Album: Essential Porsche 917K Wallpapers + Bonus!

January 16, 2012

There are few factory-derived racecars as tauntingly beautiful and purposely outlandish as the legendary Porsche 917K series. There’s just something about its purity of voilent speed and devilishly analogue nature that *pings* directly at the petrolheaded soul and has you searching for a YouTube fix at 2am…

The Porsche 917 was originally designed as a ‘long-tale’ (917LH) but seeing as how this initial version produced rather sketchy handling at high speeds, a shorter-tailed version (the 917K) was developed to cure the high-speed instabilities at the cost of a slightly lower top speed. Based on the Porsche 908, the 917 was conceived in an alarmingly short time of just 10 months (at great expense to Porsche) and made its debut win at the 1970 Le Mans – the first-ever overall win for Porsche. It followed this win up with a 2nd overall Le Mans win in ’71.

Power came from the monstrous Type 912 air-cooled flat-12 engine that ranged in size from 4.5, 4.9 and 5.0 litres producing upwards of 620 bhp. The dash to 60 would arrive in 2.3 seconds and 125 mph would be achived in a barely-believable 5.3 seconds… (!)

In the sorely-missed original Can-Am series (’66-’74) an insane turbocharged version dubbed the Porsche 917/30 produced well over 1,100 bhp and as much as 1,580 bhp when in qualifying tune… again, (!)

As an added little bonus, here we have a chart documenting every single 917 chassis ever made…

-Blake J.
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2013 Porsche Boxster: Longer and Wider Evolution Continues

January 12, 2012

Almost on-cue after yesterday’s spotlight on the legendary mid-engined Porsche 550 Spyder comes this: the 3rd-generation mid-engined Porsche Boxster for 2013. The longer, wider and slightly lighter (by 35kg) evolution of the firm’s entry-level Porsche appears to have followed suit with its 911-sibling by gaining more dimensional girth in almost every way.

Styling changes and revisions have predictably gone down the more gapingly aggressive route with even larger intake vents and wheels with headlamps that remind of the Porsche 918 RSR and a striking new rear-deck wing-extension that appears to draw inspiration from that of the aftermarket TechArt variant offered-up for the previous-gen Boxster. Now bigger in almost every way, it goes without saying that curiosity will be running high on the next-gen Cayman – I’m guessing it’ll look similar in size/dimensions to a 993-gen 911… ?

Inside, the cabin has also followed along with the new 911 and Panamera (via Carrera GT supercar) by incorporating a raised transmission console and edgier lines all throughout. More space inside as well, as is to be expected with the evolutionary themes of Porsche these days.

Behind the driver will sit two new flat-six engines on offer, both with direct-injection and the obligatory ‘Earth-saving’ (and rather annoyingly silly) stop-start tech: A 2.7-liter boasting 265bhp (up 10bhp from its larger predecessor) and a 3.4-liter unit fitted in the Boxster S good for 315bhp (up by 5bhp). A 6-speed manual is standard fare with the option of ticking the 7-speed PDK gearbox if flicking paddles is your thing…

New tech introduced on the next Boxster include electric steering (booo… hisss…), an electric rooftop (nice), the option of Porsche’s torque vectoring system and a mechanical limited-slip differential (yay..!)

Fuel consumption figures state 36.7 mpg and 35.3 for the Boxster S (all relative, of course) and the 0-60 dash is covered in 5.7 for the standard Boxster and 5.0 for the S version. Prices will start at $49, 500 for a base model (before ticking a lot of boxes) and $60,900 for the base S variant…. which seems like quite a lot when you factor-in that almost everyone will easily add-on $5000 in must-have extras without even blinking an eye… a Boxster S costing over $70,000 before taxes… ?!? yikes…

The new 2013 Boxster goes on-sale at the beginning of the Summer.

-Blake J.
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Legends: The Porsche 550 RS Spyder

January 11, 2012
  The Porsche 550 Spyder of the 1950’s. Rarely has a purpose-built sportscar rendered so much international acclaim and praise for its ‘Giant killing’ abilities alongside outright victories of some of the most demanding and challenging races (most notably its win in the 1956 Targa Floria) of the era from which it was conceived. But that it was also remembered as being a poster-child for a high-profile (and seemingly, cursed) city-to-city ‘Speed Kills’ campaign in the USA (after movie-star James Dean’s death in his ‘Little Bastard’ 550 Spyder) only further serves to inflitrate the mysterious and legendary effects that the 550 had on not only the racing scene and the general public, but also on the future of Porsche as a marque that had undeniably made its mark on the sportscar scene.
  Only 90 examples were made between October 1952 and June 1956 with the first four cars going to Porsche KG for testing and racing. The first 2 two examples bore removeable hardtops to aid in aerodynamics whilst racing against the other Motorsport leviathans of the time – namely the Jaguar D-types and Mercedes 300 SLRs – and upon the first race of the 1953 season at the Nurburgring (in appalling conditions), the 550 won outright in its very first race. A month later at Le Mans, both cars were entered and won their 1500cc class, ending up 15th overall.
  All 550s were built by hand and saw them borrowing parts from its 356 predecessor and Volkswagen during its build-evolution. Subsequently, each 550 made over the years received gradual improvements and upgrades along the way. Power for those first handful of cars originally came from the 356’s 1500 Super engine that was good for up-to 100 bhp, but eventually the reliably robust type-547 1498cc 4-cam engine, built by Ernst Fuhrmann, would come to readily power the 596 kg lightweight 550 with its larger bore and shorter stroke.
  Eventually, after a couple of years spent refining both the body and the mechanics of the 550, work was commissioned in 1955 to coachbuilder Wendler of Reutlingen, Germany to build 69 road-going examples for privateers, 33 of which would be bound for the USA. The 550 Spyder (renamed from ‘550 1500/RS’ to ‘550 Spyder’ by an American, for the American market) would continue on with racing success at the hands of such legendary drivers as Stirling Moss, Hans Herrmann and Richard von Frankenberg to name but a few, claiming multiple victories with the 550 during their racing careers.
  The 550 represented Porsche’s proper entry into the world of International Motorsport and was responsible for the introduction of the ‘RS’ Renn Sport (‘motorsport’ in German) moniker that has been attached to every road-going, limited ‘Hot’ Porsche ever since. Yet most importantly, the success of the 550 resulted in the furthering of Porsche’s Motorsport division throughout the 1960’s and onwards which, as we know, laid the foundations for such incredibe creations such as the 917 and 956 racecars of later years. No surprise then that 550 Spyders exchange hands nowadays in the $1-million+ arena… A true legend, it will always be.
-Blake J.
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Photo Album: A Pair of Iconic Porsche 917s

December 28, 2011

It’s the usual end-of-year crawl within the motoring industry – not a lot ‘breaking news’ out there per se. Plus, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all running on the exhaust-fumes from the busy Holidays… So then, what better time than now to simply feast your eyes upon these excellent high-res photos capturing two of the most-iconic Porsche race cars of all time – The Gulf and Martini-liveried 917s.

Enjoy.

I'd be smiling as well...

This wouldn’t feel complete unless I included a favorite movie-still from Steve McQueen’s ‘Le Mans’ film…

-Blake J. 
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