40 Years Of The Porsche 911 Turbo

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The original 911′s half century in production might be the event that’s garnering all of the attention but this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show also represents a major milestone for its turbocharged, faster sibling.

1974 Porsche 911 Turbo

1974 Porsche 911 Turbo

When this silver prototype was unveiled at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show it caused a stir, and not least because of its huge whale tail spoiler – which would become synonymous with future models – it was because of the ‘Turbo’ motif scrawled on the rear engine cover.

Porsche had been experimenting with force-feeding its engines for the Can-Am race series and the results were so impressive the company decided to bring them to bear on its road-going cars.

Despite only having a 2.7-litre, flat six engine, in prototype form it had 280ph on tap and a top speed of 160mph. It went on to sell 2,876 examples globally.

1977 911 Turbo 3.3

1977 911 Turbo 3 3

Like its normally aspirated brother, the Turbo’s design has always been one of slow, glacial evolution rather than of revolution. Even the biggest aficionado of the marque would need a spanner to show how it differed from the mark one, but differ it did.

Engine capacity went up to 3.3-litres, the turbo got an intercooler and the disk brakes from the 917 sports racer. As a result it stayed in demand and in production until 1989 when it also got a five-speed gearbox as a retirement present.

1990 911 Turbo Type 964

1990 911 Turbo Type 964

The 911 Turbo returned in 1991, with a bigger engine, better aerodynamics and power steering. It was also the first iteration of the car to be sufficiently ventilated and soundproofed to be driven around town as well as the track. It was finally housetrained in other words.

1995 911 Turbo Type 993

1995 911 Turbo Type 993

What do you do when you can’t ever change the exterior design of a car? Get creative with everything that can’t be seen. The 1995 Turbo got two turbochargers, an engine management system, 408hp and, so the driver didn’t end up wrapping this monster around a tree, four-wheel drive.

Also keeping the car on the straight and narrow was an ABS braking system and a six-speed gearbox. Many of the car’s cutting-edge features came courtesy of Porsche’s now mythical 959 supercar.

2000 911 Turbo Type 996

2000 911 Turbo Type 996

Porsche claims that the 2000 model was all-new. Not a single element of the car came from an earlier 911 platform, except of course its silhouette. It was the first Turbo with a water-cooled engine capable of hitting 200mph aligned to a computerized stability management program.

2006 Porsche 911 Turbo 997

2006 Porsche 911 Turbo 997

The next iteration got a 3.8-litre 500hp engine, a twin clutch, paddle shift gearbox and cemented the car’s reputation as the ‘everyday’ supercar, comfortable and practical enough to drive in any conditions and at any speed, so long as the law allowed. An ‘S’ model followed which had even more power and was capable of the 0-60mph dash in a scarcely believable 3.3 seconds.

2013 Porsche 911 Turbo S

2013 Porsche 911 Turbo S

The latest generation car continues the tradition of getting faster and faster and faster while, in terms of design, appearing to stand still. It can lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 7 min 27 secs – almost one minute faster than the 1997 version – and is the world’s first production car to feature a pneumatically-powered variable front spoiler which adjusts based on the car’s speed.

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