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Porsche 911 Turbo / 930 : Living legend and wild temperament

A stone's throw from Orléans, a nice little road, already giving the feeling of being in the countryside, offers us an ideal setting to start this new test, of which you can discover the complete video below.

The only difference is that we are in the middle of winter and the weather has decided otherwise.

An icy wind sweeps the surrounding fields and a persistent rain pours down on us, transforming the best of the surfaces into a potential ice rink.

So it is with a certain caution, tinged with circumspection, that we take the wheel of our car of the day, known for its mischievous temperament. 

Welcome aboard a 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3L with a 5-speed gearbox, the ideal mount to go for a ride in this weather that doesn't put a goldfish outside...

But let's look at it from a positive perspective: it's not freezing! 

History of the Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is the archetypal sports car and its 60-year history is a novel.

Because of the difficulties encountered in the development of road holding and carburation, the beginnings were certainly a little difficult, but it was able to adapt constantly to the evolution of techniques and demand.
Since then, the success has not been denied.

Many books of considerable depth have been written by scholars, if only to recount the succession of air-cooled versions derived from the original from the 2-liter (Type 901) introduced in 1963 to the last Type 993 911 in 1998.

Porsche 901 - 1964

The genesis of the Turbo version

A summary will be useful to re-situate the Turbo version within this saga.

The first production 911 left the assembly line in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen on September 14, 1964. It was an entirely new car, powered by an innovative 6-cylinder, air-cooled, dry-sump lubricated engine with 2 liters and 130 hp, allowing a top speed of 210 km/h. It does not take any element from its big sister, the 356.

911 2.0

From then on, power, displacement, rim size and tires, among others, will continue to grow, to the benefit of increased performance.

In 1966, the 2.0 S offers 160 hp, then 170 with injection in 1968.

The displacement is increased to 2.2 l at the end of 1969 (180 hp and 230 km/h for the S), then to 2.4l in the fall of 1971 offering 190 hp, still for the S, crowning the range at that time.

At the same time, and throughout the history of the 911, specific models are made to a few units for the competition, such as the R or 2.5 ST.

As Porsche wanted to enter the 911 in Group 4 for 1973, a minimum production of 500 units was required for the homologation of this new version. The result was the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 l with 210 hp, radical and very powerful, the first special 911 offered in (small) series for the year 1973.

911 Carrera RS 2.7 l

The following year, the range of 911 is simplified and the 2.7 l displacement is generalized, while new bumpers with gussets appear in response to the American standards.

At that time, Porsche had already been studying turbocharging for a few years and applied it to its competition models. The 917 proved to be invincible in the Can-Am and the 911 Turbo Carrera 2.4 l was 2nd in the 1974 24 Hours of Le Mans in the prototype category.

Following the same logic that had led to the marketing of a civilian version of the 2.7RS, the study of a 911 Turbo for the road was launched in order to obtain homologation for the turbocharged racing versions in groups 4 and 5.

The racing heritage will once again be used to develop production models and improve performance and handling.

Evolution of the 911 Turbo up to the 3.3L version

In September 1973, visitors to the Frankfurt Motor Show were surprised to see a 911 Turbo concept car with huge, widened wings and a huge rear spoiler. Surprisingly, it seemed to be intended for road use and not for racing!

This was not just an announcement, because the 911 Turbo type 930 was presented the following year at the 1974 Paris Motor Show.

Its body-built look and its hypertrophied wings added to this spoiler which does not make in discretion gives it the air of a race car which would have escaped on open road.

The technical data sheet does not disappoint either: 260 hp from 5500 rpm, more than 250 km/h in top speed and the km from a standstill in just over 24 seconds. This is the fastest production Porsche ever made. Curiously, the new gearbox has only 4 gears, a solution deemed sufficient by Porsche.

The interior has been treated with a luxury hitherto unknown on previous 911s, offering, among other things, a new heating system with automatic thermostatic control.

The Turbo propels the 911 into the category of supercars and is positioned as a competitor to the great Italian sports cars both by the level of its performance and by its price set at twice that of the 911 2.7 l!

The 911 Turbo was a great success and was marketed well beyond the 500 units initially planned.

The 911 Turbo receives many modifications for the 78 vintage. The engine is re-bored to 3.3 l and delivers now 300 hp always at 5500 rpm. It is equipped for the first time on a production car with an air/air exchanger for cooling the intake air. The brakes are derived from those of the 917 with 4 ventilated and perforated discs pinched by 4-piston winged calipers. The top speed reaches 260 km/h.

The 3.3 l version will thus be produced without significant change until 1988, except for the introduction of the Targa and cabriolet variants in the fall of 1986.

The last evolution of the type 930 corresponds to the last year of production, the 89 vintage finally receiving the 5-speed gearbox that customers have been asking for for a long time, and it is precisely this version that we will try.

Discovery and presentation of the 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3L

The 911 has been so much a part of the automotive landscape for the past 60 years that the discovery of our Turbo does not come as much of a surprise as the appearance of a Countach or a Testarossa.

However, being a 930, the spectacular and somewhat exaggerated side of the huge spoiler and the big wings that happily protrude from the body continue to impress while leaving a little perplexed. What a lack of discretion! The whole car seems to say: "Move aside, I'm coming". Is it pretty? Probably not as nice as a classic 911, but what aggressiveness! What a bestiality even. It doesn't hide its game and, at a time when speed was a selling point, not only allowed, but highly appreciated, this unequivocal statement probably contributed greatly to the success of the Porsche Turbo.

The opening of the door sends us back a few lines. No doubt about it, this is a 911 that looks like a... 911! From the 80's in this case, with its small center console, its thick and strange carpet, its non-suspended pedals and a steering wheel that we got used to, even if we didn't find it really nice. The 930 offered as standard what was optional on the 911s, and the somewhat rustic but solid finish is enhanced here byextensive leather on the dashboard and door panels, power sport seats, air conditioning and a 6 HP audio system.

Unlike some of its competitors, access to the car is easy and the two small rear seats can be very useful on occasion.

Once installed, you'll find yourself well seated in a seat offering a quality comfort (one of the best in my opinion) but still very cramped! And yes: remember that the bodywork is mostly from 1963...

Another consequence inherited from the time of the initial 911 design, from which the 930 is directly derived: the ergonomics. It's particularly fancy on this late model with a lot of equipment and the switches and other controls are scattered everywhere in a rather random way. If you haven't consulted the manual, you'll be looking for a long time for the sunroof or mirror reversal controls, and the heater adjustment is anything but intuitive!

On the other hand, if you've ever driven a 911 with air, 930 or not, you're at home. You will only notice that the speedometer is graduated up to 300 km/h instead of 260 and that a small pressure gauge has been placed in the rev counter to monitor the turbocharger's triggering and the boost pressure increase. As we'll see, this can be useful!

Driving and road behaviour

Getting started is no problem at all. The clutch and gearbox are smooth and everything seems even easier than with a contemporary 3.2 l. And this is as true as it is deceptive.

Indeed, below 3500 rpm,nothing happens! But, if at this rpm, you mash the right pedal, you will have time to count up to, say, between 1 and 2 before being literally catapulted with an improbable violence and absolutely no relation with the smoothness of running, almost soft, which preceded. This is the turbo effect or rather the consequence of the famous response time inherent to this type of supercharging.

The principle of the turbocharger is to use the energy of the exhaust gases to turn a small turbine. On the same axis as this turbine is a second turbine that compresses the intake air. By increasing the amount of air admitted by the engine (at the same time as the amount of gasoline) more power is obtained than with an atmospheric engine at a given speed. The problem is that the turbo has to turn very fast for this to work (80,000 to 100,000 rpm!) and that the necessary amount of exhaust gas is not obtained before a certain engine speed, in this case around 3500 rpm with the 911 Turbo.

Before mastering the beast, it is preferable to be in a straight line before accelerating, as the landing of torque and power is brutal. And on wet roads, this is a wise recommendation!

This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde temperament is fun because you get two cars in one. Smooth and supple in the city and in quiet driving, you could give this 911 to your great aunt if you took care to put a wedge under the throttle. Remove that shim and mash the throttle in 3rd gear at 110 km/h and the next thing you know, if it rains, the rear wheels may spin despite the excellent traction that is typical of any 911 due to its cantilevered rear engine architecture.

Fortunately, you can slow down this cannonball by relying on the excellent and tireless brakes (but without ABS) and steer the missile with its unassisted steering and firmer, but perfectly calibrated running gear. However, you'll have to keep in mind that you don't have any safeguards or electronic driving assistance and that, like any good old 911 of the first generations, lifting your foot off the ground in a curve with too much optimism may result in a good amount of oversteer due to the sudden transfer of mass accentuated by the engine placed at the rear.

Conclusion: the charm and character of the 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3L

Curiously enough, the 911 turbo does not leave the feeling of a very reasonable car, which may seem surprising from Porsche at that time. In fact, the factory must have been aware of this since a "Turbo training" program had been set up for the brand's salesmen to familiarize them with the driving of the car...

However, it's easy to imagine that more than one 930 driver was surprised by the power surge if they didn't anticipate it, which probably earned them the nickname "widow maker".

On the other hand, more experienced owners have certainly enjoyed using this two-faced car, which is relatively practical and easy to use on a daily basis, while offering on-demand, for those who understand the instructions, thunderous accelerations that are among the best of the competition.

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