|Engine||2.0 litre four cylinder|
2.5 litre four cylinder
2.0 litre turbocharged four cylinder
|Power||125 bhp (basic)|
170 bhp (Turbo)
163 bhp (924 S)
177 bhp (Turbo S2)
Porsche's First Front-Engined Automobile
In the early 1970s, Porsche was commisioned by VW/Audi to design a cheap, fast and easy to produce sports coupe. Porsche set about this task with gusto, and quickly designed the basis of a brief-completing coupe. It would be powered by a developed version of the Audi 100 engine (and not the VW LT van engine as so often mis-stated), feature components from VW's Golf/Rabbit, Scirocco and Super Beetle, and be on the market by the mid-1970s. However, VW then had a change of management and decided not to proceed.
Porsche, a company gently growing its own model line after being in production for less than a decade, jumped at the opportunity to produce such a car, and bought the rights to the project from VW. However, before the vehicle was to be released to a critical public, certain changes were made. Porsche CoD, Harm Lagaay, was contracted with modifying the exterior design, a submitted a contemporary two-box, cockpit-backward coupe, with a dominant rear glasshouse. The interior was also tweaked by the stylists - the seat and dash design changed significantly, and better quality plastics and materials were used. One change that could not be made was the choice of powerplant - the project was too far gone to make a switch of engine, from the Audi engine to a Porsche engine, economically viable, so initially the production 924 kept the four-cylinder fuel-injected unit.
The Rise and Fall of the Porsche 924
The Porsche 924 was released to an impressed public in 1975, and went on sale in Europe from this date. The cars were built at the NSU factory at Neckarsulm, a suburb of Stuttgart. Americans saw the car early 1976, but the car featured only 97 hp - much too little for a Porsche. Sales reflected this - a disappointing 5200 cars were sold in 1976. Something had to be done.
During 1977, Porsche revamped the 924. A right-hand drive version was developed, for sale in crucial markets such as the UK and Australia, and a few more bhp was eeked out to reach that magical 100bhp figure in the USA version. The colour options were changed, new fabrics offered inside, complimented by a new alloy wheel design. The changes worked. By the New Year bells of 1978, a massive 23000 new 924s had rolled off the Neckarsulm production line. The 924 reached critical acclaim in major US and UK magazines, praised for its neutral balance, poised steering and sweet gearchange.
But Porsche didn't have it all its own way. By 1981, the 924 was fending off attack from more powerful and cheaper Japanese competiton, especially in the USA. A special edition, named the 'Weissach' was released, featuring special paint and many options as standard. The sales dam had been broken, though, and by 1982 the 924 was missing from the USA sales line-up, replaced by the 944. In other markets, the standard 924 continued until early 1985.
Back With a Vengeance - The Porsche 924S.
The 924 bounced back fighting in mid-1985, badged '924S', and featuring upgrades such as an all-new, all-alloy, Porsche 2.5L four-cylinder, a whole new set of colours and options, a new 'Telephone Dial' alloy wheel design and 150BHP (purposely detuned from the 944's 163BHP, to keep a noticeable performance difference between the two models). For the first time ever, all markets were supplied with identical power outputs, much to the joy of buyers, who lapped up the cars throughout 1985 and 1986. However, the spartan equipment levels (a passenger door mirror was an option), compromised design (right-hand drive cars had window-wipers set for left-hand drive cars) and the mounting challenge from the even more powerful and talented Japanese cars, sales in 1987 collapsed. A last gasp attempt to secure some sales resulted in the 'Le-Mans' special edition, given the full compliment of 163 BHP, along with special paintwork and interior fabrics, but it failed to stop the landslide, and by 1988, the 924 S was part of Porsche's history.
The 924 Turbo was released in 1979, and was levelled at Porsche's doubters - those who believed that the 924 was too soft a car to be a Porsche. The Turbo maintained the 924's four-cylinder engine block, but instead of being produced at Neckarslum, the blocks were shipped to Zuffenhausen and hand built by Porsche mechanics. The finished product had an output of 170bhp in European trim, which was 36% greater than the naturally aspirated example. The chassis has been given a thorough work over, and the transmission was uprated to a Getrag five-speed example, with the traditional racing pattern of a dog-leg first. The brakes were also improved, with ventilated discs all-round, increasing to a diameter of 282 mm at the front and 289 mm at the rear. The braking set-up worked well, but in essence was a botch-up job from other Porsche models - the front discs were from a 911, the rears from a 928, and all calipers also from the 928.
But it was the powerplant which was the focus of all attention. It was now a 'real' Porsche engine, being constructed at Porsche Zuffenhausen, and differed in many ways from the standard engine. A new aluminium-silicon alloy cylinder head was fitted, which provided a 'dished' combustion chamber to prevent premature detonation. A new head gasket was also fitted, designed to cope with the much higher running temperatures created by the turbocharger. The turbocharger itself was designed and built by German 'turbomeisters' KKK, and was used elsewhere in the automotive industry as a turbocharger in truck diesel engines. The European cars had 0.7bar boost - the US cars only 0.45, due to the fuel supplied in the States. The cooling of the turbocharger presented problems during development, but this was overcome by an oil cooler - as the turbo was lubricated by the engine oil.
In 1981, the 924 Turbo was completely revised, and the revised example is what enthusiasts call the 'Series Two'. The cause of the modification was due to the arrival of digital ignition. European-spec cars so equipped developed 177bhp - the US cars produced 154bhp. Despite being fairly successful, production of the Turbo variant ended in 1983, after 13,351 vehicles had been produced.
The Carrera Models - the GT and GTS
In September 1979, Porsche unveiled the 924 Carrera GT, which was to serve a joint purpose - on one hand, to move the image of the 924 further upmarket, and on the other, to homologate the 924 for endurance racing purposes. Developed from the 924 Turbo, the car was homologated to European FISA Grade 3 regulations, which stipulated that 400 road cars had to be built to allow Porsche to take the 924 racing. The road-going Carrera GT was extensively modified in relation to the 924 Turbo - the only common feature of the engine was the block itself. Designated M31/50, the engine featured lightweight forged pistons, a considerably larger turbocharger and a new air-to-air intercooler, which was placed on top of the engine. This led to the introduction of the famous bonnet duct. Other engine-based modifications included hardened camshaft lobes, repositioning of the oil cooler and an all-new lightweight exhaust system, which granted freer breathing. Combined, these modifications saw the output of the two-litre four-cylinder rise to 210bhp. To cope with the extra horses, a new gearbox was specified, which was made by German specialists Getrag. The five-speed unit, with a dog-leg first, was unique to the CGT. All-round, suspension was stiffened and lowered, with firmer bushes and strengthening. Exterior modifications comprised of a wonderful, wide-arched bodykit, with a flush front bumper. Fuchs forged alloys, similar to those on the 911, were fitted, and were 15 inches in diameter. Porsche made 408 examples, sold to Europe only. 75 right-hand drive examples came to Britain, 200 stayed in Germany and the rest were distributed around Europe.
In 1980, Porsche ran four Carrera GTRs at Le Mans, competing in the GTP class against some very tough competition. Again, to comply with regulations, a number of these fire-breathing, 375bhp silhouette racers had to be sold, and Porsche eventually produced 17. These cars were not road legal, and featured only a passing resemblance to the standard 924.
To help with the homologation of the GTR, the Carrera GTS was produced, in 1981. The car was developed to be a road legal version of the Carrera GTR, and was essentially a heavily modified 924 Carrera GT. The CGTS was almost identical externally to the CGT, the only differences being slightly lower ride height and larger Fuchs alloy wheels. But it was behind the scenes where most of the changes occurred, turning the Dr. Jekyll Carrera GT into a Mr. Hyde. Shedding 40kg (132lbs) from the Carrera GT, the Carrera GTS boasted 245bhp courtesy of an increase in turbocharger pressure and a compression ratio change. The intercooler was enlarged, a stronger clutch was fitted along with a limited slip differential. Glassfibre was used for many bodyparts, and sound insulation was deleted. Top speed was around 160 mph, with 0-60 mph in little over 6 seconds. All 59 Carrera GTSs were painted Guards Red and were left hand drive.
Summary of Models
- 1975-1985 - Porsche 924 Coupe (2.0 litre, four cylinder, fuel injected.)
- 1985-1988 - Porsche 924 S Coupe (2.5 litre, four cylinder, naturally aspirated.)
- 1979-1983 - Porsche 924 Turbo Coupe (2.0 litre, four cylinder, single turbocharger developing 170BHP.)
- 1980 - Porsche 924 Carrera GT Coupe (2.0 litre, four cylinder, turbocharged developing 320BHP.)
- 1980 - Porsche 924 Carrera GTS Coupe (2.0 litre, four cylinder, turbocharged developing 375BHP.)
- 1981 - Porsche 924 Carrera GTR Coupe (Le Mans racer, sold only via Porsche Motorsport Department.)
- 1977 - 'Martini' - Porsche 924 Coupe with white paint, Martini stripes, bright orange interior cloth, white alloys.
- 1979 - 'Sebring '79' - Porsche 924 Coupe with Guards Red paint, Sebring decals, tartan interior, black alloys.
- 1980 - 'Le Mans' - Porsche 924 Coupe with Grand Prix White paint, Le Mans stripes, black and white Pinstripe interior, Turbo alloys.
- 1981 - 'Weissach' - Porsche 924 Coupe with Pewter Metallic paint, two-tone tweed interior, air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors.
- 1979 - 'Turbo USA' - Porsche 924 Turbo with Dolomite Grey paint, tartan interior. 600 produced.
- 1983 - 'Turbo Italia' - Porsche 924 Turbo with Zermatt Silver paint, Porsche Logo interior in either burgandy or grey. 88 produced in total.
- 1988 - 'Le Mans' - Porsche 924 S Coupe with either Black or White paint, 'Pinstripe Flannel' 911 Turbo seats, Turquoise or Gold decals and stripes with coordinated wheel inlays. 1000 made.
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