Last month we looked at some of Porsche’s milestones around the time of the company’s 50th anniversary in 1998. This month we track back a further ten years to 1988, and we look back 30 years at what was happening in the world of Porsche around the year.
With the Type 2708 CART, Porsche ventured into unchartered waters as it sought to test the American CART racing scene. The distinctive green and white Quaker State sponsored racer featured an aluminium and plastic monocoque body and was powered by an engine that ran on methanol. The upper body was made from carbon-reinforced plastic, while the lower body was in aluminium, the two halves were then screwed and bonded together. Porsche engineer, Hans Mezger, developed a turbocharged 2.65-litre V8 4-valve engine developing 750bhp for it, which borrowed heavily from Porsche’s TAG Formula 1 engine.
In 1988, the race car was tested using a March chassis, which in the hands of Teo Fabi, showed some promise at first. The following year the March Porsche 89P was developed, and in the hands of Fabi once again, the car won at Mid-Ohio, and Fabi racked up some promising statistics in the first half of the season. In the second half of the season Fabi out-scored the rest of the field. For the 1990 season, a change in the regulations resulted in the car running out of testing time prior to the start of the season, and at the end of that season, Porsche withdrew from the series.
Although introduced in 1982, the Porsche 956 and the later 962 models, would go on to become the most successful sports racing prototypes in the history of motorsport. During the period 1982-1994, these two models racked up 232 major international victories across all continents. Although 1988 was the last year that the factory entered a 962C at Le Mans, the evergreen 962 and 962C cars would soldier on until 1994 in different series around the world, twelve years after being introduced – a truly remarkable achievement for a race car.
Celebrating 25 years of the 911 in 1988, Porsche looked to introduce a significant new model to mark the occasion. The Type 964 AWD 911 was announced in November 1988, featuring an all-new 3.6-litre engine, an aerodynamically optimised body and an extendable rear spoiler. As the G-Series 911 Carrera and Turbo models bowed out, the new 964 ushered in a completely redesigned suspension set up, with MacPherson struts with coil springs and an anti-roll bar up front. At the rear, MacPherson struts with coil springs and an anti-roll bar, completed the package.
The 964 Carrera 4 featured an electrically-controlled full-time AWD system that consisted of a front and rear differential connected by a transaxle. The drive was split front/rear in a ratio of 31/69, but the driver could manually activate an integrated lock-up for starting off in difficult conditions.
On the occasion of Ferry Porsche’s 80th birthday in 1989, the Design department presented him with a concept car, the Panamericana, which was actually more of a roadster design study. The concept was indeed a striking model, and when it was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it caused something of a stir. The model is actually a very clever reinterpretation of basic 911 shape, although it does look somewhat as though it is a 911 on steroids. This is all a matter of opinion of course, but the Panamericana design study did offer some insights into Porsche’s future-thinking in the late ‘80s.
The Type 964 came along at just the right time as sales had been slowly falling, but the new and innovative 964 certainly steadied the ship, and sales recovered strongly thereafter. The early 1990s did see some volatile sales figures, but the general trend was upwards from the middle of the decade.
Production of all 911 models 1987-1997:
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale, and Porsche