Porsche's drive to consistently improve their racing program lead to many ground-breaking innovations. Thanks to homologation regulations in the racing world, which required a finite number of cars to be produced and sold before the models were allowed into competition, many of those ground breaking innovations were served up to the public through production cars built and sold to meet those requirements. The Porsche 911 Turbo is a perfect example of homologation gone wild.
The development of Porsche's first turbocharged version of the Model 911 began in 1972. A prototype of the first 911 Turbo was unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in the fall of 1973 to test the market potential of the design. The production version was released at the Paris Auto Show in 1974 and was finally put into production in Europe for the model year 1975 and marketed simply as the "911 Turbo". The first exports didn't hit the shores of the US until 1976 and were initially badged as "Turbo Carrera" for a short period of time. Soon the designation was changed to Type 930 and was carried through the remainder of it's production.
The original plan for the 911 Turbo was to meet the homologation requirements of 400 units that were to be produced over a period of 24 months, at which point Porsche would cease production. When the homologation rules changed and the car was no longer needed to meet requirements, Porsche decided to soldier on and continue development with a goal to produce a variant of the Model 911 that would top the line of production Porsche models and could directly compete with the luxurious powerhouses being turned out by Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Ernst Fuhrmann was handed the task of developing the model. He adapted the turbo-technology that was initially designed for the 1973 CAN-AM racer Model 917/30 (which churned out a seering 1100 bhp+) to the 3.0L flat six from the 1974 Model Carrera RS 3.0 (which was the base model for the Carrera RSR 3.0 which dominated 6 out of the 8 rounds of the 1974 European GT Championship) creating the 256hp monster that was then internally dubbed the Type 930.
In order to handle the higher power output, the Type 930 was given a suspension revision, larger brakes, larger wheels, wider tires and flared fenders to accomodate the extra beef. A large rear spoiler was added, known familiarly as a "Whale Tail" or a "Tea Tray", to help create downforce at the rear and push more air through the engine. Lastly, the new susperstar of the Porsche line-up received a stronger 4-speed gearbox.
As impressive as the stats and performance graphs were for the Type 930, the car proved dangerous and even deadly in the hands of inexperienced drivers. The rear-engine placement was advantageous for traction; however, the severe turbo-lag would create sudden bursts of power during cornering that would break the car loose and cause it to spin out of control. Less experienced drivers would react by quickly releasing the throttle which only amplified the situation - the result was more often than not disasterous. Keeping the engine at high revs ultimately minimized the turbo-lag which soon became apparant to the more skilled drivers who were then able to finesse the cars into producing the outstanding performances they were capable of.
The Type 930 didn't receive any significant upgrades until 1978 when the engine size was increased to 3.3 liters and an intercooler was added which bumped up engine output to 300hp. The brakes were also upgraded again, and the spoiler was re-designed and raised slightly to accommodate the addition of the intercooler.
In 1980 the Type 930 was pulled from the US (and Japanese) markets as a result of yet another change in emissions regulations. It remained available on the Canadian and European markets and beginning in 1981 could be special-ordered as a "Flachbau" or "slantnose" edition. Each Flachbau unit was hand-crafted by remodeling the front fenders into 935-style slantnose and stuffed with an upgraded 3.3L engine that produced 330hp. Very few were built as they commanded quite a premium over the cost of a basic 911 Turbo.
For the 1983 model year a another special-order, 325hp performance option was introduced. Along with the performance upgrade, the package included a 4-pipe exhaust and an additional oil cooler which required a re-designed front spoiler, additional ventilation holes in the rear fenders and modified rockers.
Finally in 1986, the Type 930 was re-introduced to the US and Japanese markets, fitted with a 278hp emission-controlled engine. Coinciding with the reunion of the Porsche Turbo with the American roads was the release of the Targa and Cabriolet versions which were welcomed with both open arms and wallets by Porsche enthusiasts.
The last major revision for the Type 930 came in 1989, which was ironically the last year of production for the model. It was finally equipped with a G50 transmission - the 5-speed manual that many feel should have been incorporated into the initial design back in 1975. Maybe that was just Porsche's way of proving that they could squeeze superior performance out of just 4 gears - because they did.
The Type 930 was officially replaced by the Type 964 in 1990, however it will always have the honor of being the model that began Porsche's Turbocharged legacy as each subsequent generation of the Model 911 from the Type 930 forward includes a turbocharged edition.
911 Turbos are dream cars for an entire generation of kids ... who grew up looking to find one for their own garage. The cars are highly collectible and very valuable. Classic insurance with an appropriate Agreed Value to protect your investment is a must.