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4 Wheel Drive Madness


A list of some spectacular 4x4s and some not so spectacular. | 4x4 History



The history of Porsche road cars is undoubtedly dominated by the history of the Porsche 911, and its predecessor the 356. The flat-4 and then flat-6 engines, the rear engine position (behind the rear axle) and, until the late 1990s, air-cooling, are all Porsche trade-marks. Porsche tried front-mounted, water-cooled engines and rear wheel drive with the 924/ 944/ 968 between 1975 and 1994, and with the V8 Porsche 928, 1977-1994, but the 911-line is held to represent the classic Porsche. My special interest here is with the 911-Turbo which offers four wheel drive and with the 911 and 959 4WD rally cars.

1948, June 8: First Porsche car had a 1086cc 30kW VW engine.

1949: Production begins in Stuttgart, Germany; the car is called the 356 because it is the 356th project off the Porsche design desk.

1950s: Porsche builds the 1.5L flat-12 supercharged Cisitalia racing car with driver-controlled four wheel drive.

1951: The factory enters a light-weight 356 in the Le Mans 24 hours race. First two right hand drive Porsche 356s built and imported into Australia by Norman Hamilton.

1953: The 550 mid-engined race car Spyder is created.

1963: Porsche "901" (later renamed the "911" after a protest by Peugeot) is shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, 2L flat-6, air-cooled engine, 97kW at 6200rpm. The engine is later enlarged to 2.2L and 2.4L.
1964 Porsche 911 production begins.

1969: The 914 mid-engined car features 4-cylinder engine from VW (and insufficient "go" in the opinion of many).

1973: New G-body 911 (e.g. larger bumpers), 2.7L flat-6 engine. A prototype 911-Turbo was shown at the Paris Motor Show.

1973/74: Porsche 911 Turbo, 2.7L, 186kW, rear "whale-tail spoiler".

1974 New 3.0L, 6.5:1 c.r., 0.8bar boost, turbo engine, 194kW at 5500rpm.

1975: The 4-cylinder, water-cooled, front engined 924 is a new departure; later developed into the 944 and 968.

1977: 3.3L, 7.0:1 c.r. Porsche 911, inter-cooled (1978), 224kW, 416Nm. (And in the front-engined layout... the V8, water-cooled 928.)

1981: 911 4WD concept car shown at Frankfurt Motor show.

1982: New 911 Carrera-2 shape - e.g. integrated bumpers.

1984: A 911 4WD wins the Paris-Dakar rally.

1986: 4WD Porsche 959s finish 1, 2 and 6 in the Paris-Dakar rally.

1987: The Porsche 959 was a 911-based group-B rally car and had electronic controlled 4WD with dry/ wet/ icy settings, also ABS brakes. 2.85L twin-turbo flat-6, 330kW at 6500rpm, 500Nm at 5500rpm, 1350kg. 200 were built for homologation purposes.

1991: Porsche 911 type-964 (~Carrera 2) 3.3L, 235kW, 450Nm, four-wheel drive, au$265K.

1992 Porsche AG take direct control of Australian imports.

1993: 911 Turbo gets 3.6L, 270kW engine. At au$270K, or $1/Watt, 15 sold were sold here in 1994/95.

1995: 911 series 993, 300kW twin-turbo, 6-speed, electronic control of 4WD and limited slip diff' from the Carrera 4 and Porsche 959. This engine later developed up to 400kW in a car with a weight of 1280kg and 4WD.

1996: The Boxster is a new mid-engined, and more affordable, Porsche.

1998: 50th Anniversary, It is said that over 1,000,000 Porsches have been built and that 2/3 of them are still on the road.

1999: 991 type-996 turbo 4WD, 309kW.