The Gold Standard of A Currency Called Turbo
Photography by Roman Raetzke
No matter how hard you try to stop the triumphal procession of the turbocharger, it is a development you can’t run (or drive) away from. As one of the last mass production sports car manufacturers Porsche banned naturally aspired engines on the 911 almost exclusively for the upcoming model year 2017. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. Low emissions, a perfect power output and high road capability are justifying the turbo-movement of the industry. What’s lost on the way to perfection is the automotive soul, the rawness of a naturally aspired engine with all its flaws and noises. Even though the sound designers are doing their very best to stash this development it seems that automatically shifted and turbocharged cars are producing sounds such as the backfire because they have to, not because they need to.
But it hasn’t always been that way with turbos.
The Porsche 930 “Turbo Carrera” is a relic of the very early days of the turbocharger and yet reminds us how beautiful that technology once was. Presented in 1974 at the Paris Motor Show it brought the turbocharger from the racetracks of the world to the customers. Those where often overstrained by the sudden power output giving this car its morbid nickname, The Widowmaker. After the legendary 1972 BMW 2002 turbo the 930 was the second serial produced car and the first sports car ever to be equipped with a turbocharger.
When you enter the car from behind you realise that this isn’t your usual 911. The wide rear fenders, deep 15 inch wheels and the striking rear wing make you wonder what happened to the small and friendly Porsche 911 you’re familiar with. As you open the door the sport seats with their massive side walls are the first thing to catch your eye. Taking a sit in these things makes you never want to leave this car. The engine coughs as you turn the ignition key. It’s a bright and mechanical sound way more quiet than most naturally aspired 911s. The first few meters on the road are exciting but quite a disappointment. The performance below 3500 rpm doesn’t do justice to the thrilling exterior. This changes promptly as you push the throttle down and the rev meter goes past the 4.000 rpm. All you can hear is a combination of a roaring engine drowned out by the bright sough of the turbocharger. After just a few seconds the rev meter hits 6.800 rpm and you quickly have to upshift. The ,Turbo Carrera’ now unleashes its full potential. The point where the turbo kicks arrives so sudden that it takes a few corners to play within this speed range until you can really go fast. It’s a car that challenges you and requires your full attention at any time. When you lift the foot off the throttle you can hear the engines crispy backfire – the smile on the face is almost impossible to hide. I guess this is how they defined ,Fahrspass’ back in 1974 in the town of Stuttgart, Germany.
This ,Turbo Carrera’ in particular is a model year 1976 Porsche 930 with just 40,956 miles on the clock. It’s one of the very few examples painted in #944 platindiamant metallic. This color was initially reserved for the 1976 special run “Signature 911S” limited on 200 pieces and was only available as a paint to sample special order for other Porsche models. Besides the PTS this car was ordered full option as well with an electric sunroof, air conditioning and a full leather interior with sport seats. It has a turbocharged three litre flat-six engine producing 260 hp and 329 nm at a total weight of just 1.210 kg. The 930 accelerates zero to 60 in 6 seconds and has a maximum speed of 156 mph making this car the ,king of the autobahn’ in 1976.
As the ride is over and the engine is turned off but your heart is still racing. At this point it is hard to get out of the car in dispute wether because you don’t want the drive to really come to an end or because the tight sport seats wont let you go. As I reach for the door handle to open the door I can still feel my hands shaking. The ,Turbo Carrera’ shows impressively how exciting, unrulable and emotional the technology of the turbocharger can be – as we said, it hasn’t always been that way with the turbos.