Some car models are so iconic that become, in our collective imagination, the symbol of a make. An example above all? The 911 family, with its elusive lines and its 6-cylinder boxer on the back, is the Porsche par excellence. Yet, fifty years ago, someone in Stuttgart was sure the 911 had reached the peak of its evolution, and that therefore it had to be put aside in favor of a brand new car, different in its conception and looks.
Thinking about it today definitely makes you smile: Porsche's blunder at the beginning of the Seventies was colossal. That blunder, though, was also the spark that brought the most mistreated and underestimated Porsches to life, the transaxles: pure gran turismo with advanced technology in place, they were sold from 1976 to 1995.
The story begins in 1971, when Volkswagen commissioned Porsched with the development of a coupe sports car that would eventually become Wolfsburg's top of the line vehicle. Porsche's engineers immediately opted for a transaxle architecture, with front engine and rear-wheel drive, which allows for an advantageous weight distribution, which improved its road holding and driveability.
With the '73 oil crysis, though, Volkwagen felt that such a high performance vehicle was not a prudent choice and decided to set the project aside. The exlusive rights to the project were then acquired by Porsche, that improved the prototype by replacing the original 4-cylinder Volkswagen engine with a new proprietary V8 one.
The 924 and the 924 were released respectively in '76 and '77, with the first being an entry level car and the second one being the top tier choice. No matter whether you consider the more sharp-cornered 924 or the more streamlined 928, their style parted from the past in a very decisive fashion: the two cars had a longer front, retractable headlights and a wide windowed rear pavilion.
Despite a great engine and its avant-garde technology, the 928 struggled to succeed: it was more powerful, more comfortable and easier to handle than the 911, but all in all, the customers decided they preferred the latter. Despite the upgrades proposed by the company, that culminated in the GTS version with a 350hp 5.4-liter V8 engine, the 928 was never able to take off, and was retired in 1995.
The 924 was welcomed quite differently: the model claimed an almost unexpected success, especially in the United States, where its contained power was balanced by its balanced structured and great maneuverability. The small 4-cylinder propulsor was refined and powered-up with the introduction of a turbocharged version in '78.
The 944 was an ever bigger success. It replaced the 924 in '82 and introduced a brand new 4-cylinder inspired by the 928's V8 engine. In less than a decade, it became the most sold Porsche ever until the Boxster. The engine offered phenomenal performance for its category: the Turbo S version, introduced in 1988, delivered 250hp and reached 264km/h.
Just like many other good stories, though, the tale of the Transaxle Porsches eventually came to end. And to an end it came when the 944 was replaced by the 968. The new model had a new shape, more modern and contemporary, but also less unique. Despite still being a valid candidate performance-wise, it was a huge flop: after only four years, the production was interrupted to make room for the Boxter, the first Porsche car in 20 years to have a central engine.
The legacy of the transaxle Porsche is still very present in today's world: they are loved by collectors that aim at the rarest and most coveted versions, and represent the first classical Porsche for many fans of the brand.
Di recente, poi, Nardone Automotive e Borromeo De Silva hanno svelato la loro interpretazione moderna della 928: e come dice qualcuno, “un’auto è davvero classica solo quando diventa una restomod...”
Recently, Nardone Automotive and Borromeo De Silva unvealed their modern interpretation of the 928, and as you may have heard, a car is only really a classic when it becomes a restomod...
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