1976-1977 Porsche Turbo Carrera

America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, and Porsche added to the fireworks with the mightiest 911 yet: the Turbo Carrera. This was yet another creation of the prolific Ernst Fuhrmann, who became Porsche chairman in 1972 (after the Porsche and Piech families relinquished control and the company became a joint-stock corporation with a board of directors -- today's Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG). Fuhrmann had designed the original quadcam 356 Carrera engine; he also directed development of the 1972-73 European Carrera RS/RSR.

Fuhrmann appreciated good engineers (he hired many himself) and shared Ferdinand and Ferry's belief that racing really does improve the breed. He also knew a good deal about turbochargers from work on the racing 917's tremendous hyperaspirated flat-12. What could a turbo do for the 911? Soon after taking the helm, Fuhrmann set up a program to find out.

Porsche 911
The 930 was the fastest road car Porsche had ever produced.

One of the first fruits of the program was a "911 Turbo" displayed at several 1973 European shows -- without comment on possible production. The following year, the Martini & Rossi team had mixed results with a turbo 2.1-liter Carrera RSR packing 333 horsepower (one was doing 189 mph on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans when it threw a rod and retired).

Nevertheless, Fuhrmann and company were sufficiently encouraged to proceed with a production turbocar: a smooth, quiet, very fast 911 coupe with a blown version of the 2993-cc Carrera 3.0 RS engine.

It bowed at the 1974 Paris Show as a prototype called 911 Turbo, a name later changed to Porsche Turbo. So extensive were the modifications that this new model was given its own type number: 930.

Motive power was a terrific 260 DIN horsepower European at 5,500 rpm and 245 pound-feet of torque peaking at 4,000 rpm. An American version, emissions-tuned to 234 SAE net horsepower (245 DIN European), arrived for model-year 1976 as the Turbo Carrera. It returned for 1977 unchanged save an upgrade from 15- to 16-inch standard wheels.

Despite being the ultimate roadgoing 911 to that time, the 930 packed most every luxury the factory could squeeze in. Air-conditioning, AM/FM stereo, electric antenna and windows, leather interior, tinted glass, headlamp washers, rear-window wiper, oil cooler, and Bilstein shocks were all included in the initial East Coast base price of $25,880 -- a bundle of bucks in those days.

The U.S. options list was short: electric sliding sunroof ($675), limited-slip differential ($345), heavy-duty starter ($50), "Turbo" graphics ($120), and custom paint ($250). The 930 came only as a coupe and was never sold with Sportomatic (though several factory test cars were so equipped and worked well).

Porsche 911
U.S. net horsepower rose from 157 to 234 with the Turbo Carrera.

The 930 engine (produced in /50, /51, and /52 variations) testified anew to the amazing adaptability of the 911 flat-six. The 3.0-liter size was chosen for good off-boost performance with the lower compression then deemed necessary with turbocharging (6.5:1 for all markets). The blower itself sat on a cast-aluminum manifold studded to the heads, and the Bosch fuel injection was upgraded with Ultramid plastic tubing.

Maximum boost was set at 11.5 pounds per square inch. Even in emissions-legal U.S. form, the 930 had a prodigious 246 pound-feet of torque (SAE net) at 4,500 rpm, which Porsche thought sufficient to pull a wide-ratio four-speed transaxle instead of the close-ratio five-speed.

If the 930 was predictably less torquey than a 911 below 3,000 rpm, things started happening quickly above that. Yet there was "no sudden surge of power as there is with the cammy S," said Road & Track. "Rather, the buildup is...strong and silent as the turbocharger muffles the usual raucous-sounding Porsche exhaust to a dull roar. It takes the driver a moment or two to realize [that] some awesome, unseen force is pushing him back into his seat and thrusting the Carrera forward at an incredible rate. And another brief moment to realize that the engine is starting to stumble because it's reached its 6950-rpm rev limit. Then it's shift into the next gear and prepare for the same heavy loads and fireworks to start all over again."

R&T allowed that a slipping clutch made its test car a bit slow, so it's interesting to compare the magazine's results with Car and Driver's 1976 Turbo test:


C/D R&T
0-50 mph (sec.) 3.7 5.2
0-60 mph (sec.) 4.9 6.7
0-80 mph (sec.) 7.9 9.9
0-100 mph (sec.) 12.9 15.3
0-1/4 mi. (sec.) 13.5 15.2
Top speed (mph) 156 156

Though dynamic behavior was basically routine 911, R&T judged the Turbo more stable at speed because of its larger rear tires and wider track. Not everyone agreed.

NASCAR ace Bobby Allison, after testing the similar '75 Carrera for C/D, termed handling "almost squirrely." But R&T insisted the Turbo was "far and away the easiest Porsche to drive near the limit that we have ever tested."

Its 62.8 mph through the slalom broke a record set with a Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer by 2.4 mph. And ace racer Sam Posey, who happened by while R&T was testing at Lime Rock, hopped in and unofficially broke the track record for production cars!

The 930 had stiffer springs and shocks in addition to its wider rear boots, so it didn't ride as well as lesser 911s. Its steering was heavier, too, and tire noise was considerable.

There were no complaints about the brakes, however, for they were fade-free, impossible to lock, and capable of 60-mph halts in less than 160 feet -- excellent for the fairly hefty 2,825-pound curb weight.

Porsche 911
A "whale tail" spoiler made the Turbo Carrera unmistakable in traffic.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356
Porsche 911
Porsche 914
Porsche 924, 944, 968
Porsche 928 Porsche 959
Porsche Boxster Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayman

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