Porsche 964 Turbo S: Leichtbau
Porsche was a very different place in 1992 than it had been ten years earlier. The start of the 1980s had foreseen a dramatic revival of the company’s fortunes and morale: 1981 would mark the start of six consecutive Le Mans victories, the Porsche F1 engine would power McLaren to world championships and above all, the 911 had been reinstated.
A steadily appreciating US dollar ensured US sales became more and more profitable and a newly confident Porsche launched complex and ambitious projects to build a 4×4 twin-turbo supercar (the 959), a new 911 Turbo (the so-called 965), and it re-engineered the 3.2-litre flat six for private aviation.
A measure of its renown, Porsche’s research centre at Weissach even won a contract to redesign the European Airbus cockpit.
The 911 itself grew heavier as equipment levels increased and the Sonderwünsch department had a long waiting list of private client customisations.
Then it all changed. First, the dollar sank: worth over three deutschmarks in 1985, within 18 months it bought barely a deutschmark and 50 pfennigs. Porsche’s US sales halved and its fortunes declined dramatically: by 1988 heads were rolling.
Finance director Heinz Brantizki became interim CEO and in 1989, former Weissach engineer Ulrich Bez returned to Porsche from BMW as technical director.
Times were extremely lean: although the new 959 supercar had been launched to tremendous acclaim, it was over two years late and sold well below its manufacture cost; rumours of a takeover were rife and only Porsche’s lack of borrowing, a legacy of Ferry Porsche’s tight management, saved it from bankruptcy.
The company pulled out of the North American CART series and it ended its Group C involvement where the 962 had been winning all before it.
Among casualties in a reduced production range was Type 965, in what later became the 964 Turbo. Porsche had hoped to incorporate many of the 959’s features, but the project became bogged in technical complexities, especially the engine, and Bez abandoned it.
To read our in-depth look at the Porsche 964 Turbo S, pick up Total 911 issue 124 in store now. Alternatively, you can order your copy for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device.