el jefe

last week, I wrote about the birth of the 928 where I briefly mentioned how before Dr. Fuhrmann took the helm at Porsche, Herr Bott and his engineers were busy that summer working on various concepts concerning engine placement for future Porsches. they based their trajectory on forty different criteria before settling on what would become the optimal solution which would become the basis for the 928 in an engineering drawing labeled "Programm K." but there was a program before this one that's seldom mentioned, done before Dr. Fuhrmann even took office on the 12th of May, 1971; "Programm H."
it's obvious which direction the engineers were taking with Programm H. the intent had been to bring Porsche out of the dark ages of air-cooling and into friendlier legislative turf by using a water-cooled V8...in the wrong direction. just take a moment and give this drawing a good going over, won't you?

now, once you've digested the dynamics of the thinking behind it, you'll see how dangerously flawed it all was. look at the mass over the back end.
goddamn, these guys were living dangerously. if the 911's dynamics weren't already pushing the envelop of physics, this plan trumped it and blew it completely off the charts. notice written in the lower left of the drawing how large of an engine they were planning on using...5-6 liters; that's twice the size of the 911's lump. even of the engine was planned on being significantly lighter, as I'm sure it would've been, that's a serious amount of power potential placed in a very precarious position.

they did use logic, though...take a look at how far forward the differential is set necessitating the half shafts to cant forward a good 10-15°. as your eye moves towards the front, you'll see a massive radiator flanked by two batteries; the latter concept having been tried along with lead under the front bumper, with little success, on early 911s to help counteract oversteering issues with better weight distribution. notice too the use of semi-trailing arms with torsion bar rebounding furthering the detriment to this death-defying concept. the use of antiquated technologies is pretty clear, although taking into consideration this was in the very preliminary conceptual stages.
here's something else to pique one's interest, the use of a twin cam head on this behemoth V8...the Arabs would ensure this to be a most silly idea in the next two years with an embargo looming in the cards, however.

below, you'll notice how much of the boot encroaches into the cabin...this is where, despite the new engine, Porsche's engineers were still thinking in traditional terms. the idea of stuffing the motor under the rear seats seemed impossible with any V configuration; unlike the Typ 1966 where the motor was laid flat, to do so with eight cylinders would necessitate it being of boxer design or one long straight eight (read heavy) à la Duesenberg. 
above, I superimposed  the silhouette of a 1967 911 with the shorter wheelbase to show you how it looks nearly compact from the top, but when looked from the side, the roof line differences clearly show how the newer concept was not only more accommodating to something a bit larger than a midget, but also to the "V" design of the new engine.

when we compare a more contemporary 911, the 2012 997, to the Programm H concept, you'll begin to see how much more accommodating the newer car has become and thusly more in line with the thinking nearly 45 years ago. don't be fooled into thinking that the 911 has finally become a more spacious 2+2, though, it's purely a Trompe-l'œil since the size isn't attributed to such thinking; the simple truth is that modern cars became larger for other reasons that are beyond the scope of this article.
the super-sizing of the modern Porsche, in this case the 996 Turbo, becomes only too apparent from this vantage point as we can now see that even though the power plant is still two cylinders smaller in size and capacity, its dimensions and the amount of room it takes up within the confines of the chassis is similar. 

luckily, the engineers didn't have such modern problems four decades ago, but they did come to a very efficient and contemporary solution for their new car in the form of Programm K complete with the 911's silhouette for comparison's sake. this was to be the foundation for the 928 the stylists would work from and Wolfgang Eyb would see to further refinement in what would ultimately become the 928. this drawing was completed only months after Dr. Fuhrmann was presented with the newborn idea of a front engine/rear transaxle wooden mock-up on his birthday, October 21, 1971.


programm H poster can be bought from Pelican Parts:

Programm K


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