el jefe

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the engine bay of the V3 with the 5 liter 928 lump between its bulging shoulders.
I would go so far as to say that one of the most interesting aspects of producing a new Porsche lies in the rolling test beds in which the running gear is proven. this, I gather, must be the fun part for the engineers as the donor car must be selected, then stripped of its existing gear to accommodate the new, requiring gussets, brackets, and frames to be welded onto the former car's skeleton so that the fit is somewhat seamless. 

the lucky person is he who is given a stipend, a pat on the shoulder, and told to run along and comb the used car lots around the Sudetenland for a specific donor...this time, it would be an Audi 100 Coupé.
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the lovely Audi 100 Coupé with an equally lovely floozy in period fashion.
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could Porsche's engineers have picked a more popular car with sophisticates?
imagine it—Klaus or Bodo spotting what was nearly a new car back in 1973 and perhaps told to haggle the price down to rock bottom, as if a buying a Berber rug from a merchant in Luxor; after all, Porsche, as always, is one to mind its change purse.

"Ja, listen...I vill not pay zis preiss. Der ist a dent ova hea on ze reah qwotah panil, und ze veels haf a beet of kerb demege—und besides, no radio; how ist von to listen to Bill Haley und His Comets visout a radio?"

eventually, a deal is struck and a relatively new and well broken in Coupé is driven back to Zuffenhausen for its dissection. the first one is called "V3; although not part of this discussion but mentioned for the sake of clarity, V1 was the Mercedes 350SL W107 used from July of '72 and V2 was a lowly Opel Admiral reconstituted in October of 1972.

V3 would become the first car to have the future 928's entire drive line. the connoisseur will easily spot this deviant Audi by its swollen fenders so styled to accept its new suspension locations—this was September of 1973. the newly knighted Coupé was taken to the South of France for a series of tests on legendary Mount Ventoux some of which included towing a 911. 
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V3 seen here with a 911 leeching off its power.
testing of the V3 continued in Africa from 1973 well into 1976 subjected to some of the most grueling and demanding of conditions sure to bring a lesser car to its steering knuckles in defeat. probably one of the most notable photos was of the V3 trundling along the scenic backdrop of Timimoun in 1974 where temperatures of 120³³° were endured in the shade...these punishing tests of both flesh and metal weren't without their sweet moments of laughs, camaraderie, and collecting exotic local souvenirs...it's what kept the human spirit from crumbling.

remember that the Audi was so called the 100 as this was the amount of horsepower it promised to deliver, with twice the amount of pistons thrusting in Vee formation putting out twice as much horsepower, the Audi must've been a real scream to drive—especially when pinned against its own kind in original guise; those moments must have elicited lots of laughs as well as looks of disbelief from the non-suspecting.
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an interesting contrast of elements with centuries of history between them.
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another view of the V3 at Mount Ventoux...the test mule at the bottom right was the V4 which had in it the CIS version of the 5 liter eight.
the 5 liter engine was fed by the Bosch K-Jetronic system, CIS if you must, that was mated to the engine by June of '73 logging in 150 hours on the bench prior to be dropped in situ with the "fast shaft" torque tube and 5-speed transaxle passing its first major road test in Algeria in November and by 1975, the manual gearbox had been swapped out for the automatic.

the V4 test mule, the second Audi 100 Coupé, had a much more intensive bit of surgery...it was cut in half right down the middle and widened by 4.3" which made for some interesting observations by the innocent few that came across it. since this version didn't have the flared fenders like the V3 and was easily mistaken for a normal Coupé, it caught one curious chap by complete surprise.

the story went that during one test run, the engineers drove to a town and parked the car for a spot of coffee. they began noticing this man who intently studied the car, then walked off shaking his head only to come right back a bit later, clearly perturbed by the 100 looking "off" somehow. so here he was, arms outstretched, trying desperately to compare the girth of 928 engined Audi with his own "normal" version.

the engineers suddenly came back catching the guy in mid observation which summoned one of them to ask if he had a problem. the observer replied that he had the same car,  but could swear that this particular one was wider. "Ah," said one engineer, "yours must've shrunk, you see. there was a whole series of these cars painted with shrinking paint by mistake."
making up the third test bed was yet another Audi 100 Coupé, this one renamed V5 which was similar to the V4 in all technical aspects and was to be used for chassis experiments towards the end of 1974 as it was fitted with a pre-Weissach rear axle.

the next test mules which included 928 K1 (from January 1974), and a series consisting of 928 W1 through W12 dating from April of 1974 through and beyond March of '77 would have the 928's shape in various stages of evolution. each thoroughly tested with every ounce of use extracted as these were very expensive prototype to construct...a few 911s were also sacrificed. 

no doubt that such exhaustive, rigorous testing is what makes a Porsche such a superior machine that ensures hundreds of thousands of miles of use with virtually no premature wear or breakage—something to consider when twisting the key.

highball!

image sources: http://oldtimer-veranstaltung.de,  http://rennlist.com/forums,  http://forums.vwvortex.com,  http://www.autoevolution.com

facts from "Project 928"
 


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