The 1985 Geneva Auto Show had this display for the cars introduction, a bit different from the typical engine cutaways, illustrating the ideologically-pure Stuttgart platform:
"These cars can go a quarter million miles under the right maintenance regimen."
The car that is the spiritual successor for the 951, before the wolf in 924 clothing/GTP, may actually be the stellar Carrera GT, where 924 got some sexy hips (oh, you’re interested in hearing more on that? Got you covered there too) and some flashy aero bits. Now all it needed was real world drivability and compliance.
Let’s start with the best part, the engine: Electronic boost regulation with knock control kept cool by an after-run coolant pump, Ceramic exhaust ports, cast directly in the head and sodium filled exhaust valves. Alusil cylinder liners, for the forged rotating mass with a VERY stout crank. Partnering this all with one of the first modern electronic engine management systems that combined boost with ignition and fuel delivery, its arguable that this is one of the few designs from the era that legitimized and solidified the concept that turbocharging could be both reliable and explosively entertaining. These cars can go a quarter million miles under the right maintenance regimen.
In 1986, the carryover-from-the-924 interior was retired, and transformed into a more modern (for the time), intuitive and efficient spread, with hugely improved ventilation and amenities. Elements like automatic climate control, revised Recaro seats (with improvements to the seating position) all laid out for business. It is a comfortable place, quite durable and tends to cleans up well.
Pretty stellar, right? The best value of nearly any performance car you could want, dead sexy, frenetically fun and a real world daily driver... all from 1986. Then it dawns on you: This might be the blueprint for the worlds first true real-world supercar. This couldn’t have happened with anything Italian, British or other classic exotic car maker of the era, this is the secret sauce…
Alright, reality check… a 2016 Toyota Camry with a V6 can pretty much put down the same skidpad, 0-60 and other such benchmarks as our storied hero… 30 years later. The true test of any car, however, is those who choose to take up it’s cause. How many people would independently pour their lives into a design. That is the legacy of the 951, the number of businesses and careers it launched, the amateur, club and historic races it continues to win in it’s class, and the people who have created a lifestyle around these cars. 30 years have aged the car gracefully, it holds up as a design: a competitive platform, a basic mode of transportation, a collector’s item and museum piece. It remains a magnet and a benchmark, and despite the fact (yes, it’s a fact) that the performance that was once blistering in a street car is now the same as a beige Japanese econobox/appliance, it took 30 years for that to happen. In the meanwhile, us flussigers have taken up the task; modified, maintained and upgraded the model to keep this one of the most respectable members of the Porsche transaxle family.
Supercars leaving the factory in 1986
Happy Birthday to the Porsche 944 Turbo, here’s to three decades of greatness: PROST!
*image sources from author's collection and Jerry Forthofer. all photos remain copyrights of their owners.