Over the years, Porsche has been known for its great sports car history.
Long term planning, relentless engineering, and consistent incremental
improvements have been the company’s mainstay.
The following are some of the top ten Porsche automotive innovations.
In 1948, Porsche developed the rear engine layout for its cars. With
much of the weight at the rear, handling was a challenge, however,
Porsche eventually made it desirable as the setup pressed the power
into the pavement. The 356-001 prototype of 1948 had a mid-mounted
engine, however, all the 356s and 911s have had their flat 4 or 6-cylinder
engines located behind the rear axel.
In 1952, Porsche developed Ring-type Synchronizers for manual gear
boxes. This set the standard for just about every auto manufacturer.
millions of synchronizers have been built by other auto manufacturers
under license to Porsche. Gears being shifted encounter a conical ring
that creates friction, and this enables the next gear to catch up to the
speed of the current gear. Gear changes have been much easier since.
In 1964, the Type 901 was introduced more than 45 years ago at the
Parris Motor Show. It provided the initial engineering and styling for
today’s 911. The 901 (which replaced the 356) might have brought
the 0 in its name to production, however, the French automaker Peugeot
had legal rights to the numerical _0_ in a vehicle’s name. Consequently,
Porsche went from calling the sports car 901 to the 911.
In 1969, homologation (mandatory number, say 100, street legal
versions of the race car) of the iconic 917 is one of the great stories
of racing. Ferdinand Piech (like his grandfather Dr. Porsche – an
engineering wizard), developed the 4.5-liter flat 12 cylinder engined
race car that would dominate international endurance competition. The
917 had technical innovations such as an aluminum-tube space frame
and Nikasil coating for the aluminum cylinder bores.
To meet the homologation regulations, Porsche had to build 25 identical
cars and the last of them were finished just two days before the F.I.A.
inspectors arrived (those darn inspectors!). Porsche asked the inspectors,
“Would you like to drive one? You can choose any one you like.” The
917 went on to dominate venues like Le Mans (240 mph down the
Mulsanne Straight), Spa, and the North American Can-Am series.
In 1975, double-sided hot-galvanized steel panels were used in 911
production. And in time, the car’s entire body was made from this rust-
resistant steel. By 1981, Porsche’s rust protection warranty was extended
to seven years (now it is 10 years). Porsche had presented its Extended
Life Car Research Project at the 1973 Frankfurt show. Today, all auto
makers use galvanized steel to make their vehicle bodies last longer.
Well, we have covered five of Porsche’s technical innovations. Check
back for part II to learn more!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He
welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: