Behind the story of the development of the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7
In 1971, the 150,000 Porsche car left the factory. Porsche was successful in commercial terms as well as in racing events. With many World Championship titles under its belt, its racing pedigree seconded only to Ferrari and in the European theater of racing events, it was a never-ending war between the Ferrari and Porsche for absolute dominance.
Though its recent success in racing events due to the excellent Porsche 917 series and Porsche 908, and its iterations, internal political struggles in the company, as well as the recession in European and United States market, forced Ferry Porsche’s hands to lower the production, cut the budget on its racing program, cut the budget on its research and development on high-performance track cars, and shorten the workweek.
The biggest hurdle for the growth and stability of Porsche was the internal political struggle caused by the differences of personalities of the Porsche family members who joined his company.
Ferry Porsche and his sister, Louise Piech, and her husband had a clear understanding of what the goals of the company were, but now with the meddling of his son Butzi, and Louise Piech’s son, Ferdinand Piech, many professionals were not crossed with the Porsche family and their administration.
He gathered the whole family at their home in Zell am See, Austria to point out his concerns regarding the company. He pointed out that a company like Porsche needed trained professionals. Within a year only Ferry Porsche had a position in the company, as the chairman of the advisory board.
He invited Ernst Fuhrmann, who has left Porsche in 1956 when Ferry Porsche passed him over for an important promotion, to fill the role with the director of engineering. From September 1971, Ernst Fuhrmann addressed the substantial issues.
Volkswagen was still providing a substantial number of resources and money for Porsche’s motorsport budget and the development of air-cooled engines. Rudolf Leiding, the new chairman of Volkswagen considered air cooling as old technology, and with a year remaining on the Volkswagen and Porsche contract, Leiding told Weissach to develop an all-new budget-friendly water-cooled front-engine coupe.
Ernst Fuhrmann, being a man with a taste for modernization, wanted something similar to the next generation Porsche sports car. He assigned enough funds and resources to develop a new water-cooled Porsche which was later designated as the Porsche 928, he still respected the strong sales of the Porsche 911 and understood that they must keep the Porsche 911 alive and sales steady to continue the cash flow. Despite having limited resources, it was necessary to do so.
Porsche’s factory team participated in the Interserie event in Europe and the North American Can-Am series.
Ernst Fuhrmann being a fan of high-performance sports cars and motorsport competition is known for the invention of the Type 547 Carrera engine. When asked why he bothered to develop it, he told Ferry Porsche that he needed a better performing engine for his own car to compete in a racing event at Hockenheim in early 1972.
Being the managing director at Porsche by then, he wanted to outperform the Ford and BMW high-performance cars that went past his beloved Porsche 911S.
He then asked racing engineer Norbert Singer and his colleague, Wolfgang Berger, to inspect his Porsche 911S and to find out why other cars went sped past it and to come up with a viable solution.
To keep the Porsche 911 a little longer, they had to keep its appeal at acceptable levels. To do so, it was required to make it a better-performing car in every way possible.
Norbert Singer and Wolfgang Berger enlisted a trainee aerodynamic engineer called Tilman Bordbeck and assigned him some mechanics and a stylist from Tony Lapine’s design team to figure out aerodynamic improvements using the Volkswagen wind tunnel. After a few days of continuous work, a front chin spoiler was added. This was a small lip protruding from the valance beneath the front bumper.
This chin spoiler redirected the airflow from underneath the car to swerve around it, thus improving directional stability at higher speeds, and reduced front end lift at higher speeds.
After an intense amount of testing, Porsche decided to put it into production for the 1972 model year as an update of the Porsche 911S series cars. However, engineers took it back to the wind tunnel to address issues regarding the rear end lift caused by the car’s long sloping airfoil profile.
After a few days, the team led by Tilman Brodbeck came up with a new ducktail spoiler, a simple structure attached to the rear airfoil section of the car to dramatically improve the handling of the car.
Tony Lapin, the head of the design department and marketing division of Porsche didn’t like it as it sort of disrupted the iconic shape of the car.
Racing engineer Peter Falk extensively tested the new prototype with the aerodynamic tweaking and after running hundreds of laps in the Porsche’s test track to determine the effective height of the tail, all the measured dimensions and calculations were sent to Tony Lapin to convert it into a product that was attractive, and marketable. More importantly, it could be manufactured without wasting much time or resources. Tony Lapin placed the tail several inches lower, and when Peter Falk asked him why he did that, Lapin told him that it looks better.
Hans Mezger, the engineer of engines managed to increase the cylinder bore from 84 mm to 90 mm on existing 2341cc engines, effectively increasing the engine capacity up to 2687cc. The displacement of the 2687cc engine was measured at 210hp at 6300rpm.
This increased performance meant that there was perfect power to weight ratio on the lightweight coupe variants with a curb weight of just 2116 pounds.
Ernst Fuhrmann with his limited development and research budget considered these changes as low-cost yet important improvements.
The first production prototype was developed within ninety days after Norbert Singer and Wolfgang Berger were tasked with making the Porsche 911 better than its rivals.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7
To compete in FIA events, it was required of a manufacturer to complete five hundred identical cars for homologation in GT class events. The Marketing department wasn’t convinced that it could sell the new car due to its weird ducktail spoiler despite Porsche workshops could easily manufacture the required number of cars.
So, Porsche management decided to create a luxurious variant with Porsche 911S trim alongside the competition-ready lightweight touring car. This car was now marketed as a road-legal 240kmph race car that normal people could actually own. The prices were listed at DM 33,000 or $12,450 at the time.
Porsche designated this new car like the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 and unveiled it at the Paris Auto Show in 1972. The show car had “Carrera” graphics on either side. The public reception of the new car was amazing. To the amazement of the marketing people, all the required five hundred cars were sold via sales calls they received regarding the details on their brochures and this was before anyone actually got to see the production car in person.
FIA regulations pointed out that Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 could compete in Group 4 Special GT class races after Porsche completed the production of its five hundred sports cars. This allowed Porsche to compete against Ford GT cars and BMW sports cars.
With the production passing 1000 units, the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 was now capable of competing in Group 3 mass production GT class events.
In October 1972, series production of the car began and the first 300 cars were handed to their owners by the end of 1972. Production of the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 ended in July 1973.
Due to the success Ernst Fuhrmann had in a relatively short time period, he was appointed as the chairman of Porsche.
According to Porsche, none of the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 cars were sold in the US market due to its inability to meet the required emission and highway safety regulations. This was the first time Porsche completely skipped the US market without promoting their new product.
The sales success of the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 also meant that the Porsche 911 model lineup got another lease of life.