Behind the story of Porsche 964

Behind the story of Porsche 964

Ernst Fuhrmann secretly came up with a plan to put the evolution of Porsche 911 on stasis to pull it towards extinction.

Ironically, Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 and Porsche 930 Turbo were unveiled in 1973 and 1975 respectively, under the supervision of Ernst Fuhrmann, the same man who later decided to stall the evolution of the Porsche 911 series to pull it towards its extinction.

1972 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7
1972 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 and Porsche 930 Turbo became the performance image of the company with their success in major FIA events and non-FIA events. These cars effectively attracted more and more performance enthusiasts to the brand without spending too much money on development and research. Despite initial criticism of the marketing department and chief stylist Tony Lapin, both cars were successful in sales and commercial terms.

1976 Porsche 930 Turb US spec rear
1976 Porsche 930 Turb US-spec rear
Porsche 930 Turbo Cabriolet Flachbau front
Porsche 930 Turbo Cabriolet Flachbau front

After Fuhrmann’s departure, Helmuth Bott under the backing of Porsche CEO, Peter Schutz, developed the 1983 Porsche 911 SC Cabriolet and the Porsche 959 in 1986.

Helmuth Bott and Porsche CEO Peter Schutz may have saved the Porsche 911 series, but their part in the development of Porsche 959 resulted in a financial loss which resulted in their early retirements from Porsche to be forgotten with time.

Porsche was often criticized by many for its stubbornness and resistance to update its model lineup more frequently. They had the Porsche 356 in their lineup with only minor cosmetic changes and lasted seventeen years of continuous production from its inception in 1948 to its phase-out in 1965.

To replace the aging Porsche 356, they developed the Porsche 911 coupe. After its initial introduction in 1963, the Porsche 911 stayed in production from 1967 through the 1970s and 1980s without any significant cosmetic changes.

1964 Porsche 911 2.0 Coupe
1964 Porsche 911 2.0 Coupe

In mechanical terms, things were completely the opposite. Engines improved with time and had more displacement with every passing year. The first 2.0-liter inline-six grew into 3-liter in the Porsche 911 SC variants from 1978 to 1983 and on to 3.2-liter for the Carrera range through 1989. Transmission systems changed from the initial four-speed to the five-speed. Suspension systems went through many revisions to improve the ride quality and overall handling of the car. Tires became wider to cope with additional torque and power output generated by larger displacement engines.

Within this time period, a lot happened. Economic crisis and lack of resources following the aftermath of WW2, the economic and political instability of Europe resulting in a power struggle between the allies. However, with time the relationships of the countries and the economy took a dive for better.

The global oil crisis in 1973 followed by the 1979 Iranian revolution, and Saudi Arabia’s decision to reduce oil supply by 75% between 1981 and 1985 resulted in a huge financial crisis and a stock market crash in 1987. All these events meant that the car manufacturers were facing hard times.

Porsche 959 rear
Porsche 959 rear

During this time Porsche unveiled the Porsche 959 in 1986. Porsche 959 is considered the first-ever supercar, and it set the example for all the future supercars as well as the outline for future Porsche sports cars.

An ambitious engineer at Porsche called Ulrich Bez was managing the vehicle design and development program in Weissach.

Ulrich Bez envisioned the creation of the Porsche 989 concept, a four-door sedan with groundbreaking technologies like rear-wheel steering.

Porsche 989 was developed to compete with BMW M5. Ulrich Bez used to work at BMW before joining Porsche, and he wanted to create a car to directly compete with BMW M power four-door full-size sedans.

Porsche 989
Porsche 989
Porsche 989 rear
Porsche 989 rear

The development and research costs soared even as Porsche’s authority board was breathing on the neck of Helmuth Bott over the overspending of money and resources on the development of the Porsche 959.

Peter Schultz was interested in competing in the Indy 500 series and Ulrich Bez proposed a new plan to compete in Formula One events.

During the mid-1980s due to the inflation of Deutsche Mark, Porsche was getting more Deutsche Mark in return for every car it sold in the American market. This allowed them to spend more money on research and development as well as on new concept cars. But due to the high-profile budget of these projects, not enough funds or resources were allocated to the Porsche 911 series.

During these times, Porsche’s styling chief Tony Lapine had suffered a heart attack and was recovering miles away in Baden.

Dick Soderberg, his assistant and the second in charge of the design department went on to develop the appearance of the Porsche 959. He asked Wolfgang Möbius and Benjamin Dimson to design the new car.

Internal political turmoil at Porsche was at its maximum in those days and following the decision of the Porsche authority board, Helmuth Bott was forced to retire in 1988, a year before his prospected retirement.

After Helmuth Bott’s departure from Porsche, Ulrich Bez supposed to do the development of new Porsche cars and to complete going on projects. Ulrich Bez enlisted Horst Marchart back to his research and development department.

He then went on to completely change or sometimes to pull out the plug of many procedures conducted by Helmuth Bott. His impossible to achieve deadlines and schedules angered the engineers and designers who were already under pressure caused by the recent political struggle between Peter Schutz and the Porsche authority board.

When the Porsche 964 finally appeared in the dealerships, Ulrich Bez was also out of the Porsche.

1990 Porsche 964 Coupe
1990 Porsche 964 Coupe

Heinz Branitski, former finance director of Porsche became the CEO following Peter Schutz’s early departure in January 1988.

As the new CEO of Porsche, Heinz Branitski was the one to unveil the Porsche 964. He even joked that this is the Porsche 911 for the next 25 years to come.

In November 1989, East and West Germany reunited and the German public was celebrating the reunification of Germany. When the Germans were celebrating the newfound independence, Porsche’s new temporary CEO, Heinz Branitzki retired from his position.

Arno Bohn replaced him as the new CEO in March 1990. Arno Bohn used to be the CEO of a computer company before joining Porsche and in 1992 he was released from his contract with Porsche due to differing opinions on business politics.

Meanwhile, the Porsche 964 was given an optional Type 943 Tiptronic automatic transmission system.

Porsche 964 Carrera Cup
Porsche 964 Carrera Cup

Porsche organized a one marque competition series called Carrera Cup, and it resulted in the introduction of the Porsche 964 Carrera RS variant in 1991 and 1992 for the European market while the RSR was promoted in America as a 1993 model year offering.

A new Speedster and America Roadster appeared on the market with a new Turbo coupe packing 320hp arriving in 1991, which was then replaced by the 381hp Porsche 911 Turbo S.

Porsche 964 RS America
Porsche 964 RS America

During the introduction of many Porsche 964 variants, Porsche’s internal conflicts were still going on. The Porsche Authority board hired Wendelin Wiedeking in 1991 to become the chief of production. He also left the company years before following the example of Ernst Fuhrmann. Wendelin Wiedeking was tired of manufacturing inefficiencies and the internal political environment.

He also returned in 1993, now as Porsche’s chairman.

During this time, Porsche 964 production was coming to an end and with a total of 63,570 cars produced, the future of Porsche 911 seemed secure at least for the time being.During this time, Porsche 964 production was coming to an end and with a total of 63,570 cars produced, the future of Porsche 911 seemed secure at least for the time being.

Evolution of Porsche 911: Porsche 964 and Porsche 993

 

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *