For decades, Volkswagen AG and the firm of Dr. Porsche KG were practically joined at the hip. As many of our readers are undoubtedly aware, Ferdinand Porsche designed the original Volkswagen Beetle in the s at the order of Adolf Hitler.
When Herr Doktor-Ing. The relationship between the two companies went deeper than the use of shared hardware.
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VW had acquired Audi back in While the two companies were separate entities, they were greatly dependent on one another. In , Ferry Porsche and longtime Volkswagen marketing director Heinrich Heinz Nordhoff agreed to collaborate on the development of a new sports car, which was to be marketed and distributed through a jointly owned entity called VW-Porsche VG Vertriebsgesellschaft , marketing company.
As we have seen, the result of this collaboration was the Porsche , which appeared late in as a model. To address this problem, Kurt Lotz took a two-pronged approach.
Second, he arranged to have Volkswagen subsidiary Audi acquire NSU, best known at the time and now for its revolutionary rotary-engine Ro 80 , but which was also preparing a smaller follow-on model, the front-engine, front-wheel-drive, water-cooled K Lotz briefly canceled the K70, concerned that it would compete too much with Audi products, but eventually changed his mind and opted to market the K70 as a Volkswagen.
With odd styling and a high price tag, the never sold as well as anticipated and Porsche fans were reluctant to accept it as a real Porsche. Production ended in , although about 4, were sold in the States as models.
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Leiding promptly canceled the EA project. The mid-engine layout had advantages for racing and sports cars, but also had serious drawbacks in packaging, noise, and powertrain access, which made it a bad bet for a family sedan. The cancellation of the EA raised the question of whether Volkswagen still needed Porsche at all.
The engineering staff VW had acquired from Audi and NSU had much more experience with water cooling and front-wheel drive, neither of which Porsche had ever used in a production car.
Consequently, Leiding informed Ferry Porsche that VW would not be renewing its current development contract, which was set to expire in The end of the relationship with Volkswagen was only one of the dramatic changes that took place at Porsche during this period.
In the fall of , Porsche had begun work on the V8-powered , intended as the eventual replacement for the familiar rear-engine A few months later, in March , the firm began a reorganization that transformed it from a privately held firm into a public company, Porsche AG. It would be a new inexpensive sports car, intended as a successor to the slow-selling The heads of VW-Porsche VG, Erich Filius and Klaus Schneider, had actually started discussing a replacement for the back in , when it became clear that sales would be less than hoped.
The had deliberately borne no resemblance to existing Porsche or Volkswagen cars, but that had proven to be a commercial miscalculation. To explore the idea, the development team created a test mule using a second-hand BMW sedan and the powertrain from an Audi , which had a longitudinal front engine and front-wheel drive.
The two were joined by a narrow torque tube housing a For comparison, the driveshaft of a manually shifted Pontiac Tempest was 82 inches 2, mm long and had a diameter of 0.
The rest of the EA was a hodgepodge of off-the-shelf Volkswagen and Audi components. OHC four with an iron block and an aluminum head with the combustion chambers formed by the dished pistons a Heron head design , fitted for this application with Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection.
The EA had front disc and rear drum brakes while the suspension used MacPherson struts in front and semi-trailing arms with torsion bar springs in back. Most of the components were borrowed from other Volkswagen or Audi products, including the Super Beetle, the Type utility vehicle a. In broad strokes, the EA resembled its sibling, with a fat, semi-fastback tail and a steeply sloping, grille-less nose which required tilting the engine 40 degrees toward the right with pop-up headlights.
With its sleek contours and smooth nose, the EA was one of the most aerodynamic cars of the seventies, with a claimed drag coefficient of 0.
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Seen here in the Porsche museum in Stuttgart, this model of the EA is clearly related to the eventual Porsche production car, but the styling, particularly in the rear, has some significant differences — note in particular the shape of the rear quarter windows.
There were rumblings from Wolfsburg that Volkswagen was financially overextended; although the new Golf and Scirocco were off to a good start and would prove to be extremely successful, their development and launch had been very expensive, making a money-losing year for VW. They forced him to resign in January This left Fuhrmann in a difficult spot. Although Volkswagen had insisted the EA not be sold as a Porsche, the project was still a much-needed source of work and revenue.
Also, production of the was winding down by , and while sales were improving after the brief slump provoked by the OPEC oil embargo, the was too expensive to sell in the volume Porsche needed to survive. As a temporary measure, Porsche reintroduced the for , powered by the fuel-injected flat-four from late s, but it was just a stopgap. Porsche was in dire need of a cheaper entry-level car.
The obvious answer was the EA, which was already finished and basically ready for production; there were eight prototypes running by the winter of Once it became a Porsche project, the EA received a new type number: Porsche built about preproduction models in the summer of and full production began that fall.
The Porsche was introduced to the press in November at a special event in Camargue, in the south of France. The car went on sale in Germany in February and debuted in the U.
In European trim, the early Porsche was It was a poor choice for the underpowered U. Although it was the entry-level Porsche, the was hardly inexpensive. The initial U. Furthermore, the price escalated rapidly.
The Porsche was not exactly a stunning value. Its handling was superb, with none of the knife-in-the-back tendencies of the contemporary , but the was noisy, had a jittery ride, and its brakes wilted in hard driving. Even more embarrassingly, the Volkswagen Golf GTI was as quick or quicker though not as fast all out for about half the price. American s, which were de-tuned to 95 hp 71 kW to meet U. Had the debuted first, the would have seemed more like an affordable version of the new flagship and both might have been better received.
The sold well at first, more than 30, units a year in both and , but the cool reception provoked defensive responses from Zuffenhausen. The lift-up rear window, a feature suggested by Rudolf Leiding, added a measure of practicality, although the cargo area is rather shallow, a function of the bulky transaxle.
The bulbous tail makes the look taller than it actually is; overall height is only Porsche quickly moved to address complaints about the Midway through the model year, U. A five-speed gearbox became available for European cars in , although it had a racing-style shift pattern first gear down and to the left that made it awkward in traffic. This became standard in By the late seventies, many manufacturers, most notably Saab and Buick , were adopting turbochargers as a way of extracting more power from smaller engines.
A single KKK turbocharger provided up to 10 psi 0. The had also various chassis upgrades, inch rather than inch wheels, and an assortment of scoops and cooling slats on the nose. The Porsche Turbo is readily identifiable from the front thanks to the cooling slots over the front bumper and the prominent NACA-style hood scoop. The latter serves to circulate air around the turbo housing in an effort to reduce its temperature. Turbo and S models also got a duckbill spoiler around the rear hatch, also used on the The was considerably faster than the normally aspirated North American cars were not that fast, but were now respectably quick.
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The drawback was turbo lag; even with the exhaust recirculation valve, the turbocharged engine was weaker than its normally aspirated cousin at lower speeds and power delivery was far from linear.
Also, while the turbocharged engine was quieter, it also ran hotter and higher under-hood temperatures despite the various cooling slats led to problems with overheating. For , s got a new five-speed gearbox an Audi-based unit with a conventional shift pattern , normally aspirated U.
Four-wheel discs became standard on s for This was actually a prototype for a derived Group 4 homologation special known internally as Type in right-hand-drive form.
Aside from the wider fenders, the cars featured various suspension and brake modifications and an air-to-air intercooler, which allowed Porsche to bump the engine to PS kW.
Porsche also built 59 Carrera GTS cars with more boost and additional power. Fifteen of these were PS kW Club Sport cars, which were lightened by lb 61 kg and had standard roll cages.
The Carrera GT was not imported to the U. This particular car, chassis BS, was a reserve car at Le Mans in , although it did not actually race. It is photographed here at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Because Porsche had not yet sold cars, the three entrants had to run in the Prototype GTP, rather than GT class, finishing 6th, 12th, and 13th. Like many automakers, the recession of — hit Porsche hard. Worldwide sales fell from around 36, to 28, and the company posted its first-ever net loss for Schutz ordered a number of major policy shifts. Schutz, who had grown up in America after his family fled Germany in thirties, recognized that the U.
Under the hood, it had a brand-new all-aluminum 2, cc cu. The greater impact of the Le Mans car, however, was the new engine.
Volkswagen had also informed Porsche that the Type engine would be phased out by the end of , so it was clearly time for a change. Like the V8 on which it was based, the engine was all aluminum, with a single belt-driven overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder.
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Although the new model bore a distinct resemblance to the , Porsche assigned the new car a new type number, , to signify the break with the The arrival of the , which debuted in May as a model, meant the end of the Porsche Turbo, but not the itself.
Porsche dropped the U. That fall, Porsche launched a new S, which combined the old body with the engine of the This reappeared in the U. Production of the S ended in September , the last of the line. Since it weighed a bit less than the , the S was slightly faster, too.