In 1974, Porsche announced a car that would take the motoring world by storm and go on to become a legend in its own right.
That car was the 911 Turbo and, bizarre as it seems today, was originally planned as a limited edition run of 500 cars with a stripped out, race-inspired interior, not unlike that of the Carrera 2.7 RS. Thankfully, demand in the new model was so great Porsche decided to make it a separate production model in its own right.
At the heart of the new car was a new 2994cc engine, which was derived from the earlier 3.0 RS unit. This used Nikasil-coated cylinder bores, an aluminium crankcase, a new cylinder-head design and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. The compression ratio was a low 6.5:1 to compensate for the forced induction, which was courtesy of a single KKK turbocharger which was powered by the exhaust gases from both cylinder banks. Spinning at up to 100,000rpm, the turbo gave a maximum boost of 0.8bar. This gave a maximum power output of 260bhp at 5500rpm – an astonishing amount in the mid-1970s when turbocharged road-going cars were still a novelty.
The bodyshell was based on that of the contemporary H series 911 with its impact-absorbing bumpers, but fitted with much-extended wheel arches front and rear that gave the Turbo its distinctive aggressive appearance. The whaletail rear spoiler may have debuted on the 3.0 RS, but it soon became inextricably linked to the 911 Turbo. The first cars had a small extra ventilation grille at the rear of the whaletail, but the engine’s heat generation was such that this vent was greatly enlarged in 1976. Also for 1976, the Turbo gained the large ‘elephant ear’ mirrors with their electric operation.
The first Turbos had similar interior trim to the contemporary Carrera. Part-leather seats, four-speaker stereo and automatic heating, and a three-spoke steering wheel were all standard.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the 911 Turbo was equipped with a four-speed gearbox – Porsche claimed that the five-gear 915 unit wouldn’t cope with the extra power and, besides, the engines power and torque were such that four gears were all that were required. This all-new 930/30 unit was designed specifically for the Turbo with larger (hence stronger) gears and shafts. A larger 240mm clutch was also utilised.
The suspension was based on that of the 3.0RS but the geometry was tweaked to compensate for the extra weight out-back. The brakes, meanwhile, were taken from the 911S of the day.
To fill those massive arches, the Turbo was equipped with 15-inch Fuchs alloy wheels which were 7-inches wide at the front and 8-inches at the rear. Tyres were185/70VR and 215/60Vr respectively, and spacers pushed the wheels out tyres to the edges of the arches.
It may have seemed mad producing a gas-guzzling supercar in the middle of the 1970s’ fuel shortages, but it paid off and the 911 Turbo was a great success and went on to become a motoring legend in its own right. Today, these early 3.0-litre Turbos are not the most desirable models – they’re not that powerful, suffer from extreme turbo lag, their handling is hairy and their brakes are lousy. That said, as the start of a legend these first 911 Turbos have a unique appeal and are surprising affordable.
What to look for
L Wide front and rear wheel arches
L Whaletail rear spoiler with additional cooling vent
L Vinyl ‘shark’s fin’ protectors on leading edges of rear arches
L ‘Turbo’ badge on rear
Did you know?
In the USA, the very first 911 Turbos were badged ‘Turbo Carrera’. In that country, these first cars are still commonly known by their factory model number – ‘930’.
Compression ratio: 6.5:1
Maximum power: 260bhp at 5500rpm
Maximum torque: 343Nm at 4000rpm
Brakes: Front: 282mm discs; rear: 290mm discs
Suspension: Front: MacPherson struts with telescopic dampers and torsion bar springs; rear: trailing wishbones with telescopic dampers and transverse torsion bar. Front and rear antiroll bars
Wheels & tyres: Front: 15x7J with 185/70VR tyres. Rear: 15x8J with 215/60VR tyres