Over the years, I’ve found myself lost in numerous rabbit holes when digging through research and feature articles on Porsche 911s – everything ranging from the early prototype 901s, all the way up to the most recent variant of the 991 935.
With that in mind, I always seem to be battling my own perceptions of which model is the best, or most significant, or truly iconic amongst the sea of options and trim packages offered in such a singularly driven line of automobile.
Porsche began their research and development with turbo-based power plants in the 1960s for their Can-Am champion car, the 917/30, and the 911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1. With the help of the FIA’s new homologation requirements in 1974 and Porsche’s keen interest in continuing its racing enterprise, Ernst Fuhrmann was tasked with developing a 911 that would utilize the 3.0 offered in the ’74 Carrera RS while incorporating the turbo technology from their previous race cars.
An undoubtedly discouraging (or encouraging in his case) task, as the era sparked the beginning of emissions compliance laws, which made making fast cars a dreary pursuit. But by the end of 1975, 400 examples of the 930 were churned out to the public from Stuttgart out of the blue, and the beginning of the Turbo series 911 emerged.
At 2,850lbs (1,293kgs) and generating 256hp from the non-intercooled turbocharged flat six, the world was taken by surprise with the first iteration of the 930. This was a proper sports car, with proper power, giving both big American V8s and Italian V12s a solid run for their money.
You’re Killing Me Man, Seriously
As we know by now, the 930 went through numerous updates and changes, ranging from upgrading engines and brakes, to completely redesigning the car for various racing purposes, which I’ll get to in a bit. But the one specific to this feature is a 1977 US-spec 930, dubbed the original Widowmaker.
As obvious as it is, driving a Porsche is unlike driving any other car. I’ve had my fair share of runs with them, and they genuinely make you question your own judgment about taking an apex, the Porsche way. With the majority of the weight being in the rear of the car, it’s almost like you have to try to lose control, in order to gain control through the turn.
A late trail brake, followed by throttle finesse are key to preventing catastrophic driver errors. And when you finally start to feel the car’s rear end slide a bit, remember: DO NOT LIFT. It’s the number one rule, especially when driving the earlier 930 models, but a rule that’s easier said than done when you feel that gut-wrenching kick.
With early 930s specifically, mastering this Porsche-specific driving style was essential to keeping yourself alive. But what most novices failed to account for, was the erratic boost you’d get from the single KKK K24 turbo at high RPMs.
Inexperienced drivers would cut through an apex expecting to keep power the same, but once the turbo would kick in, it would cause the car to oversteer, scaring the uninitiated to the point where they would quickly regress off the throttle, defying the rule of not lifting. This would amplify the loss of control, and ultimately lead to tremendous amount of crashes throughout the years, often killing the drivers.
And that ladies and gentlemen, is how the 930 became known as the Widowmaker.
the Turbo Lives On
Though it had a reputation for killing its owners, somehow, Porsche managed to continue with more iterations of the 930 over the years. In 1978, the car was almost completely redesigned; the body became heavier due to safety regulations, but Porsche compensated for the matter with an upgrade 3.3L turbocharged engine that was now intercooled as well, bumping power up to a solid 300bhp. The brakes were also upgraded, as well as comfort features to appeal to more high-end luxury car buyers. Later, there were numerous other takes on the 930 such as the Flachbau and Kremer street cars as well.
G, who owns this 930, also has the final form of the 930, which is an ’89 Turbo G50 5-speed car, and has mentioned that the cars couldn’t be more different from each other if they tried. He does favor the earlier 930 though, as its lightweight construction truly does make for a nimbler and more raw driving experience.
It pleasures me to say that the Turbo 911 continued to live on in other variants of the chassis, boasting the same ethos of the original Widowmaker, still wanting to kill its owners. A recipe stirred up by Ernst himself, that has yet to see any change, even in the forthcoming 992 Turbo model.
With that said, I had the pleasure of driving an extremely rare Turbo model during our photoshoot outing a few weeks ago, and it definitely changed my perspective on that specific 911 chassis as a whole, so stay tuned for that in the upcoming weeks.