Porsche 911 Turbo (930) - 1975-89: Buyer's Guide

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A truly awe-inspiring car in its day, the 930 Porsche Turbo still gets the pulse racing

Porsche 911 Turbo (930) - 1975-89: Buyer's Guide
Buyers' Guide: Porsche 930

 

Porsche 911 Turbo (930)

IDOL BOOST


The mid 1970s was just about the worst era in automotive history to be launching a brand new supercar. Oil prices had tripled in the space of two years, inflation was galloping and regulators across the world were doing their best to eliminate automotive enjoyment.

None of the above was especially worrying to Porsche, because its turbo-enhanced, Type 930 911 was never intended for volume production. Porsche’s aim was to sell the 400 cars required to homologate a turbo version of its rear-engined flat-six for international competition. Anything beyond that was a bonus.

The first hint of Porsche’s intentions came during 1973 when a prototype did the rounds of Europe’s car shows and a turbocharged RSR appeared at Le Mans – touching 315km/h on Mulsanne before blowing up.

A year and a bit later at the Paris Salon show, the shape and definition of its road-going 911 Turbo were made clear. But the car on display was not some stripped-down homologation special with strings for door-handles and no radio. Among the standard fittings were air-conditioning, electric windows, leather seat bolsters and a decent stereo.

Items that made the familiar 911 into a supercar were all mounted behind the passenger compartment. While the front wheel-arches were flared a little further than those on a normally-aspirated Carrera, the rear guards were stretched so grotesquely they needed stone shields – yes, just like those on FJ Holdens – to protect vast expanses of exposed paint.
On top of the engine cover sat not just a spoiler but a huge, rubber-edged tray that was quickly dubbed the whale tail. Set into this down-force generator were separate intakes for the engine fan and the air-conditioning.

Those familiar with the layout of earlier six-cylinder Porsches were amazed at the amount of equipment that Porsche had managed to cram into a confined space – and probably wondered how all that turbo heat would affect component longevity.

The engine was an alloy-block 3.0-litre with Bosch fuel injection. Alongside it sat a massive KKK turbocharger which didn’t begin to stir until 2500rpm but by 5500rpm was helping the engine deliver 193kW. Straight-line acceleration was blistering but a four-speed gearbox with widely-spaced ratios emphasized the car’s prodigious turbo lag. The all-disc brakes were initially inadequate but uprated during 1976 with larger calipers and cross-drilled rotors.

After building almost 3000 of the 3.0-litre cars and realising that it had unwittingly created the automotive world’s fastest fashion accessory, Porsche announced a 3.3-litre (930) version with some notable improvements.

The larger engine produced 221kW at the same 5500rpm, with 430Nm of torque at 4000. The seats improved but floor-mounted pedals and the four-speed gearbox remained. Most significant was the addition of an intercooler which boosted the efficiency of the turbocharger and involved a major redesign of the rear wing.

For 1987 the range expanded to include targa and cabriolet versions – any soft-top Turbos built before that date are fakes – and in 1989 the long-awaited five-speed gearbox finally materialised. In honour of the race-specification 935, a run of fewer than 1000 slant nose Turbos was also produced.

ON THE ROAD

The people who test vehicles for motoring magazines tend to be a fairly blasé bunch, but not even the most gung-ho of 1970s scribblers was prepared to take or advocate a maximum-attack approach to the 930 Series Turbo.

Turbocharged cars were, in 1975, a novelty and even experienced testers seemed unprepared for the sudden arrival of prodigious power. Of equal concern was the speed with which a clumsy reaction to loss of front end grip could translate into a massive and almost uncontrollable rear-end slide.

Those of lesser ability who bought a Turbo for its pose value could find themselves in even more serious and occasionally lethal trouble. In the USA, sales of the model were suspended from 1981-85 while the company fought a series of wrongful death claims brought on behalf of Turbo crash victims.

Rearward weight bias exacerbated by front end lift under acceleration caused no end of problems for the unwary. Lifting off the throttle and grabbing extra lock in response to understeer, even injudicious braking, will unsettle the car and provoke an oversteer slide.

Anticipation is the greatest weapon in the Porsche Turbo driver’s armoury. Assessment of an approaching bend, gear and braking point selection all need to be undertaken swiftly and with precision. More difficult is determining the point at which all that boost will arrive and timing your throttle booting accordingly.

Standing start acceleration will be much the same in 3.0 or 3.3-litre cars. While the 3.3 version provided an extra 28kW, it also copped a 107kg weight penalty over the early car. Either way, 0-100km/h takes around 5.3 seconds, with 0-160 coming up in 12 seconds.

Later cars were available with full leather trim which can become sticky in hot weather and Porsche air-conditioning, even when working at optimum capacity, isn’t brilliant. Most Australian-delivered cars seem to have been fitted with an electric sunroof.

Fuel economy isn’t high on the priorities list for Turbo owners, but it’s comforting to know that consumption averages better than 16l/100km and can be whittled to around 12l/100.

Joining a Porsche or other car club with access to race-circuit training days is a very wise strategy, even for experienced drivers. Better to test your and the car’s limits in the relative safety of a race-track than discover half-way through a tightening bend that everything you know about controlling oversteer is a fraction of what this car knows about generating it.

HOW MUCH?

As a solid gold example of 20th Century supercar-dom, the 930 Turbo is well overdue for a boost in demand and value.

If appreciation does come, the cars to benefit most will be authentic and well-documented examples; preferably with original paint, trim and mechanical components. Cars matching that description currently sell at $70,000-85,000, with 3.3-litre versions 10-15 per cent more expensive than early models.

Local Turbo sales ended in 1985 so any 1986-89 models on offer will be imports. Some will have been sold originally into RHD markets but the majority will have undergone steering conversions. These need to be checked by an expert to ensure factory tolerances have been maintained and that the cars – including RHD ones from the UK – aren’t harbouring rust. Pay 30 percent less for a converted import.

Less than 1600 Turbo Cabriolets were produced during the late-’80s. They were never sold new in Australia and authentic cars are hard to find. Chopped replicas are less scarce and worth not nearly as much as the $100,000 that a real one might bring.

I OWN ONE!

This 1981 model Turbo has been part of Frank Zoka’s life since he saw it in a Melbourne showroom 14 years ago. According to Frank’s son Zios, who surreptitiously brought the car to our photo session, his acquisition of the Guards Red 3.3-litre was pretty much love at first sight.

"Over the past 50 years, dad has owned almost 100 special cars and he really loves Porsches so he will get a real kick out of opening the magazine and seeing it there," Zios said. "When he first saw the car in 1994 he didn’t hesitate to buy it. In fact his only question was how much it would cost to transport it to Sydney." 

While in Frank Zoka’s hands, the car has been treated to a full respray and had its original KKK turbocharger rebuilt.

"We’ve got a twin-turbo 996 model as well but it doesn’t have anything like the sound of this car once the turbocharger is at full pace," Zios said.

As part of a downsizing of the family collection, the 930 is for sale. For details, check the web at musclecars.com.au or call (02) 9525 9988.

BUYER CHECKLIST

Body & Chassis

Rust shouldn’t present a major problem for any post-1978 930 that hasn’t been crash repaired or repainted. For the other 95 per cent which have suffered some disturbance to their rust-proofing (all 3.3-litre cars were galvanised) checking the sills, wheel-arches, the boot floor and door skins is important. Door gaps should be consistent and 3-5mm. If they aren’t, start looking for other evidence of major body repair including water leaking into the boot or cabin, mismatched paint and body filler. All are signs of a car to avoid. Also look at the rear wing mounting points for cracks and distortion.

Engine & Transmission

Flat-six Porsche engines are endemically reliable and even Turbo versions need less frequent maintenance than other exotic engines. That is no excuse for skipped maintenance or amateur repairs and cars without strong service history are worth avoiding. Even those in apparently sound condition must be inspected by a Porsche specialist to ensure that pending problems don’t become your headache. Apart from an initial puff which is typical, sustained smoke from the exhaust is bad and potentially expensive news, as are oil leaks from the cylinder heads or oil lines. Noise from the engine fan and/or turbocharger also demands investigation. The clutch action should be reasonably light with no slip under full throttle in higher gears. Replacement costs close to $3000. The four-speed gearbox is very durable, with synchromesh wear the only common problem.

Suspension & Brakes

Wafty steering, creaks from the front suspension and inner-edge tyre wear point to seriously neglected front-end maintenance or poor-quality crash repairs. Replacement ball joints cost less than $80 each and a revamped steering rack is around $500. Brake rotor wear is heavily dependent on how the car is driven, but replacement front discs every 30,000 kilometres is typical. The brakes demand reasonably heavy pressure and need to be warm to give their best. Squealing discs under light application and premature front wheel lock-up indicate imminent repairs.

Interior & Electrics

Porsche trim is among the best in the business, so a car displaying cracked vinyl and perished leather has been seriously neglected. Most important among pre-purchase checks is to ensure the heater delivers a solid blast of warm air with no odour of oil fumes. Replacing the heat exchangers in stainless steel costs $3000 including labour. Ensure the sunroof (where fitted) works without shuddering and that the power windows do the same.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Porsche 911 Turbo (1975-89)

 

Number built: 2873 (3.0), 18,716 (3.3)

Body: all-steel, unitary construction two-door coupe and cabriolet

Engine: 3.0 or 3.3-litre horizontally-opposed six cylinder, single overhead camshafts, fuel injection, single turbocharger

Power & Torque: 221kW @ 5500rpm/430Nm @ 4000rpm (3.3-litre)

Performance: 0-100km/h – 5.2secs, 0-400m – 13.6secs (3.3-litre)

Transmission: four-speed manual

Suspension: Front: independent with torsion bars, struts and anti-roll bar. Rear: independent with semi-trailing arms, torsion bars, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar

Brakes: disc front/disc rear, power assisted

Tyres: 205/55VR16 (front), 225/50VR16 (rear)

Price range: $35,000-100,000

Contact: Porsche Clubs throughout Australia   porscheclub.org.au

 

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