THE WENDELIN WIEDEKING ERA
In a now-legendary confrontation with Porsche tradition, Wiedeking enticed two former Toyota executives to bring the philosophy of kaizen, or continuous improvement, to company manufacturing and to teach them efficiency in production. Calling the existing factory facilities “warehouses” because stockpiled parts occupied as much floor space as assembly lines, the Japanese inspired Wiedeking, who eventually reduced assembly floor inventories from 28 days on hand to 30 minutes, forcing Porsche’s outside vendors to adapt or fall off the preferred suppliers list. The streamlined Zuffenhausen operation manufactured 2,374 of the new 993 coupes—and 221 pilot production cabriolets—by the time Porsche closed for its Christmas/New Year holiday break at the end of 1993. Labeled as 1994 model cars, they began deliveries to European customers in April. The first American buyers saw 1995 models in September 1994.
The cabriolet roof presented challenges to Tony Hatter and the design engineers he worked with. Gerhard Schröder’s top system designed for the 1983 SC passed largely unchanged through the 964 models. Hatter was not a fan.
“I never liked the look of the early cabriolets. The classical 911 shape is the coupe. With the 993, we tried to get some of that form into the roof.” The 993 was the first time designers or engineers had been allowed to revise the cloth top.
Production for the first year reached 7,865 coupes and 7,074 cabriolets. For all of their dramatics, the efforts of Ulrich Bez and Wendelin Wiedeking delivered benefits to customers—with a base price $5,000 less than the 964—and profits to the company, incredibly. The new car helped rewrite Porsche’s financial statement as the economy finally returned to solid footing in 1995. By this time, Porsche had begun delivering all-wheel-drive Carrera 4s. Weissach updated and revised the Tiptronic transmission, renaming it the Tiptronic S; however, it was available only for rear-drive models.In March 1995, Porsche introduced the 993 Turbo at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. It offered buyers 408 horsepower at 5,750 rpm. Porsche Archiv A new Turbo arrived, delivering 408 horsepower at 5,750 rpm, through all four wheels, hinting at a coming-Porsche philosophy that any of their automobiles providing the customer with more than 400 horsepower was available only through all four wheels. Weissach’s engineers coupled the six-speed manual transmission to a dynamic limited-slip differential with active braking. This was 959 technology brought to a broader audience. The Turbo topped out above 180 miles per hour and reached 100 kilometers per hour from a standstill in 4.5 seconds.
A Carrera RS model appeared for model years 1995 and 1996. Fitted with subtle front corner spoilers and a flat rear wing, all in body color, this package for the serious enthusiasts shaved 220 pounds off the standard C2 coupe and engine designers sweetened the package by increasing displacement from 3,600cc to 3,746—designated the 3.8-liter engine. This increased displacement, along with other tricks and treatments, delivered 300 horsepower to some 1,100 customers. Another key to this additional power was an innovative fuel induction system, called VarioRam, that utilized long intake tubes to broaden the torque performance at low and medium engine speeds, and short ones at high engine speeds to produce greater horsepower. Vacuum-operated sliders manipulated all of this technology. The system had debuted a season earlier on the competitionderived GT3 models. An even less common Club Sport package provided slightly closer gear ratios for those intending racing or serious track-day activities. Porsche manufactured only 227 of the Club Sports.To homologate the 993 Carrera RSR 3.8 for racing, Zuffenhausen produced a run of 1,014 street-legal 300-horsepower RS 3.8 models in 1995, including this yellow coupe. On the right is the M003 RS 3.8 Club Sport, of which Porsche assembled 227. Porsche Archiv The meanest and leanest of the 993s came in the GT2 model, a vehicle with little pretention and clear ambition for the winner’s circle. Where the standard C2 coupe weighed 3,014 pounds with 285 horsepower for 1996, and the RS Club Sport came in at 2,794 pounds and 300 horsepower (and sold for 164,700 DM—$109,800 at the factory but unavailable to U.S. buyers), the GT2 put 430 horsepower into the same weight (for 278,875 DM—$185,917.) As only 172 of these cars emerged from Weissach’s shops, it was clear, with their plastic wheel arch flares, aluminum doors, and massive three-piece Centerline 9x18 and 11x18 composite wheels, that the GT2 was not intended for mass consumption.
VarioRam managed induction on all normally aspirated Carrera engines for 1996, elevating output to 285 horsepower at 6,100 rpm. In addition, the company introduced two new models—a C4S, fitting the normally aspirated all-wheel-drive running gear under a turbo coupe body but using a retracting rear spoiler instead of the Turbo’s fixed wing, and a new Targa, fitted with a large retracting tinted-glass roof. Targa models started life as cabriolets onto which assemblers bonded and bolted a separate roof system.Weissach conceived a radically different Targa concept on the 993 platform using a large glass panel that retracted inside the rear window. Zuffenhausen assemblers mounted the glass roof structure onto a cabriolet platform. Porsche Archiv The opening glass slid back down and inside the rear window. Drivers could open or close the roof at any speed. The Targa was produced on the C2 platform only. On July 15, as assembly line employees prepared for the change over to 1997 model year cars, they celebrated a milestone, driving the 1 millionth Porsche off the Zuffenhausen assembly line. Configured as a coupe with Tiptronic S, the company donated it to the autobahn police of its home Baden-Württemberg region.
For the 1997 model year, Porsche offered a Carrera S coupe. This model supplemented the wide-body C4S as its rear-drive sibling, adding the capability of using the Tiptronic S gearbox. Similar to the C4S, the S appeared only as a coupe. Standard normal body C2 and C4 models, in coupe and cabriolet, remained in production.
Model year 1998 marked the end of an era of Porsche automobile engineering. Weissach engineers had spent much of the previous decade reckoning with questions of water cooling the 911 engines. Discussions arose repeatedly as the 993 was conceived, designed, and developed. For that model, the costs outweighed the benefits. For the next generation 966, necessities and regulations outweighed everything. As the company prepared to introduce the 996, it dropped the C2 and C4 coupe and cabriolet models from the 1998 lineup. New models of these cars were arriving soon; however, Porsche kept the Turbo, the Targa, and the wide-body Carrera S and C4S coupes in production through this final year. The car that was coming was both the Next 911 and the New Porsche. It projected a subtle change in direction and definition even as it reflected a massive transformation in technology.
“ We made the 993 so that we really didn’t need the four-wheel drive. With the new axle, the new platform, the rear engine, you don’t need four-wheel drive, even in Switzerland in the snow. But we went into special markets, like Austria, Switzerland, like Sweden, and they said, ‘We need four-wheel drive.’ They didn’t, but we redesigned the front drive system for the Carrera 4 models for them.”
— Bernd KahnauPorsche launched the C4S for 1996, adapting the Turbo coupe body to the all-wheel-drive platform. It followed for 1997 with the Carrera S coupe, a similarly bodied rear-drive model. Porsche ArchivHorst Marchart’s innovative idea to create two cars using the same face challenged engineers and stylists alike. The result, the 986 Boxster, and this, the 996 model, saved Porsche millions but initially confused some buyers. Porsche ArchivDesign, engineering, and development testing took place simultaneously on both 986 Boxster and 996 car lines. Engineers performed close-follow tests such as this to challenge door seals and interior and engine filter systems. Porsche Archiv
EVOLUTION VERSION 2.0
FROM AIR TO WATER
THE FIFTH GENERATION: 996
”In 1991, we had one big problem in the company,” Horst Marchart recalled in an interview in 2012. Marchart had just joined the Porsche board. He had started as a design engineer in the engine department in 1960, and from 1972 till 1988, he served as a leader for external projects at Weissach. In 1988, after Helmuth Bott left, Ulrich Bez pulled Marchart back into Porsche’s mainstream, making him responsible for the complete development for cars. He supervised 350 people. He had watched this “one problem” as it emerged, sometimes seeing it from the perspectives of Porsche’s outside clients.
“The 944/968 was an excellent car,” Marchart acknowledged, “but no one said it was a true Porsche. Next was the 928—the original concept to replace the 911. This split the company—one side was for the 911. The other side was for the 928/924/944. It always made a competition inside the company. And outside the company, it was a competition of appearance—the 911 was the true Porsche and the 928 was a Porsche, but not the true Porsche.”
When Marchart joined the board, Wendelin Wiedeking gave him the task of solving the one big problem, and the others that grew from it. “We had three products with no common parts,” Marchart said. “My job was to reduce the company to two products with a lot of parts similarities. And it was my idea to use the same face for both cars to give the identification equally. And with the Boxster and the 911, nearly the same from the nose to the front of the doors, we show it is possible for Porsche to build two cars that are both true Porsches.”
One more issue had been present from the start. Fuhrmann had attempted to resolve it with his 924 and 928, but it eventually became clear these were not the best solutions to a real problem.
“Our next big situation was to stop the air-cooled engine. Nobody in the world had air-cooled engines except us. With all the regulations in the various countries, all that we had to respect, we had these special engines that needed special parts unlike any other manufacturer. We could only have two valves. We needed a special cooling and heating system, different from everyone else in the world. It took a lot of money to make special systems since we could not share technology with anyone else,” Marchart said.
He considered making immediate changes. The 964 was ready for release, but among the gasps heard during finance man Branitzki’s suggestion to keep that car around forever were Marchart’s 350 engineers with a much clearer view of coming safety and emissions standards. The development of 993 began even before Branitzki spoke those words.
“We made studies and investigations to make the 993 water-cooled. But we had special conditions. We would have needed a new heating and cooling system for a water-cooled engine, and we didn’t have the room in the car body. So we decided to let the 993 stay with the air-cooling and we would start fresh with the next car, the 996.
“In the meanwhile, we also had made the studies for a four-wheel steering system, which we liked. But we could find no partners for it. Bosch asked for 60,000,000 DM at that time (about $40 million) to develop the electronics and cooperate with us in development. At that time we had no money in our pockets, so that made the decision to stop that project easy but disappointing. But that was the reason why, in the 993, we had the subframe. We had started to develop the system, and it required the subframe. Then Bosch needed too much. The comfort was excellent. We decided we will stay with the subframe and stabilize the rear axle. And I think it made us the most comfortable 911 ever, in the 993.With its wind deflector in place, the 996 Cabrio showed off the graceful lines Pinky Lai had labored to produce. Cabrio buyers received an aluminum hardtop as part of their purchase price. Porsche Archiv “For the 996 water-cooled engine, we knew the boxer motor had one problem. The length of the engine is defined with the crankshaft. Not by the cylinders. If you have a 2-liter or 3-liter or 3.5, it is always the same. So when we changed from air-cooled to the water-cooled, the length dimensions came from the old engine. But all other decisions were completely new. As a result, the engine for the normal car was a completely new design.
“We had choices. We know that maximum lateral acceleration with our road cars is 1.4 G, maximum. Maximum! And the normal Beetle, for example, 0.8. So we decided to develop dry sump only for the competition cars and for the normal car we had a normal sump and oil pump. The race version was the latest development of the racing engine from Mr. Mezger. Also with the dry sump.”
At the same time, Marchart asked Porsche’s procurement people to prepare for him the cost of all the parts in the cars. After long discussions with each development group, he tasked them with determining existing costs and making a cost goal for each part. Most of his engineers told him it was not possible to reduce the costs. Five months later, they had saved 30 percent. He concluded that if it was so easy to reach those goals, they could try to go further.
“It became a sport in the entire company to reach these goals,” he said. “We realized that to save our company we had only one chance. I had a lot of problem in Weissach when I came to my colleagues and said, ‘Now we are going to make two cars. One 120,000 DM and the other 75,000 DM.’ I remember one told me, ‘You are crazy. The same parts, the same length, where are we going to find 40,000 DM?’”Tight design and development budgets originally eliminated the elevating rear spoiler, but it appeared in production. The 996 grew slightly in dimensions over the 993, stretching the wheelbase from 2,272 millimeters to 2,350 for the new car. Porsche Archiv