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The Porsche 968 is a sports car manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Porsche AG from 1992 to 1995. It was the final evolution of a series of water-cooled front-engine rear wheel drive models begun almost 20 years earlier with the 924, taking over the entry-level position in the company lineup from the 944 with which it shared about 20% of its parts. The 968 was Porsche's last new front-engined vehicle before the introduction of the Cayenne SUV in 2003.

Porsche 968
Porsche 968 01.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer
Production1992–1995
AssemblyGermany: Stuttgart
DesignerHarm Lagaay (Porsche AG)
Body and chassis
ClassSports car
Body style
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Powertrain
Engine
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase2,400 mm (94.5 in)
Length4,320 mm (170.1 in)
Width1,735 mm (68.3 in)
Height1,275 mm (50.2 in)
Curb weight1,400 kg (3,100 lb)
Chronology
PredecessorPorsche 944
SuccessorPorsche Boxster/Cayman

HistoryEdit

Porsche's 944 model debuted for the 1982 model year as an evolution of the 924, was updated as "944S" in 1987 and as "944S2" in 1989. Shortly after the start of production of the S2 variant, Porsche engineers began working on another set of significant upgrades for the model, as executives were planning a final "S3" variant of the 944. During the development phase, 80% of the 944's mechanical components were either significantly modified or completely replaced by the engineers, leaving so little of the outgoing S2 model that Porsche management chose to introduce the variant as a new model, calling it the 968. In addition to the numerous mechanical upgrades, the new model also received significantly evolved styling both inside and out, with a more modern, streamlined look and more standard luxury amenities than on the 944. Production was moved from the Audi plant in Neckarsulm (where the 924 and 944 had been manufactured under contract to Porsche), to Porsche's own factory in Zuffenhausen.

ModelsEdit

968Edit

 
Porsche 968
 
Porsche 968 cabriolet

Like the 944, the 968 was sold in coupé and convertible body styles. The 968's basic styling was an evolution on that of the outgoing 944, which was itself based on the earlier 924. In an attempt to create a "family resemblance" between models and associate it with the luxury 928, elements were borrowed from its upscale sibling such as the pop-up headlamps. Other borrowed elements included a swooping headlamp design inspired by the 959 and later incorporated in the Type 993 911.

The 968 was powered by an updated version of the 944's Inline-four engine, now displacing 3.0 L with a 104 mm bore and a 88 mm stroke and rated at 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp). Changes to the 968's powertrain also included the addition of Porsche's then-new VarioCam variable valve timing system, newly optimized induction and exhaust systems, a dual-mass flywheel, and updated engine management electronics among other more minor revisions. The 968's engine was the fourth-largest four-cylinder engine ever offered in a production car at that that time. A new 6-speed manual transmission replaced the 944's old 5-speed, and Porsche's dual-mode Tiptronic automatic became an available option. Both the VarioCam timing system and Tiptronic transmission were very recent developments for Porsche. The Tiptronic transmission had debuted for the first time only 3 years prior to the debut of the 968, on the 1989 Type 964 911. The VarioCam timing system was first introduced on the 968 and would later become a feature of the Type 993 air-cooled six-cylinder engine.

Much of the 968's chassis was carried over from the 944 S2, which in itself shared many components with the 944 Turbo (internally numbered 951) due to lack of development funds at the time. Borrowed components include the Brembo-sourced four-piston brake calipers on all four wheels, aluminium semi-trailing arms and aluminum front A-arms, used in a Macpherson strut arrangement. The steel unibody structure was also very similar to that of the previous models. Porsche maintained that 80% of the car was new.[1][2]

The 968 also featured numerous small equipment and detail upgrades from the 944, including a Fuba roof-mounted antenna, updated single lens tail lamps, "Cup" style 16-inch alloy wheels, a wider selection of interior and exterior colours, a slightly updated "B" pillar and rear quarter window to accommodate adhesive installation to replace the older rubber gasket installation.

968 ClubsportEdit

Porsche 968 Club Sport

From 1993 through 1995, Porsche offered a lighter-weight "Club Sport" version of the 968 designed for enthusiasts seeking increased track performance. Much of the 968's luxury-oriented equipment was removed or taken off the options list; less sound deadening material was used, electrical windows were replaced with crank-driven units, upgraded stereo systems, A/C and sunroof were still optional as on the standard Coupe and Convertible models. In addition, Porsche installed manually adjustable lightweight Recaro racing seats rather than the standard power-operated leather buckets (also manufactured by Recaro), a revised suspension system optimised and lowered by 20 mm for possible track use, 17-inch wheels (also slightly wider to accommodate wider tyres) rather than the 16-inch as found on the Coupe and wider tyres, 225 front and 255 rear rather than 205 and 225 respectively. The four-spoke airbag steering wheel was replaced with a thicker-rimmed three-spoke sports steering wheel with no airbag, heated washer jets were replaced with non heated, vanity covers in the engine bay were deleted, as was the rear wiper. The Club Sport has no rear seats, unlike the 2+2 Coupé.[3][4]

Club Sport models were only available in Grand Prix White, black, Speed yellow, Guards red, Riviera blue or Maritime blue exterior colours. Seat backs were colour-coded to the body. Club Sport decals were standard in either black, red or white but there was a 'delete' option. All Club Sports had black interiors with the 944 S2 door cards. Due to the reduction in the number of electrical items the wiring loom was reduced in complexity which saved weight and also the battery was replaced with a smaller one, again reducing weight. With the no frills approach meaning less weight, as well as the optimising of the suspension, Porsche could focus media attention on the Club Sport variants fast road and track abilities. This helped to slightly bolster the flagging sales figures in the mid-1990s. The Club Sport variant achieved a 'Performance Car Of The Year' award in 1993 from Performance Car magazine in the UK. Club Sport models were only officially available in the UK, Europe, Japan & Australia, although "grey market" cars found their way elsewhere. The declared weight of the 968 CS is 1,320 kg (2,910 lb), ~100 kg (220 lb) lighter than the regular 968. Acceleration from a standstill to 97 km/h (60 mph) takes 5.6 seconds and top speed is 260 km/h (162 mph).[5]

A UK-only version called "968 Sport", was offered in 1994 and 1995, and was essentially a Club Sport model (and was produced on the same production line with similar chassis numbers) with electric windows, electric release boot, central locking, cloth comfort seats (different from both the standard and the Club Sport). With the added electrics the larger wiring loom was used. The Sport Variant also got back the two rear seats, again in the cloth material specific to the Sport. At £29,975, the 968 Sport was priced £5,500 lower than the standard 968, but had most of the latter's desirable "luxuries" and consequently outsold it by a large margin (306 of the 968 Sport models compared to 40 standard 968 coupés).[6][7]

968 Turbo SEdit

In 1993, Porsche Motorsports at Weissach briefly produced a turbocharged 968 Turbo S, a fairly odd naming choice for Porsche which usually reserves the added "S" moniker for models that have been tuned for more power over a "lesser" counterpart, such as with the 911 Turbo. The 968 Turbo S shared the same body and interior as the Club Sport and visually can be identified by the NACA bonnet hood scoops, adjustable rear wing, three-piece speedline wheels and deeper front spoiler. The car had the suspension lowered by 17.8 mm (0.7 in) and was 20 kg (45 lb) than the standard 968.[8] The 968 Turbo S was powered by a 3.0 L 8-valve 944S2 (from the 944 Turbo S). Tests conducted in 1993 returned a 0 to 97 km/h (60 mph) time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 282 km/h (175 mph). The engine generated 309 PS (227 kW; 305 hp) at 5,600 rpm with a maximum torque of 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft) at 3,000 rpm. Only 14 were produced in total and only for sale in mainland Europe.

968 Turbo RSEdit

Between 1992 and 1994, Porsche Motorsports Research and Development built and provided a full "Race" version (stripped out 968 Turbo S) for Porsche's customer race teams. The 968 Turbo RS was available in two variations; a 342 PS (252 kW; 337 hp) version using the K27 turbocharger from the Turbo S, which was built to the German ADAC GT specification (ballast added to bring the car up to the 1,350 kg minimum weight limit), and an international spec version which used a KKK L41 turbocharger with the engine rated at 355 PS (261 kW; 350 hp) and a reduced weight of 1,212 kg. Only 4 were ever produced ; 1 Guards Red (WPOZZZ96ZNS820065), 1 Speed Yellow (WPOZZZ96ZPS896061), 1 Black (WPOZZZ96ZPS896062) and 1 White (WPOZZZ96ZPS896063).[citation needed] These are the rarest 968s ever produced.[9][10]

Production figures for all 968 variantsEdit

Production[11]
Model year Production Notes
Total Non US/Canada US/Canada
1992 5,353 *3,913 1,440 * 1 Red Turbo RS
1993 3,783 *2,701 1,082 * 1 Yellow & 1 Blue Turbo RS, 16 Turbo S
1994 2,484 *965 1,519 * 1 Black Turbo RS,
1995 1,156 532 624
Total 12,776 8,111 4,665  Of these, 4,389 were convertibles, of which 2,248 were exported to the US

The 968 was Porsche's last front-engine vehicle of any type before the introduction of the Cayenne SUV in 2003. Its discontinuation in 1995 coincided with that of the 928, Porsche's only other front-engine car at the time. The 968 was also the last Porsche sold with a four-cylinder engine prior to the introduction of the 718 Boxster in 2016.

While lacking the wider ranging appeal of the 911, the 968 developed its own following.[12] This is likely due to the 968's unique combination of speed and practicality, and low production numbers.[12]

MotorsportEdit

The 968 was a popular car in the 1990s, making several appearances in famous races, such as the Spa 24 Hours, 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona. It also competed in 1-4 hour length races, such as Paul Ricard, Jarama, Dijon, Vallelunga and Spa 4hrs. It had a large use by drivers in the USA, at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.

Later in life, it was driven in the Nürburgring 24 Hours from 2007 to 2009. It also competed in the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone in 2007, 2008 and 2015. All three times, the cars were run by EMC Motorsport, a group of professional car mechanics and modifiers, who specialise in mostly Porsches. In 2007, they finished 18th and 19th with just over 500 laps, finishing 3rd and 4th in class. In 2008, they retired from the race in 31st place.

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Porsche 968: PH Buying Guide". PistonHeads. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  2. ^ Ramsey, Jonathon (30 June 2015). "The dream of the '90s is alive in Porsche 968 retro review". Autoblog. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Modern Classics: Porsche 968 CS". Classic Driver. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  4. ^ Brownell, Bradley (1 December 2016). "Factory Lightweight Porsche 968 Clubsport Is The One You Really Want". The Drive. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  5. ^ LaChance, David (April 2010). "1992-1995 Porsche 968". Hemmings Sports and Exotic. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  6. ^ Peter Morgan, Original Porsche 924/944/968, Bay View Books, 1998
  7. ^ "Road Test – 1993 Porsche 968 Sport". Classics World. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  8. ^ Bigg, Martin (15 March 2019). "Rare Porsche 968 Turbo S One Of Only 14 In The World". Carbuzz. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  9. ^ Trent, Dan (10 September 2016). "Porsche 968 Turbo RS: PH Heroes". PistonHeads. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  10. ^ Brownell, Bradley (1 January 2017). "One Of Four Porsche 968 Turbo RS For Sale In England". The Drive. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  11. ^ 968 Register Production Data, sourced from Porsche 924/944/968, Peter Morgan
  12. ^ a b Boothman, Nigel (January 2011). "1992-95 Porsche 968 Buying Guide". Thoroughbred & Classic Cars (450): 106–109.

BibliographyEdit

  • Smale, Glen (2015). Porsche 924/928/944/968: The Complete Story. Crowood AutoClassic Series. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press. ISBN 9781785000393.

External linksEdit