Rear engine, rear wheel drive, short wheelbase, huge turbo lag, snap oversteer a-plenty. Meet the Porsche 930 Turbo, aka the Widowmaker.
With their turbocharged flat sixes, Porsche aimed to give the Italians and their V12 road cars a run for their money. The 917/30 Can-Am cars had used turbo technology to devastating effect (with up to 1580 hp depending on boost), and Porsche boss Ernst Fuhrmann decided it was high time the faithful customer had his fun with forced induction.
Due to the 930’s rather dicey handling and all-or-nothing turbo technology, stability improvements over the normal 911 were needed. Upgrades included a reworked suspension system, bigger brakes, and a strengthened gearbox. The car’s track was widened to improve grip resulting in some beautifully flared wheel arches and an iconic ‘whale tail’ spoiler was added in increase downforce and flow to the air cooled engine. For 1978 the 930 was given an air-to-air intercooler which helped to increase power from 256 to 300 hp and was also provided similar brakes to the ones in use on the 917 racing car.
Even with the widened track and fatter tires the 930 was still a handful to drive. The fact that the turbocharger was essentially on or off meant that drivers had to be incredibly careful and precise with throttle application to avoid spinning. Flooring the throttle in one has been compared to a few minutes of turbo lag up to 4000 rpm followed by rocket ship acceleration until around 6000, at which point g-force induced tunnel vision subsides.
The 930 began as a simple homologation special, but created a trend that continues in 911s to this day. It is one of the most revered cult cars of all time.
Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Dec 29th 2015
Sir Stirling Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia driving this gorgeous Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Departing at 7.22 am, Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson maintained an average speed of 97.96 mph on the 1000 mile figure eight course from Brescia to Rome and back again, while competing with other racers and dodging public traffic to whom the entire course was still open. The pair completed the course in 10 hours, 7 minutes, 48 seconds, and finished 32 minutes ahead of second place teammate Juan Manuel Fangio. The SLR’s edge was that under its magnesium bodywork it was essentially Mercedes’ W196 Formula One car, which had won 9 of the 12 races and both of the world championships that it had been entered in. Modifications included adding a second seat for the navigator, headlights, and enlarging the W196’s 2.5 litre straight 8 engine to 3 litres. The car produced 310 horsepower, and took sports car racing by storm in 1955.
Tragically, one of the SLRs collided with an Austin Healey at the end of the pit straight Le Mans the same year while being piloted by factory driver Pierre Levegh. The Frenchman’s Mercedes was still travelling at 150 mph, and he had no time to react. The car became airborne and disintegrated, with parts flying into the tightly packed crowd before flames from the fuel tank ignited the magnesium bodywork. 84 people including Levegh lost their lives in the single worst motorsport accident in history. Mercedes had already been courting the idea of ceasing motorsport operations at the end of 1955, and the Le Mans disaster was the final nail in the coffin.
After the end of Mercedes’ racing program the SLR’s deisgner, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, appropriated one of the SLR/SL coupes (built with an enclosed cockpit to increase driver comfort in long distance races like the Mille Miglia) as his personal daily driver and enjoyed what was by far and away the world’s fastest road car with a top speed approaching 180 mph (remember, this was essentially a Formula One car with enclosed wheels). The car came to be known as the Uhlenhaut Coupe, and now resides in Mercedes’ museum near Stuttgart. It is undoubtedly one of the world’s most valuable cars.
Published @Whippstagram on Instagram, Dec 15th 2015
“The earth shook violently, trees were uprooted, mountains fell, and all binds snapped- Fenyr is free.” That’s the epic quote that W Motors chose to accompany their upcoming supercar, the Fenyr SuperSport, named after the giant wolf in Norse mythology who killed the god Odin, destroyed most of the world, and then ate the sun and the moon. That’s quite the legacy for a car to live up to. W partnered with RUF Automotive to develop the doom-bringing supercar, and it’s 4.0 litre twin-turbo flat six was designed exclusively for this car by the German manufacturer. The Fenyr has a honeycomb aluminium chassis and full carbon fibre bodywork for a feather-like 1200kg curb weight. That’s the same as an average BMW Mini, but this has 900 horsepower. Its styling is even angrier than its baby brother’s, showing W’s intention that this car lean towards outright performance in the speed vs luxury dichotomy. 0-60mph flies by in 2.7 seconds, and the Fenyr can reach a top speed of 249 mph or a nice round 400km/h. You might consider this to be W Motors’ budget entry: just seven Lykan HyperSports were built at a cost of $3.4m apiece whereas the company will built 25 Fenyrs, a comparative steal at $1.8m each.
Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Dec 10th 2015
This sublime piece of engineering is the Mercedes-Benz F1 W06 Hybrid, and it’s fair to say that it ran away with the 2015 Formula One season. It was just named racing car of the year at the Autosport awards, and statistically it’s the most dominant Formula One car ever, capturing 703 constructor’s points of a possible 817. Drivers, pit crews, and strategies don’t mean much without a reliable, fast car, and the W06 is the carbon fibre embodiment of those qualities. It was certainly most powerful car on the 2015 F1 grid due to some extremely clever engineering. The V6’s single turbocharger sits nestled between the banks of cylinders; a design which allows for a smaller intercooler and in turn allows for smaller side pods, making the car more aerodynamic than the previous year’s W05. Described by Mercedes as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the car was also lighter than its predecessor. In total, it won 16 of the 19 grands prix, started from pole position 18 times, and saw 1-2 finishes twelve times in 2015. Mercedes understands the old adage: ‘you’re only as good as your last race’ very well, and fans the world over look forward to seeing where the car will go from here. Personally I’m hoping next season sees some drama and competition between constructors and not just between Hamilton and Rosberg. Roll on March 20th and the Australian Grand Prix!
Published @Whippstagram on Instagram, Dec 8th 2015
One tonne. One thousand horsepower. Koenigsegg wasn’t the first manufacturer to produce a road car with one horsepower per kilo, but they were the first to make it useable on public roads. With the Speed 12, TVR set out to take on the mighty McLaren F1 in GT racing and in the road car business. Powered by a behemoth 7.73 litre V12 which is said to have produced in excess of 1000 horsepower (unverified because it destroyed TVR’s dyno when they tried to test it), the Speed 12 never really got a chance to win a race before rule changes and the scrapping of the GT1 class forced it out of competition. TVR decided that they would produce a road-going version so that their hard work wouldn’t go to waste, which was to be produced alongside a new GT2 racing version. The road car would apparently have a top speed of over 240mph. After taking deposits on the £188,000 monster, then-head of TVR Peter Wheeler drove the car home one night after work. He returned the next morning and declared that the ludicrous power available was simply too much. The car was undriveable in the real world. TVR continued to race the Speed 12 in the British GT series, but its brief life as a road car was over.
Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Dec 2nd 2015
Renault Twizy RS F1. Take a small electric city car and let a group of F1 engineers loose on it. The result ends up with slick tires, carbon fiber front splitter, side pods and wing. Underneath it sits the (modified) running gear from a Formula Renault 2.0 race car, and the car’s standard 17 horsepower electric motor is augmented by the KERS system from Renault’s 2011 F1 car, which boosts power to 97bhp for increments of 13 seconds. Top speed is limited to 68mph, which is probably enough for a car that weighs just over 1200 lbs and has no doors. Renault says that the car demonstrates the value of KERS systems for the future of electric motoring. I say it looks like a cartoon F1 car and it’s brilliant.
Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Nov 30th 2015