December 13, 2018

Porsche Road & Race – Turbo 3.0 Book Review

Review by Porsche Road & Race of the Turbo 3.0 book:

Amongst its numerous attributes, Porsche sports cars have always been about performance, engineering, innovation and being different. From the production of the very first sports car to bear the Porsche name, the 356 which came into this world in 1948, the company has strived to excel with each successive model. In this same mould, the 911 Turbo 3.0 is just one of Porsche’s many milestone achievements that have set this manufacturer apart from the rest of the motor industry.

In the same way that the Atlantic salmon swims upstream against the strong flow of a river to reach the headwaters to spawn, so too has Porsche avoided the easy path to achieve its goals. Many motor manufacturers might claim to have pursued similar ideals over the years, but few have come close to achieving these as consistently as Porsche has done. When the 356 was launched, its design was just so far ahead of anything else on the market, and being streamlined and lightweight, it soon started beating much more powerful rivals in motorsport. When it was replaced by the 911 model, racing drivers and teams loyal to Porsche continued to compete, giving the new model excellent exposure. It was the company’s success with the 917/10 and 917/30 turbocharged race cars though, that encouraged Porsche to experiment with turbocharging the 911’s 6-cylinder engine.

Apart from Porsche’s success with the Carrera 4-cam 4-cylinder engine in the 1950s and early 1960s, the most notable big step forward for Porsche, was in turbocharging the 911 engine. A number of manufacturers had dabbled with the concept, some had mild success even, but no other manufacturer came close to achieving what Porsche did with this technology. When Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann suggested hooking up a turbo to the 6-cylinder 911 engine, many questioned whether this would be manageable, or even if it could work in the passenger car market. History tells us that the 911 Turbo 3.0 launched in 1975 was the big breakthrough that saw Porsche’s sports cars grab the market’s attention. Many sports car loving kids around the world will happily admit to having had a poster on their bedroom wall of the Turbo 3.0 at some point (the Editor included).

Production of the 911 had fallen from a high in 1973 (15,438 units), around the time of the Carrera RS introduction, dropping 47% to a low in 1975 (8189 units). With the launch of the Turbo 3.0 in the spring of 1975, sales of all 911s began to climb again to 10,677 units in 1976 and 13,793 units in 1977. Not only was the Turbo 3.0 flying off the showroom floor, but Porsche was also writing history on the race tracks of the world with its 934 and 934.5 models. Put simply, turbocharging the 911 6-cylinder engine transformed the company from a little Stuttgart manufacturer into a serious contender around the world with both its road and race cars.

It should be remembered that Porsche launched the Turbo 3.0 at a time when other sports car manufacturers were facing bankruptcy, dramatic drops in sales, and increasing demand for cleaner running vehicles. In the face of such daunting odds, the Turbo 3.0 made everyone sit up and notice, from customers to race teams, from rival manufacturers to business and financial commentators. Many thought Porsche would fall on its face, but the reverse happened, and we can probably thank Porsche for being so brave in the face of the oil crisis, and for giving us the 911 Turbo 3.0 model.

The book, Turbo 3.0, written by Ryan Snodgrass and published by Parabolica Press, is an outstanding piece of work. The book’s narrow remit is precisely its strength, because if you are the lucky owner of a 911 Turbo 3.0, then you would not need any other book on this subject on your bookshelf. This exhaustive volume endeavours to cover everything an owner, restorer, historian or enthusiast would want to know about the dawn of Porsche’s turbocharged supercar. Turbo 3.0 covers not only Porsche’s historic 3.0-litre Turbo, but also the development of production-based turbocharged race cars by examining the Carrera RSR Turbo 2.14 and Turbo RSR 934/934.5 race cars.

In a letter from the author that accompanies each book, Snodgrass tells the reader that it was his desire to raise the bar for quality and research, in the publication of top-line books. He has indeed succeeded in achieving both goals, admirably. Without any doubt, this is one of the best researched books on the subject of Porsche production cars yet, and the quality of writing and presentation, ensure that it will stand out in the market. But the book is no lightweight, comprising 512 pages, and with book dimensions of 280 x 320 mm tall, this is a substantial piece of work, but be assured, you won’t find a better piece of research and writing on this model anywhere.

Individual chapters cover: Turbocharging Roots; Porsche Turbo Arrives; Drivetrain; Rolling Chassis; Body; Interior…and much more. There is a chapter devoted to motorsport, and then separate sections covering Accessories, Literature, and Production Data with several Appendices closing out the book. As a Turbo 3.0 owner or enthusiast, you will not want to be without this book, as for example, from page 452-497 the author has listed the production data on all 2819 Turbo 3.0 chassis. After this follows many pages giving Production Changes: Engine; Gearbox; Rolling Chassis, and much more.

This is truly a comprehensive, all-inclusive publication and you will be glad that you have a copy on your bookshelf. The book is offset printed on the highest-quality paper and enclosed within a protective slipcase, but only 2500 individually numbered hardcover copies of the Turbo 3.0: Limited Edition will be sold.

If you really want to get the full works, then the exclusive Turbo 3.0: Publisher’s Edition is offered in an individually signed and numbered series and limited to just 300 copies. Only available direct from Parabolica Press, the Publisher’s Edition differs from the Limited Edition with several unique and extra special surprise features included within a bespoke clamshell box designed specifically for the Publisher’s Edition. Additionally, the Publisher’s Edition carries on Parabolica Press’s theme of offering a “behind the scenes” look into aspects for how each book is produced. The Turbo 3.0 Behind the Scenes Supplement continues where the Carrera 2.7: Publisher’s Edition Supplement left off by exploring the deep research necessary to produce books at this level, peering through the viewfinder of several photographers and, finally, understanding how artistic concepts become reality for several commissioned illustrations.

The purchase price is not insignificant, but you will not be pleased when they are all sold out, so get your copy now!