Sales of the Porsche 911 were booming in the early ’70s, but the boss had always longed for a proper Grand Touring car. Ferdinand Porsche assembled a team to study the idea of building a balanced coupe with the engine mounted up front. This would be a first for the brand, so they decided to tell us how the Porsche 928 was born in a press release.
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To achieve perfect weight distribution, engineers decided the 4.5 liter V8 would be balanced by mounting the transmission at the rear. Combining the differential with the transmission, the innovation was known as the Weissach Axle. The rear suspension geometry was so ahead of its time, that Porsche Suspension Manager Manfred Harrer said it is a “revolution in suspension that’s still the basis of our work today”. The Panamera uses the same configuration.
John DeLorean was Pontiac’s Chief Engineer and he designed the first production car with a rear-mounted transmission. Instead of a solid driveshaft, he used a torsion bar that stored energy between the engine and the gearbox. This car was so far ahead of its time, it has handling comparable to modern cars. We’ll cover it another day. When GM found out what he was doing, the first-gen Tempest was seen as too expensive and it was canned in 1963.
Porsche did unveil a host of new technology on the 928. The first prototypes suffered from snap-oversteer if you let off the gas pedal while cornering. To solve this, they developed progressive rate bushings. They are now standard across the automotive industry, but it allowed the 928’s rear wheels to keep their composure in all situations.
This has saved countless lives over the last 40 years. It even gave the axle its own acronym based on the Weissach development center. They named the axle: Winkel einstellende, Selbst stabilisierende Ausgleichs-Charakteristik (angle-adjusting, self-stabilizing equalization characteristic). So why is Porsche reminding us of something 4 decades old? Perhaps it is the same reason their cousins at Lamborghini keep reminding us of the Espada. Something amazing is in the works, and it will be a potent front engine-rear transaxle GT car. Tell us what you think it will be in the comments below and stay with us for all your Porsche news.