All cars undergo extreme weather testing but sometimes special projects get to do really cool things. Porsche has recently taken a couple of experimental builds of the 911 sports car to Ojos del Salado in Chile, the highest volcano in the world.
At those altitudes, there are no roads, temperatures are pretty low, and the air is thin. These conditions are so harsh that they can’t even support any plant life. The team was led by endurance racing champion and adventurer Romain Dumas, pushing the 911 to its limits. The first test has been completed, the car was only stopped by impassable walls of ice and snow near the summit, at a height of 6007 metres with temperatures at minus 30 degrees Celsius.
At their core, these builds are based on the 992-gen 911 Carrera 4S with a turbocharged flat-six engine in the back. Under normal circumstances, it would offer 443hp with a seven-speed manual transmission, but the exact specifications for this version is unknown.
The modifications for the two experimental models include roll cages and carbon fibre seats with harnesses for safety reasons. Then comes the cool stuff, like portal axles for a ground clearance of 350mm, and large off-road tires. The gear ratios were reworked for precise throttle inputs at low speeds to work with the new setup. They also feature Aramid fibre underbody protection and the cooling system was moved upward too to avoid damage from the extreme terrain.
Next, the Porsche engineers added a special device called the Warp-Connector that forms a mechanical link between all four wheels to help when the chassis is dealing with extreme articulation. Kinda like 4×4 as opposed to AWD. They also gave switchable differential locks and an advanced steer-by-wire system.
Visual differences include changes to the bodywork for the new off-roading clearance and wheels, along with a tow winch at the front. Both builds got special liveries each, one featuring the same colour scheme as the new 963 LMDh racecar and the other in a 911-themed livery designed by the team at Weissach. At first glance, it seemed like a digital render intended to feature in Forza Horizon 5. Knowing that these builds exist in our reality is far more exciting and we can’t wait to see them in person someday.
“Over 30 years ago, a team of Porsche engineers fitted four wheel drive to a 911 to explore ‘what if?’ – and I’m proud that this natural curiosity and drive amongst engineers to explore the limits, to test new ideas and above all to inspire, is alive and well,” said Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice-President, Complete Vehicle Architecture and Characteristics at Porsche. “Projects like this one are vital to who we are at Porsche. As they began their journey, the team literally aimed sky high. The first of what I hope will be many adventures.”
While Porsche may not be looking to sell a 911 that can drive up a mountain with no roads, it is working on something in that vein. More than once, a 911 with increased ground clearance and multi-terrain tyres has been spied testing, hinting at the imminent arrival of a car that some are already calling the new 911 Safari.