Porsche Excellence Was Expected, ed 4

Excellence

In 1976, when the original edition of EXCELLENCE WAS EXPECTED appeared, I probably was the first “civilian” to read the entire almost 800 pages – in three marathon nights.  Not quite as good, the four volumes and almost 4000 pages has taken me four weeks. 


Not only has EXCELLENCE been completely, but Karl Ludvigsen has changed the history from strict chronology to a focus chapters, generally on a specific model – while inserting temporally associated events.  Of particular interest is chapter 18 Abarth Carrera and DKS.  Karl finally lays rest the canard that Zagato built the Abarth-Carrera – apparently Carlo Abarth was anxious not to let Porsche know he had engaged a less expensive coachbuilder.


At close to 400 pages, it should come as no surprise the book is loaded  with Porsche technical drawings and photographs of models of which you have never heard.


Karl lists the engineers’ patents associated with development.  I didn’t really appreciate this until I saw one of my friend’s listed as co-developer patent holder for the 964’s pistons associated with its twin-ignition.  I called August at 9:30 at night to let him know he was in the book.  August gave me a copy of the patent and told me Porsche paid a small sum to patent holders for each car produced.

No where else will you find inside Porsche information on

Piech’s 4 cam engine family.

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As part of the focus, individual, and damning histories of several chairmen especially including Arno.  Even cherished Porsche family members show clay feet – Ferdinand Piech torpedoed the 989 and stole it for Audi, while F.A. Porsche defended the clearly, out of his depth if not flat out incompetent Arno, apparently solely because Piech wanted him out.


Karl points out due to not consulting the archives (yes, Porsche keeps archives back to 1900) the replica of the 1900 Semper Vivus, ”lead to the creation of a replica grotesquely larger than the original, wildly misrepresenting what Porsche had achieved.” 


On almost every page there are fascinating facts, not previously known to me.  How about the original Panamera 4 was available as a 6 speed – not for US though.


Karl takes particular fun poking holes in Porsche’s advertising hyperbole: in 2013 with 820,00 911s sold Porsche was “world’s most popular sports car.  Corvette sold 1,000,000 by 1992.“  A “correction” from elsewhere in the book  “The attentive reader will be aware that this claim is erroneous.  Nevertheless Porsche seemed to feel that continuous repetition would make it correct.”



More important is Porsche’s misleading us on the development of the 754 T7.  Although called a ‘pre-series’ of the 911 by Porsche, the T-7 was in fact the last gasp of the abandoned project to introduce a larger Porsche car.


Technical nuggets not only not seen before but not even considered abound:  “The 991’s manual and PDK transmissions were similar –- no obvious pattern suiting an H-type shift was available unless drivers could be retrained to select gears willy-nilly… Porsche and ZF came-up with and patented a manually controlled shifting conversion apparatus…which allows a conventional shift pattern to cope with the random variations of gear positions in the PDK… Unbeknownst to he driver, an ingenious array of linkages, toggles, bars gears  -- everything but the proverbial dogs on tread mills -- converted their shift-lever movements into the desired ratio selections


There as never been a more complete, in depth history of any automobile.  There is nothing which can touch this history.