The Good Oil: When Walter Rohrl had a whale of a time
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You might know Walter Rohrl as a legendary rally driver and winner of two World Championships. His work on the sealed stuff also once earned him the title “Genius on Wheels” from Niki Lauda.
More importantly, Rohrl is a long-time test driver for Porsche and has assisted in the development of many 911 models. It was Rohrl who insisted the 993-generation of Turbo (1994) adopt AWD, for example. So while his words must be tempered with the knowledge that he’s on the payroll, there are still few people who know these cars so well.
What’s his 911 Turbo of choice? He actually purchased the first-generation 930 Turbo back in 1979.
“The first variant with 260PS [191kW] and a four-speed gearbox was still very sharp as regards its power development,” says Rohrl, “but that made it a fantastic challenge for skilled drivers.”
Very sharp? Skilled drivers? Translation: it had massive turbo lag, then all the power arrived in a huge explosion, which was likely to send you backwards into a fence if you didn’t have the reflexes of a world champion.
But what a machine, right? The massively flared arches, the whale tail, the Fuchs alloys. An icon.
Unsurprisingly, Rorhl reckons the 911 Turbo gets better with each generation. He’s a defender of the “fried egg” headlights on the 996 (1997) but critical of the power-sapping Tiptronic-automatic, introduced for the first time.
He “cannot find anything negative to say” about the 997 (2004), finding it has a “marvelously analogue feeling”.
And the new 992 Turbo? “It leaves me almost speechless… [it] drives at the level of a super sports car, but you can put anyone behind the wheel without being afraid.”