History of the 911 Turbo S

Ever since the early days of the Porsche 911, the letter “S” (Sport) behind the model designation has highlighted a particularly sporting high-performance version of this outstanding sports car. But in this article we trace the origins of the “S” version of the 911 Turbo and what the engineers were trying to develop and how the marketing evolved around this concept of a high powered Turbo version into the GT2 versions in the subsequent 911 model change.


1991 – The 964 Turbo S2 – a precursor (20 units)
Keen to go IMSA racing for the sake of the US market, Porsche agreed to homologate 20 911 Turbos as the 911 Turbo S2, the minimum to qualify under IMSA Supercar regulations. The actual homologated parts that made this different from the normal 964 Turbo 3.3 were added by a US racing outfit called Andial Road and Racing on the West coast (California). This company coincidentally shared a workshop facility with Porsche Motorsport of North America. The homolagated go-faster parts consisted of a larger turbocharger, larger intercooler and a set of hotter cams. These were not meant to be road-legal but after twenty plus years some have made it back to the road under club registration. These cars have been reported to have anywhere between 322 bhp and 381 bhp, likely to be the same as the official 1992 spec Turbo S but Porsche does not say much in its official literature.

1992 – The 964 Turbo S – officially the first of its kind for the road (86 units)

At the 1992 Geneva Motor Show Porsche officially for the first time presented a turbocharged model bearing this coveted name: the 911 Turbo S in the 964 model series. With its 381-horsepower engine, this outstanding sports car marked the top level of performance on all versions of the 911 Turbo with their 3.3-litre power unit. Porsche admits as much that in technical terms it was based on the 911 Turbo S2 raced successfully in 1991 by Hurley Haywood in the Supercar Series.

The road version was to be recognised on the outside through its side air intakes at the rear and the flatter rear wing. Through its level of equipment and special modifications, the 911 Turbo S at the time was a substantial 180 kg or 396 lb lighter than the “regular” Turbo. A modified camshaft, upgraded intake ducts, a slight increase in charge pressure and the optimised ignition and injection system increased engine power to no less than 381 hp, accelerating the car from a standstill to 100 km/ in 4.6 seconds and allowing a top speed of 290 km/h or 180 mph. The only “drawback” in this small production series of just 86 units was the price of the car amounting to DM 295,000.-.


The concept of this model was purely an engineering exercise as Porsche was heavily into racing with their Turbocharged race cars. The 964 Turbo S was unique because it not only boosted power it had gone through a weight reduction not unlike what their 964 RS went through. This was a costly and time consuming project for the engineers at Weissach and Porsche marketing hatched a future plan to make full use of the “Turbo S” concept as a road going version without the weight-loss program. Indeed these future Turbo S models would be GT luxury versions of the 911 and would not be homologated for racing. The homologation version would be the GT2 versions, a name appearing on the next 993 version. Thus the 964 Turbo S was the true genetic mother for both the Turbo S and GT2 lines and indeed its DNA which includes lightweight construction, higher power and RWD is more like the GT2 line than the Turbo S line.

1993 - The 964 Turbo S Le Mans GT
Porsche offered the 911 Turbo S Le Mans GT as a genuine racing model for long-distance races based on GT regulations. Built by the Racing Department in Weissach, this very special car was sold to customer teams entering the new GT class in long-distance races.

As the pioneer in turbo technology, Porsche opted at the time for a biturbo power unit displacing 3.16 litres and delivering maximum output of 474 hp despite its air restrictor. A particular highlight versus former 911 racing cars was the intake of fresh air through the outer edges of the rear wing. This model, modified for Gran Turismo racing from the 911 Turbo S, marked its debut with a class win at the Sebring 12 Hour race. Walter Röhrl, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Hurley Haywood at the wheel of the 911 Turbo S Le Mans GT not only bringing home class victory, but also finishing seventh overall against numerous competitors in the C-class. The sportscar, weighing 1,000 kg, features a five-speed gearbox. For long distance races the fuel tank in the luggage compartment holds 120 litres, with the oil tank also housed in the front. Bosch delivers an ABS developed specifically for motorsport. The Le Mans regulations restrict the width of the rear tyres to 12 inches, which considering the high performance and the still relatively abrupt power surge of the twin-turbo, make the handling a challenge. Walter Röhrl: “You have to know what you´re doing in this beast, otherwise you don´t get very far.“

1993-4 – The 964 Turbo 3.6 S. (76 units)
This unique version takes the flat-nose or flachbau concept into the next level as Porsche toyed with the idea of flattening its front profile, a long running obsession that ended up in full production as the 993. With the 3.6-litre 964 Turbo appearing in 1993, a small run of the 964 Turbo 3.6S were produced before the model change to the 993 in 1994. Only 76 units ( USA – 39 units, RoW – 27 units, Japan – 10 units) of this rare Turbo S made it out of the Zuffenhausen factory just before the 993 went into production.
Tweaking the 381 bhp turbocharged motor of the normal Turbo S, the Flachbau gets a slightly more powerful 385 bhp engine. The 0-100 km/h times remain at 4.6 seconds but thanks to the better aerodynamics of the flat nose it has a higher top speed, officially quoted at “over” 280 km/h.
Though the front pop-up lamps came from the 968 of that time, it was special because for the first time Porsche had used carbon-fibre for the doors, bonnet and rear lid. Equally unique at that time was the Speed Yellow paintwork meant for just five examples which snowballed into 76. There was confusion about the final numbers but Porsche finally cleared it up and confirmed the tally stands at 76.
1997 – The 993 Turbo S – Last bastion of the air-cooled 911 Turbo era (345 units)
While the normal 993 Turbo was launched in 1995, a year after the roll-out of the then new 993 Carrera. It was a long wait for the next generation 993 Turbo S as it was not until August 1997 that the Plant’s Exclusive Department offered a new 450-hp top model as the Turbo S version of the 993. This twin-turbo engine was 42 bhp more than the normal 408 bhp 993 Turbo. Also new for the 993 range was the use of AWD for the Turbo model as the power crossed the 400 bhp threshold, a level which back then was deemed to be the upper limit for RWD cars.

With AWD the Turbo S could now achieve a 0-100 km/h sprint of 4.1 seconds and safely hold a top speed of 300 km/h. The Turbo S has a special suspension that was lower by 15mm as well as stronger damper struts. The 18-inch wheels featured hollow spokes. Selling at a price of over DM 300,000.-, this high-performance sports car boasted an Aerokit with a modified front and rear spoiler as well as side air intakes at the rear. Within the interior, full leather and carbon clearly symbolised the exclusivity of this Turbo S built only 345 units.

Jeff Zwart, the US racing driver, clearly proved at the wheel of this car that exclusivity and sporting performance need not preclude each other, winning the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA, at the wheel of his Porsche 911 Turbo S in 1998.

2004 – The 996 Turbo S the first Turbo S with the water-cooled engines
The 996 Turbo was released just a year (2000) after the introduction of the all new 996 Carrera in 1999 replacing the air-cooled 911's as Porsche realized it was sitting on a gold mine. Turbo models seemed to fly off the showroom floors in large numbers.

So preoccupied was Porsche with the normal “911 Turbo” they introduced the 996 Turbo S pretty late in the life-cycle of the 996 Turbo even as rumours were rife of the imminent arrival of the 997 model line. But that did not deter Porsche as they enhanced the 996 model series with the introduction of the 996 Turbo S. What this actually did was legitimize the X50 powerkit that was already available as an option for normal Turbo buyers.

This S-version was characterised in particular by the even greater power (450 bhp vs 420 bhp) of the engine as well as PCCB brakes featured as standard. Selling at a price of Euro 142,250.-, the Porsche 911 Turbo S was referred to by AutoBild, the German car journal, as a genuine “bargain”, since the premium of Euro 13,572 over the regular Turbo included not only an extra 30 horsepower, but also PCCB brakes featured as standard as well as a CD changer.

Thanks to the use of larger turbochargers and a further improved intercooler, as well as a revision of the engine electronics, the Porsche 911 Turbo S realises torque of a massive 620 Newton metres, which is available between 3,500 and 4,500 revolutions. It reaches its maximum speed at 307 km/h. The Turbo S with manual transmission (coupé) sprints from zero to 200 km/h in 13.6 seconds. This is another 0.8 seconds faster than the 911 Turbo.

The other characteristic of the Turbo S is the standard (and very costly) Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB). It sports punched and internally ventilated ceramic brake discs with a diameter of 350 millimetres at the front and back (911 Turbo: 330 millimetre steel brake discs with a diameter of 350 millimetres front and back) and six-piston monobloc fixed callipers at the front (911 Turbo: four-piston).

In addition to the Turbo S logo on the boot lid and on door mouldings and centre console, this vehicle can be identified by its 18-inch wheels in “GT silver metallic”. The hubcaps sport a coloured Porsche crest. The extended standard features include cruise control, a six CD changer system and the green tinted band at the top of the windscreen. For this new model the special colour, dark olive metallic, can be ordered at no extra charge.

When looking at the dashboard, the driver’s eye immediately notices not only the aluminium-coloured dial faces but also the “Turbo S” logo on the rev counter. If buyers decide in favour of natural leather, this material is specially embossed on the middle strips of the seats, the steering wheel rim (where it is handled), the shift lever and the hand brake lever.

2010 – The 997.2 Turbo S – new engine, new PDK
To ensure its reign over the practical sports car market Porsche offered the 997.2 Turbo S just a few months after the 2009 997.2 Turbo. Despite a significant increase in engine output and phenomenal performance on the road, the 911 Turbo S does not consume any more fuel than the standard Porsche 911 Turbo, thus standing out by far also as the most efficient sports car in its class. With the introduction of the 997.2 Turbo, Porsche quietly put to rest the Metzger engine era for all 911 turbo engines. The 997 Turbo used the tweaked production engine of the Carrera series with turbocharging. And as proof that it would be able to stand the rigor of turbocharging it created a substantially more powerful 997 Turbo S.

The 997.2 Turbo S was launched in both Coupé and Cabriolet guise and boasts the following key data: 911 Turbo S 3.8-liter six-cylinder bi-turbo boxer engine delivering 530 hp/390 kW; seven-speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK, Porsche Double-Clutch Gearbox); PTM Porsche Traction Management with active all-wheel drive; acceleration 0–100 km/h in 3.3 (Cabriolet 3.4) seconds; top speed 315 km/h (195 mph); fuel consumption in the New European Driving Cycle 11.4 (Cabriolet 11.5) ltr/100 km (equal to 24.8 and, respectively, 24.6 mpg imp); CO2 emissions, combined, 268 (Cabriolet 270) g/km.

The 997.2 Turbo S boasts the highest level of drivetrain technology in the sports car segment Porsche has to offer. It therefore has as standard, all performance-enhancing features that were available as an option on the 911 Turbo. The “heart” of the new top-of-the-range 911 is of course the new six-cylinder boxer engine featuring two turbochargers with variable turbine geometry (VTG) as a highlight unique worldwide on gasoline engines. Output is up by 30 hp over the “regular” 500 bhp 911 Turbo.

The 7-Speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe conveys the full power of the engine without the slightest interruption when shifting gears to active PTM Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive. Dynamic engine mounts and PTV Porsche Torque Vectoring including a mechanical differential on the rear axle ensure an even higher standard of driving dynamics. Likewise featured as standard, extra-light and fade-resistant PCCB Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes ensure supreme stopping power under all conditions. Thanks to its lower weight, the 911 Turbo S in standard trim, despite its extra features, even weighs 10 kg or 22 lb less than the 911 Turbo with PDK.

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