We’ve always suspected that Porsche was going down the route of making a rugged off-road specific variant of the 911. Unfortunately, that dream hasn’t materialised here, but the next best thing has. Based on the 992 Carrera 4S, this high riding beast has now scaled the world’s tallest volcano.
Specifically, its the Ojos del Salado in Chile, right on its western border with Argentina high up in the Andes, making this volcano (though dormant) the highest in the world at an altitude of 6,893 metres above sea level.
However, the car(s) and its accompanying team reached a peak of 6,007 metres where they were subject to temperatures of -30 degrees celcius and extremely thin, barely breathable air. They met with extremely harsh terrain void of any plant or animal life, encountering boulder-filled glaciers and high walls of frozen ash and water.
Any car capable of climbing such heights over such punishing terrain is worthy of greatness purely on that achievement, but the Porsche team and its 911 have done so with a car that, despite its looks, isn’t too far removed from the donor vehicle.
At the wheel was Romain Dumas, endurance racer and adventurer, piloting a heavily modified 992 C4S. There are far widened arches and raised suspension for a 350mm ground clearance to house 310mm wide off-road tyres, expedition livery, and purpose-built Porsche Warp-Connector which, according to Porsche, was:
“Originally designed for motorsport applications, it forms a mechanical link between all four wheels to allow constant wheel load even when the chassis is enduring extreme articulation – contributing to maximum traction.”
Surprisingly, the car’s mechanicals were left very much factory spec. At the rear was still an unchanged 3.0-litre flat-6 turbocharged petrol engine developing 450PS and 530Nm (under normal conditions), mated to a 7-speed manual transmission.
Apart from the aforementioned Warp Connectors, Porsche also fitted the special volcano-scaling C4S with lower gear ratios for better slow crawls up the sheer slopes. Underneath is also a much more hardy undertray and bash plates made from Aramid fibres.
“This was a truly memorable and special moment in a place that’s both beautiful and brutal at the same time – I guess the only machines anywhere in the world higher than us today were aircraft! For the team and the car it was about learning – and right out of the box, the car was tough and nimble. We were hard on ourselves and really put it in the deep end for its first test, yet it felt at home,” said Dumas, driver of the 911 and leader of the team.
“We have enormous respect for those who have gone higher. No one has seen so much ice and snow up towards the top of the volcano, but despite this we went over 6,000 meters up, to the point where the walls of ice and snow meant we could go no further. We’re really proud of what the car and the team are capable of first time out – hopefully we can count on many more adventures in the future.”
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice-President, Complete Vehicle Architecture and Characteristics at Porsche AG, commissioned his chief engineer for the Porsche 911, Michael Rösler, with the project. “It’s been magical to build a 911 like the world has never seen before – made possible by a small team of engineering enthusiasts,”
“The 911 has already been proven on the track and, of course, on the road. With this project, we‘re shifting the focus to where there are no roads“, said Rösler, Director complete vehicle 911 Model line. “Testing our theories means finding the harshest possible environments to see if they work – and on the highest volcano in the world, we succeeded.”
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.