For nearly 60 years, the Porsche 911 has always proved itself a worthy contender both on track and on the open roads, pushing the extremes to reach new heights of success. In line with the Stuttgart auto manufacturer’s relentless ambitions, the brand pioneers into an exciting venture to bring forth a unique pair of experimental 911 sports cars to a place where there are no roads, where the air is thin, with temperatures dropping far below freezing.
And that place is no other than the sheer slopes of Ojos del Salado, Chile, home to the highest volcano in the world.
The expedition is led by endurance racer and adventurer Romain Dumas, setting out to explore the limits of the 911 amidst the toughest conditions on earth. With the three-time Le Mans winner behind the wheel, the team together with the 911 explored up to 6007 metres (19,708 feet), braving the strewn gradients of ice fields and impassable walls of seasonal snow, blazing the trail for the 911 to be one of the very few vehicles to reach extreme altitudes.
“This was a truly memorable and special moment in a place that’s both beautiful and brutal at the same time,” Romain Dumas comments. “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 in the feed end for its first test, yet it felt at home.” he further added. “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 metres 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 the team is capable of for the first time out – hopefully we can count on many more adventures in the future.”
For this expedition, both 911 (Type 992) Carrera 4S were equipped with a factory standard turbocharged flat-six engine developing 443 hp under standard conditions and the original seven-speed manual transmission.
The 911 model has proved to be an excellent base. Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice-President, Complete Vehicle Architecture and Characteristics at Porsche AG, commissioned his chief engineer, Micahel Rösler, for the Porsche 911 to be specifically tailored to the requirements of this project.
Apart from a mix of robust yet lightweight chassis construction, short wheelbase, ample power and the ability to cope well with extreme altitudes, the two cars were also equipped with roll cages, carbon fibre seats and harnesses to meet the safety requirements that the expedition demands. The portal axles were also added to increase ground clearance, paired with lower gear ratios that allow for precise, more sensitive throttle inputs at low speed that work well with the large, newly fitted off-road tires.
The 911s are also fitted with the Porsche Warp-Connecter, a device that forms a mechanical link between all four wheels to allow constant wheel load even when the chassis is enduring high articulation, allowing for maximum traction on the rough terrain. Switchable differential locks were also used along with an advanced steer-by-wire system. And finally, a winch was added at the front along with the revised bodywork to allow for clearance off-road.
As a finishing touch, the bodywork was revamped to feature two distinctive liveries. One highlighting the prominent Porsche Motorsport colour scheme adorning the 963 LMDh racer, and the other with the 911-themed livery designed by the styling team in Weissach.
“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 Walliser. “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.”