Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Yet it was precise, swift and well-made. It had warmth and as much speed as can usually be employed on the road, but in 1975 it was radical. Porsche had always hung air-cooled engines behind the rear axle so making one water-cooled and putting it at the front was dramatic enough. Putting it fairly upright and in line was really not Porsche’s way any more than how the 924 started. It was a design commissioned in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis by Volkswagen for an Audi Coupe.
Porsche Design was already working on the large and expensive 928, now it had been instructed to work on a replacement for the VW Porsche 914, a relatively low-grade although quite popular mid-engined sports car made in Osnabrück between 1969 and 1975. The new brief was to use VW and Audi components already in production for something a lot smaller than the 928.
They technicians were told to use an inoffensive 2.0litre single overhead camshaft engine that had been intended for the 1977 Audi 100 and VW LT van. Porsche added Bosch K Jetronic fuel injection to increase power to 92kW (125bhp), and to keep weight distribution about even, the 928’s formula was re-employed with a drive shaft in a tube to a 4-speed gearbox in the rear axle. This was a back-to-front Audi 100 front wheel drive unit although later a 5 speed became standard. A few 924s were even sold with a 3 speed automatic. Front suspension was by VW Beetle 1302 MacPherson struts, while at the rear there were semi trailing arms and transverse torsion bars.
Notwithstanding its potential for speed, the light weight 924 used a mundane mix of K70 disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The same could be said of the tyres, which were rather ordinary 185/70SR14, although wider section, 60 profile covers came later as an option. The body shape was notable for Porsche’s careful attention to aerodynamics and a late decision to make it hot-dip galvanised provided a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty from the start.
Late in the 924’s development Volkswagen decided it did not meet the company’s marketing plans. Instead, with Porsche sales still flagging in the shadow of the oil shock, it became a proper Porsche in its own right. It was perfectly fitting for it to come from a consultancy proclaimed in the Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen Commercial Register on 25th April 1931 as “Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktionen und Beratung für Motoren und Fahrzeuge” (design engineering and consultation for engines and vehicles).
As soon as it took full control of the project, Porsche AG gave it better-class trim and seats, plus a revised facia. However there was no space in the Porsche factory at Zuffenhausen to build it, so it was handed out to Audi, which found room at the former NSU factory at Neckarsulm and became responsible. Porsche kept a close eye on quality and over 122,000 were made between 1976 and 1985, 300,000 including derivative 924 Turbo and 944 variants that went on until the 1990s. Their merit was beyond reproach and while Audi gained an industry lead in how to make rust-resistant galvanised steel bodies, Porsche was rescued from a financial fissure that its regular premium-pricey products were failing to fill.
ENGINE 4 cylinders; in line; front; 86.5mm x 84.4mm, 1984cc; 92kW/125bhp @ 5800rpm; 46.4kW (63.0bhp)/l; 165Nm (121.7lbft) @ 3500rpm
ENGINE STRUCTURE ohv; 2 valves per cylinders; 1 belt driven ohc; aluminium head; cast iron block; 5 bearing crankshaft; Bosch K Jetronic injection.
TRANSMISSION 2 wheel drive; 4 speed gearbox; hypoid bevel final drive, 3.9:1. 3 speed automatic option.
CHASSIS DETAILS Steel unitary construction; independent front suspension, struts, coil springs; independent rear suspension, semi trailing arms, transverse torsion bars; telescopic dampers, disc front, drum rear brakes; dual braking circuits; vacuum servo; no ABS; rack and pinion steering; 66l (14.5gal) fuel tank; 185/70HR14 tyres; 6in rims.
DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 240cm (94.5in), front track 142cm, (55.9in), rear track 137cm (53.9in), ground clearance 12.5cm (4.9in), turning circle 12.5m (33.3ft), length 421cm (165.7in), width 168.5cm (66.3in), height 127cm (50in).
PERFORMANCE Maximum speed 204kph (126mph); 21.4mph (34.4kph) @1000rpm; acceleration 0 100kph (62mph) 9.6sec; 12.3kg/kW (9.0kg/bhp); average fuel consumption. 30.8mpg (8.7l/100km) Euromix.