- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

In September of 1963 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Porsche introduced the car we know today as the 911. It was designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the eldest son of Professor Ferry Porsche.

He was instructed to make it the same dimensions as its predecessor, the Porsche 356, with a longer wheelbase, fastback rear design and really attractive look. As it turned out, it was a bit shorter, but in his words, “more Porsche-like.” Using that same design philosophy, the Porsche 911 has retained its classic silhouette for all of its first 40 years.

The original 911 had a new six-cylinder horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine producing 130 horsepower, far from its current ability. The first T-top made its debut on the 1965 Targa, and the aerodynamic ducktail spoiler was a striking feature of the 1972 911 Carrera.

Turbocharging, derived from the 1974 911 Carrera RSR Turbo race car, premiered on a production vehicle with the 1975 Turbo Coupe.

Electronic all-wheel drive was developed for the Porsche 911-based 959 super car, but the first Porsche production car to be equipped with a similar electronic all-wheel-drive system was the 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4. In 1995, a simpler yet equally effective all-wheel-drive system using a viscous clutch was incorporated in the 911 Carrera 4 and 911 Turbo.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Porsche’s signature model, a special commemorative edition of the 911 has been created. It has special badging, front bodywork, polished wheels and exterior paint. This special edition is powered by a 345-horsepower version of the 3.6-liter flat-six engine and has enhanced handling features. It will be built in a limited quantity of 1,963 to recognize the year of the 911’s debut.

But the big news is about the grandchildren of the original 911. The 2004 Carrera 4S Cabriolet and Turbo Cabriolet stand out as significant models on their own. The Carrera 4S Cabriolet is the first version Porsche has offered of that model and the 2004 Turbo Cabriolet is the first 911 Turbo Cabriolet since 1989.

The major differences in appearance between the two models are the Turbo Cabriolet’s side air intakes, which are intended to feed air to the intercoolers of the turbochargers, and its rear wing, which raises at 75 mph and lowers at 50 mph. The Carrera 4S Cabriolet features the automatically deploying rear spoiler, found on the standard Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet.

The Carrera 4S Cabriolet and Turbo Cabriolet share the same chassis, suspension and all-wheel-drive system as the 911 Turbo coupe.

Even though the body shell of the 911 is quite stiff, a few modifications were needed to keep the structural integrity for the new cabriolets.

Thanks to the use of high-strength steel, and first-class engineering, the new 911 Cabriolet is about 4.5 percent torsionally stiffer than the standard 911 Cabriolet, yet is only 29 pounds heavier. PSM, Porsche Stability Management, is standard on both cabriolets, as is the all-wheel-drive system. In this system, the rear wheels are driven directly, while the front wheels are connected through a viscous coupling.

All 911 Cabriolets employ two hidden supplemental safety bars as protection from rollovers. A special control unit uses butterfly and angle sensors that respond to both the angle and acceleration of the car. An additional g-force sensor detects any “lift-off.” The bars extend if the side angle of the car exceeds 51 degrees or the longitudinal angle exceeds 72 degrees, or if the car leaves the ground for more than 200 milliseconds with forces more than 0.1g.

The Carrera 4S Cabriolet is powered by the same engine found in the 911 Carrera Coupe, Cabriolet, Carrera 4S Coupe, and Carrera 4 Cabriolet. It produces 315 horsepower and moves the car from 0 to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds and to a top track speed of 174 mph.

As found in the 911 Turbo coupe, the 911 Turbo Cabriolet’s engine is derived from the Porsche GT1 race car. Incorporating dual turbochargers, it cranks out 415 horsepower and propels the car from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.3 seconds.

Both Cabriolet models are equipped with six-speed manual transmissions as standard. Both also can be ordered with the optional five-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission.

So, that’s the latest from Porsche: Two new additions to the famed Porsche 911 model lineup. The Carrera 4S sells for about $94,000 while the Turbo lists for $128,000. They aren’t exactly cheap, but most Porsche aficionados will agree — you get what you pay for.

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