The 924 started life as a Porsche design and engineering project, code named EA425 that Weissach undertook for Volkswagen. VW was changing its product direction, abandoning its long-lived air cooled rear engine products for front engine with water cooling. On a path to ending its reliance on Porsche for design and engineering, it gave them one last contract and two years to develop a new two-seat sports car to replace the 914.
For the 1979 model year, Porsche introduced the 170 horsepower 924 Turbo. Porsche management decided the 924 should race and showed a concept of the race car at the 1979 Frankfurt show. Like so many of Porsche’s most revered road cars, the 924 Carrera GT, like the 1973 911 2.7 RS, was a car of the purest expedience, a necessary evil required to homologate the racing version. This time the formula was Group 4 which first required 500 street examples to be built, though by the time the 924 Carrera GT was in development, this had been relaxed to 400 units. Porsche completed the cars and the run sold out at 406 copies. The 924 GT was a true homolgation version of the street car that was lightened by 330 pounds, to 2,596 pounds. The car was lower by 15mm, its engine boosted from 170hp to 210hp, a higher output per liter than even the 911 Turbo was giving at the time. The Turbo’s four nostrils were retained but a new front spoiler with plastic front wings and dramatically flared rear arches gave it a unique appearance. Forged 7- and 8-inch aluminium Fuchs rims were fitted, but it was really the increase in track by 59mm at the front and 79mm at the rear that gave the car its look.
Porsche wanted to race the 924 for many reasons. First, by the time the 1980 season came around Porsche found itself between front line racing cars: the 936 was apparently obsolete and plenty of privateers were racing 935s. So the race team had itchy feet and the 924 presented a new challenge: Porsche’s first front engined, water-cooled racer.
Four racing versions went to Le Mans in June 1980 as 2-liter 924s. Designated Carrera GTP, slimmed down to 2,046 pounds but tuned up to 320 horsepower. Three of the four cars finished the race with best place Jurgen Barth and Manfred Schurti claiming 6th place overall. Beaten only by four purpose-built prototypes and one 700hp 935. Given that it qualified 46th on a grid of 50 cars, it was a staggering achievement.
But all this can be seen as acting in a merely preparatory fashion to the creation of the car you see here, the ultimate 924, the Carrera GTS. And if you thought the Carrera GT was expensive, consider that adding that one additional letter to the name near enough doubled its price. Once Porsche had completed the 400 homologation 924GTs, Weissach developed a small evolution of series within Group 4 regulations and intended strictly for competition. As “evolution” models, the FIA needed only 50 new examples. According to historian Jurgen Barth (and racer), Porsche stopped assembly at 59 GTS examples that cost $55,900 in 1981.
You can tell a GTS from a GT instantly just by looking at the front, where the pop-up headlights have been replaced by lighter, more aerodynamically friendly Perspex covers. The front spoiler was more aggressive too. Using aluminium for the doors and bonnet helped drop weight by 128Ibs so it stood in road car configuration at just 2,596 pounds which, while light, was not significantly different to the weight of a standard street 911 SC of the era. As confidence in the strength of the engine had grown significantly, Porsche felt it would take another rise in boost pressure from 11psi to 14.5psi, yielding 245hp at 6,250rpm and, probably more important and significant, a thumping 247lb ft of torque at 3,000rpm.
How fast was it? I’ve seen 0-60mph times of six-seconds flat quoted for the GTS and a top speed of 155mph which, in the real world, made it significantly quicker than the SC of the era (remember 911 0-60mph times are always flattered by their rear engine traction).
And that was the slow one. If you were persuaded to add yet another third to the price paid, you could opt for the Clubsport version, although only 15 of the eventual 59 customers did.
The Clubsport also sported a plastic rear back-light and fixed plastic door windows with sliding panels, helping to bring weight down to about 2,303 pounds. Bilstein coil-overs replaced the 924’s standard torsion bars and separate shock absorbers. The steel suspension trailing-arms became cast alloy; brakes came from the 911 Turbo. Beneath the fiberglass bonnet is a KKK-turbocharged inline four-cylinder producing 280 bhp, over 245 bhp from the GTS. The interior displays a Matter-fabricated alloy roll cage, 935 racing seats with full harnesses and a suede-wrapped steering wheel. This was the ultimate 924 for the road and a true homologation Rennsport model.