When developing a new car, automakers have to do a lot of testing. They need to see how a new model will fare in extreme heat, cold, rain, and snow, to ensure customers who take their shiny new cars up to Alaska or down to Death Valley don’t get stranded. But Porsche, perhaps preparing for its upcoming Dakar-themed high-riding 911, decided that the rear-engined sports car needed some testing that’s far more in-depth and torturous than usual — say, climbing the world’s tallest volcano.
So that’s exactly what Porsche did. A heavily modified 911 Carrera 4S, piloted by Pikes Peak record holder Romain Dumas, set out to scale the Ojos del Salado volcano in Chile in search of what 911 boss Michael Rösler called “the harshest possible environments.” Dumas drove the modified Porsche to an elevation of 19,708 feet above sea level was an achievement, and modifying a 911 to make that possible created one incredibly cool vehicle.
This 911 is, as you may have guessed, highly modified. It started life as a standard Carrera 4S, but was worked over by engineers from Porsche and Romain Dumas Motorsport to build a perfect volcano-climbing machine. What makes it so different from a stock 911? Let me count the ways.
Inside, the car has a full roll cage and carbon-fiber race seats. The engine is stock, but the seven-speed manual transmission has been modified with lower-ratio gears for that sweet, sweet torque. That power reaches the ground through portal axles and chunky off-road tires, which bump the 911's ground clearance to nearly 18 inches.
The underbody is protected with aramid armor (which you’re more likely to recognize by its trademark name, Kevlar) and the body was widened and cut for maximum clearance. It’s got a winch up front, locking front and rear differentials, and something Porsche calls a “Warp-Connector” — a “mechanical link between all four wheels” that sounds an awful lot like a locking center differential.
With all these modifications, it’s unclear what part of the stock car Porsche is actually trying to test here. The chassis, suspension geometry, power delivery, and more have been massively altered to give this 911 a shot at climbing the world’s tallest volcano. But if the team meant to test Porsche enthusiasts’ appetite for off-road models, consider the test a success — I want this car so, so bad.
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