Following Robert Frost’s advice on taking the road less travelled (and cranking it up to 11), Porsche has decided to climb the world’s highest volcano in a pair of jacked-up 911s. With a team led by racer and adventurer Romain Dumas, Porsche has set out to test the limits of the 911 at over 6,000 metres of altitude up on the sheer slopes of Ojos del Salado, Chile.
For the task, Porsche has taken the 992 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S which is powered by the factory-fitted turbocharged flat-six engine that makes 443 hp (metric) as a base car. While the engine has not been meddled with, Porsche has moved the car’s cooling system upward to reduce the risk of damage while tackling off-road sections.
The 911 Carrera 4S has been raised to a new ground clearance of 350 mm with the use of portal axles and has been fitted with roll cages, carbon fibre seats, and harnesses to meet the safety requirements of the project. To tackle rough terrains and steep inclines, the 911 Carrera 4S has been given new lower-gear ratios for precise, gentle throttle inputs at low speeds.
The lower gear ratios are also essential to work harmoniously with the much, much larger all-terrain tyres that the 911 now sits on. To protect the underbody, the car is fitted with light but tough Aramid fibre underbody protection.
To maximise traction, Porsche has fitted the 911 with the “Porsche Warp-Connector”, which is a device that forms a mechanical link between all four wheels to allow constant wheel load even when the chassis is enduring extreme articulation. It was originally designed for motorsport applications but has found its way onto this special ‘Safari’ 911.
To get out of tough situations, the Porsche engineers also fitted the car with manual, switchable differential locks that work alongside the steer-by-wire system. And if that doesn’t work, it even has a winch up front.
The scale the world’s highest volcano is the first test for the car and team where they had to endure temperatures near -30°C and the thin air of the mountains. At a 6,007-metre elevation, probably the only machines higher than the jacked-up 911 were ones that could fly.
The driver of the 911, Romain Dumas said, “This was a truly memorable and special moment in a place that’s both beautiful and brutal at the same time – I guess the only machines anywhere in the world higher than us today were aircraft! 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 it in the deep end for its first test, yet it felt at home.”
“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 meters 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 and the team are capable of first time out – hopefully we can count on many more adventures in the future.”
The Porsche 911 is an iconic car with various versions ranging from the almost-basic 911 Carrera T to the extreme 911 GT3 RS. Even famous tuner Marc Philipp Gemballa has produced the special Marc Philipp Gemballa Marsien, unleashing the 911’s capability to travel where there are no roads. Porsche, however, has taken things up a notch with its special jacked-up 911s.