Thursday, July 06, 2006

911 Handling

The Porsche 911, especially the pre-964 cars (1965 through 1989, except the 1989 Carrera 4), have a bad reputation for handling, particularly unexpected oversteer.

The first time I took my 911 on the track, it was with a fair bit of trepidation. But I found that when driven normally, it handled wonderfully. Brake steadily for the turn, begin turn in while the brakes still on (to get some weight on the front), then steady throttle to the apex, followed by full throttle from the apex to the exit. At any point in the turn, minor throttle adjustments can be used to trim the line. Perfect, just like a race car.

I've done a fair amount of racing and time trialing, and I've also done a lot of instructing at BMW and Porsche driver schools, and I would say that a Porsche 911 also serves as an excellent error amplifier. For example, if you get on the throttle before the car is turned into the corner, you will experience tremendous understeer. React by cranking in more lock and easing off the gas and you will experience a dramatic shift to oversteer (as the cranked front wheels find grip) followed by tail-first exit. Or if you come in to a turn too hot, turn in to early, then get off the gas in mid turn, same scenario.

But in the hands of a capable driver, what a thrill:

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