It may be a little after the official publication date, but I have only recently come across this book by Randy Leffingwell. As an expert and renowned author on matters Porsche, Leffingwell needs little introduction. Having built a career around writing about performance cars, he has brought many top-quality books on the Porsche marque to readers around the world. Porsche Turbo, published in 2015, is a book that you might glance at and dismiss as just another title on the famous German marque. But to do so, you would be making a mistake as you would miss an opportunity to delve deeper into this fine work, so read on.
Porsche unleashed its fantastically powerful turbocharged 917/10 Can-Am Spyder in 1972, and were immediately a threat to the likes of McLaren and Lola. Experience gained in those formative years was applied to the most powerful Can-Am racer of all time, when Mark Donohue’s Sunoco Penske Porsche 917/30 won six out of eight Can-Am races in 1973. This knowledge and experience was then put to use in the creation of the 1974 911 Carrera RSR Turbo race car.
Right from the get go, Porsche has striven to transfer their hard-earned racing know-how to their road cars, and the turbo era just showed how successful the company was in this field. At a time when many motor manufacturers were increasing engine capacity in order to quote a higher output for their production cars, Porsche applied their turbo technology to much smaller engines, and produced far higher output figures. In fact, Porsche quickly became the market leader in this technology, and when the roadgoing 930 Turbo was launched in 1975, it thrust Porsche right out front in the high-performance sports car world.
In this book, Randy Leffingwell, through his many years in the field of researching and writing about sports and performance cars, has gone back to look at how, why and when turbocharging began at Porsche in the 1970s. Leffingwell’s book looks at Porsche’s nearly five decades of turbocharging race cars and roadgoing sports cars, and apart from the familiar 911 derivatives, it also includes the front-engined transaxle models (924 Turbo, 944 Turbo and 968 Turbo), as well as Porsche’s more recent Cayenne, Panamera and Macan endeavours.
What is impressive about this book is the depth of research that the author has gone into, bringing valuable interview material to the reader. So much is written today from press releases produced by the factory conveyor belt, that it has made some writers a bit lazy, which in turn makes the manufacturer’s press officer the writer of much of what is out there on certain cars. The mark of a true writer is where it can be seen that he/she has gone the extra mile and actually sat down with the engineer responsible for developing the engine or component in the car, or the designer who created the car’s shape. In this respect, Leffingwell has excelled, and interesting and original quotes form part of the text almost throughout.
The photographic selection supports the text well and there are many images which have been seldom used (if ever) in other publications, which makes a refreshing change. In addition, the book is well designed, well finished and is a chunky and impressive product.
If there is a criticism that could be levelled at this fine book, it is the cover. At first glance, the reader or the potential buyer, is given the impression that the book is about the Porsche 930 Turbo, an image of which is used on the cover. The all-important sub-title only appears on the inside pages and on the back cover. This is a pity because the subject matter and the quality of the research and writing is exceptional, but the cover may give the wrong impression of what the book is about.
Having said this, let not the cover deter you, dive into this rich tome and you will find a very well written book that will bring the fascinating period of Porsche’s turbocharged development work to light. Do yourself a favour, and get a copy today, you won’t be sorry.
The Inside Story of Stuttgart’s Turbocharged Road and Race Cars
247.65 x 304.80 x 31.75 mm, Hardback
288 colour photos
At bookstores and online
Written by: Glen Smale
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