Nearly a decade after debuting its Vision Safari concept vehicle, Porsche recently unveiled the production version of its off-road-ready 911: the Dakar. And it couldn’t have come at a better moment. The automotive community has been clamoring over Safari builds for a while now, and it’s high time that Porsche put an offering of its own out on the market to capitalize on the trend.
As is the case any time an automaker breaks from its regularly scheduled programming, though, there’s bound to be some cynics trying to see through the marketing hype. I mean, c’mon — surely Porsche wouldn’t build a modern, factory-spec 911 that could even attempt to find its footing off the beaten path, right? Right?
That’s where you’re wrong. Eager to silence the skeptics, Porsche tasked Romain Dumas with taking a pair of experimental 911s to the slopes of Ojos del Salado, Chile — the highest volcano in the world — in order to prove the platform’s mettle.
Of course, each Carrera 4S had to be extensively modified so that it could withstand the demands of the journey.
For starters, Porsche reworked the body to make room for the larger wheels and tires (they span some 310mm across) and relocated the cooling system to protect it against the rigors of extreme off-roading.
Next, the team added portal axles in order to raise the cars’ ground clearance up to a towering 350mm (13.8 inches). What’s more, the transmissions were given with smaller gear ratios – both for improved low speed control as well as some extra grunt to drive the knobbies.
And that’s not all; on the cars you’ll also find switchable locking differentials, state-of-the-art steer-by-wire systems, and some super-tough Aramid underbody protection. To ensure maximum traction, each 911 was fitted with a special motorsport-derived technology known as the Porsche Warp Connector. (It basically creates a link between all four wheels, allowing for constant load regardless of how much the suspension articulates.)
...they’d need every bit of faith on their journey. While in Chile, the cars climbed as high as 6,007 meters (19,708 feet), traversing everything from boulder fields to ice walls.
Under the hood, Porsche opted to keep things practical; both cars are powered by the same turbocharged flat-six as you’d get in an off-the-lot Carrera 4S. Though it might seem a little tame compared to the rest of the build, it puts out a healthy 443 horses. Hell, Porsche is so confident in the powertrain that they also ran with factory standard seven-speed manuals.
Good thing, too — they’d need every bit of faith on their journey. While in Chile, the cars climbed as high as 6,007 meters (19,708 feet), traversing everything from boulder fields to ice walls. To make matters more perilous, the temperatures got to be as low as -22°F and oxygen was barely half that of sea level – hardly ideal conditions for an automobile.
Nevertheless, Romain Dumas drove the expedition to success — the Porsches ate up every bit of the terrain, and the team stopped only once the walls of ice and snow had become impossibly thick to pass. Upon his return, Dumas noted that, “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.”
Wrapped in two eye-catching color schemes – one of which is based on the 963 LMDH racer – and wearing a front winch for good measure, the finished cars are a testament to the 911 platform’s prowess.