Twelve years of Porsche progress have been little short of remarkable. We have been fortunate enough to drive every new model including the new Carrera 2=liter, summer and winter, over the twisting high= ways of Europeâ€”and the Super 90 is the best yet. Current production concentrates on the 6ohp Normal, 75hp Super and the 90hp Super 90. The 130 horse Carrera 2liter GS is being built at the present time. Only 200 of them will be produced in Zuffenhausen. So the Super 90 is the most powerful in series production. Horsepower ratings, incidentally, are German DIN roughly equivalent to 70, 83 and 105 bhp respectively.
As introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show, all the 356 B Type Porsches have horizontally finned brakes with better heat dissipation, higher mounted bumpers and headlights, new steering wheel, shorter and smoother gear shifting. The windshield of the Coupe and Hardtop has been enlarged so that even the smallest and largest drivers have an unimpared vision. Traffic lights as well as small children are easily visible. The rear window of the Coupe and Hardtop has also been enlarged to give better all around vision in city traffic.
Especially when parking, the large window will be appreciated. The fresh air rent in front of the windshield gives ample ventilation to the passenger compartment. A new low fuel tank gives a larger luggage space and brings the fuel filler spout outside of the car. A larger front lid furnishes easy access to the spare tire as well as increasing accessibility of the luggage space. The fuel filler cap is now located in the right fender. The finishing touch was added to the different models by: an electric clock which is standard in all models, a gear shift lock which makes the car even more theft proof, a variable speed windshield wiper system keeping the windshield clear in even the worst weather.
On the other hand in a light rain the wipers do not have to race back and forth unneccesarily. What is it like to drive a Super 90? First of all, the immediate acceleration of the 75hp Super is still in the new engine. Then a great deal has been added to the top end so that we were able to clock a safe and comfortable 116.5mph maximum.
The engine is designed for 3500 revs over long periods with short bursts to 5800 considered practical. The Super 90 we drove was equipped with Dunlop SB 5 braced tread tires. This tire is a wire cord type designed to run at low pressures, much as the Miche lin X. But there the resemblance stops. Tread area is greatly increasedâ€”67 per cent more than Dunlop’s fine B=7 nylon tire. Despite greater road contact, the road resistance at top speed takes only 15 hp as compared to 29 hp for the Continental Supersport. Adhesion in turns is much better with the SB-5 than with any other tire and there is no expansion at high speedsâ€”desirable for serious rallyists. The only inherent disadvantage is felt on cobblestone surfaces where the entire car vibrates at a very high frequency. The solution to that is to stay off cobblestone streets.
Before the 1960 models, Porsche had a reputation for oversteer. The very first cars were notoriously bad and needed so much careful attention that the name Heckschleuder (rear slinger) was applied. Steering improvements were made but there was still a slight tendency to oversteer-enough so that very fast motoring was a little dangerous for the new Porsche driver. The Super 90 shows absolutely neutral steering. (A compensating leaf spring has been added below the swing axles.) Entering a turn too fast, the car holds its line and doesn’t break away. An additional virtue is the lack of roll. And there is no difference in handling when driving a series of fast left- and right-hand turns.
Recently, after driving the Mercedes 220S, I commented that I had never before driven a car with such fine roadholding and “driving culture”â€”a combination of handling and steering characteristics, suspension, seating position, relation of driver to steering wheel, pedals and gear lever, and visibility.
Now I honestly believe that the Super 90 is even better. Seating, for example, is exactly on the center of gravity. The spine is so beautifully supported that it feels as if the body is held by a corset. This is im= portant for prolonged high-speed driving; one can drive the Super 90 for hours without tiring. The new steering wheel is ideally sized and positioned in relation to pedals and gearshift while instruments, notably the all-important tachometer, are in perfect view.Power increase on the Super 90 has been attained by two Carrera carburetors (Solex 40 JJ=4), larger intake ports and valves, compression raised from 8.5 to 9 to 1, and a freer flowing yet quieter muffler. The intake valve stroke has been increased by changing the rocker arm ratio. Camshaft remains unchanged from the Super.
Starting is quick and easy from cold; a hot engine requires two or three accelerator strokes. There are no acceleration flat spots and the car pulls smoothly from 1500 to 5500 rpm in fourth gear without protest.
The four-speed all-synchro-gearbox offers the most sensational fast shifting I know. It is no wonder that Ferrari and many others have adopted the Porsche ring synchronization.
Driving comfort is excellent. Torsion bars and telescopic shocks soak up every rough surface so that it is difficult to realize that this is a car with only an 81inch wheelbase. Steering is not extremely light; it is easier to steer into a turn than in the turn itself. But steering is very direct and uneven road surfaces are not transmitted back into the wheel.
Porsche’s drum brakes are without doubt the best on any production car today. Pedal pressure is light to moderate and there is no appreciable fade after a number of high-speed stops. Hands-off stopping is absolutely straight.
The tiny 1582 cc (96.5 cubic inch) engine moves the Super 90 from a standing start in very good fashion:
0â€”60 kpgÂ Â Â Â (37.2 mph)Â Â 6.6 secs. 0â€”80 49.6 9.4
0â€”100 62.0 13.6
0â€”120 74.4 19.0
0â€”140 86.6 27.0
0â€”160 99.2 36.0
The Super 90 is surprisingly economical. On the Autobahn we checked fuel consumption. At a steady 75 mph the car delivers 20.5 mpg. Stepping the speed up to 85 increased consumption to 17.4 mpg. This engine likes the best grade of gasoline available.
This is an exciting car, a man’s car, outstanding in every way and a real adventure in motoring. In past years we wondered; now we know the Porsche can be improved. The only question is where do they go from here?
By GÃ¼nther Molter, text from original Porsche brochure of 1962