Porsche 964 Cutaway Diagram

Air-Cooled History

Although it was standard equipment up until the late 1990's, the air-cooled Porsche engine has since been phased out, replaced with more powerful and efficient water-cooled engines in all of their vehicles. That said, the air-cooled engine will be forever be associated with the Porsche brand, and in particular the Porsche 911. The air-cooled engine was introduced to the public with the Porsche 356, the predecessor to the Porsche 911. With wins at The 24 Hours of Le Mans and impressive reliability, the Porsche air-cooled platform certainly proved its worth, but its years were numbered.

Now technically speaking, these engines were never really air-cooled as their name may describe, but rather oil-cooled. Through the use of metal cooling fins, heat exchangers, and large fans, air was pushed around the hot churning oil, cooling it down and keeping the engine running smoothly. Now whereas the air-cooled engines used oil as the cooling agent, modern water-cooled Porsche engines use both oil and water-based coolant. Much of the confusion between air-cooled engines and water-cooled engines is that both are effectively cooled from fresh airflow. Because of this, modern Porsche engines still bear many similarities to their original air-cooled versions, but with updated and more efficient cooling methods, and a lot more power.

Porsche 911 993 Side

The End of an Era

The last road-going Porsche car to come with an air-cooled engine was the 993 generation Porsche 911. The 993's flat-six produced over 400 horsepower in some variants, and remains one of the most powerful air-cooled engines ever fitted to a production car. Thanks to the addition of water-based coolant, Porsche engines are now more powerful and reliable than ever before, take the new Porsche GT2 RS for example, with its 700 horsepower water-cooled turbo engine. While the move to water-cooled engines was controversial at the time, it has since allowed Porsche to build some of the fastest cars in the world, something they will continue to do, and something I'm sure we all look forward to.

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Categories: Research
Tags: Porsche 911