Loading... Please wait...

A Whale Tail or a Whale of a Tale?

Posted

Sometimes we car guys embellish stories in a manner that would make fishermen blush. I’ve heard more than one whale of a tale in my time, often having to do with how fast someone went, how far they drifted, how they outran the cops, or quite frequently, the amount of horsepower produced under the hood. But the story of the Porsche 911 Turbo Whale Tail is no whale tale. At the time of its introduction in 1975, it was the fastest production car coming out of Germany.

In the US, we know the vehicle as its base model, the 911, and it’s engine aspiration, the Turbo. In Germany and most of Europe, the car is often referred to as the 930, which was Porsche’s internal nomenclature. The “30” in 930 refers to the original run of 3.0L turbo engines that were produced from 1975 to 1977. From 1978 on, the 911 featured a larger 3.3L.

Perhaps the most famous feature of the 911 Turbo was the massive rear spoiler from which the car gets its nickname. The Whale Tail, like most spoilers, was meant to increase downforce, but its size, structure, and positioning were engineered mainly to increase airflow to cool the turbocharger. In 1978, the size of the engine was increased to 3.3L and an air-to-air intercooler was added to mitigate the additional heat and pressure. This necessitated a slight redesign of the whale tail into a style that has come to be known as the ‘tea tail.’

In addition to the spoiler, the 911 Turbo was famous for its enlarged rear-end. Flairs were added to the rear quarter panels and wheel wells to accommodate wider rear tires and improved rear suspension. This not only improved stability and handling, but also helped put more power to the pavement. To help slow this beast down from high speeds, the brakes from the 917 race car were made standard on all production models. This helped maintain control over the incredibly powerful vehicle - after all, in 1975 and 1978,Car and Driver recorded 4.9 second 0-60 times, ranking the 911 turbo as the quickest model of the 1970s.

Unfortunately for the US and Japan, increasingly strict emissions standards halted imports of the 911 Turbo in 1980 in both countries. However, the 930 enjoyed continued success in Europe until its retirement in 1989.

One of the most interesting variants of the 930 is the slantnose or flatnose. Aftermarket tuners RUF and Kremer had engineered flattened, race inspired hoods and front fenders with pop-up headlights. After seeing the popularity of these modifications, and not to be outdone, Porsche introduced its own made-to-order slantnose design in 1981. Because of their special-order status, these models are still the rarest 911 Turbos and are highly sought-after.

Next week, we’ll discuss the racing pedigree and more performance numbers, including the 930’s FIA influence and track variants. In the mean time, please share any “whale tales” from your own car stories, along with any pictures, and we’ll feature you in a future blog!

-Trey Fennell

1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Coco #91 Jaspe (Calico)

0 to 70

This past Friday, June 8, was the 70th anniversary of the first ever Porsche-badged car. In the past, we discussed the Porsche 356, Ferry Porsche’s first production vehicle and the first car ever to carry the Porsche name. But did you know that there was an ultra-cool, ultra-sleek prototype model dubbed the Silver Bullet by [...]

Read More »


Fords First Ride

Today, June 4th, 1896, Henry Ford took his first automobile out of the shed and onto the Detroit streets. He called it, the "Quadricycle." In 1895 Henry Ford was working for Edison Illuminating Company when he read an article in "American Machinist" magazine about the gasoline engine. Then and there he started planing what would be [...]

Read More »


Who’s Got the Keys to the Jeep?

Memorial Day is a time to remember all of those brave women and men who have fought, and especially those who paid the ultimate price, to keep our country safe and to protect our way of life, as well as the lives of countless others around the world. When we think of service we think [...]

Read More »


Shelby PT.2

Last week, we explored Carroll Shelby’s legendary racing career. Indeed, he accomplished an incredible array of feats during his time behind the wheel, but it his time under the hood for which he is most famous.Shelby originally made his name racing Cad-Allard J2s in the 1950s. The race-ready version of the J2 was an Allard chassis and transmission married to [...]

Read More »


Shelby PT.1

This past Thursday, May 10, was the anniversary of the death of Carroll Shelby, the motorsport legend and famed designer of the AC Cobra and Mustang Cobra, both of which shared his name.Shelby was born in Leesburg, Texas in 1923. His first experience with machines was supposed to be in college at Georgia School of [...]

Read More »


The S4 Will Save Us All

Recently, Ford announced that it will no longer produce sedans after this model year, opting to focus their resources on pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers, and the Mustang. This news rang throughout the automotive community as a death knell for production sedans across the market, prompting speculation that many other manufacturers will follow suit.If the [...]

Read More »


The Little Audi That Could

For years, I thought the Audi TT resembled a sleek Beetle and was only for a very niche market. This wasn’t exactly helped by those early first-gen TTs that had a reputation for a complete loss of stability and deadly crashes at speeds over 100 mph. While it could be argued that this only affected [...]

Read More »


Daytona Part Deux

Last week, we explored one of the most iconic Ferrari's ever to grace the small screen. This week, I wanted to discuss some of the more memorable Daytona's, including the real-life inspiration for The Cannonball Run and Gumball Rally.The Ferrari 365 earned its Daytona moniker after winning the top three spots at the legendary 1969 [...]

Read More »


Daytona in the Air Tonight

As a child of the ‘80s, most of my favorite television shows featured amazing cars. KITT from Knight Rider, the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard, Magnum’s Ferrari 308 GTB on Magnum P.I., and Sonny Crockett’s Testarossa on Miami Vice. The one car that always got my heart pumping the hardest was also from [...]

Read More »



Sign up to our newsletter

Recent Updates

  • A Whale Tail or a Whale of a Tale?

    Sometimes we car guys embellish stories in a manner that would make fishermen …

  • 0 to 70

    This past Friday, June 8, was the 70th anniversary of the first ever …

  • Fords First Ride

    Today, June 4th, 1896, Henry Ford took his first automobile out of the shed and …

Made in America