911 Carrera 4S

Volcanic Velocity: Porsche’s 911 Carrera 4S Soars to 20,000 Feet

The innovative “Safari Porschetrend has been around for a few decades! Any auto expert envisioning a Porsche may not be thinking about ruts and jounces in the wild. One brave Car and Driver writer had recently put a modified Porsche 911 to a quite insane test. Porsche’s 911 Carrera 4S soars to 20,000 feet in Chile’s unforgiving landscape. 

Porsche’s 911 Carrera 4S Soars to 20,000 Feet

The car built for ascending a volcano drove like “It was raised by a pack of Jeeps!” In 2019, a few of Porsche’s esteemed engineers were blowing off steam after work. They concluded that a volcano 22,000 ft above sea level would be the conquest! The slope was derived from challenging ash, and loose boulders were everywhere.

A chassis engineer had brought out an off-road R/C model for everyone to mull over. The group decided this was the right model to use as a guide for creating a volcano-conquering 911. Maximizing ground clearance was first on the list, as the jutted terrain would be challenging. 

Anticipating Lava-Ready Antics:

The group determined quickly that stock suspension would not suffice. Springs and dampers were relocated to the inboard, firmly joined with the “Warp Connector.” This made the final build escape the hatch minus anti-roll bars. The experts at Tibus Offroad joined the party to squeeze portal gears into the steering knuckles.

This 4S’s turbocharged six-cylinder cranks out 443 horsepower! The group also needed to be sure that they could perform at high altitudes. They then re-visited an aircraft-fitting project from the 80s. The altitude chamber from that project was brought back to life for this new volcano-conquering endeavor.

How a Cutting-Edge Transmission is Geared Up for Volcano Scaling

The manual transmission allows for split-second clutch adjustments ideal for getting unstuck. The result was a perfect-stock 7-speed manual shifter. This is the first very cool feature the lucky contestant notices when climbing inside! The clutch in question is eagerly borrowed from a GT3. 

The housing used for this project was surprisingly stock. The manually-controlled 4-wheel drive system is the additive sheerly out of left field. Climbing the volcano went down predominantly in rear-wheel-drive. Navigating the tricky glacier was completed in AWD. Precise test-driving before the grand finale was completed near Malibu, California. 

A Thorough 3-Month Prepping Process:  

This confident team arrived at the base of Ojos Del Salado in 3 short months! The first month was spent acclimating to the extreme altitude. Here they found that their tents were not durable enough to handle this punishing environment. Consequently, a very intense storm made the group turn back after only conquering 20,000 feet.

The group discovered that they had to lighten their load drastically to complete this task. Spare transmission and other parts could easily be left behind. Since it was rendered impossible to swap these items out at this altitude, the decision was simple. After the original model suffered an extreme dent on the front fender, the second “Edith” version’s construction was underway.

Edith’s Extraordinary Incline-Ready Weaponry:

“Edith” was the incoming machine that was ready to provide a full-on assault of this challenging terrain. Some Porsche factory parts were still in use, but the interior was completely reworked. The doors, hood, roof, and fenders were all built of carbon fiber. The onboard air compressor system was a bit too heavy in the original version.

After all of the modifications took place, nearly 800 pounds were successfully dropped. Edith proved to offer a zippy sense of handling, without digging in like a tractor. Edith’s handling was superb due to a steer-by-wire system. As the summer of 2022 drew near, Edith was momentarily docked in France while history was soon to be made.

Torque-Frenzied Final Countdown:

Romain Dumas was appointed to take on driver duties for this daring attempt. He had demonstrated expertise during Pike’s Peak and 24 hours of Le Mans finishes. Both Edith and the previous “Doris” model were now in tow. The crew had to also endure elements such as their water bottles freezing in their tents.

One instance was a sandstorm that was bad enough that the group couldn’t even refuel. On a very frigid December morning, the group finally conquered the final 22.093.18 ft elevation. This was 8,000 feet higher than the famed Pikes Peak! The group had now completed an expedition that was the memory of a lifetime.

A Miracle on Molten Ground:

Doris and Edith have now clearly earned their legendary keep, and will now spend their remaining days in the Porsche Museum. The fact that this 911 sported a manual transmission and this much clearance helped matters greatly. Overall, what do you think of this fantastic journey? Is it fascinating, or overkill? Any devoted gearhead can admit that it took guts to complete! Let us know what you think in the comments below. Or, check out another article about the Porsche 911 GT3.

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Jon Weirman
I am a freelance writer in the Midwest who specializes in vehicles built for expert-level off-roading, and anything with a staggering amount of horsepower. In my first life I worked in broadcasting for Starz Network and Discovery Channel. I also love retro video games and sci-fi movies. Everything from the loud and burly muscle cars of the late 1970s to new crossover SUVs with futuristic tech features have populated my inbox!

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