And All That Could Have Been – The Porsche 965 ”The Black Bomber”

By Craig Ranson
By Craig Ranson

Managing Director – Bridge Classic Cars

In the late 1980s, the Porsche 959 reigned as the technological supreme. A tour de force of engineering and technology proved that Porsche was at the leading edge of sports cars yet again.

There was one issue with the 959 however. It was massively expensive and outrageously complicated. So, with that, Porsche engineers decided to explore the idea of a simplified 959… That is where the Porsche L7 prototype comes in. A leftover of the original 959 Prototype phase. But internally amongst its engineers, it was known by a different name, The Black Bomber.

The Black Bomber would use a prototype 959 body. But apart from that, all manner of things were entirely redone. Mainly, the engine. The 959 was powered by a twin-turbo flat 6 and connected to an electronically controlled 4 wheel drive system that helped to distribute the power out to each wheel where necessary. With this level of complexity and electronics in 1986, the 959 cost the equivalent of £375,000 in today’s money. But, that’s not the whole story. Porsche would actually lose 50% on each car it made so its real cost was around £750,000.

So, what to do? How do you make things easier for a budget-minded version of the car? Porsche kindly asked Audi to lend them a water-cooled V8 and its Quattro four-wheel-drive system to install into the back of the leftover 959 prototype body where the flat-six had once lived.

So, what ever happened to the 965 programme? It was killed off. with a recession looming over Germany towards the end of the 1980s as well as a confusing market placement (between the 959 and Turbo) meant that Ulrich Bez shut the development down. 15 prototypes of the 965 had been created with various engine choices and setups, but after cancelling the programme all were destroyed. All except one…

The Black Bomber. The Audi V8 powered car would live in the shadows after being hidden in the archives for a few years. Then, towards the end of the 1990s, it was pulled out and used to develop the first water-cooled 911 – the 996. Finally fulfilling its birthright to give the world the best sports car it could.

If you want to, check out the film that Porsche has made taking you around the elusive 965 stored away in its museum.

Watch the video of the Porsche 965

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