The Weekly Driver

Website • Podcast • Newsletter
Established 2004

Wildly modified Porsche 911s scale world’s highest volcano

Porsche 911s are usually more at home on the race track than on the side of volcanos — until now.

At the direction of Porsche’s Vice President of Vehicle Architecture Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, 992 911 lead engineer Michael Rösler was assigned to work with Romain Dumas Motorsport to devise two 911s to climb the highest volcano in the world. Scaling Chile’s 22,615 foot (6.9 kilometers) Ojo del Salado would require a very different 911, and the teams at Porsche Wiessach and Romain Dumas Motorsport delivered.

Two modified Porsche 911s set record volcano-ascent record. All images Courtesy of Porsche.
Two modified Porsche 911s set volcano-ascent record. All images Courtesy of Porsche.

The result was two wild Porsche 911s Carrera 4S and a 19,708 feet (six kilometers) climb through thick snow, intense slopes, loose rock and temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius). Ultimately, unavoidable thick sheets of ice hindered any further progress.

Porsche considered the trek a success, and it’s rumored the experiment was conducted to test an upcoming, off-road capable 911 variant.

“This was a truly memorable and special moment in a place that’s both beautiful and brutal at the same time,” said Romain Dumas, who drove one of the 911s and previously won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nürburgring 24 Hours, and 12 Hours of Sebring. “I guess the only machines anywhere in the world higher than us today were aircraft. For the team and the car it was about learning-and right out of the box, the car was tough and nimble.”

Two Porsche 911s have proven their ruggedness with a recent volcano ascent.
Two Porsche 911s have proven their ruggedness with a recent volcano ascent.

What was done to the 911 Carrera 4S is a wonder.

The team at Romain Dumas Motorsport and Weissach (Porsche’s high-performance development team) completely revamped the standard bodywork to accomodate 12.2-inch wide off-road tires and a custom suspension setup. The volcano-scaling 911s also gained 13.7-inches of ground clearance — more than a Ford F-150 Raptor R — and heat-resistant underbody protection.

A storage rack is bolted to the roof to hold extra equipment vital to climbing the 22,600+ foot volcano, and the cooling system was moved to the front to avoid any possible damage. The interiors are completely gutted and a full roll-cage was fitted behind the carbon-fiber racing seats with harnesses for, well, obvious reasons.

These modified 911s share a seven-speed manual gearbox and 443-horsepower flat-six with all-wheel-drive with their stock counterparts; how the power reaches all four wheels on the off-road versions has been altered too. Porsche reduced the gear ratios for maximum torque. A traction-improving “Warp-Connector” (a fancy term for a manual-locking differential, which links all four wheels for constant traction) was added along with robust portal axles, and a winch up front making these Carrera 4S appear more like rally car than a 911.

Climbing a volcano is difficult and descending can be just as challenging.
Climbing a volcano is difficult and descending can be just as challenging.

Whether or not Porsche plans on using the technology applied or data acquired in upcoming vehicles is unclear. The German marque has a rich history in rally racing, winning the 1967 European Rally Championship for Group 1 series touring cars, three consecutive double wins at the Monte Carlo Rally, and the International Championship for Manufacturers (IMC), the predecessor to the World Rally Championship among countless other victories.

Might we see Porsche continue their rally legacy?

Mason Bloom is a reporter for TheWeeklyDriver.com. When he is not writing about industry news, new car reviews or covering live motorsport events, he is a sophomore at Aptos High School in the California central coast.


Subscribe!

To get our weekly newsletter with automotive news and commentary delivered to your email inbox.