Porsche makes some of the most desirable sport cars and sport sedans in the world. Their most iconic car is the Porsche 911, a car that has the same shape and engine configuration for over 50 years. Its the only car with the engine hanging over the rear wheels.
But did you ever want to know how Porsche build their cars like the iconic Porsche 911? The easiest way is to head over to Stuttgart Germany and go to the Porsche factory and Museum. Porsche can give you a tour of the Factory grounds for free but you have to reserve your spot. Here is a link if you’re interested in going – Porsche Museum.
But if you’re cheap like us, you may just have to come to the web to see the tour. Thats no problem. Below is a link to a popular show called “How it’s Made Dream Cars” and in this episode they cover the factory and the building of the Porsche 911.
If you want a 1st person account of a Porsche Factory Tour, read below. This is from someone you went to the factory back in the 90’s and wrote about their experience:
The tour guide in his heavy German accent mentioned that Porsche has built over 1 million cars since the first car built in 1948. He said “If someone tries to sell you a Porsche older than 1948, don’t buy it”. He commented there are approximately 850 thousand Porsches still around with 600 thousand being driven on a daily basis.
Porsche has recently revamped their production facility with the help of a Japanese consultant incorporating the Japanese Kanban (just in time) system which reduced the 911 assembly time from 120 hours to around 80 hours. The entrance to the factory has a display with a engine block, crankshaft, rods and pistons for the 968, 911 and 928 with graphs showing the HP and torque outputs for each engine. The guide made a point of boasting about how large the 4 cylinder displacement is and how the new engines have more HP and are more fuel efficient etc. The 911 engine assembly line is U shaped with a slow moving conveyor system that moves the engine past many assembly stations. The moving conveyor holds the engine during assembly and has two moving racks next to each engine that hold all the larger pieces required to assemble the engine. Previously the engine assembly person worked from a fixed position and had to walk back and forth to a parts bin and select each part. The engine assembly workers are rotated around to each assembly station and every worker is capably of assembling the complete engine from start to finish. It takes 2 hours to build the 4 cylinder engine, 3 hours to build the six cylinder 911 engine, and 4 hours to build the 8 cylinder 928 engine. They mentioned that each crankshaft journal is color coded and has several different size bearings available to blueprint the engine clearances (similar to the Honda engines).
Each engine is tested on a dyno for a total of 32 minutes. Our group was able to see one of the 911 engines being tested on the dyno. The engine is warmed up for 20 minutes and checked for leaks or abnormal noises and then run at 5000 RPM to check the torque output and then raised to 6100 RPM to check the horsepower output. The engine is inside a small room and the operator works behind a glass panel and he has a large lever that controls the throttle. The horsepower output must be within 2% on the lower range (270 horsepower nominal) or the engine is checked to find the reason for the low horsepower. They indicated that the average output is closer to 280 HP. They have 15 engine test beds (dynos) to handle the different engines they produce. It was amazing seeing so many 911, 928 and 968 engines in various stages of assembly. The amount of $$ in that one area was staggering. We then headed for the final assembly area.
The final assembly area is located in a different building and is not very large with two rows of 911 vehicles passing by us at chest height on conveyor. He pointed out the subtle differences between the U.S. versions and cars for Germany and other countries (center mounted brake light U.S. and side marker lights for Europe etc). We walked past racks of various vehicle parts, painted brake calipers etc. The vehicle final assembly process is done by a 6 person team. The completed engine and transmission assembly (engine, transmission and front differential on 911 C4 vehicles) is installed as one unit in under 5 minutes. Porsche makes available an option which has buttons mounted in the steering wheel to control shifting with their optional Tip-tronic semi-automatic gear box.
The guide mentioned that Porsche allows the customer to select custom colors for both the interior and exterior of the car (for an extra fee of course). So if you want to purchase a car that matches your wife’s finger nail polish you can bring in a sample and Porsche will take care of the rest. There are over 2000 colors available with this system. It takes 2-3 days to paint the car, with the color spraying of the car still being done by hand without the aid of a robot. Only the primer and undercoating is done by a robot. This allows the paint to sprayed in different proportions in certain areas of the car that need it. After the car is built it is test driven by professional drivers on public roads for 60-80 Km to ensure every system is working correctly. This is done all year round even when there is snow and ice on the roads. The tour guide pointed out that the 911 car does 0-200 Km (~125 MPH) in 20 seconds and 200 to 0 under braking in 5.7 seconds. The brakes have 5 times the power output of the engine! He said “You must be very careful when following a Porsche on the Autobahn because of the superior braking system. Most Porsche drivers are rear-ended by cars with inferior brakes”.
And now some modern photos of the factory from Road&Track: