This is a modified Porsche 911 powered by Niki Lauda’s actual 1985 F1 engine | Top Gear
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Saturday 23rd September

This is a modified Porsche 911 powered by Niki Lauda’s actual 1985 F1 engine

Just 11 of these exquisitely crafted rarities are going to hand-picked customers, and the latest is a marvel

Published: 01 May 2023

What do you get if you cross a wild F1 V6 engine with a classic Porsche 911? Nope, it’s not the latest in a string of lamentable dad jokes. When Mercedes first announced its intention to create the AMG-One – putting an F1 engine into a street-legal road car, we knew it wasn’t the only time it had been done. So, a warm welcome back to the Lanzante 930 TAG Turbo...

What's a Lanzante 930 TAG Turbo?

It’s a '930' Porsche 911 Turbo fitted with a real life 1.5-litre Formula One V6 TAG-Porsche engine. Not a V6 built to copy that engine, but one of the actual units originally developed in the early 1980s that helped Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and McLaren to dominate the 1984 and 1985 F1 seasons.

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What’s the story?

McLaren - desperate to jump on the turbo V6 train and rival Renault’s 1982 championship-winning engine - joined forces with TAG and Porsche in the early 1980s to create a turbocharged F1 engine. The creative brain behind this unit was one Hans Mezger, Porsche's legendary engineer responsible for some of the finest performance engines ever built.

After a lot of back and forth - the vagaries of which we haven't got time to repeat here - a unit emerged, and during testing it was hilariously put in the back of a 911 Turbo road car. Years later of course, this would inspire Dean Lanzante to build his own, which is why we're here.

Ooh, ok. Tell me more.

Though McLaren wouldn’t sell Lanzante the original engine, it did sell on the 11 units that made up the season's supply. That means Lanzante and the team have embarked on a project to create 11 custom 930s, each with a unique, F1-raced engine.

They’re all built from the ground up. Lanzante partnered with Cosworth to get the 1.5-litre V6 into the body of a 930, though obviously, it's been turned down quite significantly from its blistering 1,000bhp F1 heights to a more road-legally acceptable 503bhp. There's 310lb ft of torque on tap, a 9,000rpm redline and a top speed of almost 200mph.

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Naturally a lot of work's gone into making that F1 unit manageable. The six-speed gearbox has been given bespoke ratios, there's a limited slip diff, and to improve drivability and reliability, Cosworth decreased the boost pressure by 25 per cent, switched up the fuel-to-air ratio to make lower speeds more comfortable and introduced a new crankcase and smaller turbos.

A unique front-mounted radiator is part of a new water-based cooling system, replacing the old air-cooled one. There are also new coilovers and carbon brakes... but no traction control.

The Lanzante 930 sits on 17-inch Ruf wheels (as opposed to the Turbo's Fuchs rims), and while you can’t tell without opening the bonnet, there is a heady mix of aluminium and carbon fibre that helps shave 200kg from the standard build.

Lanzante wants to keep the interior as original as possible. Although all 11 examples will be entirely unique, there are some restrictions on what customers can spec. Porsche colours and upholstery choices from the period will be available. Modern stuff? Not so much.

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There are, of course, hidden conveniences like USB ports, and Porsche Classic has helped supply some retro-fashioned media choices.

Sounds mega.

It does. As you'd expect the crescendo from that V6 is heart-stoppingly sublime and frankly, spectator vids from the Goodwood FoS 2019 debut don’t do it the justice it deserves.

The car pictured above is the sixth build. It’s finished in copper brown, with a chequered tan interior and the V6 on board this one is Niki Lauda’s engine from the 1985 French GP. Yeah, exactly.

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