A car with pedestrian roots beating the established purebreeds — this is the story of the current Nissan GT-R and the Porsche 911 Turbo before it.

Harry Metcalfe, the guy who got EVO magazine going, recently did a video about completing his 1980s supercar trifecta: in addition to his Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari Testarossa, he got a first-generation Porsche 911 Turbo.

While the Italians made their power with 12 cylinder engines, Porsche had to try and match their performance with a more plebian six. To get the oomph they needed, Porsche turbocharged the engine.

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It was a lesson they first learned with the Porsche 917. When they moved to the no-rules Can Am series, they had two options for getting more power out of their already powerful car. They could have gone for more cylinders (in an aborted 16 cylinder engine, which I have personally seen) or they could have gone with forced induction. The turbo route was lighter and more powerful, so that’s what they chose.

That kicked off a decade of turbo race car development, and that led to the first Porsche Turbo road car in the late ‘70s.

In another little twist, the 917 donated its brakes to the original Turbo.

While e think of the 911 Turbo as something of a prestigious machine now, when it was new it was more of a low-level upstart compared to its rivals. A budget supercar. Makes sense, right?

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What’s particularly funny about this, particularly now, is that the GT-R was sort of seen as something of a pedestrian usurper of the noble 911 Turbo when the R35 came out. The two were compared endlessly back around ‘07-’08. The most of-its-time test was when Chris Harris took a GT-R and a 911 GT2 to the ‘Ring in a total festival of late 2000s speed.

Nobody had the clarity to realize the two cars were doing the exact same job.


Contact the author at raphael@jalopnik.com.