Porsche Shows Off The Little Engine That Won Le Mans

There’s something about this immaculately clean and shiny 90-degree turbocharged V4 with its bright bubblegum-hued connectors and fittings that screams “Please stuff me into a 914.” This powered a very different P-car than the Chump racer you found in a field, though: Porsche’s Le Mans-winning 919.

Two 919s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This is the first time Porsche has released photos of the engine that powers its LMP1-class prototype racer. While you can be certain that there have been a few changes to it between this spec and whatever they’re running in this year’s car, it’s still pretty cool to see in all its naked glory.


According to Porsche, this turbo V4 powers the rear axle of the 919 Hybrid, which in turn feeds an exhaust energy recovery system that helps power the car’s hybrid system. Lithium-ion batteries in the hybrid system store excess recovered energy from the exhaust system as well as the front axle brakes for when the car needs more neck-breaking electric power.


This little two-liter petrol engine brought Porsche a 24 Hours of Le Mans win and a both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles in the World Endurance Championship in just its second year of competition.


The 919 engine produced over 500 hp last year before even factoring in the car’s state-of-the-art hybrid system. 2016 regulations will cut that back a bit, as prototypes’ fuel usage has been further limited. Porsche estimates that they will lose about 8% of the fuel they could feed the engine under the 2016 regulations, forcing the overall horsepower of the V4 turbo to a figure under 500 hp. This is the insane arms race of the WEC, though, so I have no doubt that they’ll still eventually figure out a way to extract more power using less fuel regardless.

Combined with the car’s hybrid system, Porsche estimates that their 2016-spec 919 will make over 900 hp. That’s impressive for a car that weighs less than 2,000 lbs.


Porsche claims that they’ve since used the tech to refine the upcoming 718 Boxster, despite the fact that the 718 will have a flat-four instead of a V4. The racing team works closely with engineers from Porsche’s production car side on the combustion and fuel systems for these engines at Porsche’s Research and Development Center in Weissach.


Personally, I think that’s all the more reason to stuff a spare spare 919 V4 into Volkswagen-Porsche’s original mid-engine roadster. Do it, Porsche. Call it the 914-9. Do it, and I shall giggle with joy.

Photo credits: Porsche

Contact the author at stef.schrader@jalopnik.com.

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