So. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

This is a discussion on So. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines? within the Swaps forums, part of the Technicals and Performance category; Talking to this guy in the pub (as you do), seemed quite knowledgeable on the subject, stated the reason was that due to the fact that air-cooled engines run at ...




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Old 02-21-2014, 09:51 AM   #1
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Default So. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?


Talking to this guy in the pub (as you do), seemed quite knowledgeable on the subject, stated the reason was that due to the fact that air-cooled engines run at a wider range of temperatures (ie engine temperature is not stabilised by the coolant) that they are manufactured with wider engineering tolerances and therefore cannot meet the latest emission requirements.Seems credible. Anyone know better ?

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Old 02-21-2014, 09:51 AM   #2
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DefaultSo. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

No. You can get more power out of a fluid cooled engine. Look at bikes. All water and oil cooled when they're high power to weight ratio. You can make a clean burning 4 stroke air cooled engine and it's cheaper than a fluid cooled one. See small/cheap motorbikes that meet modern emission controls and are very economical.
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:09 AM   #3
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DefaultSo. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

For a change your pub guy is spot on.blame California if you want,to clean up the air/smog pollution problem they introduced what were back then pretty stringent regulations for new cars sold.These regs were tough enough that WV could see the writing on the wall and killed off the beetle,Not saying that it couldn't be brought up to code but the investment didn't balance out.Oh and if you didn't know the VW and the Porsche shared an engine back then.Regulations are much more stringent now,if they had tried they would be in deep water by now.The upside is that cars now are so sophisticated that the big wall sized machine in the garage /service station that you used to see is gone,modern cars check their own systems many times a second,ignition timing,fuel/air mix,temperature.................on and on.As long as owners get the wear out parts renewed when recommended the life span of an engine is much greater than a air cooled flat 4.And finally Bmw did away with their air cooled flat twins for bikes for similar reasons.and the fact that they used to eat valve guides,but they reintroduced an new very similar engine still used now,but the head is oil cooled,not air cooled.
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:27 AM   #4
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DefaultSo. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

Sort of true, with both previous answerers getting degrees of it correct (although by the time any smog related regulation was enacted or even imminent, there were no shared engine blocks between Porsche and VW).However the problem wasn't with smog itself. The fact that many older Porsches regularly pass well ahead of current smog requirements (and well ahead of the listed averages, despite beings more than 20 years old) is proof of that. And like the previous comments about power, which is only partially correct as well.The problem starts with water cooled piston engines being the industry standard. As such, the methods and standards used in smog testing were creating developmental limits. The air cooled engines continued until the late 90s, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to improve their performance and make them able to comply to emissions test.As for the actual performance. If you look at power per displacement, then air-cooled suffers a disadvantage compared to water cooled. However, if you look at it in terms of weight or other measurement, then air cooled can actually deliver more performance. However, as the standard measurement in motorsports has become based on the water cooled engine, Porsche would be at an increasing disadvantage to continue campaigning air cooled engines. This meant little in prototype classes where the engines were not based on any production motors, but if they were to continue to offer competitive customer cars for GT classes, a move to water cooling would be required.This were the two main forces, but cost must also be considered. If you look at Porsche's financial situation before the move to stop producing air cooled cars, they were very close to going under. The fact that they could cut some costs by not going with true dry sumps and such that would be a requirement for an air cooled engine figure into the final decision (which is why you find some dry sump aspects, but with the oil pan at the bottom of the engine on most of their current production cars; motorsports and highend cars like the GT2, GT3, and Turbo excluded).
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:45 AM   #5
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DefaultSo. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

It wasn't so much the emissions regs but the proposed EU drive by noise regulations that eventually did for them.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:03 AM   #6
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DefaultSo. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

Your guy in the pub was completely correct - this also applies to high performance motorcycle engines too
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:21 AM   #7
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DefaultSo. Why did Porsche stop building air-cooled engines?

Air cooled are more efficient and powerful, because a hotter engine has more complete combustion.It is also lighter. None of the tolerances have to change between water cooled and air cooled, because the things that count, like pistons, are not water cooled in a water cooled engine anyway, so there is little difference.The reason Porsche and VW stopped making air-cooled engines is because the other auto makers got air quality laws passed that limited the amount of oxides of nitrogen an engine could produce. And air cooled engines always will produce more oxides of nitrogen, (NOx), than a water cooled engine.So even though air cooled pollute less, they were essentially outlawed.(They pollute less because combustion is more complete, and less gas has to be used to accelerate the lighter weight.)Trouble is the air quality stations don't check the total amount of pollution produced.Instead they only check the percentage of components in the exhaust. So a huge and heavy truck belching gross amounts of toxic exhaust will always test cleaner than a tiny moped that uses only 1% of the fuel, and produces almost no exhaust.Addition:Just wanted to make a comment to Paul S. Good answers in general, but Porsche and VW did collaborate on a replacement for the 912 and Kharman Ghia. It was the 914. The Porsche version was supposed to be a 6 and VW the 4. But the 4 cylinder engine was designed by Ferdinand Piƫch, of Porsche at the time. And the 914 was the most popular car Porsche ever built. So Porsche and VW did share an engine block for a number of years. In fact, the Porsche 914 engine is very popular with conversions into old bugs, with an upright fan conversion kit sold.
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