Just as rumours have surfaced that McLaren will be switching to Porsche engines for their Formula 1 team, the famous British motorsports outfit share a rare sneak peek at one of the most mental road cars ever made: a Porsche 911 with a Formula 1 engine.
Amidst all the noise of the holiday season and the end of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship, McLaren’s social media team shared a video of one of the coolest cars in their extensive archive: a 1985 Porsche 911 Turbo powered by a TAG F1 engine, the likes of which was raced by the likes of Niki Lauda and Alain Prost.
From the outside, the car looks completely stock, other than what appears to be a set of RUF alloy wheels. But pop the boot and you’ll find two huge intercoolers smuggled under the sports car’s distinctive ‘whale tail’ spoiler and a 1.5L TAG TTE PO1 turbo V6.
WATCH this bonkers McLaren-powered Porsche below.
You’re probably wondering why this car exists – and why McLaren has it in their archive. Well, this outlandish machine was used as a test mule by McLaren when the team ran TAG-branded, Porsche-built engines in the 80s.
In the early 1980s, Formula 1 saw a paradigm shift where many teams including Brabham and Ferrari started using smaller 1.5L turbocharged engines instead of the large 3.0L naturally aspirated engines that had dominated the sport for the last three decades.
McLaren CEO Ron Dennis, who had just joined the ailing team, wanted a turbocharged powertrain too – so he did a deal with French-Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh and his company Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) to fund Porsche-built, TAG-branded turbo engines designed by legendary designer John Barnard.
These engines proved to be highly successful, winning 26 Grands Prix for McLaren in the hands of Lauda, Prost and Keke Rosberg.
Now, this car in McLaren’s collection is a one-off… But recently, a third party firm has developed their own ‘930 TAG Turbos’, meaning you can buy one for yourself (if you have a seriously fat wallet, that is).
Lanzante Motorsport, a British firm that specializes in racing, servicing and restoring classic cars – who also built the P1 and Senna GTR road car conversions for McLaren – is producing 11 more of these mental machines, all of which will be completely road-legal to boot.
As Opumo Magazine explains, Lanzante originally wanted to buy the original test mule, but McLaren refused to sell. Instead, current boss Zak Brown did agree to part with 11 TAG engines, which Lanzante are marrying up to a bunch of 930s.
There’s one catch, though: these cars won’t be as fast as an F1 car, or even the original Porsche/McLaren test mule. The TAG engines made well over 1,000hp in McLaren’s F1 cars back in the day (it’s unclear how much power the test mule makes) but Lanzante have detuned the engines to around 500hp.
Still, when you consider that’s about twice as much power as a stock 930 powertrain puts out – as well as the fact that having a classic Porsche with a classic F1 engine in it is the epitome of cool – we feel that’s not a dealbreaker.