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Porsche Tests Safari-Style 911 Prototypes on a Volcano in Chile

  • Porsche tested two 911 prototypes with inflated suspensions and off-road tires on the side of a volcano.
  • The prototypes were heavily modified versions of the 911 Carrera 4S, which has four-wheel drive and 443 horsepower.
  • Along with stripped-down interiors and safari-like styling, the prototypes scaled back the Volcano with an improved powertrain and a nifty winch.

The Ojo del Salado in Chile is the highest volcano in the world. With slopes made of treacherous terrain and areas where temperatures are well below freezing, it’s the last place anyone would expect to see a Porsche 911. Well, look again, because as these photos show, Porsche has literally taken its iconic sports car to new heights by testing some safari-style 911 prototypes on the side of a volcano. Are they a taste of the rumored Dakar version? It kind of looks like that.

lifted porsche 911 prototype tested on a volcano


Not your lawyer’s 911

Clearly, the two prototypes involved in this wild experiment are no ordinary 911s. While they are both based on the 443-hp all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S, the 992-generation coupes are heavily modified. Porsche did retain their original seven-speed manual transmissions. Well done! On the other hand, the rest of the cars are barely recognizable with their extensive exterior changes that include flared fenders, beefy off-road tires, roof racks and custom drawers. One of the latter’s color schemes is the same as Porsche’s 963 LMDh racing car and the other has a 911 theme created by Weissach designers.

lifted porsche 911 prototype side view


Volcano-scale hardware

The 911 prototypes, equipped with heavy-duty port axles, have a high ground clearance of 13.7 inches. That’s half an inch more than the Ford Bronco Raptor. The high-riding Porsches also feature lower gear ratios for improved crawling ability at low speeds and manual locking differentials for maximum traction. The 911s also featured underbody protection made from tough heat-resistant synthetic fiber. We’re not sure if it can protect against lava, but the Ojo del Salado is a dormant volcano—so we’re told.

porsche 911 prototype on large off-road tires


porsche 911 off-road prototype interior


It’s not clear what type of suspension the 911 prototypes use, other than it’s clearly not a stock setup. It harnesses a quartet of 12.2-inch-wide tires, all of which are mechanically linked by a device Porsche calls a “chain clutch.” We’re told it’s designed to maintain maximum traction during extreme wheel articulation. Should one of the lifted 911s get stuck (as seen below), both have a pre-mounted winch to pull them out.

lifted porsche 911 prototype stuck on the side of a volcano


What’s the weather like up there?

The team that tested the Dakar-like 911 prototypes was led by adrenaline junkie, erf, adventurer and endurance rider Romain Dumas. He took the submerged sports cars as high as 19,708 feet. Not only were temperatures said to be around -22 degrees Fahrenheit, but the air was paper thin. The journey included such obstacles as rock-strewn slopes, ice fields and snow walls. You know, typical stuff 911 drivers encounter. However, Porsche says Dumas and his team have achieved their mission.

porsche 911 prototype testing on the side of a volcano


“This was a truly unforgettable and special moment in a place that is both beautiful and brutal,” said Dumas. “I think the only machines anywhere in the world taller than us today were airplanes!”

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