Porsche’s financial situation in the 1990s was the reason for some of the most iconic performance cars, as well as some not so iconic ones

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The automotive industry is a dynamic one and collaborations between different car manufacturers are not that uncommon. Porsche is a name associated with great craftsmanship, great engineering, and tradition - all traits the 911 encompasses better than any other car. However, Porsche was not always doing well financially and, in the 1990s, they were willing to lend their expertise to other companies. Here are some of the brand’s most known and some less-known joint ventures, some of which may surprise you.

Audi RS2

7 Unlikely Cars With Porsche DNA That You Didn't Know About
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Let’s start with the most well-known ones. Although Audi is a viable alternative to the BMW and Mercedes-Benz models, that wasn’t the case in the 1990s. Back then, the brand was rather unremarkable and always trying to catch up to BMW and Mercedes. The result was the Audi RS2 Avant – a car which consequently founded an entirely new segment of high-performance station wagons. The entire car was manufactured in Porsche’s Zuffenhausen assembly.

The engine was a heavily modified (by Porsche) version of Audi’s 2.2-liter (2,226 cc/135.8 cu in) turbocharged inline-five unit.

It now had a bigger intercooler, a new Bosch ECU, bigger high-flow fuel injectors, a bigger turbo, a new camshaft, and other upgrades, bringing the power up to 315 horsepower (232 kilowatts) at 6,500 RPM and 302 pound-feet (410 Nm) at 3,000 RPM. This, of course, was put to the ground through Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed manual. The 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) time was 4.8 seconds and the top speed – 163 mph (262 km/h).

7 Unlikely Cars With Porsche DNA That You Didn't Know About
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The Audi RS2 also had new brakes that came straight from the Porsche 968 Club Sport and it even had red calipers with “Porsche” inscribed on them. The alloy wheels were taken off a Porsche 911 (964) Turbo, just like the side mirrors and fog lights. The RS2 was produced from March 1994 to July 1995, with a total of just under 3,000 examples made.

Audi RS2 specifications
Engine 2.2-liter turbocharged inline-five
Horsepower 315 HP @ 6,500 RPM
Torque 302 LB-FT @ 3,000 RPM
0 to 62 mph 4.8 seconds
Top Speed 163 mph (262 km/h)

Mercedes 500E

7 Unlikely Cars With Porsche DNA That You Didn't Know About
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Before Audi asked Porsche to build them a fast station wagon, Mercedes asked for help with shoehorning their 5.0-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8 into the W-124 E-Class. Porsche was initially supposed to work only on the chassis and suspension. The job later extended to them building the 500E in their Zuffenhausen plant. The reason being that Porsche engineers widened the W-124 by 56 mm (2.2 inches), which resulted in it being too wide to be built on the Mercedes E-Class assembly line.

The M119 5.0-liter V-8 produced 326 horsepower (240 kilowatts) at 5,700 RPM and 354 pound-feet (480 Nm) at 3,900 RPM. Power was sent to the rear through a four-speed torque-converter automatic, resulting in a 0 to 62 mph sprint of 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 162 mph (260 km/h).
Mercedes-Benz 500E specifications
Engine 5.0-liter V-8
Horsepower 326 HP @ 5,700 RPM
Torque 354 LB-FT @ 3,900 RPM
0 to 60 mph 6.1 seconds
Top Speed 162 mph (260 km/h)

The assembly process required a lot of transportation, since the chassis, paint, and final assembly were done in different places. Each car took 18 days to complete, which resulted in it being more expensive than initially anticipated. Nevertheless, between 1991 and 1994, 10,479 Mercedes 500E were built, 1,528 of which officially imported into the US. During the first half of 1995. An extra 120 units were made for special clients.

7 Unlikely Cars With Porsche DNA That You Didn't Know About
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Although it wasn’t the first time we had gotten a performance-oriented, V-8-powered “Merc”, it was Porsche that helped establish Mercedes’ modern lineup of V-8 performance sedans, similarly to how the sports carmaker helped Audi start its lineup of performance station wagons.

Harley Davidson V-Rod

A little-known fact is that Porsche also developed Motorcycle engines. More specifically, in 2002, Harley Davidson turned to Porsche for the development of a new V-twin engine. What resulted was the V-twin Street Racing Custom, also known as V-Rod. This partnership was a new beginning for Harley Davidson, as the emphasis was not so much on tradition, but on new contemporary solutions.

The new V-2 60-degree engine, courtesy of Porsche, introduced water-cooling and a DOHC (Double overhead cam) valvetrain. The unit had 1,131 cc of displacement and produced 120 horsepower (89 kilowatts) and 74 pound-feet (100 Nm). Through the following years, the V-2 engine evolved. In models like the Muscle and Night Rod, the now-1,247 cc, Porsche-developed V-twin produced 125 horsepower (93 kilowatts) and 85 pound-feet (115 Nm). A 2001 Harley Davidson VRSCA V-Rod can be seen at the Porsche Museum, in Stuttgart.

Engine 1,131 cc V-2 60-degree 1,247 cc V-2 60-degree
Horsepower 120 HP 125 HP
Torque 74 LB-FT 85 LB-FT

Renault Clio V-6

7 Unlikely Cars With Porsche DNA That You Didn't Know About
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In 2001, Renault did something unusual. They took their small hatchback – the Clio – made it rear-wheel-drive, and put a big V-6 in the middle. The mid-engine Clio brought a new idea of what a hot hatchback could be. Maybe even stretched the definition.

Its 2.9-liter (2,946 cc / 179.8 cu in) 60-degree V-6 came from the PSA group and the earlier Phase 1 model made 230 horsepower (169 kilowatts) at 6,000 RPM and 221 pound-feet (300 Nm) at 3,750 RPM.
7 Unlikely Cars With Porsche DNA That You Didn't Know About
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In 2003, Phase 2 came and that’s when Renault asked Porsche to tweak the PSA V-6 engine. The German intervention gave the V-6 a bigger intake system and a new camshaft, among other upgrades, resulting in the DOHC 24-valve V-6 making 255 horsepower (188 kilowatts). Torque remained the same at 221 pound-feet (300 Nm). This also brought the 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) time from 6.4 to 5.9 seconds. The top speed was 155 mph (250 km/h). Between 2001 and 2005, a total of 2,824 Clio V-6 were made.

Renault Clio V-6 specifications
Engine 2.9-liter 60-degree V-6 2.9-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower 230 HP @ 6,000 RPM 255 HP
Torque 221 LB-FT @ 3,750 RPM 221 LB-FT @ 3,750 RPM
0 to 62 mph 6.4 seconds 5.9 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph (250 km/h) 155 mph (250 km/h)

Seat Ibiza “System Porsche” Mk1

The Seat Ibiza was and probably still is the most popular model of the brand. The style of the Mk1 Ibiza was drawn by ItalDesign and executed by Karmann. In 1988, came the first “hot” version. It featured a massaged version of the brand’s 1.5-liter normally-aspirated inline-four. Porsche was responsible for infusing some performance into the small SOHC 8-valve engine. The result was 100 horsepower (74.5 kilowatts) at 5,900 RPM and 94.4 pound-feet (128 Nm) at 4,700 RPM.

The engine also featured sequential fuel injection as opposed to the normal version, which used carburetors. The result was a not very impressive 12.1-second time to 62 mph (100 km/h) and a top speed of 109 mph (175 km/h). Despite the car’s 2,039-pound (925 kg) weight, it wasn’t very sporty. The car also had a “System Porsche” script on the valve cover. Seat paid Porsche a small fee of seven Doutche marks for every script they put on the little Ibiza.

Seat Ibiza “System Porsche” Mk1 specifications
Engine 1.5-liter normally-aspirated inline-four
Horsepowewr 100 HP @ 5,900 RPM
Torque 94.4 LB-FT @ 4,700 RPM
0 to 62 mph 12.1 seconds
Top Speed 109 mph (175 km/h)
Weight 2,039-lbs (925 kg)

Lada Samara / Samara T3

If you thought the Seat Ibiza was a detour from glamour, this one is on another level. The Lada Samara, which was introduced in 1984, used the same 1.5-liter carbureted inline-four as the Seat Ibiza Mk1. Although the modifications were not as thorough, the specialists from Porsche still tweaked the carburetor to make a bit more power.

However, the real cherry came with the 1989 Lada Samara S-proto – a mid-engine concept car, which had little in common with the streetcar. The Samara T3 was underpinned by the the S-proto as a platform and was specially build for the Paris-Dakar rally. It competed in 1990 and 1991, finishing 7th and 5th, respectively. The driver was Jackie Ickx.

As for the car itself, it was actually developed by French concessionaire Lada-Poch, in collaboration with NAMI and Tupolev aircraft factory. That said, the drivetrain and engine came straight from Porsche.

The Samara T3 had a 3.6-liter flat-six, producing 350 horsepower and the 4x4 system of the Porsche 959.

Lada / Porsche 2103 & Lada Niva

The collaboration between Lada and Porsche actually started in 1975 when Viktor Polyakov – the Soviet Union’s minister of automotive industry – negotiated a deal with the financially burdened German carmaker. The idea was to make a revised version of the awfully-aging Lada 1500, which was originally based on the Fiat 124. In 1976, Porsche introduced their vision of the Lada 1500 (2103). All chrome elements were removed and replaced with plastic ones finished in the body color.

The Germans also revised the front end and made sure the engine could run on low-grade fuel. However, the “Comrades” decided against mass-production, as the project would make the affordable car significantly more expensive. At the same time, they were ready with the successor – Lada 1600 (2106), which used the new Lada 1.6-liter inline-four.

In addition, it is believed that Porsche also helped with making sure the Lada Niva 4x4 could run on anything the people in Siberia could pour into the fuel tank.

They also helped to develop Dakar versions of the 4x4, which turned out to be quite successful in the 1980s, with people like Jean Claude Briavoine, Andre Deliaire, Andre Trossat, and Eric Briavoine on board.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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