Highly Modified Porsche 911 Goes Where No Other Car Has Gone Before, Sets Altitude Record

The Porsche 911 is a car not to be messed with. It's a nameplate that's been around for 59 years (that's right, in 2024 it will celebrate its 60th anniversary) and during all this time it constantly climbed the ladder to success and to worldwide recognition. What the 911 didn't actually climb until recently was mountains, but the family now does that too. And it even sets new records.
Porsche 911 climbs to record altitude 11 photos
Photo: Porsche
Porsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitudePorsche 911 climbs to record altitude
You may remember that last year we got word of a crew run by Porsche going to the Ojos del Salado volcano in Chile together with two purpose-built, highly modified 911s. That was, as per Porsche, an exploratory run meant to see if an attempt at setting the world record for altitude reached in a car could be performed.

The exploratory run, as Porsche called it, saw the cars go just beyond the 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) barrier, and proved an even daring attempt could be made. One that was just announced as completed by Porsche, and successfully.

The German carmaker announced this week that on December 2 one of the two cars we learned about last year managed to reach a maximum altitude of 6,734 meters (22,093 feet) on the same volcano top. That's a height no other car in the world has ever reached, and by all intents and purposes the new record to beat.

Just to give you an idea of how high that is, consider the tallest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc, peaks at 1,934 meters (6,345 feet) below that. Also, we should take into account the previous altitude record sat at 6,694 meters (21,961 feet),

The car that managed this was driven to the top of the volcano's west ridge by three-time Le Mans champion Romain Dumas. The guy would have probably taken his machine even higher, but the configuration of the terrain didn't allow for that to happen: he reached the top of that particular slope.

Porsche 911 climbs to record altitude
Photo: Porsche
For 911 to be capable of surviving and working in extreme conditions up there, it had to be significantly modified. That high, for instance, the air is half as dense as it is at sea levels, making it difficult for humans to breathe and for machines to work, and the temperatures constantly sit at around 20 degrees Celsius below zero (minus four degrees Fahrenheit).

There were two vehicles used for the run, aptly called Doris and Edith, both of them based on the current generation 911 Carrera 4S. Both cars retained the engine they had on as they rolled out the factory doors, meaning the 3.0-liter six-cylinder boxer rated at 443 horsepower.

The engine was controlled by means of the stock seven-speed manual transmission, but it was fed eFuels instead of the regular stuff. It was also made to work smoothly with Mobil 1 lubricants.

The eFuels used for the run, made from water and carbon dioxide, were supplied by Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF), a Chilean company Porsche has had a stake in for several years now.

Despite the powertrain remaining largely stock, the rest of the two 911s were heavily modified. The first thing that was done to them was to give them an increased ground clearance of 13.7 inches to allow for safer traveling over the harsh terrain.

This was achieved by installing portal axles, which also contributed to the cars having reduced gear ratios, something one always dreams of having at slow speeds.

Porsche 911 climbs to record altitude
Photo: Porsche
Aramid fiber protection was fitted to the underbodies of the 911s, because despite the increased ground clearance there were enough hazards out there that could have damaged the 911s.

On the inside, Porsche fitted the two Carrera 4S with carbon fiber seats and five-point harnesses for the safety of the drivers.

The record-breaking climb was not performed in a single run but over the course of two full weeks. Minor gains in altitude were performed each day, allowing both humans and machines to acclimatize to the altitudes. This year's climb proved a bit less tricky than the one of 2022, as there was "relatively little snow at the higher levels."

The summit was reached on December 2 with Romain Dumas behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 called Edith. According to Porsche, that was the "more agile" version fielded on the side of the volcano, and also the lighter one – we're not told exactly what that means.

This particular car was also fitted with the Space Drive steer-by-wire system, a piece of tech supplied by the Schaeffler Group and meant to help the driver "place the car precisely where he needed it."

The attempt was a mammoth one, and involved specialized crews from Chile, France, Germany, the United States, Canada and Switzerland working together. Their efforts seem to have paid off, as Porsche is now the holder of the world record for the highest altitude reached in a car.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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