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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

The tale of the Porsche ducktail

Which came first, the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 or the "ducktail" spoiler? The conundrum might not tie us up in knots quite like the chicken and the egg, but we can at least answer this one definitively-we know because we've interviewed Tilmann Brodbeck, a key member of the small team behind the "ducktail"- bürzel in German-almost 50 years since the Carrera RS's unveiling at the Paris Motor Show in October 1972.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/the-tale-of-the-porsche-ducktail/
18 REPLIES 18
VancMike
Intermediate Driver

Staggered wheels? Was the wheelbase shorter on one side?
rs6er
Pit Crew

Staggered just means wider wheels and tires in the back vs the front.
SweptArea
Pit Crew

It was humor rs6er.
.
rs6er
Pit Crew

Who knew?

topside
Advanced Driver

The '73 Carrera is one of my favorite cars ever; closest I ever got was a 73.5 911T, which I've regretted selling ever since that day. There's simply nothing else like the air-cooled 911s; you're totally involved, and you'd better be paying attention if you're going to exercise them.
Paladin
Pit Crew

My Dad has had a number of 'toy' cars over the years; he likes tinkering, updating/improving and of course, driving them. His favorite of them all was his 74 Carrera, 2.7 L with forged pistons. He loved the hell out of that car, and held onto it the longest- ended up selling it and acquiring a Corvette, but I know he misses that Carrera still. I remember he had 7 layers of piano black lacquered onto it; damn thing shined better than my 20+ years younger car at the time!
Iso_Grifo
Instructor

"...a handling imbalance that would turn out to be caused by a badly designed steering bearing that meant steering corrections resulted in overly aggressive responses when attempting to correct oversteer."

I had never heard that before! This is a great little article, full of interesting insider information. Thank you.
GeorgeWA
Detailer

A handling imbalance caused by a poorly designed steering bearing? And here I thought all these years the handling im-balance of pre computerized 911’s was caused by the engine hanging out behind the rear wheels
miata93
Instructor

I always thought it was due to the driver lifting the throttle and suddenly breaking the rear tires free. Also with the 911T versions the sudden onset of increased torque after the turbo spooled up during a turn exit could also break the rears free with "end swapping" consequences.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

The story of the ducktail is fascinating. I learned a few things here. Such a great look, still one of my favorites on a 911. Like everything Porsche and racing it had a function to go with those looks.
DougL
Detailer

I'm sure some will disagree with me, but nothing screams BAD AERODYNAMICS! like that stupid ducktail spoiler.
MichaelB
Intermediate Driver

Yes, let me disagree 1st.
JerV8Flat4
Intermediate Driver

You mean the stupid ducktail spoiler that measurably improved aerodynamics?

AH3K
Intermediate Driver

In the photograph (in the wind tunnel), did ANYBODY ELSE notice the "treadles" that the tires are sitting upon? They're an inverted airfoil! The airflow over/under them produces a bit of downforce, thereby pulling the treadles down and adding to the stability of the vehicle AND the support.

Now THAT is engineering, boys and girls.
SweptArea
Pit Crew

I have never, ever, heard the Porsche rear appendage called a "duck tail" except in this article. It is and always will be a Whale Tail.
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Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

The "whale tail" came in 1974 on the Turbo and Carrera 3.0 RS I believe.  The author could have mentioned that the ducktail has had a short life.  It has come back a few times because people love it.

SuperSnipe
New Driver

I have owned a 65' 911 for the last 45 or so years as the second owner, I deleted the bumper weights during the inevitable restoration few years back, even though I wanted to maintain originality. I added them back month later as the handling became, shall we say, exciting at cornering limits. Any attempt to slow down once I entered a turn would cause the 911 to trade ends. I learned to enter turns tad slower, then lay on the power while turning, te car would drift quite a bit but go like bat out of hell at exit. The iron bumper weights reduced this tendency to swap ends dramatically but the added 50 lb. (22 kg) and certainly affected acceleration. Reading various comments I feel it useful to add: the bumper weights were cast iron, not lead. (the link in the article explains all.) These were installed using massive amount of adhesive, probably epoxy. The "bearings" are not steering column bearings but rather upper strut bearings WITHIN the Koni or Boge strut. There is no top external strut bearing, just a rubber bushing. The earliest cars did not have any adjustment on the upper part of the strut, just a fixed hole, which required precision in body construction. Essentially, there was no way to adjust front suspension except for toe in/out. Rear wheels could be adjusted. In 1966' Porsche added caster and camber adjustment for the front. And, the name "Duck Tail" was the name given to the the first spoiler on the Carrera model engine lid. Later Turbos hosted few versions of the Whale Tail, with road cars having prominent rubber edging due to German TUV regulations, to improve safety. Even with all the suspension improvements, staggered and wider wheels, weight reduction in the rear, etc. A lot of Turbo 930's crashed going forward, backwards. But once you figured out how to drive the car I doubt there was a car that generated more fun, and in the last 54 years I owned & drove quite a few. Today's cars handle much better, are faster but are sterile, heavy, with active suspensions, not even close.
JimOldCarGuy
New Driver

I owned a 72 911 S we "upgraded" to the 73 RSR specs for vintage racing. Raced it for 10 years. I felt the improvments with the air damn and spoiler BUT never knew the story behind the changes -- tkx Hagerty