The Exclusive Porsche Flat Nose
By Bruce McCulloch
Sex appeal, speed, power, entertainment and exclusivity, were once common traits of the Porsche 911. In recent years however; the 911 has lost much of its exclusivity and in the eyes of some, its appeal. With today’s market requiring the shuffling of almost everything down the production lines, Porsche’s iconic rear-engine sports car has more or less become a ‘mass-produced’ automobile. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that and I’m certainly not insinuating they are bad cars, but truth be told the 911 is no longer the ‘super-special’ car it once was (even if there still is no other car like it).
If you want an all-exclusive 911 these days, you’ll have to opt for an enticing previous generation ‘996 GT2’ or wait for the upcoming ‘997 GT2’. That being said, exclusivity is rather expensive for both of those vehicles – setting your wallet back a breathtaking $150K (USD).
Anyway, as great as today’s 911’s are, there once was a vehicle which Porsche offered which was quite unlike anything else they sold at the time. For those with the means to purchase a 911 throughout the 1980’s, they had the choice of ordering something called the ‘flat nose’ (or in German, the ‘flachbau’ which contained no hyphen in the English translation).
Tidbit fact: At times referred to as the ‘slant-nose’ in many places, including North America.
The idea for the project had been surfaced in 1980 when a man by the name of Rolf Sprenger (an employee working in Porsche’s Zuffenhausen department), created a specially designed coachwork program which he then called “Porsche Exclusiv Programme”. This program allowed each Porsche customer to completely customize their rear-engine wonder and as a result, nearly all of the 911’s which came out of Sprenger’s department were individually crafted for their owner. Rolf Sprenger was the proud father of each one of these Porsches.
In 1981 the first ‘930 Turbo SE flat nose’ left the production line. Whereas only one unit was produced in 1981, sales dramatically increased in the years that followed (averaging 30 to 40 units per year). In 1986 (due to continued interest), Porsche finally decided to offer the flachbau as an official option on the order form (under the codename of ‘M506’). Not surprisingly, this was also the year in which the most flat noses were sold – that being a total of 56 units.
Without a doubt, it was clear the flat nose was a higher-power car for a ‘higher power’ customer and with a complete price tag that asked a staggering amount of £34,000 greater (in 1980’s pound sterling!) than that of a regular 911 Turbo, it continued to stay an all-exclusive 911.
As the flat nose aimed at offering an overall package more than a few notches above the standard model, Sprenger made sure the flat nose was not only more exclusive, but differing in terms of exterior design With the premise of an exterior design meant to replicate Porsche’s own 1976 ‘935’ racer, the flat nose started by taking the 911 design to a further level by replacing the rather quirky frog-eyed front bumper for exactly what it’s name suggested: a front-end boasting a hard-edged, flat bumper and bonnet design. Further additions such as new air vents behind the headlamps (which were functional in allowing air pressure to escape from the wheel wells), a new spoiler, and a new front bumper with integrated driving lamps, the flat nose certainly paid proper homage to its racing brother. Furthermore, this special edition 911 included a new side skirt design. With the addition of new rear-wheel arch air intakes, this German supercar was looking just as exotic as any other from Italy. I personally believe Sprenger’s work is easily amongst the finest from the iconic Stuttgart firm.
Tidbit fact: The earliest of generations were actually produced with built-in headlamps, but soon enough Sprenger discarded the built-in head lamps for the pop-up versions we are now familiar with.
Unfortunately, the flachbau didn’t offer much of an interior change over the standard Turbo, which is somewhat of a disappointment giving the radical change in the exterior design. In fact, the only thing that made this vehicle’s interior anymore special than the standard model was the larger assortment of optional colours one could choose from. Technically, the SE offered an electrical sunroof, air-conditioning and driving lights standard (all of which were options on the regular Turbo).
Most would have assumed that with a price tag far greater than the standard 911, this special incarnation would have been a completely new and updated car, but truth be told, the 930 SE Flat Nose was essentially a standard Turbo in full-dress. That’s not to say Sprenger didn’t throw in a few advantages for that extra premium. Such extras included cross-drilled brake discs with four pistons and an engine boasting an extra 30bhp – courtesy of a larger turbocharger with increased boost pressure and a revised exhaust system.
According to various test drives and what-not, this fantastic car didn’t feel a whole lot different from the standard Turbo and even with the extra 30bhp, most auto journalists complained the extra ponies could not be felt. Of course, it must be noted that the standard Turbo was considered by many to be the finest sports car in the world at the time, so its not as if the flat nose owners were in any way shorted in the deal.
In its final year (1987), the 930 SE sold 37 units, bringing the total sales to only 237 units over its 7-year life span. While it was never meant to be a big sales winner, this car was intended to be the ‘ultimate Porsche enthusiast model’ – the car for the hardcore 911 fanatic who appreciated and truly understood Porsche motor sport history.
The flat-nose is one of those vehicles which has attained truly mystical proportions in my sports car consciousness and general sports car affection, and I am not unique in this regard – it resonates just as strongly with many other sports car enthusiasts.
Specifications of the 1988 Porsche 930 Turbo SE Flat Nose:
SOHC, 3.3 litre Boxer Six (7.0:1 Compression)
Turbocharged (11 PSI)
330bhp @ 5,500 rpm
318lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
RWD, 4-Speed Manual Gearbox
MSRP (1988): £93,294