We put two dissimilar vehicles side by side at an imaginary stoplight and floor it to see which is quicker.
The Porsche 924 sports coupe was the first unconventional Porsche design credited with saving the company from the financial ruin of building a handful of super 911s at a loss each year. Like the black sheep Porsche, the original Chrysler minivan is also credited with saving its company once. The new Chrysler Pacifica minivan is one of the largest vehicles in America by both interior volume and exterior area covered. It is a quickly becoming a staple in every suburban neighborhood, is outselling the Honda Odyssey by about 30% so far in 2018, and sales are trending steeply up. We decided to pit the common vs. the uncommon and see which would win in a stoplight sprint to 60 MPH.
Porsche 924 Sports Coupe
When it was introduced in 1976/77 the 924 was radical for Porsche because it was the same sort of sports coupe design everyone from Toyota with the Celica to Nissan with its 260Z had been building for the better part of a decade. Most of Porsche’s cars had been using an unconventional layout similar to the VW Beetle’s – rear engine, air-cooled, rear wheel drive. The 924 adopted the more mundane front engine, liquid-cooled, rear-wheel drive that almost all other cars in human history to that point had used. Many of the Porsche faithful were horrified.
The 924 was not old-fashioned by any means. It used a transaxle design which puts the transmission, axle, and read differential all into one assembly locate at the back of the vehicle to help balance the north-south weight distribution for better handling. It looked great from every angle as well, and its rear-end design carried forward to the 944, 928, and hints can still be seen on today’s Panamera.
The 924 in this story is a fully restored, but unmodified 1977 model. Horst has just finished the break-in miles on the newly rebuild four-cylinder in-line engine and is intently focused on a first run through the gears at full power. He is looking at the light and hasn’t even noticed that next to him is his neighbor’s daughter, Brittney, in a spanking new Pacifica.
Chrysler Pacifica Minivan
We all know what a minivan is, and Chrysler is the reason why. Not only did Chrysler invent the minivan, it may well have perfected it with the new Pacifica. Introduced in 2016, Chrysler stole the name from a prior crossover model to give the new Pacifica a familiar sound, while starting with a clean sheet design. Which includes a built-in vacuum cleaner option.
Brittney doesn’t own the Pacifica minivan she is in. She isn’t even sure what it is called. They just call it the “new van” at home. It’s the third one in a row her parents have owned. The other two are still in use by her brothers. Brittney is in a bit of a hurry. She is supposed to meet Talya and Sophia at the Galleria for a prom gown fitting in 10 minutes and she is running late. She does not see the Porsche parked to her left. She can see over, the Porsche. It’s below her passenger side window.
As Horst and Brittney both focus intently on their tasks at hand, the light changes and both move forward with intent. Brittney uses a bit more throttle than the Pacifica needs to get moving and one wheel actually chirps. Horst rolls off the new clutch, expertly timing his launch to avoid wheelspin and minimize, he would say “eliminate,” any excess clutch friction and begins his way up the four-speed’s gears.
The Pacifica runs from zero to 60 MPH in well under seven seconds. Not bad for a 4,400 pound, three-row van. The Pacifica reaches sixty about three seconds ahead of the 924. At the next light, Brittney glances at her phone and giggles at an emoji string Sophia just sent her. Horst rolls up a bit later checking gauges and sniffing for any sign of burnt oil or clutch plates. Horst grins with satisfaction. His may well be the fastest, unmodified 1977 Porsche 924 in America.