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Beauty and the Beast

A Porsche 993 4WD twin turbo (plump with the factory's generous 304kW) takes on a 1987 Subaru Brumby ute in a titanic struggle of performance...

Words by Michael Knowling and Julian Edgar, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images


This article was first published in 2000.

Queensland's beautiful Gold Coast. The place of sun, sand, tanned bodies - and fast cars.

Sitting in one lane, a $300,000 Porsche 993 twin turbo squats over its enormous alloys. Its sexual array of compound curves makes the availability of 304kW no real surprise to anyone. And then there's the quintessential Porsche driver - 'Q'. Tall, sophisticated, Mont Blanc sunglasses and a tailor-made $2000 suit. Together they're the complete image of class and exotica.

Alongside, cruddy as only a workshop ute can be, tootles a 1987 Subaru Brumby ute driven by Sam Rigoli. Around $2000 worth of quirky Japanese light commercialism - covered in illegal parking stickers, dents, scratches and rust. Behind its wheel sits the young driver. Baseball cap on backwards and size 13 Filas unlaced. Probably just left the Maccas drive-through on the way to fetch a load of replacement parts.

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The light turns green. Sam pops the clutch and the farm-yard lookin' Subaru suddenly explodes out of the blocks, its distinctive WRX-style flat-four beat spilling back through the Porsche's open sunroof. Seeing the opportunity for "easy" victory, Q mashes his right leather shoe to the floor. The twin turbos spool up fast in the short first gear and - just under two seconds later - the silver bullet is passing 60 kays. It's going s-t-r-o-n-g. Nevertheless, the battered old Brumby holds the lead, its oversized exhaust and chrome towball making a mockery of the mega-buck Porsche. Into second gear and the Porsche starts to close the gap - at last the Brumby's tail is within reach. Then, in third gear, the silver Porsche eases its way ahead. At the same time, the narrow tracked high-speed Brumby is starting to get a bit loose in the road - it, too, could do with the Porsche's rear wing. Sam has no choice but to button off - damn it!

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Still, this is one showing that has sure put the Porsche in its place - especially considering the Brumby is probably worth only a fifth of the annual insurance premium of the German thoroughbred!

A few metres down the blacktop, Q is on the Porsche's big brakes, leaning out the window and waving the Sam over to the side of the road. Hmm, just maybe this Porsche bloke likes sleepers, and just maybe he'd like to have a look at the big-turbo'd EJ20 that's hiding under that oh-so-innocent Brumby bonnet? It's an interest that's mutual, so both Q and Sam pull to the curb to check out each other's rides.

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There are lots of ways of achieving turbo performance - and, in this view, there are three of 'em. Turbos, that is. In the rear of the silver flyer, hiding under the intercooler and engine cooling fan, buried beneath the curvaceous rear guards, are two KKK items. These pump into a large 3.6 litre flat six - quite an old basic engine design. And, even with only the two valves per cylinder, the German engineers have extracted 407hp (at just 5750 rpm) and a truly massive 415ft-lb at 4500 rpm. Feeding the torque through all four wheels, the outa-the-box Porsche does the quarter mile in the mid-twelves. Not bad for a stocker, eh?

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And under the lid of the Brumby? Another flat engine - this time with four cylinders, not six. But each of these cylinders features four-valve breathing, which helps enable this engine rev much harder. It's got one turbo - now a bigger Turbonetics unit - and four direct-fire ignition coils. Power? In standard form, this ex-Liberty RS engine cranked out 197hp, but with the Microtech MT8 management, Turbonetics T3/4 and 3-inch exhaust that's been thrown at it, this one's probably good for 300hp on 18 psi - and that's un-tuned! Even with the standard turbo it made 225hp at the wheels! Oh yeah, and all of this is in a car weighing 1020kg - plus a bit of crap floating around in the cabin...

They Really ARE Different!

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Surprisingly - despite both having turbocharged horizontally opposed engines, 4WD, similar performance and two doors - there are some considerable differences between these two cars. Like - for example - the Porsche is started with a key, which is complete with a high quality leather and gold keyring....

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...while the Subaru is started with a metal scribe that's been pinched from the 'shop. It, of course, comes without a keyring. Oh, and yes, you first have to sweep aside the fast food wrappers to find the ignition lock that's dangling somewhere under the dash...

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Wheels and tyres? The Porsche runs 18 x 8 and 18 x 10 alloys, clad in 225/40 and 285/30 P Zeros. The cost of each corner? Oh, say $3000 even-steven. And backing those dollars are 322mm vented and cross-drilled discs, each clamped by a huge, red caliper. The Brumby's combo? It has 13-inch steel rims wearing 175/70 Strada tyres - and you'll notice, just like the Porsche, these rims are silver as well (except for the brake dust that's accrued from the past year!) Brakes? The original drums peak shyly through the rear steelies while, up front, stock discs suffice. But it's probably just as well the Subie's brakes aren't like the Porsches - or else Sam's upsized Coke might go end-up every time he hits the picks!

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Sam contorts his body into the low, soft-leather cockpit of the 993. "Hey, I could get used to this!" he beams. "The noise the leather makes when I move my butt, the electric sunroof, the sexy little side mirrors looking back at me... yeah, it's nice. But those pedals - jeez, I have to take my shoes off to get my feet on 'em...."

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Q dares to get is tailored trousers soiled on the driver's seat of the Brumby. "Hmm, what's it that I keep kicking?" he wonders to himself. "Oh, I see, the ignition lock is dangling on the floor... No CD player, no six-speed, no trip computer - at least there's plenty of room in the back for the chardonnay. Err, and I think I'd better get up now before something greasy seeps up through the cushion..."

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"A turbo car? Nah - bullshit mate. I can't even see the bloody engine, let alone any wastegate hoses to pull off. Are ya sure this isn't one of those Volkswagen engined Porsches? I should be able to do something down here though... maybe if I hammer this bit out, I could fit an EJ20 turbo - just like the Subie!"

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"What a simply unbelievable mess. You could literally eat your breakfast off my Porsche's engine - but this one? It looks like a bunch of clowns have been lunching here for the last few months. There's even a soft drink bottle under here with a hose going into it. Now, I hope I can let the bonnet down without getting oil all over my fingers..."

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"Agggghh! There's even more of a mess in the passenger's side footwell. Does this Rigoli guy have no sense of class, presentation - or hygiene?

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Perhaps - the answer to this, in a word is - "no", but Sam does certainly have an appreciation of power. Sheer, outright, brute horsepower. After pouring over each other's car for about half an hour, Sam invites Q back to the new Gold Coast Rigoli workshop for a chassis dyno evaluation.

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Again, it's the unlikely Subie versus the hot Porsche. But this time, not surprisingly, the Subaru's lightweight advantage is lost and the Porsche easily outguns it. That 3.6 litre big six obliterates the EJ20's outright power.

So, for now, the mighty Porsche 993 still holds the upper hand over the Rigoli ute.

Just!

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But, given that the Rigolis presently hold the world quarter mile record with their WRX, we could easily see the humble Brumby kitted out with a 2.5 litre BPM stroker and a bigger-yet turbo...

That will, undoubtedly, see the Porsche left a mile behind the Brumby!

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