Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch computerized transmission has turn into a staple within the automaker’s lineup, displacing handbook transmissions, but additionally offering faster shifts and thus faster lap occasions. The person chargeable for all of it is an engineer named Rainer Wüst.
As recounted in a Porsche press launch, Wüst joined the automaker in 1971 as a transmission check engineer. About 10 years later, he was put in control of the preliminary PDK growth program.
“The concept was to mix the most effective of two worlds,” Wüst mentioned in an announcement, “the benefits within the diploma of effectivity of a handbook transmission and the potential for efficiency of full automation.”
Porsche 944 Turbo PDK growth mule
The concept of a dual-clutch transmission really went again even additional, although. Engineer Imre Szodfridt constructed a prototype within the Nineteen Sixties, which Wüst and his engineering workforce dusted off and used as a place to begin.
“We acquired the Szodfridt transmission from storage and labored with pneumatic valves, which we transformed to work hydraulically,” he mentioned. Based mostly on that work, they developed a prototype that was put in in a Porsche 944 Turbo. However then-development boss Helmuth Bott additionally wished to check the brand new transmission in a racing atmosphere, so it was additionally used within the Porsche 956 and 962, which have been dominating sports-car racing on the time.
The addition of paddle shifters, a tweak Wüst attributes to racing driver Hans-Joachim Caught, meant drivers did not should take their fingers off the wheel to shift. The PDK gearbox additionally made left-foot braking simpler, that means drivers might hold the 956/962’s turbocharger spooled up always. Nonetheless, shifts have been very tough, which put numerous stress on the transmission. It additionally dominated out road-car use in the interim.
Porsche 962 C outfitted with PDK transmission
On the observe, although, Caught and Derek Bell gained the 1986 World Sports activities-Prototype Championship race at Monza in a PDK-equipped 962 C. Previous to that, Walter Röhrl gained the Semperit Rally in late 1985 driving a PDK-equipped Audi Sport Quattro S1. Regardless of these racing successes, although, Eighties know-how wasn’t sufficiently superior for the PDK to work in series-produced street vehicles.
“We have been at the least 20 years forward of our time,” Wüst mentioned. Parts like valves and electronics weren’t the place they wanted to be for sequence manufacturing, and Porsche lacked the know-how to develop a moist clutch that may have enabled smoother shifts, he famous.
That may finally change, after all. After 20 years of technological development, Porsche launched its fashionable PDK transmission as an possibility within the 911 in 2008—and it hasn’t regarded again.