This is one of the original TAG-Porsche TTE PO1 engines that was used by McLaren in their Formula 1 cars between 1983 and 1987. Despite the fact it was a brand new design it quickly proved its worth, turning McLaren into one of the most successful teams of the 1980s.
When the Renault F1 Team had debuted their turbocharged car in 1977 there were few who believed it could be competitive. F1 rules had allowed forced induction engines since 1966, however only with a displacement of 1.5 liters vs the 3.0 liters of the naturally aspirated cars.
Initially the Renaults suffered from poor reliability, but by 1979 the engineers had solved many of the issues and French driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille took pole position at the South African Grand Prix, followed by a win at that year’s French Grand Prix. It was the first victory for a turbocharged car in Formula 1, and it was a sign of things to come.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis wasted no time in seeking out an engine supplier that could develop him an all-new turbocharged 1.5 liter engine in order to keep his team competitive.
Porsche was the most logical automaker for the job as they had ample experience in turbocharging race cars by this time, for both the Porsche 917 and the Porsche 930 and its racing derivatives.
Dennis got TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) onboard as a sponsor to pay for the engine’s development, and Porsche engineers set to work under the leadership of the most important engine designer in Porsche history – Hans Mezger.
Above Video: This short clip contains behind the scenes footage of Niki Lauda driving a McLaren fitted with the TAG-Porsche engine for the first time, at the Weissach test track in 1983. If you watch to the end you’ll see him give his first impressions of the engine, including him describing it as “bloody good.”
Mezger and his team developed a 1.5 liter (1,496cc) V6 with a 90º bank angle, an aluminum block, and aluminum heads. The engine had double overhead cams per bank with four valves per cylinder, and electronic fuel injection.
Early versions of the engine were capable of 715 hp at 11,800 rpm however later in the development cycle the Porsche-TAG TTE P01 was turning out up to 1,060 hp in qualifying trim at 12,600 rpm with 960 hp available in race trim.
The engine was first used in competition towards the end of the 1983 season in the McLaren MP4/1, this was essentially a series of full test runs before the beginning of the 1984 season when the Porsche-TAG TTE P01 would be fitted to the new McLaren MP4/2.
Between 1984 and 1987 the Porsche-TAG TTE P01 engine (combined with the McLaren cars and their drivers of course) would achieve three Drivers’ Championships, Two Constructors’ Championships, and 25 wins from 68 race entries.
It would prove to be Porsche’s most successful Formula 1 engine, and it would be pivotal to establishing the viability of turbocharged, small capacity V6 engines in F1 – the basic recipe that was put back into use with the 2014 F1 regulations (although now with the addition of an electric hybrid system).
“The McLaren-TAGs were so competitive that the 1984 drivers’ title became a private matter between Alain Prost and me. The fact that we won 12 of the 16 rounds between us says a lot. Porsche did a really great job.” – Niki Lauda
The Porsche-TAG TTE P01 engine you see here is currently being offered for sale on Bonhams. It’s the 25th of the 40 examples that were made in total and the listing notes that it’s incomplete, and that it shows signs of being used in competition. It’s being sold on a presentation stand, and it would ideally make an excellent sculpture for any Porsche or McLaren owner.
If you’d like to read more about this engine or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Engine images courtesy of Bonhams
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