That’s Amore. Love happens when Porsche decides to mate a 911 powerplant to the nose of one of the fastest single engine, piston powered personal aircraft available. Well.. more like rabid lust, turned fornication, followed by a bitter divorce, alimony and a lifetime of child support.
As long as you loved paying a $100k premium for a heavier, slower airplane.
The 3.2 liter, air cooled flat six from the 911 Carrera did happen to find its way into a handful of other aircraft but only found certification and production in the Mooney M20L. Mooney aircraft are known for their sleek, lightweight, and aerodynamic styling. The easily recognizable vertical tailfin and cantilever wings along with flush rivets and low slung fuselage give it the title of sports car of the sky. Holding speed records at different points in the company’s history, it seemed like a logical conclusion to partner with Porsche to power the aircraft to even greater potential.
Electronic ignition and electronic fuel injection, better cylinder head design, off the shelf automotive engine parts from an exotic german manufacturer all seems like a recipe for success.
Unfortunately, the engineers at Porsche neglected the cardinal rule of motoring: simplify and add lightness. Torsion damper, dual camshafts, a gear propellor transmission, and it was speculated that the cooling fan cost up to 15 mph of airspeed. Add in two alternators and two batteries for two complete electrical systems and you get the feeling that Porsche was throwing parts at it because they had extras.
The flat 6 added quite a bit of heft as well, causing it to weigh in at over 200 pounds more than its Lycoming equipped cousin. That’s after Mooney striped off the inner wheel well doors and added a $14,000 kevlar propellor.
After dabbling in aero engines in the late ’50s, Porsche decided to jump in head first, but ending up doing a belly smacker, lodging one of their testicles up near a kidney. With the notably bold and reckless Peter Schutz at the helm of Porsche, tunnel vision focused all efforts on power delivery to the propellor, only to neglect the complete interaction between airframe, engine and propellor. Porsche abandoned it’s interest in aviation engines but not without dumping a cool $70 million in development during the 1980′s. That’s roughly $160 million in todays dollars. Porsche’s short but sweet relationship with Mooney only lasted 1 year and only 41 aircraft made their way off the line. Not surprisingly, Peter Schutz “resigned” from the company shortly after the debacle.
The happy ending here is, it seems that Mooney Porsche owners and pilots are smitten with their equipment. I suppose that sometimes love is neither cheap nor practical. I’ve flown a few hours in a different Mooney M20, and I have a feeling that sitting behind the controls, with that big boxer whirring away might give me that warm and fuzzy feeling as well. Its a beautiful and well made engine, and I wouldn’t turn down a ride.