Porsche tells the story of how it shifted into the future.
Today, Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission is well-established in the brand. It’s proven itself to be competent when employed in very high-performance cars and it boasts the ability to shift faster and easier than even the most seasoned user of a manual transmission, and while us car enthusiasts will always be somewhat drawn towards the authenticity and control of the stick shift, there is much to be said about the engineering, innovation, and implications that the advent of the PDK had on the automotive world.
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In the 1980s, the idea of a transmission like the PDK was a much loftier concept than it is now. However, Rainer Wüst, the Technical Manager at the time responsible for the development of the PDK found transmission development prototypes from engineering genius Imre Szodfridt from before even then, and by the end of the 1960s, Szodfridt had already pitched the concept of a dual-clutch transmission to Ferdinand Piëch. Once the prototype was found and adapted, it was fitted to a Porsche 944 Turbo which was tested successfully. The 956 was the next car used to test the PDK, and it was in this test mule that Wüst executed the idea of putting the gear shifters on the steering wheel to be able to drive even faster and easier. Before the team knew it, the PDK entered the racing and rally world, and in the 2000s, it finally broke through into Porsche road cars and became one of the most important contributions to the dynamism and performance of Porsche’s most excellent modern creations.