1982 Porsche 956: Dual Clutch Automated Transmissions
In racing, every millisecond lost changing gears is an opportunity for the competition to pass you. For its 956 endurance racer, Porsche developed a new dual-clutch gearbox that essentially split the transmission into two transmissions, with one clutch for the odd-numbered gears and another clutch for the even-numbered ones. So instead of the one clutch disengaging power to accommodate a gear change as in a conventional transmission, in a dual clutch system, as one gearset is disengaged, the other is instantly engaged. It takes electronics to make this magic happen, but it helped make the 956 and its brother, the 962, almost unbeatable. Automated dual clutch transmissions are used in Porsche's current vehicles under the PDK name (for Porsche Doppelkupplung), while Volkswagen, Audi, and other brands use their own dual-clutch systems. It's also the basis for the paddle shifting that's seen on so many high-performance cars today.