One of the most iconic cars produced by Porsche AG is the Porsche 911. Since its debut in 1963, this car has effortlessly combined gorgeous styling with high performance. It’s an ideal showpiece to take on the road, and the Porsche 911 has also had its share of triumphs on the race track. This car’s production run is one of the longest in the history of auto making, and it’s gone through many tweaks and changes throughout its more than 50 year history. Here’s a look at the evolution of the Porsche 911.
In 1959, Butzi Porsche, grandson of Porsche AG founder Ferdinand Porsche, began to sketch out a car design that he thought would be a suitable replacement for the Porsche 356, which was the company’s first car model. He envisioned a more powerful, larger vehicle with a comfortable cabin. After his concept got approval, a non-operational mock-up was created and presented at an auto show in 1963. This car was given the internal project number 901, and 92 cars were produced in its initial run. When competing car maker Peugeot protested the name — the company had managed to claim exclusive rights in France to three digit car names containing a zero as the middle digit — Porsche changed the model’s moniker to 911.
The earliest 911s produced 130 hp, had two average size front seats and two small rear seats, and featured styling that was predominantly designed by Butzi Porsche. Because it wasn’t a true 2-seater due to the addition of extra seats, some critics claimed that the Porsche 911 was destined for failure because it lacked focus. They were wrong, however, as the public loved the car and the Porsche 911 had no problem selling once it hit the market.
Early series of the Porsche 911 were internally given a letter of the alphabet by the company. Once the letter “G” was reached, the car turned over to a new generation that featured advanced technology and different styling. The G series Porsche 911 was produced from 1973 to 1989, and it had quite a bit more power than its predecessor. Some 911s began featuring a turbocharged engine that could reach 260 bhp, and it also had higher torque due to the larger engine.
As far as its revamped look, this new generation of the Porsche 911 had bellows style bumpers, integrated headrests, and three-point seat belts. In 1977, the G series received an engine with a charge air cooler that could produce 300 hp — it outperformed every other car in its class. In 1982, the G series 911 was made available as a convertible.
The Porsche 911 that was produced from 1989 to 1994, which had the internal code name 964, was 85 percent new in terms of tech. It was the first time this model had four wheel drive, and it also came equipped with ABS brakes, airbags, and power steering. The 964 series of the 911 also had a redesigned chassis and coil springs.
In 1992, the Porsche 911 was given a Tiptronic automatic transmission, full manual control, and adaptive electronic management, which were all quite innovative at the time. 247 hp came from a 3.6 liter twin spark plug engine, making its horsepower 13 times that of the first Porsche 911 turbo. Some consider this version to be the least attractive 911, but the series that Porsche released next — which had the code name 993 — is widely thought to be one of the best looking 911s made. The 993 series was the last Porsche 911 to feature an air cooled engine.
From 1998 to 2001, the 996 series of the Porsche 911 was produced, and it looked vastly different from its predecessors due to having the same front end as the Porsche Boxster. This version of the 911 had an interior that was notably different as well, but it still maintained a luxurious look and opulent features. The 996 series debuted a water cooled engine and had more than a dozen different variations.
A New Millennium
Fans of the styling of older generations of the Porsche 911 had quite a bit to say about the look of the 996, so in 2001 the car got an exterior and interior makeover. The Targa variant was also released in 2001, and it was distinctive due to having a glass roof.
The next generation, the 997 series, came in 2005 and it was produced until 2008. More delicate detailing and the return of rounded headlights ensured that this version of the 911 looked great, but many purists felt its character was on the decline. Inside, the 997 series had a direct injection engine with greater efficiency, a twin clutch gearbox, and high power.
The most current inception of the Porsche 911 is the 991 series, and it has an entirely new platform. The latest 911 packs tons of beauty, and it also features a torque vectoring system and electric power steering, which many Porsche aficionados were not happy to see. Still, its unmatched styling, profile, and exquisite features leave little else to complain about.
It’s the first Porsche 911 to use a body primarily comprised of aluminum. This is what allows the car to be lighter than its predecessor, even though it is larger in size. Fuel efficiency and increased power were at the forefront when the mechanics of the 991 series was created, and its components allow for a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 16 percent.
At the Races
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that the Porsche 911 is so well known is its racing legacy. This model has been a winner on various race tracks around the world and its racing tradition continues on today, with the 911 racking up a win as recently as April 2016. The 911’s reputation as a championship car proved what the company claimed about its speed, power, and handling. There’s little doubt that the Porsche 911 would have been well liked even if it didn’t have such a prestigious racing history, but that history is what has catapulted the 911’s status to its current height.
Ask an auto lover about his favorite luxury sports cars, and it’s highly likely that the 911 will be named. It’s an incredible vehicle all the way around, and just one look at any Porsche 911 will reveal why it’s so legendary. It will be quite a surprise if the 911 doesn’t stretch its epic run into the next few decades.