50 Years of the Porsche 911A sports car celebrates a special anniversary
For five decades the 911 has been the heart of the Porsche brand. Few other cars in the world can look back on such a long tradition and such continuity as the Porsche 911.
And to celebrate, Porsche is sending a special 911 on a world tour that will include Australia and its iconic landmarks.
The 911 has been inspiring car enthusiasts the world over since its debut as the model 901 at the Frankfurt IAA International Automotive Show in September 1963. Today it is considered the quintessential sports car, the benchmark for all others. The 911 is also the central point of reference for all other Porsche series. From the Cayenne to the Panamera, every Porsche is the most sporting car in its segment, and each one carries a piece of the 911 philosophy.
Over 820,000 Porsche 911s have been sold (including more than 9,500 in Australia), making it the most successful sports car in the world. For each of its seven generations the engineers in Zuffenhausen and Weissach have reinvented it, time and time again demonstrating to the world the innovative power of the Porsche brand.
Like no other car, the 911 reconciles apparent contradictions such as sportiness and everyday practicality, tradition and innovation, exclusivity and social acceptance, design and functionality. It is no wonder that each generation has written its own personal success story.
Ferry Porsche best described its unique qualities: “The 911 is the only car you could drive on an African safari or at Le Mans, to the theatre or through New York City traffic.”
In addition to its classic yet unique lines, the Porsche 911 has always been distinguished by its advanced technology. Many of the ideas and technologies that made their debut in the Porsche 911 were conceived on the race track. The 911 was committed to the performance principle from the start, and motor racing is its most important test lab. From the very beginning it has been at home on circuits all over the world, earning a reputation as a versatile and dependable winner. Indeed, a good two thirds of Porsche's 30,000 race victories to date are notched up by the 911.
Porsche to celebrate the anniversary
For Porsche, the 50th anniversary of this iconic sports car is the central theme of 2013. There will be a wide variety of anniversary events, starting with the “Retro Classics” automobile show in Stuttgart. From March 7-10 the Porsche Museum will ring in the anniversary year with four special exhibits: an early-model 911 Turbo Coupé, a 911 Cabriolet study from 1981, a 1997 street version 911 GT1 and the pre-series Type 754 T7. This chassis by Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was a milestone on the way to the 911 design.
Porsche is also sending an authentic 1967 model 911 on a world tour. Over the course of the year, this vintage 911 will travel to five continents where it will be shown in places including Pebble Beach CA, Shanghai, Goodwood UK, Paris and Australia. As an ambassador for the Porsche brand, this vintage 911 will be in attendance at many international fairs, historical rallies and motor sport events. Fans can follow the car’s progress at porsche.com/follow-911.
The Porsche Museum is celebrating “50 years of the Porsche 911” from June 04 through to September 29 with a special exhibition featuring the history and development of the 911. The museum’s own publishing house, Edition Porsche-Museum, will publish an anniversary book titled “911x911.”
The First 911 (1963) – Birth of a Legend
As the successor to the Porsche 356, the 911 won the hearts of sports car enthusiasts from the outset. The prototype was first unveiled at the Frankfurt IAA Motor Show in 1963 as the 901, and renamed the 911 for its market launch in 1964.
Its air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine delivered 128 hp (94 kW), giving it an impressive top speed of 131 mph (210 km/h). If you wanted to take things a little slower, starting in 1965 you could also opt for the four-cylinder Porsche 912. In 1966 Porsche presented the 158 hp (116 kW) 911 S, which was the first to feature forged alloy wheels from Fuchs.
The 911 Targa, with its distinctive stainless steel roll bar, made its debut in late 1966 as the world's first ever safety cabriolet. The semiautomatic Sportomatic four-speed transmission joined the line-up in 1967. With the 911T of the same year, and the later E and S variants, Porsche became the first German manufacturer to comply with strict US exhaust emission control regulations.
The Porsche 911 became more and more powerful as displacement increased, initially to 2.2 litres (1969) and later to 2.4 (1971). The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 of 1972 with 207 hp (152 kW) engine and weighing less than 1000 kg remains the epitome of a dream car to this day.
Its characteristic “ducktail” was the world's first rear spoiler on a production car.
The G-Series (1973) – The Second Generation
Ten years after its premiere, the engineers at Porsche gave the 911 its first thorough makeover. The G model was produced from 1973 to 1989, longer than any other 911 generation.
It featured prominent cushioned bumpers, an innovation designed to meet the latest crash test standards in the US. Occupant protection was further improved by three-point seat belts as standard equipment, as well as integrated headrests.
One of the most important milestones in the 911 evolution was the 1974 unveiling of the first Porsche 911 Turbo with a three-litre 256 hp (188 kW) engine and enormous rear spoiler. With its unique blend of luxury and performance, the Turbo became synonymous with the Porsche mystique.
The next performance jump came in 1977 with the intercooler-equipped 911 Turbo 3.3. At 296 hp (218 kW) it was the best in its class.
In 1983 the naturally aspirated 911 Carrera superseded the SC; with a 3.2 litre 228 hp (168 kW) engine it became a favourite collectors’ item. Starting in 1982, fresh air enthusiasts could also order the 911 as a Cabriolet.
The 911 Carrera Speedster, launched in 1989, was evocative of the legendary 356 of the fifties.
The 964 (1988) – Classic Modern
Just when automotive experts were predicting the imminent end of an era, in 1988 Porsche came out with the 911 Carrera 4 (964). After 15 years production the 911 platform was radically renewed with 85 per cent new components, giving Porsche a modern and sustainable sports car. Its air-cooled 3.6 litre boxer engine delivered 247 hp (182 kW). Externally, the 964 differed from its predecessors only slightly, in its aerodynamic polyurethane bumpers and automatically extending rear spoiler, but internally it was almost completely different.
The new model was designed to captivate drivers not only with sporty performance but also with enhanced comfort. It came with ABS, Tiptronic, power steering, and airbags, and rode on a completely redesigned chassis with light alloy control arms and coil springs instead of the previous torsion-bar suspension. A revolutionary member of the new 911 line-up right from the start was the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 model.
In addition to Carrera Coupé, Cabriolet and Targa versions, starting in 1990 customers could also order the 964 Turbo. Initially powered by the proven 3.3 litre boxer engine, in 1992 the Turbo was upgraded to a more powerful 355 hp (261 kW) 3.6 litre engine. Today, the 964 Carrera RS, 911 Turbo S and 911 Carrera 2 Speedster are in high demand among collectors.
The 993 (1993) – The Last Air-Cooled Models
The 911 with the internal design number 993 remains the one true love of many a Porsche driver. The remarkably pleasing design has much to do with this. The integrated bumpers underscore the smooth elegance of its styling. The front section is lower-slung than on the earlier models, made possible by a switch from round to polyellipsoid headlights.
The 993 quickly gained a reputation for exceptional dependability and reliability. It was also agile with its newly designed aluminium chassis. The Turbo version was the first to have a bi-turbo engine, giving it the lowest-emission stock automotive powertrain in the world in 1995. The hollow-spoke aluminium wheels, never before used on any car, were yet another innovation of the all-wheel drive Turbo version.
The Porsche 911 GT2 was aimed at the sports car purist who cherished the thrill of high speed driving. An electric glass roof that slid under the rear window was one of the innovations of the 911 Targa. But the real reason dyed-in-the-wool Porsche enthusiasts still revere the 993 is that this model, produced from 1993 to 1998, was the last 911 with an air-cooled engine.
The 996 (1997) – Water-Cooled
The 996, which rolled off the assembly line from 1997 to 2005, represented a major turning point in the history of the 911. It retained all the character of its classic heritage, but was an entirely new car. This comprehensively redesigned generation was the first to be powered by a water-cooled boxer engine. Thanks to its four-valve cylinder heads it achieved 296 hp (218 kW) and broke new ground in terms of reduced emissions, noise, and fuel consumption.
The exterior design was a reinterpretation of the 911's classic lines, but with a lower drag coefficient (cd) of 0.30. The lines of the 996 were also a result of component sharing with Porsche’s successful Boxster model. Its most obvious exterior feature were the headlights with integrated turn signals, at first controversial but later copied by many other manufacturers. On the inside, drivers experienced an entirely new cockpit. Driving comfort now also played a greater role alongside the typical sporty characteristics.
With the 996 Porsche launched an unprecedented product offensive with a range of new variants. The 911 GT3 became one of the highlights of the model range in 1999, keeping the tradition of the Carrera RS alive. The 911 GT2, the first car equipped with ceramic brakes as standard, was marketed as an extreme sports car in 2000.
The 997 (2004) – Classic yet Modern
In July 2004 Porsche unveiled the new generation 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S models, referred to internally as the 997. The clear oval headlights with separate blinkers in the front bumper were a visual return to older 911 models, but the 997 offered more than just style. It was a high-performance vehicle: the 3.6 litre boxer engine turned out 321 hp (236 kW) while the new 3.8 litre engine of the Carrera S managed a truly excellent 350 hp (261 kW).
The chassis was also substantially reworked, and the Carrera S came with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard equipment. In 2006 Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo, the first petrol-powered production car to include a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. A model update in 2008 made the 997 even more efficient thanks to direct fuel injection and a dual clutch transmission.
Never before had the 911 series made such extensive allowances to suit drivers’ individual preferences; and with Carrera, Targa, Cabriolet, rear or all-wheel drive, Turbo, GTS, special models, and road versions of GT racing cars, the 911 family ultimately comprised 24 models.
The 991 (2011) – Refined by Experience
This car, known internally as the 991, represents the greatest technical leap in the evolution of the 911.
Already the class benchmark for decades, the new 911 generation raised performance and efficiency to new levels. A totally new suspension with longer wheelbase, wider track, larger tyres and an ergonomically optimised interior – it all adds up to an even sportier yet more comfortable driving experience.
Technically, the 911 is the epitome of Porsche Intelligent Performance – even lower fuel consumption, even higher performance. This is due in part to the reduced 3.4 litre displacement in the Carrera model (yet developing five hp more than the 997 Gen II), and to its hybrid steel/aluminium construction, which significantly reduces curb weight.
Other innovations include Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and the world’s first seven-speed manual transmission.
The design of the 991 has likewise met with high critical acclaim. With its flat, stretched silhouette, exciting contours, and precisely designed details, the seventh generation of the Porsche 911 Carrera remains unmistakably a 911 that has once again succeeded in redefining the standard for automobile design. It is the best 911 of all time – until the next generation.