A brief history of the Porsche 911
A celebration of the iconic sportscar on its 60th birthday
Classic Porsche 901 in yellow in country lane
Consumption and emission information 911 Turbo S (WLTP): Fuel consumption combined: 12,3 - 12,0 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions combined: 278 - 271 g/km; CO₂ class: G.
It’s a big year for the 911. The legendary Porsche sportscar is 60 years old in 2023. Here's a handy guide to an automotive icon that continues to define pure driving enjoyment
When the dust sheet was pulled back on a brand-new Porsche model at the 1963 Frankfurt International Motor Show, few could have predicted the huge impact it would have on motoring in the decades to come. Its name was the 901. Today it's better known as the legendary 911, its name having been changed before it went on sale. Over the 60 years between 1963 and 2023, over 1.2m 911 sportscars have been made. Each one is evidence of the endless pursuit of innovation by Porsche, particularly when it comes to delivering memorable drive after memorable drive for all who experience it. From its early days to most recognisable models and standout moments, this is a celebration of a true automotive phenomenon.When was the Porsche 911 first launched?The Porsche 911 was first unveiled to the public on 12 September 1963 when it was launched at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. Full production of the car began a year later in September 1964 at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen.The second production model to be made by the company after the Porsche 356, interestingly the 911 was originally called the 901. However, by the time the model went on sale it had become the 911 after a claim about naming rights from French car manufacturer, Peugeot. The 911 name not only stuck but has since become synonymous with success on both road and racetrack.
Original Porsche 911 in silver with Fuchs wheels
The Porsche 911 debuted in 1963, initially as the 901, before changing its name to the one used today. Its trademark Fuchs wheels first appeared in 1965 on a 911 Targa
Who designed the Porsche 911?The first ever Porsche 911 was designed by F.A. Porsche – son of the founder of the company, Ferry Porsche – and his team. The original 911 had an air-cooled flat-six engine instead of the four-cylinder boxer engine of the 356. It developed 130PS, could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 9.1 seconds and had a top speed of 210km/h. These were hugely impressive figures for a production sportscar at the time. Although there have been many versions of the 911 since then, much has remained the same, like its 2 + 2 seating layout and rear engine position.Many great Porsche designers have been involved in updating and evolving the 911 over the decades. They include such legendary figures as Anatole Lapine, who designed the G series, the successor to the original 911, and Harm Lagaay. This Dutchman was chief designer at Porsche from 1989 to 2004 and was the man who, among many other highlights, introduced the much talked about ‘fried egg’ headlights on the 911 (type 996). And, since 2004, it's been Michael Mauer who has overseen design of the 911 in his role as Head of Style Porsche.These days you can choose a Porsche 911 to fit a wide range of lifestyles, like the new 911 Dakar, the first standard off-road model in the series, or the fastest production car in the current 911 line-up, the 911 Turbo S. Or, as Ferry Porsche once famously said, “The 911 is the only car that you can drive from an African safari to Le Mans, then to the theatre and onto the streets of New York.”
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche and 1:5-scale model of Porsche 911 Targa
F.A. Porsche, designer of the 911, with a 1:5-scale model 911 S Targa in 1968
The Porsche 911 remains the epitome of timeless automotive design. There is no other sportscar that has evolved over 60 years and yet has kept the essence of its original design quite like the 911 has, with its perfect proportions, flowing curves and sporty attitude.It’s a continuity of design that is unique in automotive history. The first Porsche 911 set down the basic layout that is still evident in the model today. Its lateral lines, fastback design, the shape of its side windows, free-standing front wings and flat front bonnet remain core features of its design.How many versions of the Porsche 911 have there been?There have been eight generations of the Porsche 911 since 1963. They are:

Original 911 (1963-1973)
G series (1974-1989)
964 (1988-1994)
993 (1993-1998)
996 (1997-2005)
997 (2004-2012)
991 (2011-2019)
992 (2018-present)
Blue Porsche 911 (type 996) driving on road
The Porsche 911 (type 996) was a groundbreaking model, which saw the air-cooled engine of previous models replaced by a water-cooled version
What’s the difference between an air-cooled and water-cooled Porsche 911?When it introduced the fifth generation of the 911 in 1997 – the type 996 – Porsche introduced the most radical overhaul yet of its acclaimed sportscar. The biggest change that was made was a decision to stop using air-cooled engines. Up until this point, the familiar sound of the air-cooled Porsche engines was one of the defining characteristics of the 911. Air-cooled engines in a Porsche 911 used a combination of heat exchangers, fans and metal cooling fins to push air around the oil in the engine to cool it down and keep the engine running. However, because this technology was always ‘on’, even when engines were still cold, they were rather inefficient. It was a principle that led them to no longer comply with increasingly strict emissions regulations around the world.With the new water-cooled Porsche engines, emissions were not only lower, they were also far more efficient, with an upgrade in power to make them faster across the 911 range. The Porsche 911 (type 997) would go on to become the biggest-selling version of the sportscar yet.Which is the fastest Porsche 911 ever?The fastest production Porsche 911 ever made is the 2023 911 Turbo S (type 992). With its 650PS, 3.7-litre engine, it can hit the 100km/h mark from a standstill in just 2.7 seconds with the PDK gearbox and Sport Chrono Package and reach a top speed of 330km/h.
Silver Porsche 911 Turbo S (type 992) by modernist buildings
The 2023 Porsche 911 Turbo S (type 992) is the fastest-ever 911 ever built with a 0-100km/h time of just 2.7 seconds
Where is the Porsche 911 built?The Porsche 911 is only built at Zuffenhausen, Germany, the headquarters of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. It’s exactly the same factory complex, in fact, where the first-ever 911 rolled off the line back when full-scale production began in 1964, a year after its Frankfurt International Motor Show launch. Every new 911 that has ever been built since has been made at Zuffenhausen.Which was the first Porsche 911 with a rear wing?Aerodynamic devices like rear wings are now commonplace, but Porsche innovation in sportscar engineering led to the 911 being the first production vehicle to have a rear spoiler incorporated into its design when it appeared on the 911 Carrera RS 2.7. The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 was extremely lightweight (less than 1000kg) but quick, and the radical design this aerodynamic device created the necessary downforce to keep it firmly planted to the road. This now legendary car is considered by many to be the most recognisable 911 model of all time. The unique design of the rear wing earned it the nickname of ‘Entenbürzel’ – or ‘ducktail’ in English – internally at Porsche. It’s a name that has stuck ever since. How big is a Porsche 911?If you ever get to see the original Porsche 911 and the current Porsche 911 (type 992) side by side you will notice how much larger the newest model is in comparison. In truth, the size of the 911 remained reasonably consistent for many decades after it was first launched. The big change came with the introduction of the 911 (type 996), which had its world premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in 1997. It grew 185mm in length compared to the previous 911 model, the type 993, as well as adding 80mm to the wheelbase and 30mm to its overall width. These changes benefitted both driver and passenger in terms of space inside the car. Every 911 built since has balanced its sportscar performance with everyday driveability.
The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 ‘ducktail’ cornering on track
The 911 Carrera RS 2.7, with its striking ducktail rear wing, is considered by many to be the most iconic 911 of all time
In order to see how much larger the Porsche 911 is today compared to the first ever model, compare the figures for the two cars here:1963 original Porsche 901 (later to become the 911)

Wheelbase 2211mm
Length 4290mm
Width 1700mm
Height 1300mm

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera (type 992)

Wheelbase 2450mm
Length 4519mm
Width 1852mm
Height 1298mm
Who are famous Porsche 911 owners?Many of the biggest names in music, sport, film and television have owned a Porsche 911. Famous people to own a Porsche 911 include rapper Eminem, model Kendall Jenner, footballer David Beckham, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, pop star Harry Styles and actor, racing driver and Porsche brand ambassador, Patrick Dempsey.One of the most famous personal Porsche collections belongs to comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld, who owns one of the biggest and most impressive Porsche line-ups – including several 911 sportscars – in the world. He admits that the day he first bought a 911 (20 January 1988) will be etched on his memory for life. Oh, he bought a black 911 Carrera, by the way.
One-off Porsche 911 Sally Carrera amid US desert scene
Kerrrr-ching: this one-off Porsche 911 Sally Carrera model is the most expensive new 911 ever. It raised $3.6m for two charities when sold at auction
What's the most expensive Porsche 911 ever sold?The most expensive new Porsche 911 sportscar sold at auction, as of May 2023, is the one-off Porsche 911 Sally Special. At the RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction in August 2022, it achieved a hammer price of $3.6m. The entire proceeds of the sale went to two charities, Girls Inc. and USA for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.As of May 2023, the most expensive Porsche 911 production model you can buy (before configuration) is the Porsche 911 Sport Classic. Its official retail price (May 2023) for the Porsche 911 Sports Classic in the USA is from $272,300; in Germany the price is from €281,758 including tax and in the UK prices begin at £214,200 including VAT. Both the 911 Sally Special and the 911 Sport Classic are the work of the experts at Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur.How many Porsche 911 cars have been built?In May 2017 the Porsche 911 celebrated a huge milestone when the one millionth 911 rolled off the production line at Zuffenhausen. A 911 Carrera S (type 991) presented in the special colour of Irish Green, it had a number of exclusive features that echoed some of those of the original 911 from 1963. These included Pepita cloth inserts in the seats, Porsche crests that harked back to the design of those on the earliest models and a green font used in the dials in the driver display which were again a nod to the first-ever 911 sportscars. It embarked on a world tour in 2017 before eventually settling at its final destination at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
One millionth Porsche 911 in Irish Green in a Chinese street
This Porsche 911 Carrera S (type 991) in Irish Green was the one millionth Porsche to be made when it rolled off the production line in 2017
As of May 2023, a total of around 1.2m Porsche 911 sportscars have been made since its debut in 1963, making it one of the biggest selling sportscar models of all time. In 2022 alone, for example, over 40,000 new Porsche 911 cars were sold globally.Here is the number of Porsche 911 cars produced by series type:Original 911 81,100
G series 196,397
964 63,762
993 68,881
996 175,262
997 213,004
991 233,540
992 96,603 as of 2022 (NB the 992 remains on sale as of May 2023)
Peter Gregg driving 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 at Daytona 1973
Peter Gregg driving a 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1973. Gregg and co-driver Hurley Haywood would later secure overall race victory
Is the Porsche 911 a great racing car?Porsche is renowned for its achievements in motorsport – and the 911 has had a significant role to play in that. They include the Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8, which was the first 911 to ever wear the RSR badge. Homologated for racing by the iconic 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, the career of the Carrera RSR 2.8 got off to the perfect start thanks to a commanding victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in spring 1973. Customer and factory entrants of the racecar won three international and seven national championships in 1973 alone, including the famed Targa Florio. The 911 also famously pulled off a hat-trick of consecutive wins at the Monte Carlo Rally between 1968 and 1970.Other great Porsche 911 racecars in history include the 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1, the first turbocharged Porsche 911 and the first turbo-powered race car at Le Mans. Entered by Porsche as its works team car in the 1974 FIA World Championship, it grabbed a memorable second place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, piloted by Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep.
Green Porsche 911 Turbo, aka the type 930, on road
Launched at the 1974 Paris Motor Show, the 911 Turbo – or type 930 as it is otherwise known – was the first production Porsche with a turbo-charged engine
More recently, the 997 GT3 RSR grabbed a GT2 overall class win in the FIA GT championship in 2009 when Britain’s Richard Westbrook drove the Prospeed Competition car to victory. And then there’s the Porsche 991 RSR, which has recently been retired from works racing, whose many achievements include a one-two finish in the GTE Drivers’ class at the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship.
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