The genisis of the 911
Ferry Porsche, the founder of the sports car make that bears his name, could not have summed up the philosophy of the 911 any better: "It is the only car that you can drive from an African safari to Le Mans, then to the theatre, and then onto the streets of New York.” The 911 has been in the limelight for almost sixty years. It embodies the spirit and genius of Porsche. Its history is intertwined with the history of the brand.
Thanks to systematic updating, it has improved with time while remaining faithful to its round curves, its flat-six that hums its own tune, and its anachronistic concept with a rear overhang engine. It is the only sports car with a rare versatility, being both usable in everyday life thanks to its unparalleled reliability, and capable of facing unflinchingly up to the rigours of a racetrack.
Launched in 1957, the construction of this new car, which was to provide increased power, improved road holding, quieter running and more room for passengers, was far from a smooth ride. Dubbed the T8, this project was finally unveiled on 12 September 1963 at the Frankfurt motor show, under the designation 901. The sales brochures indicated a wheelbase of 2,211 mm, a length of 4,163 mm and a weight of only 1,080 kg. The top speed was 200 km/h, which was quite a feat considering the limited power of 130 hp..
But the automaker kept out of the spotlight. The car met with a cool reception from the public: "Too expensive, too tame, too bourgeois", they declared. Worse: the car was a long way off being ready. The engineers were unable to replicate the behaviour of the prototypes on the first production models, which suffered from a high degree of dispersion, awkward road holding and the erratic functioning of the Solex carburettors. The launch was postponed for a year.
Porsche also had to deal with the complaints of Peugeot, which claimed ownership of three-digit numbers with a zero in the middle. On 22 November 1964, Ferry Porsche decided to use the name "Type 911", the most practical solution.
An unrivalled track record
The following year, the 911 finished a promising fifth in the Monte Carlo rally. This was the prelude to a sporting career that remains unmatched to this day. During its six decades of existence, the 911 has never stopped racing, winning on every terrain, from rallies to racetracks to African trails.
On the production front, the 911 demonstrates almost "limitless" potential. In 1965, Power and performance have increased; the chassis is increasingly forgiving the excesses of impetuous drivers; riding comfort is equivalent to that of a saloon.
Fundamentalists take exception to this, but the 911 has expanded its circle of followers. The range now boasts an incredible variety of bodywork variants and models. Including the two special versions, the 911 Sport Classic and the 911 Dakar, there are twenty-six models.