Porsche 911 History
The Porsche 911 is one of the most admired and loved automobiles in all of the car enthusiast world. First produced in 1963 as the Porsche 901 and renamed to Porsche 911 in 1964, this fantastic automobile is a two-door, high performance classic German sports car. Designed and built by Porsche AG of Stuttgart, Germany, the 911 is known for its rear-mounted six cylinder boxer engine and well handling independent suspension. Since it’s inception in in the early 1960s, the car has gone through continuous development cycles, while overall maintaining its basic shape and super car performance concept.
Read on to discover a brief history of the Porsche 911 and be sure to comment on your favorite 911 version!
The First Decade – 1963-1973
The Porsche 901 of 1963 became the start of an amazing production run that is still going strong today. Renamed from the 901 to the Porsche 911 in 1964 to avoid legal issues with Peugeot, the car was designed as a larger and more practical version of the Porsche 356. This design had four seats instead of two, which lead car critics to complaints of the car’s lack of focus.
The first 911s had small two-liter engines with as little as only 130bhp. Weighing right at one ton, however, this still made for a very quick and fun to drive sports car. Engine size and power would rise steadily over this first decade and by the end of this period Porsche 911s evolved in 1973 to one of the most loved early 911s, the 2.7 liter Carrera RS with 210bhp.
Also introduced during the first decade was the 911 Targa in 1967. The Targa was the 911’s alternative to a convertible top that instead offered a partially removable roof that could be stored in the trunk when not in use. Believing that truly open convertible top cars would have trouble meeting safety regulations in the United States, the Targa was offered with both removable and permanent back window opitons and a stainless steel-clad roll bar. The name Targa came from the Targa Florio sports car road race in Sicily, Italy where Porsche had several key victories against competitors Ferrari and Alfa Romeo until the race was discontinued in 1973.
G-Series – 1973-1989
Each new version of the Porsche 911 received an internal codename with a letter of the alphabet. With the letter G, Porsche 911s received their first major styling and technical upgrade. These new generation 911s ran for a long time, from 1973 until their eventual replacement at the end of 1989.
The G-Series 911s were solid cars and this era was the first to introduce a true convertible with the 1983 911 Cabriolet (produced in late 1982) and a turbocharged engine in the 1975-1989 Porsche 930. The turbo engine 930s dramatically increased horsepower and also included the coveted wide-body upgrade.
The 964 – 1989-1994
The Porsche 964, the company’s internal codename for this series of 911, entered production at the end of 1989 and ran through 1994. The 964 featured stylish appearance updates like the more integrated front and rear bumpers. Beyond the more streamlined look, the 964 was 85% new mechanically. It was the first 911 to offer all-wheel-drive, power steering, ABS brakes, airbags and Porsche’s optional tiptronic (automatic) transmission.
The 993 – 1994-1998
The next series in Porsche 911 lineage was internally named the 993 and produced between 1994 and 1998. Renowned for both its looks and performance, the 993 is widely regarded as the best and most desirable of all the vintage 911 models.
The 993 was the last 911 produced with Porsche’s famed air-cooled engine and it was also the series that introduced the infamous GT2. The rear-wheel drive GT2 was created by Porsche’s racing division to combat restrictions on all-wheel-drive cars in car races around the globe. Street versions of the GT2 were so powerful they were quickly nicknamed the “widow maker.”
The 996 – 1998-2001
1998 brought a sea of change for the Porsche 911, with the switch to water-cooled engines in the 996 series. Produced from 1998-2001, the 996 replaced the much-loved air cooled engines that had been a standard for 34 years. The 996 also came with major body and interior styling changes that left many Porsche fans quite concerned about the future of the automobile. The body was completely reworked to look more like the cheaper Boxster and the car featured, for the first time, non-elliptical headlights.
One thing that was well received with the 996 series was the introduction of the GT3. Like the GT2, the GT3 was derived from Porsche’s racing division. Road versions of the GT3 were lighter and more focused on responsiveness over compliance and comfort. The GT3 engine was not a turbocharged version of the standard 996 engine, but rather a naturally aspirated engine derived from a sports-prototype racing car and was made from even lighter materials which enabled the engine to rotate at high speeds.
The 996.2 – 2001-2004
The 996.2 was a mid-life update made by Porsche in an attempt to appease critics of the new water-cooled 911’s styling. Starting in 2001, the 996.2 introduced a new, updated interior and a new glass-roofed Targa version to the lineup.
The mk2 996 was also introduced during this timeframe as another 911 GT2 version. The mk2 was a 196mph turbocharged beast, produced without the safety of the more stable four-wheel-drive system.
The 997 – 2004-2008
The new 997 generation of the Porsche 911 family saw a triumphant return to the classic rounded headlights, much to the praise of enthusiasts. Although its shape remained very similar to previous year 996 models, the 997 did have some delicate updates to make it feel more modern. All versions now came standard with more than 300+bhp and the new GT2 skyrocketed to a pleasing 530bhp.
The 997.2 – 2008-2011
While little changed in regards to its exterior look, the 997.2 brought a host of mechanical updates. This updated version carried more efficient direct injection engines to produce more environmentally caring 911s, while the PDK twin-clutch gearbox also arrived. Immediate response by the Porsche purist community wasn’t great, but after the company fitted the double-clutch PDK transmission with proper steering wheel paddles, its appeal over the old Tiptronic automatic became a big hit.
The 997.2 911s achieved amazing power and performance thanks to the arrival of the 611bhp GT2 RS, while arguably the best ever 911, the GT3 RS 4.0, also landed in this generation.
The 991 – 2011-2015
The 991 arrived on the Porsche scene in 2011 and was immediately lauded as the prettiest 911 in decades. The new model number brought with it a completely new platform, only the third in 911 history. New mechanical updates included an overall growth in length by 2.2 inches and a 3.9 inch increase in wheelbase. The rear axle moved rearward roughly three inches toward the engine, which was made possible by a new 3-shaft transmission, and the front track was widened as well.
Visually, the 991 received wide-set headlights that were more three-dimensional. Front fender peaks became a bit more prominent and stylistic directionals now appeared to float above intakes for the twin coolant radiators. The rear view saw a dramatic change with a slightly more voluminous form and thin taillight slits with a protruding lip on the end of the bodywork. The interior saw a big change with a new Carrera GT inspired center console.
The 991 became the first 911 version to use predominantly aluminum construction and will go down in Porsche history as the last of the 911s to have naturally aspirated air induction.
The 991.2 – 2015+
In September 2015, Porsche unveiled the second generation 991.2 Carrera models at the Frankfurt Motor Show. To the chagrin of 911 purists the world over, it was announced that all new 911 Carrera and Carrera S models would come standard with turbo engines. The move ensures that all but the GT3 911s will become forced induction models going forward.
The move to turbo induction has been received with mixed results by the Porsche community, to say the least. But, so were water-cooled engines, PDK, electric steering, and many other upgrades. The 911 has battled critics its entire 50+ year existence and hopefully will continue to do so long into the future.