The legendary Porsche 911 is the longest production run sports car of all time. It was conceived as a successor for the highly successful Porsche 356 and from the start had high aspirations for success. Ferry Porsche’s son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, designed the 911. When it went into production it was labeled the 901 but Peugeot had claims to the name, so to avoid infringing on their naming scheme, it was changed to 911. As a result, only a few Porsches used the 901 name.
The Porsche 901, the forerunner for the famous 911, was the first ‘new’ vehicle Porsche had ever produced.
Prior to the 901, there was the 356. This vehicle had lived a relatively long lifespan and was nearing its end, both in mechanical capabilities and in appeal. Many variations of the 356 had appeared during its production-run, most improvements where mechanical with very few visual improvements. Albeit, the 356 was a very beautiful car and improvements to its design were not necessary.
In the Mid-1950’s, the Porsche company began producing prototypes for the successor of the 356. The result was a vehicle built on the same unitary structure used for the 356 but with a new front suspension, front disc brakes, and a six-cylinder engine.
The Porsche 901 was introduced to the public in 1963 at the Frankfurt Motorshow. The silhouette body was available only in fixed-head coupe form. In 1967 a Targa bodystyle became available featuring a removable center roof section. The 1991 cc flat-six engine was air-cooled. It’s 2-litre capacity was the same as its predecessor. The six-cylinder engine was chosen over the four to allow more room for growth and improvement in the future. Two Solex carburetors aided in the 130 horsepower output and was capable of a 130 mph top speed.
The Porsche 912 was similar in design to the 911 and eased the transition from the 356 to the 911. In comparison with the 911, the 912 had fewer amenities, less power, and weighed about 250 pounds less. A 5-speed gearbox was matted to a detuned 356-based 4-cylinder engine that produced 64 horsepower. The engine was mounted in the rear and powered the rear transaxle. Disc brakes and independent suspension with torsion bars gave the car excellent and impressive handling. The Recaro seats kept the driver planted and the rack-and-pinion steering was very responsive. For an additional cost, the owner could have air-conditioning, rear window wiper, halogen fog lights, electric sunroof, and/or three-point seatbelts.
The 912 came in both the coupe and targa flavors with the coupe being the more popular. About 2562 of the 34,959 912’s were targas.
The 912 was offered to the public in 1965 and stayed in production until 1969 when the mid-engined 914 was introduced. Due to its low cost, it easily outsold the more powerful 911’s during the first few years. In
1967, the 912 was awarded Car and Driver’s ‘Readers Choice’ for its class. During that same year a 912, driven by Sobieslaw Zasada of Poland, won the European Rally Championship.
At the end of the 914 production in late 1975, a version of the 912, dubbed the 912E, was introduced. Internally, the vehicle was labeled the Type 923. The ‘E’ stood for ‘Einspritzung’, in German meaning ‘fuel injection’. It was powered by a 2-liter, 914-derived fuel-injected engine and had had Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection and an air pump. It used the 911 body, but has smaller wheels and tires and non-vented brake rotors. The fuel-efficient engine, rising fuel costs, and lower speed limits made the 912E a safe-buy. After 2099 examples were produced, the 924 entered the scene. The 912E was the last air-cooled four-cylinder vehicle produced by Porsche.
During its production run that include the 912 and 912E, nearly 35,000 examples were produced. It had achieved victory in the racing world, served as European police cars, and was featured in the movie ‘Spy Games’ staring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.
In 1965 the Targa was introduced. This was an open version of the 911. The Name Targa came from a road race in Sicily named ‘Targa Florio’. Targa also meant ‘Shield’ used to describe the rollbar. The rear window could fold down while the panel between windshield and rollbar could be lifted off creating an open version of the 911.
In 1966 the 911 S was introduced as a better equipped and more powerful version of the standard 911. It featured engine modifications that resulted in 30 extra horsepower. The chassis was modified and bigger brakes were installed. An extra 5 pounds was saved from each corner of the car by using Fuch alloy wheels.
To increase sales, the 911 T was added to the line-up in 1967. This version had a de-tuned six-cylinder engine and produced 110 horsepower. It appealed to many buyers due to its attractive price, selling at a reduced cost from the base 911. Also in 1967, the 911S received ventilated disc brakes on all four corners.
In 1968, the Porsche 911S was no longer being exported to the United States due to new emissions and government standards and regulations. Porsche introduced a 911 L as a replacement which was basically a 911 S without the engine modifications. In 1969, the 911 S was once again allowed into the United States.
In 1969 the 911 E, the base model, was available with 140 horsepower for the United States and 160 horsepower for the European market. The 911 T had 125 horsepower on tap from the six-cylinder engine while the 911 S was available in the United States with 170 horsepower. The European version featured even more horsepower, rated at 190. A five-speed manual gearbox was introduced.
In 1970 the engine bore was enlarged by 4mm and increased the engine capacity to 2165 cc. This made the six-cylinder engine more powerful. The 911T was rated at 125 horsepower, the 911 E was rated 155 horsepower while the 911S was now producing 180 horsepower.
During the 1970 model year, a performance version of the 911S was created by removing amenities and using light-weight material wherever possible. Aluminum was used on the bumper and engine-lid, the interior received light-weight seats, and the door handles were replaced with cords. The result was a 1840 pounds street legal race car.
In 1972 a spoiler was standard on the 911 S but was optional on the 911 E and 911 T. In 1973, due to popularity, the spoiler became standard on all 911 models. The stroke of the engine was increased giving the engine a 2.4 liter displacement.
In 1973, Porsche wanted to compete in GT competition. In order to qualify, the manufacturer had to satisfy homologation rules for the Group 4 GT class that stated that 500 examples needed to be produced and sold to the public. Porsche knew that it would be difficult to sell 500 race cars so they built street legal race cars and kept the sticker price low. The RS was an immediate popular and at the end of the production run, 1636 examples were produced. Due to the successful sales, the RS was reclassified as a Group 3 series-production GT which required at least 1000 examples be produced.
The RS was stripped of nonessential amenities to save weight. A thin-gauge body steel and fiberglass was used for most of the vehicles but the supply ran short and at least 300 cars were outfitted with the normal-weight body parts. When compared with the stock 911S, the RS using the thin-gauge steel weighed 330 pounds less.
Wider aluminum wheels, Bilstein shocks, and modified sway bars gave the RS extra handling advantages. A rear spoiler was molded into the engine cover giving the RS the nickname ‘ducktail’. This gave the vehicle extra down-force at speed and aided in stability. Other distinguishing features of the RS was its name painted, typically in green, black, red or blue, above the rocker panels. The engine was a modified version of the Porsche 911 2.4 engine. It featured a bigger bore that resulted in greater displacement and horsepower.
Carrera RSR 3.0
The RSR 3.0 had 20 extra horsepower than the 2.7 version. It had a large front spoiler, large rectangular air intake, 9 inch rear wheels, and 8 inch front wheels. Since the thing-gauge body steel supply had been depleted and larger items had been placed on the RSR vehicle, the vehicle weighed 180 kg more than the 2.7. All this meant that the RSR was not much quicker than the 2.7. However, it did have better road-handling due to the wider tires.
During its production lifespan only 109 examples were produced with 60 outfitted as road going machines.
The 911 SC Weissach, produced only in 1980, was a limited edition design and only 400 units were constructed (Some sources states 406. In either case, a small amount were constructed and even fewer are known to exist today). All were sold to the United States. 200 were painted in Pongee Beige Metallic while the remaining 200 received a metallic charcoal gray color. The interior had red/burgundy carpet and beige leather seats. An RS wing was placed in the rear while the front received a new spoiler. All of the 911 SC Weissach’s were coupes, had normally aspirated engines, and were fitted with the 903 body. They were sold at a price of $32,000, a high price at the time.
In 1973 the 911E, 911T, and 911S used a 2.4 liter six-cylinder engine. In 1974 the Carrera name was added to the line-up and represented the performance option. The 911S became the middle model with its performance and trim equivalent to the former 911E.
The Carrera was distinguished by its many exterior components colored in black. For example, the door handles, wipers, and window frames were black.
In 1974 the Porsche 911 Turbo was introduced and is credited as being the world’s first production turbocharged sports car. Using a 3.0 liter engine and equipped with a turbocharger, it was capable of producing 290 horsepower.
In 1976, the Carrera was outfitted with the 3.0 liter engine and produced 200 horsepower.
In 1978, there were only two options available for the 911, the Turbo and the SC. The 911 SC used the 3.0 liter engine because it was more reliable and offered more opportunity for tuning in the future. the 3.0 liter engine was rated at 180 horsepower. The 2.7 liter engine was no longer used. When compared to the 1977 Carrera 3.0, the SC was more luxurious but had less horsepower. The luxury items added to the overall weight of the vehicle which decreased the performance. Still, the 911 SC was an extremely popular car. The 911 Turbo received a 3.3 liter engine and was able to produce 300 horsepower.
In 1979 the 911 SC’s engine received modifications increasing the horsepower rating to 188 while improving fuel economy by 10 percent.
In 1980 the entire 911 model-line receive extra power except those slated for exportation to the United States. The 911 SC was now producing 204 horsepower.
At the 1981 Frankfurt Auto Show Porsche introduced a four-wheel drive cabriolet version of the 911. A year later, the cabriolet went on sale as optional equipment on the 911 SC. It was the first cabriolet for Porsche since the 356.
In 1984 the 911 SC 3.0 engine was replaced by the new Carrera with a 3.2 engine. The 911 Tubro and 911 Carrera were the only bodystyles available however could be ordered in coupe, cabriolet or Targa options. The Carrera was better than its 911 SC predecessor. It offered more luxury and power, and better brakes. The 3.2 Liter engine was used until the 1989 model year. It was replaced by a 3.6 liter version.
The 1988 the turbo became standard with a five-speed manual gearbox.
In 1989 Porsche introduced the Carrera 3.2 Speedster. The top could fold to the back and be placed beneath a fiberglass cover. The Speedster was void of most electrical options including power seats which made it lighter than the standard car. In total, there were 2065 Speedsters production, 1894 with the turbo-look. The Turbo look gave the vehicle an aggressive stance but it also added weight to the vehicle. It was, however, a very popular option.
911 Carrera CS
The limited-edition 911 Carrera CS, meaning Club Sport, was introduced in 1987. This version was meant for the race track. This light-weight version was void of amenities and equipped with only the essential items. The CS is distinguished from other 911’s by its red wheels and bright graphics. Most were painted in ‘Grand-Prix’ white and all were coupes, except for one specially-built Targa. At the end of the Carrera CS production run, 340 examples were produced.
Carrera 2 and 4
In 1989 the 911 was given a 3.6 liter engine, new suspension, new transmission, self-adjusting spoiler, plastic aerodynamic bumpers, and new brakes. It was over 80% different when compared to the previous year. The big news for this year was the introduction of the Carrera 4, a four-wheel drive version of the 911.
The 1989 Porsche 911 received major improvements in the performance and handling department. At speeds greater than 50 mph, the rear spoiler would fold out and improving stability. The bigger brakes gave the 911 better stopping power while the suspension held the car in place as it would go through sharp turns.
In 1990 the Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 could be purchased in Cabriolet, Targa and Coupe body-styles. A Tiptronic transmission was introduced which is a gearbox that does not require a clutch. The Tiptronic allows the driver to shift manually or have the system automatically shift.
In 1990 Porsche introduced the Carrera RS series. It featured a modified version of the Carrera engine now producing 260 horsepower. It had Recaro seats and light-weight material. The interior was void of non-essential items. An aluminum hood, light-weight doors and windows, and various other methods and materials were used to make the vehicle as light as possible. There was an RS touring option which included a few items to make the vehicle more road worthy. In total 2051 Carrera RS models were created with 76 being equipped with the touring option.
Carrera RS America
In 1993, Porsche created a light-weight, limited edition, performance version of the 911 Carrera. It was dubbed the RS America. The year 1993 was selected because it commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the 911 Carrera RS. ‘RS’ is German for ‘Renn Sport’ or ‘Race Sport’.
The Carrera RS was conceived in 1973 but only available to the European market. The United States had strict safety, emission, and government regulations that made it impossible for the original RS to be sold in America. The 1993 Carrera RS was built to satisfy European regulation while a limited were built for the American regulations. The ones that made it to America were labeled ‘RS America.’
The RS America was lightweight, contained little luxury features, and highly-modified performance options. The M030 sports suspension package, 17 inch wheels, larger diameter front stabilizer bar, and modified shock absorbers were just a few of the modifications to the 911. By using weight reduction, refinements in the steering, suspension, tires and wheels, the 911 RS America was a high performance racing car.
The RS in America was very successful. What was only intended to last for 1993, rolled into the 1994 model year. Vehicles that were sold during 1993 have ‘PS’ in their VIN numbers, while the 1994 versions have ‘RS’. The 1994 models have rear seats while the 1993 versions have dual-storage bins.
The RS is distinguished from other 911’s by a ‘RS’ decal located in front of each rear wheel well and an RS America rear deck lid emblem. A large spoiler, commonly referred to as a ‘whaletale’, was fixed to the rear of the vehicle. Various versions of the 911 had a spoiler that was motor-driven and deployed and stowed at various vehicle speeds.
In 1994 the next generation of the Porsche 911 was introduced and only available in coupe form. Internally it was dubbed the 993. Aesthetically and mechanically, the vehicle was different from its previous versions. The upright headlights were removed; it received a front wing, wider fenders, 16 inch wheels, and new bumpers. Under the hood, the 3.6 liter engine was modified to produce 260 horsepower. A six-speed manual gearbox was all new. The chassis size was increased giving 20% extra interior room. Major improvements were done to the interior giving it new seats, new steering wheel, and making the console, buttons and gauges more driver-friendly.
In 1995 a Targa was introduced. But the big news was in 1996 when a Turbo, Carrera 4S, RS, and RS Club Sport became available.
In 1998 the next generation of the Porsche 911, the 996 was introduced. A 296 horsepower, water-cooled engine was all new. The new engine was more powerful, fuel efficient, and offered better performance even though it was smaller in size. The length of the car was increased; a new suspension, headlights, and styling modifications have been adapted throughout the vehicle.
Shortly after the introduction of the next generation 911, a cabriolet version became available. Instead of the top being folded on-top of the bodywork, it now folded into it.
The best 911 ever? The 2012 model 911, internally called 991, was introduced at the IAA Frankfurt on September 15, 2011. This is 48 years after the first 911 was introduced on September 12, 1963 at IAA Frankfurt.
The 991 is 5.6 cm / 2.2" longer, has 10 cm / 3.9" longer wheelbase, but width is exactly the same as on 997mk2. The windscreen is more back-tilted and body height is slightly reduced. The 991 Carrera S is 30 kg / 66 lbs lighter than the 997 mk2 Carrera S. Although the 911’s high cockpit has been its trademark, the flatter car does look more sporty.
7-speed manual gearbox
The manual gearbox is the world’s first 7-speed manual transmission on a passenger car. It is like the 6-speed gearbox in 997 plus a 7th “economy” long ratio gear. Top speed is reached in 6th gear. Thanks to the elevated centre console, the gear lever is within easy reach – ideal for sporty gear changes. A gear indicator in the rev counter reminds you which gear has been selected.
Cabriolet roof and WindStop
The 911’s soft top was completely redesigned for 991, although it looked very good already starting with the 996 Cabriolet. The top is a humpless 3-piece magnesium unit covered with smooth and trim fabric. A water channel on the roof ensures that no rainwater drops into the entry area when the doors are opened. As in previous 911’s, the top is fully electric and can also be opened with the remote control button on the key. The top makes its move in just 13 seconds. And like before, it is operable up to vehicle speeds of 50 km/h / 30 mph.
991 Cabrios have electric wind deflectors as standard equipment. Just press the button and in 2 seconds the wind is stopped.
1. MY1965-1973, introduced 9/1963 as 901, production started ~09/1964 as 901, but was changed to 911 by 1965
2. G-model MY1974-1989, pre-production cars from ~07/1973
3. 964 MY1989-1994, pre-production cars from ~03/1989
4. 993 MY1994-1998, pre-production cars from ~10/1993
5. 996 MY1998-2005, pre-production cars from ~07/1997. Mk1 MY1998-2001, Mk2 MY2002-2005.
6. 997 MY2005-2012, pre-production cars from ~05/2004. Mk1 MY2005-2008, Mk2 MY2009-2011.
7. 991 MY2012-2019, pre-production cars from ~08/2011
Since its introduction in 1963 to the present, the 911 has stood the test of time both on the race track and in owner’s garages. It is one of the few designs that have had such a long history. It has been offered in over 50 different forms including rear wheel, 4wd, cabriolet, Targa, coupe, Speedsters, light weight, club sport, RS, anniversary editions, limited editions, and multiple other options, designs, and features. The 911 has set and raised the bar in terms of technology, performance, design, and handling.
Tagged: , fdsflickrtoys