The iconic Porsche 911, which is almost 60 years old, is still an exclusive sports car that emphasizes the status of its owner.
When the Porsche 911 first appeared in 1964, no one dared to imagine it would become an icon. The first vehicle had very good characteristics – it was a mass sports car that accelerated quite decently. And how good was its design! Unlike the previous model 356, the new automobile no longer resembled the Beetle. The abundance of chrome parts and stunning front crushed half the world. The interior was also quite stunning: a thin steering wheel, a wooden dashboard, and red leather. It was clear – the new model claimed the role of a prestigious sports car.
As it was noted before, no one could have imagined that this rear-wheel drive and rear-engine vehicle would become a legend and would last almost 60 years. However, this is exactly what happened.
The brand’s first road car was the 356 model. It was a beautiful and good-performing vehicle, but Ferry Porsche had the idea of building a faster yet more comfortable successor. The idea of the father was picked up by the son Ferdinand, who in 1959 created the first design sketches for the new model. A little later, it was decided that this automobile would have a rear-engine layout, an opposed arrangement of cylinders, and an air cooling system. The world first saw the novelty in 1963 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, however, the exhibit was just a mockup. Luckily, the absence of an engine did not prevent the experts from appreciating the remarkable design, the distinguishing features of which were round headlights, smooth lines of the body, and a sloping rear-end of the automobile. It was the moment when the legend, the long-awaited successor to the 356 was born. The new sports car, which was originally called the 901, followed in the footsteps of the famous predecessor. Reflecting the aspirations of the brand, the new model marked a transition to a higher class.
In 1964, the car went on sale, giving buyers a worthy alternative to the Jaguar E-type. Equipped with an Opposed 6-cylinder engine, in “boxer” configuration with 130 PS (96 kW), as in the 356 model, air-cooled, rear-engined, displaced 1991 cm3 (cc) (for comparison, the 356 had a four-cylinder 1600 cc). Styling was mainly handled by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche (son of Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche), and Erwin Komenda, the head of the Porsche division was responsible for the car’s body structure. Four seats with rather cramped rear seats were made from red leather. It was a four-seater or better said 2+2s vehicle like its predecessor – 356. Also, the 1964 release had an installed five-speed manual transmission “Ture 901”. Concerning the rear-engined layout, it was one of the most interesting episodes in the history of 911. The fact was that with the Beetle it was not a problem. It was not intended for sports tracks anyway. As for racing brands…it was difficult then to find at least one sports car with a motor in the stern. Remarkably, the brand’s feat had not been repeated by any automaker, although it had already been proven that a car with a rear-engine layout can be fast and safe. The first two generations of 911, produced from 1964 to 1988, almost did not change constructively. The automaker slightly corrected the kinematics of the front suspension, lengthened the wheelbase, added an anti-roll bar, and corrected the steering settings. Small changes, but the results were stunning – every year the 911 got better and better!
Peugeot cars in the early 1960s used three-digit names for their models. The French automaker had trademarked three-digit car names, with a zero in the middle. Porsche did not know this and managed to build 82 models with the “901” name before Peugeot claimed to change the name of the vehicle. The company decided not to bother about such trifles. Since the package of digital designations was stamped in sufficient quantities, zero was removed from the three digits 9.0.1, and one replaced the zero in “901”. And so the name “911” familiar to everyone appeared.
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