The original Porsche 911. On 27 November, the eighth generation of the Porsche 911 will celebrate its world premiere in Los Angeles – 55 years after the debut of the original 911 model. This is reason enough to take a look back at the previous seven generations:

A legend is born at the International Motor Show Germany (IAA) in Frankfurt. It’s 12 September 1963: Porsche proudly presents the eagerly anticipated successor to the 356. The new sports car, originally known as the 901, is following in great footsteps. To reflect the ambitions of the brand, Porsche is now playing in a higher league with the new model: a flat engine with six instead of four cylinders and air-cooled in the best traditions of the company, but delivering 130 PS straight away. When the new model came onto the market in 1964 it was called the 911 – the result of a discussion about naming rights with the automotive manufacturer Peugeot. The 911 is quickly accepted as a “genuine” Porsche because the performance of the new sports car exceeds all expectations. The stage is thus set for an unrivalled global career.

The original Porsche 911The original Porsche 911

The expansion of the 911 model range then continued apace. In 1965, Porsche responded to a discussion in the USA that had branded cabriolets as dangerous in a typically pragmatic way: the company presented the 911 Targa as the first-ever “safety cabriolet”, featuring a roll-over bar that was a good 20 centimetres wide, a removable roof section and rear mini soft top. This was known as the soft window. This was followed shortly afterwards by a panorama rear window with heatable glass. The name of the open-top variant – “Targa” – was derived from the Targa Florio endurance race in Sicily, which Porsche had already won four times.

The original Porsche 911The original Porsche 911

In 1966, another design icon celebrated its world premiere along with the 160 PS 911 S: the Fuchs wheel. Probably the most famous wheel in automotive history entered new technological territory: being forged from one piece made it much lighter.

Additional model variants were ready in autumn 1967: the 911 T with 110 PS rounded off the range below the top model 911 S and the 911 E – the suffix “E” stood for petrol injection. This made it very clean: with these variants, Porsche was the first German car manufacturer to meet the strict US emissions regulations.

The original Porsche 911The original Porsche 911

The continuous improvement of the 2+2-seater Porsche achieved a further milestone in the middle of 1968: from the 1969 model year, the wheelbase of the first 911 generation grew by 57 millimetres to 2,268 millimetres. Primarily, this gave the rear-engined sports car calmer handling. The 2.0-litre era ended in 1969: a four-millimetre larger bore increased displacement to 2,195 ccm. With the 1972 model year, the displacement increased even further to 2.4 litres, but the sports car was now also able to run on regular-grade petrol. Power ranged from 130 to 190 PS in the 911 S.

The original Porsche 911

The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 became its very own legend with its “duck-tail” rear spoiler. This sports car weighed only 1,000 kilograms, developed a power output of 210 PS and had a top speed of over 245 km/h. In all, 1,525 cars left the factory gates in Zuffenhausen. This model therefore crowned the first 911 generation. A total of 111,995 original 911s were produced between 1963 and 1973.

The 911 entered its tenth year in 1973 – with the most far-reaching changes that Porsche had made to its successful model series so far. The Stuttgart-based car manufacturer used powerful turbo engines in its top model and a galvanised body for every vehicle, and additionally launched a Cabriolet version of the 911 and the Speedster on the market in addition to the Targa. Its path to becoming an icon was now already clearly laid out at the latest.

The original Porsche 911The original Porsche 911

However, the long-running model first had to prove how adaptable it was. The stricter safety regulations in the USA demanded that all new cars withstand a collision at eight km/h without damage when driving forwards and reversing. Zuffenhausen therefore introduced the impact bumpers with rubber lip that are characteristic of the G model in front of the luggage compartment lid. These bumpers could be compressed by up to 50 millimetres without any damage to important vehicle parts. The collision energy was absorbed by flexible impact absorbers on the US version, and Porsche offered these as an option for all other markets. Moreover, safety in general was very important for the second 911 generation. This was shown by many details – from standard three-point seat belts and front seats with integrated head restraints through to impact surfaces in the newly designed sports steering wheels.
The six-cylinder engine in the standard 911 already featured the 2.7-litre displacement of the 911 Carrera RS of the previous generation right at the start. This increased to 3.0 litres shortly afterwards. As from 1983, this even increased again to 3.2 litres, with a power output of up to 250 PS for the 911 SC RS. The enormous development potential of the air-cooled flat engine meant that there was always room for more surprises.

The original Porsche 911The original Porsche 911

The 3.0-litre flat engine at the rear of the 911 Turbo reached much higher power levels as from 1974. The turbocharger technology adopted from motor sports initially powered this super sports car with 260 PS. From 1977 onwards, an additional intercooler and an increase in displacement to 3.3. litres provided an extra boost – the result was an impressive 300 PS. This translated into performance values that were practically unrivalled in the middle of the 1970s: 5.2 seconds for the sprint from zero to 100 km/h was just as unbelievable as a top speed of more than 260 km/h. Another legend was born with the Turbo.

The original Porsche 911The original Porsche 911

Nevertheless, dark clouds were gathering on the horizon: new sports cars from Porsche with transaxle technology (engine at front, transmission at the rear axle) such as the 924 and 944 model series with four cylinders and the 928 series with eight cylinders were intended to step into the footsteps of the 911. However, the transaxle heirs to the 911 throne did not establish themselves and the demand for the evergreen remained as high as ever. Porsche then took the right decision: a change in strategy. The future of the 911 was therefore secured for the time being. As from 1982, a Cabriolet version was also offered for the first time alongside the Coupé and Targa. This was even followed by a 911 Carrera Speedster in 1989, marking the end of the second 911 generation – 2,103 of these were delivered with the turbo-width body and only 171 in the slim export version. The G model was built in the period between 1973 and 1989, and Porsche produced 198,496 of these vehicles during these 16 years.

The original Porsche 911

The original Porsche 911


title : The original Porsche 911: the masterpiece from Zuffenhausen
updated : November 26th, 2018
updated_iso8601 : 2018-11-21T04:31:33-04:00
author : Ale Marino