Described by some as the car that has triumphed “against all odds”, the 911 has captured the imagination of the public in spite of its supposed shortcomings.
Physics dictates that the 911 shouldn’t work due to the engine placement, The Porsche 911 has its roots in the wartime VW Beetle and has from the beginning been a car that has captured the public’s imagination. Porsche created a car with an air-cooled, flat-six engine placed behind the rear axle. Of course, with a car that has gone through dozens of developments there are bound to be many ups and downs, and some generations are perceived to be better than others.
With its iconic supercar styling, the 911 is the first model most people think of when they think of Porsche. Some love it, while others loathe it. But what are the best cars from the Porche stable over its history? So lets start with the very first car to bear the Porsche name and the forerunner of the 911.
Porsche 356 (1948-1965)
The Porsche 356, launched in 1948, was Porsche’s first production automobile. Previously, Porsche was a design and development business for the German motor industry with military and agricultural vehicles as well as grand-prix and road cars to its credit.
Due to post-war component supply and manufacture problems, the 356 was based on the successful VW Beetle, which was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. It shared many of the Beetle’s components and design principles, including a rear-mounted air-cooled engine. The 356 was sleek and well-balanced, with coupe and cabriolet versions available. .
Throughout the car’s evolution, Porsche continued to refine and develop the 356 through A, B and C versions, with the 356 C using almost entirely Porsche designed and manufactured components. Its engineering innovation sparked considerable public interest while also contributing to the car’s success in motorsports.
In 1948, only 50 356’s were built, whereas production increased to 356 in 1950. Overall, 76,000 were built, and it is thought that around half of these still survive today. But, by 1965 the car was in need of re-design, which led to the iconic 911 which has remained in production ever since, although in a wide range of variants
Porsche 911 964 (1989-1994)
The separate 911 models are internally codenamed and the 911 (964) was the first all-new 911 launched in 1989 as the Carrera 2 with rear-wheel drive and Carrera 4. the company’s first four-wheel drive, offered in Targa and Cabriolet versions. The models featured a brand-new 3.6-litre 6-cylindere engine and Porsche’s new ‘Tiptronic’ transmission. In its five year production cycle, just over 62,000 were made.
The Porsche 911 (964) Carrera was a refined car regarded by many as the last ‘real’ 911 model. Based on the technology of the earlier 911 (959), the 964 was far more aerodynamic. It had a completely redesigned chassis, coil spring suspension, ABS, air bags and, for the first time ever, Porsche fitted it with power steering.
Porsche 911 993 (1993-1998)
The 993 is famed for being the last version of the 911 to feature an air-cooled engine. As can be seen, the 993 retained only the doors, the windows and the windscreen of the 964, with the bodywork being completely redesigned.
Under the streamlined bodywork, the 993 had a new multi-link rear suspension while the engine capacity remained unchanged. Initially, Porsche increased the power to 272 bhp, but this rose to 285 bhp in 1996. It offered either six-speed manual or four-speed Tiptronic transmission.
As well as this, Porsche RS badged the more powerful and lighter RWD version that had 300 bhp, and the normally aspired Carrera S and Carerra 4S models could be ordered as turbo versions..
The 996 was the first generation of the 911 that featured a water-cooled flat-six engine, breaking 34 years of tradition – many considering this to have rendered the 911 a completely different car.
The so called “egg shaped headlamps”, however, were also controversial, and Porsche eventually bowed to public pressure by replacing them for more traditional circular ones when they opted for a mid-life facelift in 2002, a move applauded by many owners and enthusiasts.
In addition, although the engine capacity was kept at 3.6 litres, power once more increased to 320 bhp, and Porsche provided sportier versions such as the RS.
Porsche 911 (993) GT2 (1993-2012)
The GT2 , codenamed 993, was based on the 911 Turbo, using a similar twin-turbocharged engine. The GT2, however, featured several upgrades, including larger brakes, stiffer suspension calibration and engine upgrades.
In addition to this, the GT2 was also significantly lighter than the Turbo, as it was rear-wheel drive as opposed to the Turbo’s all-wheel drive. As well as this, it was also lightened on the inside, with Porsche opting to remove several of the interior components.
With a focus on speed and power, the GT2 was, at the time, the most expensive 911 available. However, with the 993 generation moving from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and the later 996 version getting there in only 3.7 seconds, you certainly got a lot of power for your money.
Porsche 911 GT3 (1999-present)
The GT3 is primarily known as a racing 911, and the car was named after the GT3 classification that it was designed to race in. It’s an extraordinary car by any measure.
Ever since its launch back in 1999, there have been numerous versions of the GT3, some designed for the track and others designed for the road. In total, more than 14,000 have rolled off the production line. With the 991 version of the GT3 debuting at the Geneva Motor Show in 2013, the GT3 seems set to go from strength to strength.
So, there you have it, our favourite 911s. Did we include yours?