Model history

Porsche 911 is a legendary model which has now been sparking car fans’ imagination for more than 50 years. It is one of the most titled, the most popular and the longest manufactured sports cars in history. Especially for you, we have traced its exact history – find out in what circumstances Porsche 911 was born and how it developed.

  • 1875

    Although the first 911 was manufactured in the second half of the 20th century, its actual origins need to be traced back to the 19th century. On 3 September 1875, the Austro-Hungarian town of Maffersdorf gave birth to Ferdinand Porsche – a man without whom one of the most popular German brands would never have come into existence. Over the years, Ferdinand became known as a most talented designer – he presented the first, prototype electric vehicle as early as in 1900 during the World Fair held in Paris. His output also includes the first four-wheel drive in the world as well as a whole range of vehicles featuring the-then innovative hybrid drive system. On 25 April 1931, having worked for such companies as Steyr or Daimler-Benz, he set up his own plants meant to manufacture sports cars. As it is often the case, it turned out completely different.

  • 1931

    In 1931 Zündapp, a German company manufacturing motorcycles, asked Ferdinand to design a cheap car. The work resulted in a prototype called Type 12 – a vehicle designed with the ‘car for everyone’ motto in mind. The design was further developed in collaboration with NSU, which resulted in another prototype referred to as Type 32. In 1933, Ferdinand Porsche met Adolf Hitler who – impressed by Porsche’s current designs – appointed him the Third Reich supreme designer. Hitler’s aim was to depict the country as a place full of well-being resulting in the so-called ‘people’s automobile’. On 17 April 1934, Ferdinand Porsche introduced the German government to a design developed in collaboration with his son, Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche, and Erwin Komenda. It was a further development based on Type 12 and Type 32, and it presented what became worldwide known Volkswagen Type 1, the ‘Beetle’. Once the first nine prototypes were developed, the design was approved for mass production in 1938. As hard it may seem to believe, it’s not known what would have happened to the Porsche brand but for the longest manufactured vehicle in the history of the automotive industry.

  • 1938

    For the purpose of the ‘Beetle’ mass production a technologically advanced manufacturing plant was built; still, upon the outbreak of World War II, it was turned into a defence factory managed by Ferdinand Porsche. Although actual production of the ‘Beetle’ in its civilian version wasn’t launched until the war was over, Porsche had designed a sports version of that Volkswagen as early as back in 1938. Originally, he planned to develop a car with a centrally placed V10 engine, which required development of an original platform. The design, known under the name of Porsche 114, was rejected by authorities who claimed a private enterprise might not obtain parts from a state-owned company. So, Porsche decided to build a sports car based on the ‘Beetle’. The Porsche 114 design was adjusted to the Volkswagen platform, and the car itself was being developed with a view to the Berlin-Rome race scheduled for September 1939. The car is now widely known as Porsche 64. There were three prototypes of the model, out of which only one has survived until now.

  • 1941

    The war period was a difficult time for Porsche. Ferdinand was forced to carry out endless work for the military, which resulted in – among other things – the Elefant self-propelled gun, or the super-heavy tank Maus manufactured in only two copies. In 1945, Ferdinand Porsche was captured and arrested by the French occupying forces on the charge of committing war crimes. Porsche spent 20 months in prison; after leaving it, he didn’t play much of a role in further history of the brand. Also, the ‘Beetle’ mass production started without his involvement – as Adolf Hitler’s chief designer, he was not the person with whom the current authorities wanted to collaborate. In 1946 Porsche’s son, Ferry, relocated the enterprise to Austria where he started work on his own design.

  • 1946

    Ferry could not forget the 114 and the 64 model. So he focused on further development of the design. His work resulted in model 356 – the first Porsche car to be manufactured on a mass scale. The Porsche 356 body was designed by Erwin Komenda, and Volkswagen parts were primarily used in the production of the first models, mainly for financial reasons. The first 50 copies of model 356 were manufactured in 1948. The car distinguished from others because of its beautiful body, praised for exceptional aerodynamic properties, its driving easy, and its unique manufacturing quality. Initially, the cars were manufactured with an aluminium body; however, in 1949, owing to re-establishment of cooperation with Volkswagen, Ferry moved the company back to Stuttgart, and the production was launched in the German town of Zuffenhausen. The cars manufactured at the local plan already featured a steel body.

  • 1949

    Model 356 became popular both in the United States and in Europe pretty quickly. The success of the model made Porsche improve the car, gradually resign from Volkswagen parts, and improve the car’s performance. Owing to model 356, Porsche became a brand which was recognised all around the world; the car was also pretty successful in motor sports, just to mention the victory in the 24-hour Le Mans. Model production was discontinued in 1965, with 76,313 cars manufactured, which was quite impressive for a design supposed to be executed in only 50 copies. Today, from the collector’s perspective, model 356 is extremely valuable, and its price can go beyond 100 000 American dollars. For comparison purposes – 1950s models cost USD 4,000 on the average.

  • 1959

    Work on model 356 successor began at the end of the 1950s. Design work was carried out by Ferdinand ‘Butzi’ Porsche – a grandson of Ferdinand Senior, and a son of Ferry. The first sketches of the new model were drawn in 1959. The aim was to create a successor which would be larger and more powerful yet more comfortable. A prototype of the car, provided with a mock-up engine, was presented in 1963 during the Motor Show held in Frankfurt. Initially, the car was referred to as 901, but the name was changed as a result of a protest from Peugeot who held exclusive rights to three-digit names with zero in the middle. As a result, Porsche 911 was created – a car which would become one of the most important sports vehicles in the history of the automotive industry. Interesting is the fact that 82 cars marked as 901 were manufactured; today, they are the proverbial ‘white crows’ for collectors.

  • 1964

    Mass production of model 911 was launched in September 1964. Initially, the model was offered with a 130 HP, two-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine. The car’s maximum speed was 210 kph, and it could accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 9.1 seconds. The first 911s were quite vicious and hard to handle, especially when you took a turn really fast. So, the chassis was redesigned, and the wheel base was increased by 60 mm, which eliminated the aforementioned imperfections. In 1966, the market saw the S version, with engine power increased to 160 HP; a year later, the Targa version, with a removable section of its rigid roof, was introduced. In 1970, the engine capacity increased to 2.2 litres, owing to which the most powerful S version could boast itself of the power of 180 HP. The capacity increased again in 1972 – since then, all the 911 models have been provided with 2341 cm³ engines and featured the power from 130 to 190 HP, depending on the version. The years 1973-74 was a special period for model 911 – it was just then that the Carrera RS versions were available on the market. It was a high-performance version of the model, provided with a 2,7 litre, 210 HP engine. 150 kg lighter than the basic version, the Carrera RS is considered by many of its fans to be the 911 best edition in the history of the model. In 1974, they introduced the Carrera RS 3.0 with a 230 HP engine.

  • 1974

    The next generation of model 911 was internally referred to as 930; however, it was generally known as Porsche 911 Turbo. As the very name indicates, it was the first 911 with a 3 litre, 260 HP turbocharged engine. 911 Turbo turned out to be a greater market success than its predecessor, and it became a synonym of luxury at the time of its manufacturing. Among others, Florida-based drug cartel bosses took a liking for the car. In 1977, they introduced the 911 SC with hidden headlamps, while a year ago a new, 3.3 litre, 300 HP engine was introduced. In 1983, the power was once again increased to 330 HP, and a convertible version was introduced. In 1984, a new version of the model, available under the name of 911 Carrera, was introduced. The car was provided with a six-cylinder, 3.2 litre, 230 HP engine.

  • 1989

    Model 930 was superseded by a generation known under the internal name of 964. The general car body was virtually unchanged, but the bodywork was modernised, and chromed elements were eliminated. A pop-up rear spoiler was one of the distinguishing elements of the series. 964 is the first generation of model 911 within which a four-wheel version – Carrera 4 – was released. The car was provided with a 3.6 litre, 250 HP engine. In the Carrera RS version, the power was increased to 260 HP, while the flag versions – Turbo and Turbo S – were provided with 330 and 360 HP turbocharged engines, respectively. 911 Turbo, characterised by its enormous spoiler, is known to action movie fans as it was featured in the ‘Bad Boys’ movie. In 1992, a limited edition called Speedster was introduced – only 925 copies of the version were manufactured.

  • 1993

    The exterior of the car was not significantly modernised until 1993 when the generation known under the internal name of 993 premiered. Front headlamps, although still round and distinguished, were set within definitely smaller tunnels, while the general car body became more aerodynamic. Standard versions were provided with 3.6 litre, 272 HP engines; in 1996, the power was increased to 285 HP. However, other versions of the 993 generations deserve particular attention. The Turbo version could pride itself on 408 HP, an all-wheel drive, twin turbocharging and unbelievable performance – the maximum speed of 291 kph and acceleration from 0 to 100 kph in 4.3 seconds. If anyone thought it was the peak of Porsche performance, they got quite bewildered at the Turbo S version featuring a 424 HP engine, acceleration from 0 to 100 kph in 3.8 seconds, and maximum speed of 300 kph. Still, high-performance models, marked as GT3 and the top GT2, were the greatest achievements of the 993 generation. Both versions had only two seats, one for the driver and one for the passenger, and they were provided with a six-speed manual gear box. 911 GT2, with a 430 HP engine, was such an extremely demanding car that it was nicknamed the ‘widow maker’.

  • 1998

    The year 1999 may certainly be considered quite controversial in the history of the model. Although it was exceptional for the Porsche brand – Ferdinand Porsche was awarded the title of the ‘Car engineer of the 20th century’ by 33 professional automotive journalists, and the 911 model came fifth in an international survey about the best car of the century (following Ford Model T, Mini, Citroën DS, and Volkswagen Beetle), 911 fans had to come to terms with numerous changes applied to their beloved model a year earlier. The most significant of them included elimination of the cult round headlamps and application of liquid cooling, due to which the sound of the car became more quite and ‘less genuine’. The main objective of the generation known under the internal name of 996 was to increase company income and to encourage new customers to buy the flag model of the brand. The objective was accomplished – even despite fans’ criticism, the new 911 contributed to significantly increased sales of the model. Standard versions were provided with a 3.4 litre, 300 HP engine; Carrera S featured a 3.6 litre, 320 HP engine; the Turbo and the Turbo S versions developed 420 and 450 HP, respectively. The generation also featured high-performance versions with 3.6 litre engines: a naturally aspirated engine on GT3 (381 HP), and a twin turbocharged engine on GT2 (483 HP). Particular attention should be paid to the extreme GT1 Evolution edition, with a twin turbocharged, 3.2 litre, 544 HP B6 engine, accelerating from 0 to 100 kph in 3.6 seconds and developing the maximum speed of 340 kph.

  • 2004

    In 2004, the next generation of model 911, marked with number 997, was introduced. The classic, round headlamps were restored, which met with the series fans’ widespread approval. All the generation versions could come with ceramic brake pads and a seven-speed, sequential gear box. Depending on the version, the engine power ranged from 345 HP (basic model) to 530 HP (GT2 version). On GT2, some elements of the car were made of lightweight aluminium alloys, magnesium, titanium and kevlar. In 2007, the 997 generation ranked 3rd in the prestigious World Car of the Year.

  • 2011

    The history of model 911 continues. In 2011, the sixth generation of the model, internally marked as 991, was introduced. The car, traditionally available in different versions, continue the rich tradition of the series. In 2012, the 991 generation was awarded the title of the World Performance Car of the Year. It was a great gift for the 50th anniversary of the model, falling in 2013. Nobody can disregarding the 911 contribution to the history of the automotive industry. When introducing the 911, Ferdinand Porsche said: ‘I couldn’t find a sports car of my dreams, so I created it myself’. Although it’s been more than 50 years since the first generation model premiere, all the assumptions and solutions which Ferry followed in the course of designing remain topical until today. By the 50th anniversary of the model, more than 820000 911s had been sold.’ The car was extremely successful in motor sports, winning in both racing and track events, just to mention Daytona or Nürburgring. In 2015, Car and Driver – one of the most prestigious automotive magazines in the world – called the 911 the best premium sports car available on the market. The 911 is also loved by stars – model fans include David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ellen DeGeneres, while the best known Porsche 911 fan in Poland is still Maryla Rodowicz. In 2012, the 911 once owned by Steve McQueen and featured in ‘Le Mans’ was sold for a substantial amount of 1,375,000 American dollars. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the cult 911 records. How many more will it set? How long will the history of the model continue? How many more generations will fans delight in? We don’t know answers to those questions, but we do know that as long as model 911 is manufactured in line with its designer’s assumptions, its further editions will spark the imaginations of fans all around the world.