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Porsche 911 At Fifty

Porsche 911 At Fifty

The Porsche 911 has been an object of desire for car enthusiasts from the moment the first one rolled off the production line fifty years ago. It remains so today. There are many desirable sports cars around but few are as useable as this iconic German export. It truly is a supercar that can be used every day.

For five decades the 911 (successor to the glorious 356) has been the heart and soul of the brand. To the layman, the car has hardly changed at all and even to the expert eye the changes have been incrementally subtle and rarely dramatic. Call it a process of refinement through its seven incarnations. The entire modern range of Porsche cars all reference back to the original air-cooled prototype first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963.

Originally called the 901, it was renamed 911 when the car went on general sale for 1964. The six-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine delivered 128hp and an impressive top speed of 131. Since then over 820,000 have been lovingly built making it the clear winner as the most popular sports car in the world. Its reputation has been enhanced by impressive build quality and bomb proof reliability. None of those Italian fragilities here.

The latest version is a masterpiece of engineering and technology although some say that the new electric steering has lost the ‘feel’ of the earlier cars. Frankly, Porsche have done this because it is cheaper and easier than fitting an hydraulic pump. Purists are outraged but the modern driver probably won’t notice, so don’t tell him.

The current 911 may be the pinnacle so far but it is the model internally designated as the 993 that has a firm grip on the heartstrings of aficionados. It’s the one that has a rear spoiler the size of a table. Built between 1993 and 1998 it was the last of the air-cooled versions. It was the first Porsche to have an aluminium chassis which made the car light and agile and is highly prized today.

Porsche intend to celebrate this fifty year milestone with anniversary events all around the world, starting with the ‘Retro-Classics’ auto show at Stuttgart. An authentic 1967 model will be doing the rounds of exclusive shows in California, China and – it goes without saying – Goodwood, as well as other international fairs and historical rallies.

Fortunately now free of the dreaded ‘yuppie’ reputation the car unfairly gained from the antics of city types in the 1980s, the Porsche 911 continues to enjoy great success. For some ownership is a pleasure that lasts for years for others this car is something enthusiasts aspire to. Supercars come and supercars go but the 911 remains constant.

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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