History of the Porsche 911 - Seven Generations of 911

Few are the cars in the sportscar kingdom that are as well loved as the Porsche 911.  Porsche claims that about 80 percent of all 911s ever made are still around today with the vast majority still clocking up miles. If there was any one car that is "legal tender" in the automotive world, its has to be the 911. Of course Porsche didn't know that when he built the 901 but by building the best engineered car at that time and at each and every time he created a cult following and an unshakable loyalty for the 911.

We take a quick tour through the seven generations of the 911.

1963: The original 911 - The birth of an icon

As the successor to the Porsche 356, the 911 conquered the hearts of sports car fans right from the start. The very first 911 began life as the Type 901 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. The name was changed for its market launch in 1964. The air-cooled, flat-6 engine delivered 130 hp – enough for a genuine 210 kilometres per hour. Drivers preferring to go a little less fast could from the following year order the four-cylinder Porsche 912. In 1966, Porsche launched the 911 S. Producing 160 hp, it was the first 911 to sport Fuchs forged alloy wheels. The 911 Targa came onto the market at the end of 1966 and with its striking stainless steel roll bar became the world’s first super-safe convertible. From the following year, the 911 was available with ‘Sportomatic’, a semi-automatic, four-speed transmission.

And with the 911 T, E and S models Porsche became the first German carmaker to fulfil the American Environmental Protection Agency’s strict anti-pollution exhaust require ments. With engine capacity increases to 2.2 litres (in 1969) and 2.4 litres (in 1971) the Porsche 911 became ever more powerful. To this day still the dream car to beat all others: the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 from 1972. Engine power of 210 hp and just 1,000 kilograms in weight. Its characteristic ‘ducktail’ was the first rear spoiler fitted as standard to a produc tion car anywhere in the world.

1973: G series -The next generation

Ten years after the car made its premiere, the Porsche engineers gave the 911 a comprehensive makeover. Known as the ‘G-model’, the new generation 911 was built from 1973 to 1989 – a longer period than any other. A particular feature of this evergreen was the striking bellows-style bumpers – an innovation created in order to comply with the latest US crash test requirements. Three-point safety belts fitted as standard and seats with integrated headrests also provided increased occupant safety. A further milestone in the car’s history came in 1974, when Porsche brought out the first 911 Turbo with a three-litre engine, 260 hp and a striking rear spoiler. With its unique combination of luxury and perfor mance the ‘Turbo’ became a synonym for the Porsche brand.

In 1977 came the next performance level: the 911 Turbo 3.3 was given a charge air cooler and at 300 hp was the highest performance car of its class. On the naturally aspirated side the 911 Carrera replaced the SC in 1983 and, having an engine capacity of 3.2 litres and 231 hp, became a much-loved collector’s piece. Lovers of fresh air were able to buy this 911 as a convertible from 1982. In launching the 911 Carrera Speedster in 1989, Porsche was building on a legend.

1988: Type 964 - Classic modernity

Many experts were already prophesying the end of an era, when in 1988 Porsche then unveiled the 911 Carrera 4 (Type 964). After 15 years of production, the 911 was given an 85% upgrade, enabling Porsche to offer a modern, future-proof vehicle. The air-cooled, flat 3.6-litre engine now delivered 250 hp. The main external differences between the 964 and the previous model were the aerodynamic polyurethane bumpers and the electrically powered extendable rear spoiler. In engineering terms, however, there was hardly anything left to compare.

The designers’ aim was that the car should impress not just through its sporty performance, but through its comfortable drive as well. Drivers had the pleasure of ABS, Tiptronic automatic transmission, power steering and airbags. This 911 also used a totally new kind of chassis with alloy wishbones and coil springs rather than the time-honoured torsion-bar suspension. In practically revolutionary fashion the new 911 was for the first time offered, as the Carrera 4, with all-wheel drive from the outset. The rear-wheel drive Carrera 2 was not launched until six months later. In addition to the coupé, convertible and Targa models, from 1990 customers were also able to order the 964 Turbo. Initially supplied with the tried and trusted flat 3.3-litre engine, the Turbo was given a 3.6-litre engine delivering 360 hp in 1992. The 911 Carrera RS, 911 Turbo S and 911 Carrera 2 Speedster rate as sought-after collector’s cars.

1993: Type 993 - The end of the air-cooler era

This 911, internally known as the 993, remains to this day many Porsche drivers’ great love. That is partly due to its strikingly beautiful lines. The integrated bumpers underline the harmonious overall impression. The front section is flatter than on the previous models, made possible by the switch from round to poly-ellipsoid headlights. The 993 was also regarded as particularly well developed and reliable – and as agile too, for it was the first 911 to be given a redesigned aluminium chassis. For the first time the turbo version was equipped with a twin-turbo engine, which in 1995 ranked as the world’s lowest emission production car engine. Another innovation of the all-wheel drive turbo version was the hollowspoke alloy wheels, used here in car manufacturing for the first time. For fans of really fast sports cars Porsche offered the 911 GT2.

Meanwhile a new feature of the 911 Targa was the electric sunroof that slid back behind the rear window. However, the most important reason for dedicated Porsche enthusiasts’ ongoing appreciation of the 993 to this day is that this version, built from 1993 to 1998, was the last 911 with an air-cooled engine.

1997: Type 996 - The water-cooled era

This was the great step-change in the history of the 911: the Type 996, which rolled off the production line from 1997 until 2005, was a totally new kind of 911 – while not sacrificing the classic version’s character. As a completely redeveloped car, this generation was for the first time powered by a flat water-cooled engine. Thanks to four-valve technology it produced 300 hp and was regarded as pioneering in its emission levels, noise and fuel consumption.

The design gave a new interpretation to the classic lines of the 911 and featured an out standingly low cw-value of 0.3. The contours of the 996 were also a result of the concept of using the same parts as the successful Boxster model. The most striking design feature was the front headlights with integrated indicators – at first controversial, then often copied by other manufacturers. Inside the car the driver was in a totally new interior. In addition to the typically sporty qualities, drive comfort now also played a greater role. With numerous new variants Porsche launched an unprecedented product offensive with the 996. One high point of the model range was, as of 1999, the 911 GT3, which carried on the tradition of the Carrera RS. In autumn 2000 came an extremely sporty model, the 911 GT2, which was fitted as standard with ceramic brakes.

2004: Type 997 -  Classic and modern

By July 2004 the time had come: with the 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S models, Porsche launched a further 911 generation, which internally was called the 997 range. Its oval, clear glass front headlights with additional lights in the front-end section again reflect the tradi tional 911 design. However, the 997 impressed not only in its design – its performance was impressive too: the Carrera’s flat 3.6-litre engine produced 325 hp, while the newly developed 3.8-litre engine of the Carrera S delivered no less than 355 hp. Also extensively reworked was the running gear, which on the Carrera S was supplied as standard with Porsche Active Suspension Management.

In 2006, Porsche brought out a 911 Turbo, which as the first production car with a petrol engine to have a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. After the model upgrade in autumn 2008, the 997 became more efficient still thanks to direct petrol injection and a direct shift gearbox. Never before on a 911 had the individuality of the driver been taken into account to such an extent. Carrera, Targa, convertible, rear end and all-wheel drive, turbo, GTS, special editions and road versions of the GT racing cars – in the end the 911 family comprised 24 different models.

2011: Type 991 - The mature 911

Internally known as the 991, this sports car embodies the greatest engineering leap in the history of the 911. For generations the benchmark in its class, this 911 generation sets the bar another notch higher in terms both of performance and efficiency. A completely new chassis with modified wheelbase, greater track width and beefier tyres, plus an ergonomically optimised interior produce an even sportier and more comfortable driving sensation. In engineering terms this 911 is all about Porsche Intelligent Performance: even lower fuel consumption and even more power – created, for instance, by reducing the engine size to 3.4 litres on the base Carrera model (yet still delivering 5 hp more than the 997/II) and using a hybrid construction method (steel/aluminium), which leads to a considerable reduction in weight.

Also new: Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and the manual 7-speed transmission. There has been great praise for the design of the 991 as well. With its low, stretched silhouette, its bristling surfaces and precisely shaped details, the Porsche 911 Carrera – in the seventh generation as before – continues to be unmistakably a 911 and is thus once more setting new standards in automotive design.

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