Porsche 911: A Turbocharged Birthday Wish
The great Porsche 911 continues to enjoy an honor-filled 50th.
The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany, showcases five decades of the sports car that thrived from birth, wouldn’t die, even with the release of the “911-era-ending” 928 in 1978, and continues to excite motoring enthusiasts worldwide, on track and off.
Since debuting as the Type 901 in Frankfurt/Main at the International Motor Show (IAA) Sept. 12, 1963, the 911, so called since its commercial launch in fall 1964, has become a cult item, an automotive icon, a classic, an industry benchmark, and, for the company, a yardstick for all succeeding models.
“There is something of the 911 in every Porsche. In design and technology, sportiness and everyday practicality, every Porsche model and line without exception orients itself on the iconic 911,” says the company’s media material for the golden anniversary.
More than 820,000 911’s have been produced in Stuttgart- Zuffenhausen since 1963. No other sports car has ever won so many races, and more than 300 books have been written about it.
Adjacent to the headquarters of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, the museum opened Jan. 31, 2009 on the site where the former Porsche engineering office relocated from Stuttgart to Zuffenhausen Plant in 1938.
The museum is a “journey through time,” tracing the history of Porsche, including the great 911, explains Astrid Böttinger, who handles its public relations.
But, unlike some automotive museums, the Porsche Museum consciously rejects what Porsche calls the “discovery zone” approach. “At the Porsche Museum, the vehicles should be able to speak for themselves; the thematic thread is provided by the exhibits themselves and not by any external prompts telling the visitor what they should think or feel,” she says.
The Porsche Museum has about 500 cars in stock, with about 80 on display at a time, including examples of all seven generations of the 911.
In addition visitors enjoy 200 small exhibits about the cars and the company. “In keeping with its pre-eminent position within the German automotive industry, Porsche uses the museum as a platform for informing national and international visitors about its history and achievements,” she says.
Nearly each model can be seen, from the first flat-four 356 in 1948 to the latest Macan. Some of the cars are owned by the Porsche family, but most are museum property.
Sportiness, everyday usability, tradition and innovation, design and functionality: The 911 combines all of the elements for track and road success.
Said Ferry Porsche, son of the company founder, Ferdinand, about the car he developed: “The 911 is the only car that you can drive from an African safari to Le Mans, then to the theatre and onto the streets of New York.”
Böttinger recently took Highline Autos for a virtual tour at the museum through all seven generations:
•The Original 911 (1963) –– The air-cooled, flat-six engine delivered 130 horsepower ––enough for a genuine 130 miles per hour. The following year, you could also order the four-cylinder Porsche 912.
In 1966, Porsche offered the 160-horsepower 911 S and, at the end of the year, the 911 Targa convertible with a stainless steel roll bar. The next year, the 911 was available with ‘Sportomatic’, a semi-automatic and a four-speed transmission. Engine capacity increased to 2.2 liters in 1969 and 2.4 liters in 1971.
Next up was the 911 Carrera RS 2.7, which put out 210 horsepower at just 2,200 pounds, and was fitted with a rear spoiler as standard –– the first time on a production car anywhere.
•The G Model (1973) –– Built until 1989, this is the longest of the generations. The bellows-style bumpers complied with the latest U.S. crash test requirements, three-point safety belts were standard and seats with integrated headrests also increased occupant safety.
The first 911 Turbo in 1974 featured a three-liter 260 horsepower engine and a rear spoiler, and in 1977, the 911 Turbo 3.3 was given a charge-air cooler and it put down 300 horsepower. On the naturally aspirated side, the 911 Carrera replaced the SC, with 3.2 liters and 231 horsepower in 1983.
•Type 964, the 911 Carrera 4 (1988) –– The air-cooled flat 3.6-litre engine produced 250 horsepower and featured aerodynamic polyurethane bumpers and an electrically powered extendable rear spoiler. Drivers had luxuries such as ABS, Tiptronic automatic transmission, power steering and airbags, alloy wishbones and coil springs.
The Carrera 4 featured all-wheel drive, and the rear-wheel drive Carrera 2 was also offered. In addition to the coupe, convertible and Targa models, from 1990 on customers were also able to order the 964 Turbo, first with the flat 3.3-litre engine, then a 3.6-litre engine with 360 horsepower in 1992.
•Type 993 (1993) –– The last air-cooled 911, built until 1998, is characterized by beautiful lines, integrated bumpers, poly-ellipsoid headlights and an aluminum chassis. For the first time, the turbo version was equipped with a twin-turbo engine, which in 1995 was ranked as the world’s lowest emission production car engine.
•Type 996 (1997) –– The “hydropower plant,” available until 2005, was powered by a flat water-cooled engine. With four-valve technology, it produced 300 horsepower 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 it also conveniently used the same parts as Boxster. Front headlights had integrated indicators, and inside driving comfort was a focus, Böttinger says.
The 1999 911 GT3 continued the tradition of the Carrera RS, and, in autumn 2000 the new 911 GT2 was fitted with standard ceramic brakes.
•Type 997 (2004) –– In July 2004, the new 911 impressed everyone with its styling, characterized by oval, clear glass front headlights and its performance. The Carrera’s flat 3.6-litre engine produced 325 horses, and the new 3.8-litre engine of the Carrera S 355 horses. The Carrera S also had as standard the Porsche Active Suspension Management.
In 2006, the 911 Turbo became the first production car with a gasoline engine to have a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. And, with a model upgrade in autumn 2008, the 997 became more efficient with petrol injection and a direct shift gearbox.
By this time, the 911 was a family of 24 models: Carrera, Targa, convertible, rear end and all-wheel drive, turbo, GTS, special editions and road versions of the GT racing cars.
•Type 991 (2011) –– “This sports car embodies the greatest engineering leap in the history of the 911, in terms both of performance and efficiency,” Böttinger says.
The seventh-gen 911 has a new chassis, greater track width and beefier tires and a driver-optimized interior.
In engineering, the new 911 offers even lower fuel consumption and more power –– by reducing the engine size to 3.4 liters on the base Carrera model but still delivering five horses more than the 997/II. A hybrid construction method of steel and aluminum also reduces weight. New as well is the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and the manual 7-speed transmission.
For more information on the Porsche Museum, which is open daily except Monday, see www.porsche.com/museum/en/.
If you or someone you know has a GreatGarage and would like it to be considered for an upcoming issue, e-mail us at GreatGarages@highline-autos.com.