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Here’s A Brief Look At Porsche’s Remarkable History

The First Porsche (1947-19457)

The car that started it all, the Porsche type 356 “No. 1” Roadster (1948)

Porsche’s first decade began with the predecessor of predecessors- the Porsche type 356 “No. 1” Roadster. This car’s conception even precedes the official formation of the Porsche brand. After Porsche was consolidated as a company in Gmünd (Austria) in 1948, it was then that the first Roadster came with construction number 356 and a chassis serial number that read: 356-001: Porsche type 356 “No. 1” Roadster. The decade is galvanised nicely with the young sports car manufacturer at the time gaining international attention with a class victory with its enhanced version of the roadster, the 356 SL at the 24h Le Mans.

Birth Of A Legend (1958-1967)

The first generation Porsche 911 was actually originally known as the 901.

You’d be quite surprised to learn that the iconic ‘911’ designation started off as ‘901’ in 1963. This car was introduced as the successor to the 356 in a fastback coupé, complete with a 2+2 seating arrangement. Under the hood, a pioneering, two-litre, 6-cylinder 130 hp flat-six engine was plonked in the rear to begin a famous legacy that stills stands till this day. How did the 911 numbering come though? Apparently there was a dispute with Peugeot, so Porsche moved quickly to string on the 911 label and in 1964, the 911 entered series production. By 1966, the first 911 Targa was also introduced to cap off a decade of being daring.

A Singer restored Porsche 911 Targa

All Round Evolution (1968-1977)

In the automotive realm, the best way to test your technology is where it can showboat the most- the race track. Recognising a need to gain more traction on the motorsports racket, Porsche entered its first 917 Short-Tail Coupé at the 1970 24h Le Mans, claiming overall victory. 917 also brought home the Manufacturer’s World Championship that same year. By ’72, a new leading model of the sought-after 911 range was introduced as well- the 911 Carrera RS 2.7. Still, Porsche’s most audacious move of this whole decade was introducing the first generation of the humdinger 911 Turbo series, and at the time, it was the world’s first production sports car with exhaust turbocharger and pressure regulator.

The 1972/1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 (Image: EuroCar News)

Motorsports Prosperity (1978-1987)

Porsche’s 911 Carrera 4x4c that won the Paris-Dakar Rally 1984

This was a period where Porsche pulled the drapes off its love for downforce and went all out to conquer motorsports. Starting off first by introducing the 956, a race car with a monocoque chassis and the so-called ground effect, which generated a vacuum to create a downforce beneath the car. Pioneering tech advances in engineering saw the 2.6-litre turbo engine produce 640 hp, a big deal back then. Come 1984, Porsche’s 911 Carrera 4x4c won the Paris-Dakar Rally after introducing its TAG turbo engine, widely regarded then as the most successful German racing engine in Formula 1, a year earlier. The extremely durable V6 engine won 25 Grand Prix victories and 3 World Championship titles. The later part of this decade would see the coming of Porsche’s 959, a model based on the 911, that was presented at IAA 1985. It had a limited production run of just 292 units and a big part of that was down to the fact that was the fastest road-approved vehicle at the time.

Gt Kings (1988-1997) 

On the 25th anniversary of the 911’s coming, Porsche introduced the newly developed 911 Carrera 4 with all-wheel drive in 1989. As Porsche moved into the doldrums of the 1990s, the German marque began its Boxster study, parading the concept first at the Detroit Motor Show 1993. At the time, the study for a roadster with a horizontally-opposed mid-engine was not common. Then again, Porsche were also proving why they’ve always been different. In 1995, Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo for that year with a twin-turbo engine and an all-wheel drive setup, a first-time feat for the iconic model range. After celebrating the 1 millionth Porsche sold, in 1997, the 911 Carrera was reiterated, powered by a water-cooled four-valve 6-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine for the first time.

The Family Expands (1998-2007)

A special version of Porsche’s 911 was introduced in 2000, called the GT3, internally code-named as the 996

At the turn of the century, Porsche welcomed a very special version of its 911, the GT3. Then, at the Louvre in Paris, 2000, Porsche displayed the Carrera GT sports car which featured a carbon-fibre chassis, as well as a 10-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine. It would only go on to hit assembly lines in 2003 and by 2006, it had registered 1,270 units. But, in a move that sent shudders to its purist of fans, Porsche did the unthinkable by presenting its first-ever SUV, the Cayenne, a move to broaden its customer base no doubt. This was also a key reason in the introduction of the Boxter’s sibling, the Cayman S earlier in 2005.

The first-gen Porsche Cayenne from 2002 (Image: Auto ABC)

Beyond Flat Engines (2008 2017)

The amazing 918 Spyder from 2010, that set a then Nürburgring lap record of 6 minutes and 57 seconds, becoming the first road-legal car to complete a lap on the Green Hell in under 7 minutes. (Image: Car and Driver)

Porsche built its entire early history on its famous flat-6 engines but in a move to progress and widen its brand appeal, this was a decade filled with engine and model diversity, most notably with its 918 Spyder from 2010. The 918 Spyder also set a then Nürburgring lap record of 6 minutes and 57 seconds, becoming the first road-legal car to complete a lap on the Green Hell in under 7 minutes.In 2009 however, the world saw the launch of Porsche’s fourth model range, the now famous Panamera, a model that took the game directly to the stagnant premium segment with its minimalist interpretation of ‘luxury’. Within 10 years, Porsche would also launch its second generation of the Panamera. A hybrid version of the Panamera in Sport Turismo guise would also come to the fold by 2017.

The current generation of Porsche’s Panamera in Sport Turismo guise

A radical message was also sent through the sexy Boxster Spyder which followed in 2010. A fifth model line was also introduced by 2014, the razor-sharp compact SUV, the Macan. Other iconic models also kept coming out, such as the Cayman GT4, widely regarded as the Porsche sportscar that had eluded many purists for a long time. A one-two finish in Le Mans took place in 2015, before Porsche paraded the Mission E, its first all-electric Porsche at the IAA. New generations of the Cayman and Boxster were also introduced, the turbocharged 718s in 2016 and in 2017, again, Porsche launched yet another new generation of its Cayenne SUV. The high-point of this decade was definitely in the sale of its millionth 911 sportscar, which was celebrated by rolling out the one millionth 911 in a retro-looking Irish Green 911.

The Mission E is a peak into Porsche’s electrified future

Porsche Today And Tomorrow

Porsche continues to be at the heart of all things automotive. It’s Mission E Cross Turismo, a four-door, four-seat all-electric vehicle, has only recently been showcased and what’s more, it just rolled out the latest iteration of The Wolf Of Stuttgart, the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS as well. Even more recently, in celebration of it turning 70 years old, Porsche has decided to hearken back to its legacy of old by presenting the 911 Speedster Concept in Heritage Design. It is a road-going study that honours the brand’s beginings that started with the Porsche 356 “No. 1 “Roadster”, just with modern-day innovations.

All that being said, we hope you enjoyed this brief curation of Porsche’s stellar seven decades. Checkout the celebration film below to get a full feel on what Porsche stands for as one of the automotive realm’s finest. 

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