Porsche 911: A Brief History
German automaker Porsche builds a lightweight rear-engine 2-door sports car that has been in existence for more than 50 years, and in 2017 the Porsche 911 reached the production milestone of more than 1 million cars. While there have been decades of innovation, performance improvements and leading-edge technology — as well as increases in size and weight — the 911 today continues as the innovative flagship sports car it has always been. The current 2020 Porsche 911 still looks remarkably similar to the original model from the 1960s. Let’s take a look back at the history of one of the most recognized automotive shapes on the road.
The Porsche 901 prototype debuted at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show as a successor to the Porsche 356. However, the name had to be changed prior to launch in 1964 after French automaker Peugeot objected to the name, claiming that it owned the naming rights to three-digit model numbers with a zero in the middle. The Porsche 911 went on sale in fall of 1964, powered by an air-cooled 2.0-liter flat 6-cylinder engine producing 130 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. In 1965 the automaker added the 912, powered by a flat 4-cylinder engine.
Porsche 911 Targa
In 1966 the Porsche 911 S joined the lineup with 160 horsepower — the first 911 model to be offered with the now iconic Fuchs forged-alloy wheels. Later that year the 911 Targa debuted with a removable top and a stainless-steel safety hoop behind the seats. A semi-automatic Sportomatic 4-speed transmission became available for 1967.
Carrera 2.7 RS
Porsche continued to offer more powerful engines for the 911, with engine size increasing to 2.2 liters for 1969 and 2.4-liters for 1971. The 1972 911 Carrera RS 2.7 has become one of the most popular Porsche 911 models sought by collectors today — the car is so desirable that many replica versions have been created from other 911 models of the era. The 1972 911 Carrera RS 2.7 is motivated by a 210-horsepower engine and weighs only 2,200 pounds — it is also the first 911 model with Porsche’s distinctive ducktail spoiler. A total of 81,100 first generation 911s were produced.
The first major redesign of the Porsche 911 debuted for the 1974 model, easily identified by larger bumpers designed to meet U.S. crash safety standards. Known as the G Model, the second generation 911 was produced from 1973 to 1989 — the longest run of any 911 generation — with a total production of 198,414. Initially offered as Coupe and Targa, the 911 Cabriolet joined the family for the 1983 model year.
Porsche 911 Carrera
The second-gen 911’s standard engine is a 2.7-liter flat 6-cylinder unit that produced 150 horsepower, with output increasing to 165 horses for 1976. The 911 S engine produces 175 horsepower. For the 1978 model year the 911 SC received a 3.0-liter flat- 6-cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. The 911 Carrera replaced the 911 SC for the 1984 model year, powered by a 3.2-liter engine producing 207 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque.
Porsche 911 Turbo
The 911 Turbo arrived for the U.S. market as a 1976 model, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter flat 6-cylinder producing 245 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, mated with a 4-speed manual transmission. For 1978, the 911 Turbo 3.3 got into the mix with an intercooled 3.3-liter turbocharged engine producing 265 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque.
Although the exterior design of the third-generation Porsche 911 is not a dramatic change, it is easy to distinguish by a new integrated bumper design. That said, engineers undertook a major redesign of the platform under the skin to create a new, modern 911 with 85 percent new components. With the introduction of the third generation 911—known internally as 964—Porsche added all-wheel driver for the first time. The 911 Carrera 4 debuted as a 1989 model, while the previous generation 911 Carrera was also sold as a 1989 model before the arrival of the next generation 1990 Carrera 2 and 1990 Carrera 2 Cabriolet.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4
The third generation Carrera 4 Coupe, Carrera 2 Coupe and Carrera 2 Cabriolet are powered by a 3.6-liter flat 6-cylinder engine producing 247 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed Tiptronic automatic.
Porsche 911 Turbo
The 911 Turbo returned for 1991, powered by an intercooled and turbocharged 3.3-liter engine producing 315 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 5-speed manual transmission. The 911 Turbo S increased output to 322 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. A total of 74,008 third generation 911s were produced.
The next generation Porsche 911, with a 993 internal designation, is one of the most revered by Porsche enthusiasts — the last generation to be powered by an air-cooled flat 6-cylinder engine. The body design is loved by many, and a lower front end allowed the previous round headlights to be laid back into a more oval shape. Sold in the U.S. market for the 1995 to 1998 model years, the 993 featured a new aluminum chassis and was offered initially in Carrera Coupe, Carrera Cabriolet, Carrera 4 Coupe and Carrera 4 Cabriolet.
The 1995 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 are powered by a 3.6-liter flat 6-cylinder producing 272 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed Tiptronic. For 1996 the Teutonic automaker added the Carrera 4S Coupe, Carrera Targa and the Turbo Coupe to the line. The Turbo Coupe is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat 6-cylinder engine producing 408 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. The Carrera 4S Coupe features the wider body of the Turbo with the normally aspirated engine of the Carrera 4. The all-new Targa does away with the previous removable top, replaced with a large glass roof that slides back underneath the rear window.
911 Turbo S
For 1998 Porsche added the 911 Turbo S, identified by air intakes in the rear fenders and powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter engine with larger turbos that creates 424 horsepower and 423 lb-ft of torque. Porsche produced a mere 345 units of the 911 Turbo S, making it a highly sought collector vehicle. The automaker produced a total of 67,535 units of the 993 Porsche 911.
The Porsche 911 that arrived in the U.S. market as a 1999 model heralded a major redesign and sea-change at Porsche — the first 911 ever produced with a water-cooled engine. Known internally by the model designation 996, the new model improved significantly in nearly every way including performance, comfort, fuel efficiency and emissions. The design is an evolution of previous 911s, of course — influenced by the sharing of components with Porsche’s new mid-engine (and more marketable) Boxster — the most obvious example being its controversial headlights with integrated turn signals.
The 996 generation 911 Carrera Coupe, Carrera Cabriolet, Carrera 4 Coupe and Carrera 4 Cabriolet are powered by a water-cooled 2.4-liter flat 6-cylinder engine producing 296 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed Tiptronic S automatic. For 2001 the automaker added the Turbo Coupe powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter engine producing 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed Tiptronic S automatic.
911 GT2, GT3
For 2002 Porsche engineers upgraded the Carrera engine to 3.6 liters so it would produce 320 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Porsche then added the 911 GT2, powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat 6-cylinder unit generating 456 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. During this productive time in Porsche history, the automaker added the 911 GT3 for 2004 with a normally aspirated 3.6-liter flat 6 cylinder producing 380 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque.
911 Turbo S
When the next-generation 911 arrived as a 2005 model, Porsche continued to sell the previous generation as the 911 Turbo S, powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter producing 444 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque, delivered through a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed Tiptronic S automatic. Total production for the 996 generation of the Porsche 911 was 179,163.
The sixth-generation Porsche 911 debuted in 2004, and its return to oval headlights addressed criticisms of the previous design, although there were clear improvements in performance as well. With the internal model code of 997, the new Carrera is powered by a 3.6-liter engine producing 325 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Carrera S version of the sixth-gen 911 is powered by a 3.8-liter engine producing 355 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque with Porsche Active Suspension Management as standard equipment.
Porsche 911 Turbo
The 911 Turbo Coupe entered the lineup for 2007 followed by the Turbo Cabriolet in 2008, both powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter engine producing 480 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed Tiptronic S. The 911 GT3 and GT3 RS were both added in 2007, powered by a normally aspirated 3.6-liter flat 6-cylinder unit producing 415 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque combined with a 6-speed manual transmission. In 2008 the 911 GT2 began drawing power from a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter powerplant producing 530 horsepower and 505 lb-ft of torque, giving the GT2 a top speed of 204 mph.
Porsche 911 GT3
The Porsche 911 lineup was revised for 2009 with a new direct-injection 3.6-liter engine for the Carrera, producing 345 horsepower and 287 lb-ft of torque combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a new 7-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission. The Carrera S also added a direct injection 3.8-liter producing 385 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, combined with either the 6-speed manual or the 7-speed PDK. For 2010 the 911 Turbo bumped up to 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, with the Turbo S rated at 530 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The 2010 911 GT3 with its normally aspirated 3.8-liter is rated at 435 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, while the GT3 RS is rated at 450 horsepower. The 2011 911 GT2 RS with the twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter has 620 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Total production for the 997 generation of the Porsche 911 was 215,095.
The seventh-generation Porsche 911, known internally as the 991 (yes, these numbers can be confusing), arrived in the U.S. market as a 2012 model. More technologically advanced than the previous generation, the 2012 911 has a longer wheelbase and wider track, with improvements in both performance and efficiency. The standard engine for the Carrera is a 3.4-liter 6-cylinder unit producing 350 horsepower and 287 lb-ft of torque, and the Carrera S pulls power from a 3.8-liter producing 400 horses and 325 lb-ft of torque. Both engines have either a 7-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission.
The 911 Turbo continued into the seventh generation as well, extracting power from a twin-turbocharged 3.8 liter producing 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. For 2014 the 911 Targa once again joined the lineup, although this time the design mimicked the original with the distinctive wide bar behind the seats, a removable roof section and a wraparound rear window. The power-operated roof stows behind the rear seat at the push of a button.
One Million Produced
For 2015 the Carrera and Carrera S both received 3.0-liter turbocharged engines, with the Carrera rated at 370 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque and the Carrera S rated at 420 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. On May 11, 2017, Porsche marked the production of the one millionth Porsche 911, finished in Irish Green with handmade leather seat covers featuring the original pepita pattern from 1964. The instrument cluster says 1,000,000 911 and the numbers and lighting are a shimmering green with a silver surround for the instruments. The handmade mahogany steering wheel features a Porsche crest from 1964 on the hub.
The latest race-bred, high-performance 911, the 2019 911 GT3 RS joined the 911 GT3 and the 911 GT2 RS, which were both new for the 2018 model year. The 2019 911 GT3 RS is powered by a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine producing 520 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever offered for a street-legal 911.
The eight generation of the 911 debuted at the 2018 L.A. Auto Show, arriving in the U.S. market as 2020 models. Known by the internal code of 992, the 2020 Carrera and Carrera S are wider and have new LED headlights. The 2020 Carrera S and Carrera 4S are powered by the next-generation turbocharged flat-six motor that produces 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. The Carrera and Carrera 4 are powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter unit that produces 379 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
For 2021 the eighth-gen 911 Turbo S and 911 Turbo join the Porsche family. The 911 Turbo S arrives first with a new 3.8-liter boxer engine with two variable turbine geometry turbochargers that help the unit produce 640 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. This represents a bump of 60 horses versus the previous generation. The engine gets teamed with a turbo-specific 8-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox.
Porsche 911 Turbo
The new Porsche 911 Turbo sports a 3.8-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine with two symmetrical VTG turbochargers to produce 572 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 32 horses and 67 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing 911 Turbo. The rear-mounted engine gets teamed with an 8-speed PDK transmission specifically calibrated to the powerful turbo engine.