A few pages is not nearly enough to cover the history of the 911, but we can surely try.
Humble beginings: The original 911
This is the one that started it all. A brainchild of Ferdinand Porsche, this car was first shown to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963 as a replacement for the 356. It was originally designated as the 901, and a few models were even produced as the 901 until Porsche was forced to change it to 911. The early 911s came with a 2 litre flat-6 engine making 128 hp. This model continued on for well over two decades with increments in power and displacement. Importantly though, these new cars were notorious for swapping ends due to their rear enginedness! Despite this, people took them rallying, people took them road racing and people even took them to drop their children off at school! It was, and still is, an everyday super car. And of course there were the special editions like the completely bonkers 2.7 Carrera RS which showed the world just how to spin out in style.
You spin me right round (930)
In 1975, another special edition was planned, this time with the magic of forced induction. The 911 turbo was created as a homologation special, with a 256 hp turbocharged flat-six engine. And even though they didn’t need the car for that purpose anymore, the turbo continued on in the 911 line-up as a Ferrari and Lamborghini competitor. And compete, it did! The 934 and 935 race cars, which were based on the 930, claimed many victories in their time. Power increased on the turbo cars from 256 to 330hp over the model years. What started off as a special edition ended up having a special edition of its own, namely the slant nosed 911 turbo which loses the classic 911 shape in favour of better aerodynamics!
Second generation (964)
For 1987, Porsche had a lot in store to offer. While the new 911 didn't look very different to the untrained eye, those in the know could easily distinguish this new model from the earlier version. The 964 had a host of new equipment, like Anti-Lock Brakes, power steering and coil springs. Engine size also increased to 3.6 liters. This was the first 911 in which the front wheels did more than just steering, the Carrera 4, with 4 wheel drive was introduced, and a Carrera 2, with 2 wheel drive, was sold along side the 4 to keep the purists happy. The turbo, distinctly absent from the line up for a few years, made a re-appearance. Initially it had the same 3.3 liter 320 hp flat six as the previous turbo, but later on, it received a 3.6 liter unit making well over 350 hp. That was short lived though, because the 993 was already rearing to go at that point and Porsche let it out soon enough.
Modern classic (993)
The external changes were much more significant this time ‘round, the 993 had new front and rear fascias while the body shell remained the same. It kept the 3.6 liter engine but upped the power to 268 hp. The rear wheel driven models were called Carrera, while the four wheel drive versions were now the Carrera 4s. This new version brought with it a new multi-link rear suspension set-up that tamed the rear end of the car a little. mid-corner inputs didn’t always lead to the rear stepping out anymore. Two years after the 993 was launched, the 993 turbo came along. With not one, but two turbos feeding high pressure into the 3.6 liter engine, power was boosted to over 400 hp! All that power had two more wheels to go through, though, so it wasn’t a complete monster. The real monster was the lightweight GT2 version with the same engine as the turbo but with only rear wheel drive. Being the last of the air-cooled 911s, the 993 series cars still command a premium in the used market.
Hey Mikey, this one’s a little wet! (996)
There was a financial crisis brewing at Porsche. At that time, Porsche was one of the only mainstream car companies that made just sports cars, and the times were getting hard. A second mid-engined model was planned that would slot in below the 911, and while the 996 was under development before the Boxster arrived, the purists were outraged at the parts sharing between the two models. Not just that, the new 996 had a water cooled 3.4 liter flat six, blasphemy! Despite all the hue and cry, this new 996 managed to keep the 911 traits intact. So, too, remained all the versions of the 911 like the Carrera, the Carrera 4, the turbo and the GT2. A new GT3 clubsport was introduced as a stripped out racer meant to terrorize the tracks of the world.
In comes the acronym brigade (997)
Things have changed a lot at Porsche. With the success of the new SUV, the Cayenne, the company was flush with money. The reason for the Cayenne’s existence was that this model would bring in the money that could be put to use in the development of their sports cars. It certainly seems so, because the 997 911 Carrera is considered one of the best cars to come out of Stuttgart, with a technological overload! The new car had PSM, PASM, PCB and POO, oh wait, it probably didn’t have that last one. The base model got a 3.6 liter flat six while the Carrera S got a 3.8 liter unit. In the vein of the legendary 2.7 RS, a GT3 RS was offered with a full roll-cage, more power and less weight along with a paint job that was a throwback to the original Carrera RS. The turbo, the first petrol engine to have a variable geometry turbo, was the most powerful 911 yet. That is, until the GT2 arrived with even more power.
Sports cars come and go, but the 911 remains constant (both the name and what it stands for) and we look forward to the next incarnation of this legendary sports car!