This week Porsche celebrates 70 years as a carmaker. For the majority of that time the Stuttgart-based company produced sportscars. SUV and “saloons” came much later and, arguably, saved the brand from going under.
Take a 9 min 11 sec trip down 70 years of Porsche history by clicking here.
While we didn’t crack an invite to attend the party taking place at the firm’s HQ, it doesn’t stop us from celebrating an iconic brand. Here is our list of some of the more memorable cars from Porsche’s 70 year history.
“In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself.”- Ferry Porsche
Where it all began. The 356 was the first series production model designed by the little-known car maker in Germany. It was first produced at the company’s Gmund (Austria) factory in 1948 before production was moved to Germany. The 356 car gained fame by being extremely quick and wieldy, despite its relative lack of power. Motorsport success for Porsche began with the 356.
In 1963 Porsche launched, what would become, the 911. Initially called the 901, Porsche had to make a quick change to its model designation when Peugeot informed the Germans that it had patented all three digit badge numbers with a “0” in the middle as it related to road car names. The change to Nine-Eleven, in hindsight, was a blessing.
Porsche 911 R
The 1967 911 R is a 911 that weighs just 800 kg and made 154 kW from its high-revving motor. Only 23 of these were ever produced, making them extremely valuable today.
This red and white 917 is famous for being the very first Porsche to claim an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1970. Astonishingly, the 917 could hit 200 km/h from standstill in 5,3 seconds. Porsche claimed 19 overall victories at Le Mans until 2017 when it pulled out of the World Endurance Championship.
Porsche 911 (930) Turbo
911 Turbo, or 930 as this car was internally dubbed, was the very first of the fearsome force-fed 911s. It had a reputation for being a handful to drive thanks to an on-off power delivery and tricky handling traits. If the understeer didn’t get you, the oversteer would. Later, Turbo models would gain all-wheel drive to handle the power.
Porsche turbocharged flat-six
Okay, it’s not a car, but the turbocharged flat-six has been part of motoring and Porsche folklore since the 1980s. We’ve seen the original 3,0-litre motor grow to 3,8 and introduce a raft of technologies along the way, but the basic layout remains unchanged.
There has always been a close link between Porsche road and racecars. The turbocharged 956 and later 962 claimed countless sportscar victories in the hands of works drivers and privateer teams in the 1980s. Most notably a 956 driven by Stefan Bellof still holds the all-time lap record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife at 6 min 11,13 sec.
Click here to see two modern Porsche racecars with classic liveries.
The 959 was a technological showcase featuring all-wheel drive and twin-turbocharger technology, as well as a raft of electronic systems. At the time of its launch it was somewhat overshadowed by the bonkers Ferrari F40. Lessons learned during the 959’s development would seep into production models for years to come.
Porsche lays claim to the fastest and, probably, most entertaining one-make series in the world, Porsche Cup. This series has been contested by some truly great drivers. Porsche’s GT3 is the weapon of choice for this series. Although all GT3s are great to drive, the very first GT3 is still a car to behold. The only form of electronic safety net is ABS, otherwise you’re on your own.
A return of the widow maker. Porsche had to homologate RWD versions of its 993 Turbo to go racing, and so the GT2 was born. Only 57 examples exist, just a handful in RHD. The twin-turbocharged flat-six sends all its power to the rear axle. The GT2 proved so popular that Porsche makes limited runs of GT2 models now even though they aren’t raced.