There really is no way I can deliver anything approaching a full history of the Porsche 911 in the space of this blog, unless that is I wrote about it every week, and continued doing so for the next ten years. I recently found a second-hand copy of Paul Frere’s definitive book on the subject –it’s the updated 1989 edition, and it runs to 284 pages - that means that there have been another 23 years’ worth of developments since, and recently it has appeared that the Stuttgart boffins have been churning out the variations at quite a rate, though I challenge anyone to tell the difference between a 997 GT3 RS and a 997 GT2 from fifty feet, or even fifty inches, come to it.
Of course all this infernal tinkering is a touch off-putting for some, myself included, who being easily confused find the proliferation of numbers and letters somehow unsporty. The designation ‘Type 997 911 GT2’ could just as well belong to the radiator hose of a Vauxhall Viva or the exhaust box of an Austin Allegro, it just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as the likes of the Countach, Merak, Daytona or Mistral. But then who needs an evocative name when the car’s performance speaks for itself? The 911 has outsold, outperformed and outlasted all of the above, along with many of their successors, and has become undoubtedly the most popular and versatile sports car ever produced.
Introduced in 1965 as a replacement for the 356, it didn’t take long for the car to start building a formidable reputation. The 6-cylinder air-cooled engine was developed with both racing and road use in mind, thus providing top-line performance and exceptional reliability in detuned production form. The similarities were such that the unit fitted to the production 911 was fully interchangeable with the racing version, but soon it would be more than just engine developments that became interchangeable, as the customer began directly benefiting from an incredibly successful racing campaign.
A Motoring Institution
The 911 has become a genuine motoring institution, and it’s quite impossible to conceive of the Porsche range without it
The 911 made its competition debut on the ’65 Monte Carlo Rally - a race it would go on to win four times – finishing an admirable 5th, and after a highly successful season the following year, by ‘67 it had been honed into a winner, not only in rallying, but on the track where it took GT honours at Sebring, Daytona, the Nurburgring and in the Targa Florio. The victories never really stopped coming, with numerous class wins at Le Mans before regulation changes led to an overall victory in 1979 (in 935 guise). To cut a very long story short, the 911 won practically every noteworthy race it entered at some point, and often in the hands of privateer entrants.
The 911 has become a genuine motoring institution, and it’s quite impossible to conceive of the Porsche range without it. As with any vehicle it has had its faults, and the detractors are quick to seize upon them, but then they’re undoubtedly low on ammo, for as production sports cars go, it’s practically bulletproof. Indeed such engineering was unquestionably another contributory factor in the death of the British industry, but then you can’t really blame Porsche for making a car that was too good.
So, in conclusion, if you’re in the market for a sporty Beetle, look no further than your local Porsche dealer. I shouldn’t have said that, should I…
You can see the Wheeler Dealers working on a 911 2.7S Targa on Shed on Wednesday 5th September at 5pm.
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