Evolution of a Classic: The Porsche 911


1963 911 by Barbara Hulanicki

When the 911 first appeared at the Frankfurt show in the autumn of 1963, it was slated as a simply a better-handling, sportier replacement of the 356. Little did anyone realise that the 911 would become a symbol of all the good things about postwar Germany – and an enduring totem of discerning automotive design. From the swinging sixties to the nefarious noughties: the 911 has swung with a rear mounted, flat six engine.


The 1974 911 RS by Celyn

1974. Mankind had had enough of landing on the moon, Patchoui oil eased the come down from years of psychedelic abuse. Glam and prog rock was littering the airwaves and Britain had been plunged into the darkness of the three day week. The hair and flared music might have meant to cheer us up, but Porsche meanwhile upped the 911 ante with the introduction of the RS. The ducktail rear spoiler and a more race-oriented aspect was the aesthetic development, but it was bolstered by extra power and reduced weight with a thinner gauge steel and spartan interior. Fast, glamorous and almost absent from Britain’s skint streets.


1979 911 Turbo (930) by Craig Robinson

1979 was an epoch making year. In Britain Callaghan’s government fell in the winter of discontent, the British public thereby installing Margaret Thatcher to power. The decade to come would see some of the most tumultuous cultural fractures of the century, but at the end of the seventies the quakes were stirring. In California a very young Bill Gates was negotiating his deal to tem Microsoft to IBM and Porsche introduced the first workable production Turbo charger. Generations of young boys have since lusted after a Porsche Turbo, and every manufacturer has attempted to ram it’s engine full of wheezy power. Porsche did it first, and did it best.


1987 Porsche 911 (959) by Arn0

In the mid eighties, greed was good. Not going to bore you with tales of stock market excess. It all went horribly wrong, but back in the eighties, it all seemed possible. Gordon Gecko would have dug Group B Rally, and so did Porsche. In a bid to qualify for the most outrageous motorsport ever homologated, Porsche began to develop a composite-shelled, twin-turboed hypercar with trick suspension and a dynamic design straight out of Battlestar Galactica. The 959 retailed at around a quarter of a million US dollars, but the company still made a huge loss on each unit. Yes, this was the Veyron of its day, and remains an incredibly fast child of its excessive times.


2010 911 GT3 RS by Jane Anderson

2010. The credit crunch has assumed the texture more of smooth nougat than the hard honeycomb of 2008. You escaped the swathe of redundancies by switching from local derivative trading to a hedge-fund management firm. Bonus back in place, you decide to invest in the purest, meanest, most definitive Porsche 911 ever to have been produced. The GT3 RS brings all the threads of the last forty five years. Purity of purpose. Simplicity of design. Exactitude of engineering. And what’s more, it’s faster and more lairy than nearly all of the 911s that went before. Welcome to the future.


4 Responses to “Evolution of a Classic: The Porsche 911”

  1. John Highman

    Nice artwork. My favourite 911 was always a mid-eighties whale-winged turbo. I finally owned one, until I had to sell her to buy 4×4 when the second baby came along. I wonder how long it will be before some artists ay tribute to a Landcruiser!

  2. Tujags

    I had one of the first RH Drive 911's but it was 10 years old by the time I bought it I think I rebuilt just about everything over the next few years the early ones did rot well! It had 90lbs of cast iron in the front bumpers, they got the handling wrong in the early cars you needed the weight to make it stay on the road corners. For all that it was a great drive – only 2 litres but quick for the time. I wish I had it now!