When you think sports cars, you think Porsche. Elegant yet efficient, Porsche has always managed to woo us with its top of the line specs & equally proficient safety features. From making war-vehicles to perfecting SUVs, there’s a Porsche for each one of us.
Ferdinand Porsche founded Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH(GmbH (German) translated to a company with limited liability) in Stuttgart back in 1931. With near half a century of experience with innovation under his belt, he designed the revolutionary Volkswagen(people’s car) Beetle. But that wasn’t Porsche’s car, Ferdinand’s son “Ferry” built the first true Porsche, the 356. 40 horsepowers & a tweaked Beetle’s engine doesn’t look revolutionary for a sports car at first, but it offered something exceptional in its class, comfort & reliability.
Porsche introduced their own line of engines in the mid-1950s. And then came the legendary 911. Initially called 901, but Peugeot’s right on all x0x names meant they had to improvise, 911 was born. The first rear-engined 911 was built in 1964 & after 3 decades of refinement, we got 1999 Carrera. Porsche also experimented with some front-engined models back in the 70s, and the company’s first V-8 engine was introduced in 1978 with the 924.
Porsche has always been synonymous with racing. And currently is the world’s leading race car manufacturer. They started their journey with some tweaked 356s & then moved on to making dedicated racing cars, with 718, RS, RSK leading the charge. The 917 won their first ever 24 hrs Le mans(18 titles till now) & it’s open top versions dominated Can-am. Porsche is also heavily invested in the rallies & 911s have dominated the rally scene for over a decade(1960-late 70s).
Over the last 100 years, we have seen some iconic cars but Porsche still firmly held its ground. Picking a favourite out of these Legends is a daunting task so we went ahead & made it a little easier for us. Let’s look at the top 5 cars that helped Porsche build the legacy.
Their first car then, & a collector’s dream now. Porsche 356 has legend written all over it. When it came out in 1948, it instantly stood out thanks to it’s unmatched weight to performance ratio and comfort. Something rare in that segment back in the day. Over many refinements, 356 has really set the tone for all the cars to follow.
Porsche has established itself as one of the most prolific racing car manufacturers in the history, and much of the credit goes to the 917. A machine intended to please the speed gods, 917 won at Daytona, Monza, Brands Hatch, Austria Ring and Spa in 1970. And not to forget, won the first overall Le Mans in 1970 only to achieve the same feat again in 1971. 12 cylinders and 500 HP to power the beast, it was one of the most refined cars back in the day.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS
911 Carrera RS is the Zeus of the 911s. A legend amongst the legends. “Rennsports” models were lighter, agiler & more focused than other 911s at the time. And you could tell that by how it was built. A classic spartan cabin, huge brake kits & a stiff suspension, it was a no-nonsense machine which valued the bond between a car and its driver highly.
Porsche 918 Spyder
The most technologically advanced car to come out of the German’s stables. The first “Hybrid Hypercar” made its debut at the Geneva Motor show back in 2010. 877 horsepowers, thanks to two electric motors assisting the beefy 4.6-liter V8. This AWD beast can reach 0-60 in just 2.5 secs & has an equally impressive top speed of 340km/hr.
Porsche 986 Boxster
If I had to pick out one car which can be termed as the saviour of the company, 986 Boxter would be it. Going through a financial turmoil in the late 90s, Porsche needed a breath of fresh air to get things going again. The solution? They combined 550 spyder’s mid-engined setup with 911’s flat-six engine. It was an entry level car but it sure did the trick. The sales spiked & finally, there was some much-needed greenery for the Germans.
Hybrid is the future. With all the brands heavily invested in alternate energy sources, Porsche isn’t far behind. Last year at the New York auto show, Porsche focused on one thing only, efficiency. But they didn’t introduce some suave hybrid concept, they worked on the existing models. Macan, company’s leading SUV got a 4 cylinder variant & according to Klaus Zellmer(President, North America) it is still quick as ever. The 4-cylinder model is 18% more fuel efficient than its predecessor & that’s their main USP. Zellmer believes it’s about striking a balance between tradition & innovation. And he realises the only way to keep their place in this cut-throat industry is by innovating without a hint of compromise.
Porsche isn’t just about speed, it’s about the legacy. A journey which started with Ferdinand Porsche carried on by his son & others. After everything his father had faced, Ferry didn’t give up. What he started with the 356 has only grown bigger and now they are one of the best sports car manufacturers in the world. And for the sake of the burnt rubber & gasoline, I hope they keep growing. And you know when Hank Moody drives one of your cars, it must be damn special.