Know Your 911: Part 1 - the 911

Know Your 911: Part 1 - the 911

We’re counting down the 911s as launch day for the eighth-generation moves closer. Here we start with the original 911, released fifty-five years ago.

1965 Porsche 911

Porsche intended the 356 successor to be called 901 but pesky old Peugeot got in the way. After some no doubt tense discussions – things are rather rosier between the two countries today – Porsche settled on 911.

A hit in the US, the car quickly took hold. Porsche introduced a drop top and in response to US concerns about that style of car’s safety record, the Targa arrived. Billed by Porsche as the safety cabriolet, the Targa’s 20cm wide rollover hoop made it hard to argue the point.

With a rear-mounted engine slung out behind the rear axle, this is proof that Germans have a rich sense of humour.

While those first cars launched with a monstrous 96kW (130PS), the 1966 S brought 118kW (160PS) to the table along with the debut of the Fuchs forged alloy wheel.

1965 Porsche 911

If all that power was a bit much, an 81kW (110PS) T might have been more to your liking. Californians in the grip of these new-fangled emissions laws could choose the 911 E (E for injection).

The first cars were absolutely tiny, which meant all that power could get the little machine along at a very decent clip. But, customers being what they are, expected a 2+2 to actually carry +2.

Bigger, calmer, faster.

In 1968 Porsche lengthened the wheelbase by a whopping 57mm to increase interior space. Happily, the change reduced the rear end’s propensity to pass the front-end, a small but important change.

Changes and new models continued apace. In 1969 the air-cooled flat-six went from 1991cc to 2195cc. In 1974 the engine got bigger again, out to 2.4-litres. Power outputs ranged from 96kW (130PS) to 140kW (190PS) and the 911 could now run on standard unleaded.

911 Carrera RS 2.7

1973Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

In 1973 a second icon was born – the 911 Carrera RS 2.7. The last hurrah for the first-generation, 1525 went out into the wild. As the name suggests, the engine grew again for more power, 154kW (210PS) and a top speed of 245km/h. On 1973 tyres. If you’ll excuse me, I have to throw up.

Styling changes included that super-subtle duck tail wing, red wheels and even more subtle Carrera graphic. The car weighed just 1000kg and went like stink for the day.

These days a Carrera RS in excellent shape will cost you well north of US$1.1m.  A concours 911 from the day is easily worth US$1m.

The G came next.

Looking for Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5?