Think Beetle, then think bigger, finally decide to create the world’s most profitable car company – that was the audacious Porsche family plan, and how well it worked. The patriarch was Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, designer of the Volkswagen Beetle before World War II, who would subsequently be imprisoned for alleged war crimes.
But his son Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche operated Porsche AG and his grandson Ferdinand ‘Butzi’ Porsche was intimately involved in the development of the Porsche 911 – the car directly descended from the VW Beetle that would establish the company as a world-famous purveyor of superlative sports cars.
The classic 911 coupe was first shown in late 1963 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and went into production the following year. Like its mass-market Beetle ancestor, the 911 was a distinctive rear-engined, air-cooled car that would retain its characteristic aerodynamic shape for decades. The boxer flat-six motor was teamed with a four- or five-speed manual gearbox for electrifying performance, steering was precise – though roadholding was best described as sporty.
But this would be an evolutionary series, and the first advance came with the 911S (for Super) that was introduced in 1966. Nothing looked very different, apart from the signature five-spoke Fuchs ‘flower-petal’ alloy wheels, but the engine had been uprated and the Weber carburettors tuned. Chassis improvements – including ventilated disc brakes all round, Koni shocks and a second roll bar – ensured the extra power was harnessed.
The first Porsche 911S was the sensational model that really established the line’s performance credentials, though initially there were faults like plug fouling. But improvement and refinement would characterize the 911S at every stage of its long life, with a second generation (filling the next slot between 1969 and 1971) boasting a larger engine. But that was just the beginning of the success story.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1966 (until 1969)
1,991 cc Flat Six
Top speed of 131 mph (211 km/h), 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.3 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Porsche 912 is the almost forgotten companion model of the 911, manufactured from 1965 to 1969 – it was Porsche’s entry-level model and looked very similar to its big brother, the main difference being that it had a four-cylinder engine.