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9 cars that made the Porsche badge a motoring icon over 70 years

A history of the marque in 9 iconic models.

Image: Shutterstock/Alexander Kirch

THE PORSCHE NAME is synonymous with sports cars.

As the company marks its 70th birthday this year, we’re taking a look back at some of its achievements and history over those seven decades.

Ferdinand Porsche first established a company in his own name in 1931 offering his consultant services in vehicle development, and during the war he worked on numerous projects including tank design.

But it wasn’t until the summer of 1948 that the first prototype carrying the Porsche name rolled out on the roads.

Source: Porsche

This would become the Porsche 356 under the guidance of his son, Ferry Porsche. That first roadster had a 1.1-litre flat four-cylinder engine producing a modest 35hp.

Its simple design was elegant and went on to be a good seller for the company, evolving over several years in both coupe and cabriolet form… but an even more successful model was on the way.

Source: Porsche

Originally designated as the 901 until Peugeot objected, the first Porsche 911 as we know it today came along in 1963 and was the first Porsche to have a flat six-cylinder engine.

The 2.0-litre unit had a punchy 130hp and the car had a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, resulting in improved handling. Two years later in 1965 the first Targa model was introduced.

Source: Porsche

In 1973 the Porsche 911 ‘G model’ arrived onto the scene. This would go on to have the longest production run of all 911 models, running up until 1989 with the much-loved Carrera Speedster. Three-point seat belts became a standard feature (oh how times have changed), and in 1974 the three-litre 260hp 911 Turbo made its debut.

Source: Porsche

The first all-wheel drive 911 debuted in 1988 with the new Porsche 911 964 generation. It might seem normal now, but one of the design features at the time of the car’s arrival was the integration of the bumpers as part of the overall look, whereas previously they appeared more stuck-on.

Source: Porsche

Internally known as the Porsche 993, the next 911 made its debut in 1993 and had one of the shorter production runs of the various generations.

Despite this, Porsche was still able to produce more than 67,000 examples and many regard this as the last true 911, as it was the final time the car utilised an air-cooled engine.

Source: Porsche

What followed in 1997 was a car that the purists initially detested, but it would go on to be one of the saviours of the company. The Porsche 996-era 911 not only had odd-shaped headlights, but it was larger and had a water-cooled engine. It shared components with another key car that arrived at a similar time – the Boxster.

Source: Porsche

With the Porsche 997 model, the brand returned to a more classical look much to the delight of its fans.

It was here that Porsche began to offer increasing amounts of new technology in its cars such as the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM).

The 911 Turbo of the range also featured variable turbine geometry, while in 2008 a dual-clutch transmission became available. A widening array of model variants (24 in total) pushed production numbers well beyond 200,000 examples.

Source: Porsche

In 2005 the third sports car model, the Porsche Cayman, made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The coupe was derived from the Boxster and had a mid-engine layout unlike the rear-engine setup of the 911.

Source: Porsche

Then in 2011, the latest Porsche 991 generation 911 made its first appearance.

Evolutionary looks were met with an increase in size, while turbocharging across most of the engine range was introduced in 2017.

Only the track-focused models like the 911 GT3 RS retained naturally aspirated engines, but the most extreme 911 yet, the 911 GT2 RS makes use of turbos to deliver a whopping 700hp, propelling it to 100km/h from rest in 2.8 seconds.

Source: Porsche

With the next generation of 911 yet to be revealed, it is looking increasingly likely that we’ll see the first use of electrification in this model range. Porsche is already committing to a pure electric four-door model called the Taycan.

Although the new 911 sports car might not be as extreme as the plug-in hybrid 918 supercar, it should be no less interesting when it does arrive.

READ: Review – The new Ford Focus is currently the cream of the crop of family hatchbacks >

READ: 5 of the most insanely powerful production cars money can buy >

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About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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