Throughout its lifetime, the 911 has been modified by private teams and by the factory itself for racing, rallying and other forms of automotive competition. It is among the most successful competition cars ever. In the mid 1970s, normally aspirated 911 Carrera RSRs won major world championship sports car races such as Targa Florio, Daytona, Sebring and Nürburgring, even against prototypes. The 911-derived 935 turbo also won the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979.
Porsche 911 classic (1963–1989)
The 911 can trace its roots back to sketches drawn by Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche in 1959. The Porsche 911 classic was developed as a much more powerful, larger, more comfortable replacement for the Porsche 356, the company's first model. The new car made its public debut at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show (German: Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung). The car presented at the auto show had a non-operational mockup of the 901 engine, receiving a working one in February 1964.
It originally was designated as the "Porsche 901" (901 being its internal project number). 82 cars were built as 901s. However, Peugeot protested on the grounds that in France it had exclusive rights to car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. So, instead of selling the new model with another name in France, Porsche changed the name to 911. Internally, the cars part numbers carried on the prefix 901 for years. Production began in September 1964, the first 911s reached the US in February 1965 with a price tag of US$6,500.
The earliest edition of the 911 had a 130 PS (96 kW; 128 hp) flat-6 engine, in the "boxer" configuration like the 356, air-cooled and rear-mounted, displaced 1991 cc compared with the 356's four-cylinder, 1600 cc unit. The car had four seats although the rear seats were very small, thus the car is usually called a 2+2 rather than a four-seater (the 356 was also a 2+2). It was mated to a four or five-speed manual "Type 901" transmission. The styling was largely by Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche, son of Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche. Erwin Komenda, the leader of the Porsche car body construction department, was also involved in the design.
The 356 came to the end of its production life in 1965, but there was still a market for a 4-cylinder car, particularly in the USA. The Porsche 912, introduced the same year, served as a direct replacement, offering the 356's 4-cylinder, 1600 cc, 90 hp (67 kW) engine inside the 911 bodywork.
In 1966 Porsche introduced the more powerful 911S, the engine's power raised to 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp). Alloy wheels from Fuchs, in a distinctive 5-leaf design, were offered for the first time. In motorsport at the same time, installed in the mid-engined Porsche 904 and Porsche 906, the engine was developed to 210 PS (154 kW). The 911 was also entered in the SCCA's Trans-American Sedan Championship in the under two liter class, being classified as a sedan until 1973 (perhaps mistaken for a coupe). The 911 would go on to dominate its class for several years.
In 1967 the Targa (meaning "shield" in Italian) version was introduced as a "stop gap" model. The Targa had a stainless steel-clad roll bar, as Porsche had, at one point, thought that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would outlaw fully open convertibles in the US, an important market for the 911. The name "Targa" came from the Targa Florio sports car road race in Sicily, Italy in which Porsche had notable success, with seven victories since 1956, and four more to come until 1973. This last win in the subsequently discontinued event is especially notable as it was scored with a 911 Carrera RS against prototypes entered by Italian factories of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. The road going Targa was equipped with a removable roof panel and a removable plastic rear window (although a fixed glass version was offered alongside from 1968).
The 110 PS (81 kW; 108 hp) 911T was also launched in 1967 and effectively replaced the 912. The staple 130 PS (96 kW; 128 hp) model was renamed the 911L. The 911R had a very limited production (20 in all), as this was a lightweight racing version with thin aluminium doors, a magnesium crankcase, twin-spark cylinder heads, and a power output of 210 PS (154 kW).
In 1969 the B series was introduced: the wheelbase for all 911 and 912 models was increased from 2211 to 2268 mm (87 to 89¼in), an effective remedy to the cars nervous handling at the limit. The overall length of the car did not change: rather, the rear wheels were relocated aft. Fuel injection arrived for the 911S and for a new middle model, 911E. A semi-automatic Sportomatic model, composed of a torque converter, an automatic clutch, and the four speed transmission, was added to the product lineup. It was canceled after the 1980 model yearpartly because of the elimination of a forward gear to make it a three-speed.
The 2.2 L 911E was called "The secret weapon from Zuffenhausen". Despite the lower power output of the 911E (155 PS (114 kW; 153 hp)) compared to the 911S (180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp)) the 911E was quicker in acceleration up to 160 km/h (100 mph).
The 1972–1973 model years consisted of the same models, but with a new, larger 2341 cc (142 in³) engine. This is universally known as the "2.4 L" engine, despite its displacement being closer to 2.3 litres. The 911E and 911S used mechanical fuel injection (MFI) in all markets. For 1972 the 911T was carbureted, except in the U.S. and some Asian markets where emission regulations forced Porsche to equip the 911T with mechanical fuel injection. In January, 1973, US 911Ts were switched to the new K-Jetronic CIS (Continuous Fuel Injection) system from Bosch.
With the power and torque increases, the 2.4 L cars also got a newer, stronger transmission, identified by its Porsche type number 915. Derived from the transmission in the Porsche 908 race car, the 915 did away with the 901/911 transmission's "dog-leg" style first gear arrangement, opting for a traditional H pattern with first gear up to the left, second gear underneath first, etc.
911S models also gained a discreet spoiler under the front bumper to improve high-speed stability. With the cars weighing only 1050 kg (2315 lb), these are often regarded as the best classic mainstream 911s. For racing at this time, the 911 ST was produced in limited numbers (the production run for the ST only lasted from 1970 to 1971). The cars were available with engines of either 2466 cc or 2492 cc, producing 270 PS (199 kW; 266 hp) at 8000 rpm. Weight was down to 960 kg (2166 lb). The cars had success at the Daytona 6 Hours, the Sebring 12 Hours, the 1000 km Nürburgring and the Targa Florio.
911 Carrera RS (1973 and 1974)
These models, valued by collectors, are considered by many to be the greatest classic 911s of all-time. RS stands for Rennsport in German, meaning race sport in English. The Carrera name was reintroduced from the 356 Carrera which had itself been named after Porsche's class victories in the Carrera Panamericana races in Mexico in the 1950s. The RS was built so that Porsche could enter racing formulae that demanded that a certain minimum number of production cars were made. Compared with a standard 911S, the Carrera 2.7 RS had a larger engine (2687 cc) developing 210 PS (150 kW; 210 hp) with MFI, revised and stiffened suspension, a "ducktail" rear spoiler, larger brakes, wider rear wheels and rear fenders. In RS Touring form it weighed 1075 kg (2370 lb), in Sport Lightweight form it was about 100 kg (220 lb) lighter, the saving coming from the thin-gauge steel used for parts of the bodyshell and also the use of thinner glass. In total, 1580 were made, comfortably exceeding the 500 that had to be made to qualify for the vital FIA Group 4 class. 49 Carrera RS cars were built with 2808 cc engines producing 300 PS (221 kW).
In 1974, Porsche created the Carrera RS 3.0 with K-Jetronic Bosch fuel injection producing 230 PS (169 kW). It was almost twice as expensive as the 2.7 RS but offered a fair amount of racing capability for that price. The chassis was largely similar to that of the 1973 Carrera RSR and the brake system was from the Porsche 917. The use of thin metal plate panels and a spartan interior enabled the shipping weight to be reduced to around 900 kg (1984 lb).
The Carrera RS was a homologation special with thin glass, no back seats or even a glovebox lid. It existed to help the 911 go racing and while it did have that spoiler (except in some countries, where it was banned), the vanes of its air-con vents were not individually wrapped in leather nor its coat hooks swathed in Alcantara.
The Carrera RSR 3.0 was sold to racing teams, and scored outright wins in several major sports car races of the mid 1970s. Also, a prototype Carrera RSR Turbo (with 2.1 L engine due to a 1.4x equivalency formula) came second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1975 and won several major races, a significant event in that its engine would form the basis of many future Porsche attempts in sportscar racing. Save for the earlier Porsche 917, it can be regarded as Porsche's start of its commitment to turbocharging also in road cars.
2.7- series (1974-1977)
Model year 1974 saw three significant changes. First, the engine size was increased to 2687 cc giving an increase in torque. Second, was the introduction of impact bumpers to conform with low speed protection requirements of US law, these bumpers being so successfully integrated into the design that they remained unchanged for 15 years. Thirdly, the use of K-Jetronic CIS Bosch fuel injection in two of the three models in the line up— the 911 and 911S models, retaining the narrow rear arches of the old 2.4, now had a detuned version of the RS engine producing 150 PS (110 kW; 150 hp) and 175 PS (129 kW; 173 hp), respectively. The Carrera 2.7 retained the same 210 bhp MFI engine, suspension, brakes etc. as the 1973 Carrera RS. It weighed in at 1075 kg, the same as the RS Touring. The US market Carrera only had the 165 bhp CIS engine owing to emission regulations. The 930 Turbo was introduced in 1975 (see below). The Carrera 3.0 was introduced in 1976 with what was essentially the Turbo's 2994 cc engine minus the turbocharger, and with K-Jetronic CIS although now developing 200 PS (150 kW; 200 hp).
Also produced in the 1976 model year for the U.S. market, was the 912E, a 4-cylinder version of the 911 like the 912 that had last been produced in 1969. It used the I-series chassis and the Volkswagen 2.0 engine from the Porsche 914. In all, 2099 units were produced. In 1976 the front-engine Porsche 924 took this car's place for the 1977 model year and beyond.
911 Turbo (Type 930) (1975–1989)
In 1974 Porsche introduced the first production turbocharged 911. Although called simply Porsche 911 Turbo in Europe, it was marketed as Porsche 930 (930 being its internal type number) in North America. The body shape is distinctive thanks to wide wheel-arches to accommodate the wide tires, and a large rear spoiler often known as a "whale tail" on the early cars, and "tea-tray" on the later ones. Starting out with a 3.0 L engine 260 PS (190 kW; 260 hp), these early cars are known for their exhilarating acceleration coupled with challenging handling characteristics and extreme turbo lag. For 1978, capacity rose to 3.3 L 300 PS (220 kW; 300 hp), and an intercooler was added which was placed under the rear spoiler.
Production figures of the basic 930 soon qualified it for FIA Group 4 competition, with the racing version called the Porsche 934 of 1976. Many participated at Le Mans and other races including some epic battles with the BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile". The wilder FIA Group 5 version called Porsche 935 evolved from the 2.1 L RSR Turbo of 1974. Fitted with a slope nose, the 500+ PS car was campaigned in 1976 by the factory, winning the world championship title. Private teams went on to win many races, like Le Mans in 1979, and continued to compete successfully with the car well into the 1980s until the FIA and IMSA rules were changed.
Only in 1989, its last year of production, was the 930 equipped with a five-speed gearbox. The 930 was replaced in 1990 with a 964 version featuring the same 3.3 L engine. There have been turbocharged variants of each subsequent generation of 911.
In 1978, Porsche introduced the new version of the 911, called the 911SC. It featured a 3.0 liter engine with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and a 5-speed 915 transmission. Porsche broke away from using magnesium crankcases like in the late 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, and 2.7 liter engines. This was the start of what are considered by collectors to be the most reliable 911s. In 1981, a Cabriolet concept car was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Not only was the car a true convertible, but it also featured four-wheel drive, although this was dropped in the production version. The first 911 Cabriolet debuted in late 1982, as a 1983 model. This was Porsche’s first cabriolet since the 356 of the mid-1960s. It proved very popular with 4,214 sold in its introductory year, despite its premium price relative to the open-top targa. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since.
It was during this time, that Porsche AG decided the long-term fate of the 911. In 1979 Porsche had made plans to replace the 911 with their new 928. Sales of the 911 remained so strong however, that Porsche revised its strategy and decided to inject new life into the 911 editions. 911 SC sales totaled 58,914 cars.
911 3.2 Carrera series (1984–1989)
With the 911’s future ensured, 1984 saw the launch of a replacement for the successful SC series. It was the model year 1984 911 3.2 Carrera, reviving the Carrera name for the first time since 1975. The 911 3.2 Carrera was the last iteration in the original 911 series, with all subsequent models featuring new body styling with new brake, electronic and suspension technologies.
A new higher displacement motor, a 3.2 liter horizontally opposed flat 6 cylinder, was utilized. At the time Porsche claimed it was 80% new. The new swept volume of 3164 cc was achieved using the 95 mm (3.7 in) bore (from the previous SC model) combined with the 1978 Turbo 3.3 crankshaft's 74.4 mm (2.9 in) stroke. In addition, higher domed pistons increased the compression ratio from 9.8 to 10.3:1 (although only 9.5:1 for the US market). New inlet manifold and exhaust systems were fitted. The 915 transmission was carried over from the SC series for the first three model years. In 1987, the Carrera got a new five-speed gearbox sourced from Getrag, model number G50 with proven Borg-Warner synchronizers. This slightly heavier version also featured a hydraulically operated clutch.
With the new engine, power was increased to 207 bhp (154 kW; 210 PS) (@ 5900 rpm) for North American-delivered cars and to 231 bhp (172 kW; 234 PS) (@ 5900 rpm) for most other markets. This version of the 911 accelerated 0–60 mph (100 km/h) in 5.4 seconds and had a top speed of 150 mph (242 km/h) as measured by Autocar. Factory times were more modest: 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds for the US version and 6.1 seconds for cars outside the American market.
The brake discs were increased in size to aid in more effective heat dissipation and improved oil-fed chain tensioners were fitted to the engine. To improve oil cooling, a finned cooler replaced the serpentine lines in the front passenger fender well. This was further improved in 1987, with the addition of a thermostatically controlled fan.
Driving refinement and motor reliability were improved with an upgrade of the fuel and ignition control components to a L-Jetronic with Bosch Motronics 2 DME (Digital Motor Electronics system). An improvement in fuel-efficiency was due to the DME providing a petrol cut-off on the overrun. Changes in the fuel map & chip programming from October 1986, further improved the power to 217 bhp (162 kW; 220 PS) (@ 5900 rpm) for North American delivered cars as well as for other markets requesting low emissions, like Germany. Custom-mapped chips remain a popular upgrade. The fuel relay that is mounted externally on the DME is known to be a weak point of the system.
Three basic models were available throughout the Carrera years – coupe, targa and cabriolet. When launched in 1984 in the United States, the prices of the 911 Carrera lineup were $31,950 for the coupe, $33,450 for the targa and $36,450 for the cabriolet. Almost indistinguishable from the SC, external clues are the front fog lights, which were integrated into the front valance in the Carrera. Very modest cosmetic changes were made throughout the lifespan of the Carrera, with a redesigned dash featuring larger air conditioning vents appearing in 1986.
In 1984, Porsche also introduced the M491 option. Officially called the Supersport in the UK, it was commonly known as the "Turbo-look". It was a style that resembled the Porsche 930 Turbo with wide wheel arches and the distinctive "tea tray” tail. It featured the stiffer turbo suspension and the superior turbo braking system as well as the wider turbo wheels. Sales of the Supersport were particularly strong for its first two years in the United States because the desirable 930 was not available.
For the European market in Italy a very exclusive version was introduced by the Porsche agent, ten Carrera model ST (Senza Turbo) were produced to commemorate the myth of the 10th anniversary of the Carrera RS model, revised engine developing 255 bhp (190 kW; 259 PS) they were all "Grand Prix white" with red or blue "Carrera ST" decal on each side of the car and blue or red wheels, the logo carrera ST (and 3.2 on the boot gril) on their famous duck tail, and a special engraved plate on the dash board, the serial N° were 490-499.
The 911 Carrera Club Sport (CS) (option M637), 340 of which were produced worldwide from August 1987 to September 1989, is a reduced weight version of the standard Carrera that, with engine and suspension modifications, was purpose built for club racing. The CS had a blueprinted engine with hollow intake valves and a higher rev limit, deletion of: all power options, sunroof (except one example), air conditioning (except two examples), radio, rear seat, undercoating, sound insulation, rear wiper, door pocket lids, fog lamps, front hood locking mechanism, engine and luggage compartment lights, lockable wheel nuts and even the rear lid "Carrera" logo, all in order to save an estimated 70 kg (155 lb) in weight. With the exception of CSs delivered to the UK, all are identifiable by the "CS Club Sport" decal on the left front fender and came in a variety of colors, some special ordered. Some U.S. CS's did not have the decal installed by the dealer; however, all CS's have a "SP" stamp on the crankcase and cylinder head. The UK CS's were all "Grand Prix White" with a red "Carrera CS" decal on each side of the car and red wheels. Although the CS was well received by the club racers, because it cost more than the stock 911 but had fewer "creature comforts", it was not well received by the public in general. Consequently, according to Porsche Club of America and Porsche Club Great Britain CS Registers, only 21 are documented as delivered to the U.S. in 1988 with 7 in 1989, one to Canada in 1988 and 53 to the United Kingdom from 1987 to 1989.
The 911 Speedster (option M503), a low-roof version of the Cabriolet which was evocative of the Porsche 356 Speedster of the 1950s, was produced in limited numbers (2,104) starting in January 1989 until July 1989 as both a narrow body car and a Turbo-look. The narrow version was produced only 171 times. The Speedster started as a design under Helmuth Bott in 1983 but was not manufactured until six years later. It was a two-seat convertible that featured a low swept windshield.
Total production of the 911 3.2 Carrera series was 76,473 cars (35,670 coupé, 19,987 cabrio, 18,468 targa).