Mention the word Porsche and the instant reaction will be '911'. No other brand is so well defined by one model - an entire culture and devout following has been inspired by the three numbers.
In 2013, the Porsche 911 turned a milestone of 50 years in production. The flagship model has been at the heart of the Porsche ethos since its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963 - and Porsche marked the 50th anniversary of this iconic sports car with the 911 50th Anniversary Edition.
The 911 has always divided opinion between enthusiasts; the 911 features an engine that sits behind the rear axle - something which seemed so alien in sports cars at the time. The early 911's, especially the iconic Turbo, were not always well-received.
Evolution vs. Revolution
Porsche almost listened to their critics in 1978 when they announced the front-engine V8 928 - their new flagship model, designed to eventually replace the 911 model entirely. However, the 928 didn't catch on as hoped, meaning that the 911 lived on whilst the 928 was eventually discontinued in 1995.
The 928 was still popular, and lived alongside the 911 for 17 years. However, revolution didn't seem to be the right answer and Porsche continued to work with the 911 set-up. They eventually became so well attuned to the car that they were seen as miracle workers, each time improving the 911 when the press said it couldn't possibly get any better.
Porsche still positioned the engine behind the rear axle, and even today the original silhouette remains instantly recognisable - signifying an icon in the motoring world.
The philosophy of the 911 was simple: a low centre of gravity for great cornering, a rear-engined rear wheel drive configuration for that classic sports car feel, and a lightweight, aerodynamic shell for economy and speed. Of course, it also needed the right engine.
The flat-6 boxer engine in the 911 is unique in its configuration and sound - one cannot mistake the throaty burble of the 6 cylinders punching toward each other. From the engine's inception until the introduction of the 996, Porsche uniquely stuck to air-cooled engines. It was part of the charm that set Porsche apart from other sports car manufacturers.
They moved to water cooling methods in late 1997 to keep up with increasingly stringent emissions requirements, as well as allowing for more efficient and modern technology like four valves per cylinder. It gave Porsche a new drawing board to develop and improve an engine that was close to the perfect power output. This leads us to the modern day Porsche, a direct injection water-cooled engine (991) with market leading emissions and performance.
The history of the turbo is a story in itself, with Porsche being the first manufacturer to successfully implement a turbocharged petrol engine in a production car in 1975 on the 930 model 911. The few to have come before were either too unreliable or were rendered unusable due to turbo lag, but Porsche successfully manufactured not just a driveable and reliable car but the most powerful production car of its time.
Today, the variable turbine geometry turbochargers used in the 911 turbo are able to virtually eliminate lag - yet again a first in a production petrol engine by Porsche (in the 2006 997 turbo).
Porsche have always regarded motorsports as part of the development process for new vehicles. The fact that the 911 has numerous wins in a variety of racing classes (including Le Mans and Touring cars), and most recently have announced entry of the 911 into rallying once again - the most demanding of racing classes for both car and driver- highlights the immense engineering capability of the 911.
No stranger to racing, it's not just with the 911 that Porsche have achieved success. They have entered into competitive classes such as Formula 1 and IndyCar. The Porsche 917 even won the gruelling Le Mans endurance race in 1970, and led Porsche to over a dozen more victories since. Porsche found a winning formula through light weight, reliability and traction that outclassed more powerful rivals.
This knowledge and experience has allowed a rear engine car to outperform more popular front and mid-engined competition over the years.
The everyday supercar
All this success has led to the 911 being touted as the 'everyday supercar'. Handling is no longer compromised in favour of 'tradition', and in fact the 911 is one of the best-handling and most balanced cars around today.
From the first 911 in 1963 through to the most current 2011 version, it is evident that the newest model is the product of an illustrious lineage. The first iteration in 1963, The F Model - originally called the 901 and later renamed 911 was itself an evolution of the gorgeous 356, the classic luxury sports car which set the wheels of Porsche in motion after WWII.
Since 1963, there have been five overarching revisions to the core architecture of the 911(as well as numerous facelifts). The most recent iteration, the 991, is the most refined sports car to date. All versions are recognisable instantly as 911 but often largely redesigned from the ground up. Power has steadily increased, and Porsche has consistently bettered acceleration figures of more powerful competition - a benefit of the rear-engined design.
A car to live with
It was Ferry Porsche himself who described the car in question as: "The only car you could drive on an African safari or at Le Mans, to the theatre or through New York City traffic."
Considering the automotive paradoxes such as sportiness vs. everyday practicality, innovation vs. tradition, exclusivity vs. social acceptance and design vs. functionality, the key benefit of the 911 was purely the reconciliation of the contradictions that are often encountered with competitor supercars.
How many supercars can you do your weekly shop in? Or take the kids to the zoo in? How many 100,000+ mile examples are still on the road?
There's only one answer. And it's what makes a 911 such a great choice. At Stratstone we offer a huge variety of used Porsche models, with over 100 in stock. Every Porsche is a modern icon which represents an intrinsic part of the Porsche design legacy that stretches back over 80 years.
Preserving the integrity of the 911, there are now models covering every taste, from the perfectly weighted Cayman Coupe to the grin-inducing Boxster roadster. There are even critically-lauded SUV choices in the Cayenne and Macan.
With a full specification list, photography, and high-definition available for each model, there's no reason not to look for your next everyday supercar now and share in founder Ferdinand Porsche's vision.