The 911 series Porsche has remarkable production longevity. Only the VW Beetle has a similar legacy. They never seem to go away – they only get better.
The first 911 series was shown to the public in early 1964 with production beginning in September. The road test data of that time indicated a top speed of 131 m.p.h. and a 0 to 60 time of about 8 seconds. The first cars had handling defects resulting in the car abruptly changing from strong understeer to sudden oversteer. Adjustments and some re-design of the suspension corrected most of these problems during the 1965 production year.
Road and Track tested a 911 in March 1965 and stated "The overall impression is that this car was built by men who know something about fast monitoring and that it is destined for owners who feel the same."
Porsche immediately began making improvements and variations of the standard 911. In 1966 the 911S was introduced. The horsepower was increased to 160 h.p., and many changes were made to the suspension. The first Targa (open top) version was also offered that year.
The faster 911S was the topic of many road tests of 1966 and 1967. Auto Car praised the car in late 1966 but added a word of caution: "The 911S is not a car for the novice."
The next big change came in August 1968. The wheelbase was increased by 2 inches, giving the car more equal balance and stability in order to better utilize the increased horsepower. Due to the emission regulations, Bosch mechanical fuel injection was installed and this increased the horsepower by 10 h.p.
The evolution of the 911 continued with several increases in displacement in order to increase low-end torque as well as total horsepower. The displacement was increased to 2195cc in 1970 and then to 2341cc. Learning from extensive racing experience, the aerodynamics of the car was altered, first by adding an air dam to the front bumper in 1971. A new 5 speed gearbox was also introduced. The high performance Carrera was introduced in 1972 and had a 2.7 liter engine, wider tires, wheel flares and a rear spoiler. There were only about 1600 of these 210 h.p. racing monsters built. The first 500 were painted all white with red or blue Carrera logos on the sides. The top speed of this car was 150 m.p.h. and a 0 to 60 m.p.h. time of less than 6 seconds, which is about the same as the current 911 Carrera. In 1974 the output of the U.S. version was only 175 h.p. Porsche's design teams were able to skillfully integrate the U.S. crash regulations, including the 5 m.p.h. bumper requirement into the overall basic 911 design. In fact, it gave the car much more solid look. These regulations were the death knell of many of the classic designs of Porsche's competitors.
Continuing the evolution of 911, the 911SC was produced in 1977, and the displacement was increased to 2994cc, producing 180 h.p. It had many of the features of the earlier racing Carreras with added aerodynamic flares and spoilers, wider wheels, and upgraded suspension. The horsepower was increased in 1980 to 204 h.p. The Cabriolet was introduced in 1981, giving a choice of the three variations of Coupe, Targa, and Cabriolet. The engine displacement was increased in 1982 to 3164cc, which produced 231 h.p., and the SC became the Carrera, which is basically the same car being produced today.
In 1985, Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo that evolved from the earlier 930 Turbo series. It was available with a sloping front nose and pop-up headlights. This car produces 300 h.p. and delivers awesome performance.
Porsche's ingenious designers and marketing managers have been able to maintain the same basic design of the 911 and overcome both the emissions laws and crash impact standards while producing one of the most respected and sought after cars for thirty years.
Today, the late seventies and early to mid eighties Porsches are very much in demand for their outstanding preciseness and performance. These closely resemble the new Porsches in styling and performance and are available in the upper teens to low twenties price range, a fraction of a new Porsche.