Although Ferdinand Porsche set up shop in the center of Stuttgart in 1931 when he founded “Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH,” the very first car to bear the Porsche name was registered much later, on June 8 in 1948. That means in just two weeks from tomorrow, the automotive scene will celebrate 70th anniversary of the Porsche sports car. This has prompted the company through its official 9:11 magazine to look back at seven of its most important models launched throughout these seven decades, with matching music and graphics.
Naturally, the video kicks things off with the original 356, shown here in the 1951 “SL” specification, which was the first German car to bear the suffix (the Mercedes 300 SL came out in 1954). It had a flat-four 1.1-liter engine developing 46 horsepower (34 kilowatts), good enough for a respectable top speed of 100 mph (160 kph). The 356 Super Light lived up to its moniker, tipping the scales at just 640 kilograms (1,410 pounds).
The 1960s are represented by Porsche’s most important model, the 911, featured in the 1964 2.0 Coupe flavor. The first 911 was originally called 901, but Peugeot (the “another carmarker” mentioned in the video) wasn’t too happy with this nameplate as it had exclusive rights in France to sell cars with names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. As a consequence, Porsche decided to use 911 instead.
Helping Porsche claim its first overall win at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 917 KH with its iconic Gulf livery marks the 1970s. It was the company’s first 12-cylinder car, packing a 5.0-liter unit with 630 hp (463 kW) on tap for a remarkable top speed of 224 mph (360 kph). It allowed Porsche to win Le Mans not only in 1970, but also the following year when the race car was featured in the “Le Mans” movie starring Steve McQueen. As a side note, the movie car was sold at an auction in 2017 for a cool $14 million.
Moving on to the 1980s, the 959 supercar takes center stage. When it was launched, it was the fastest street-legal production car and Porsche made just 292 examples, of which only 29 were the Sport version shaving off about 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of weight. Tested in 1988 by Auto Motor und Sport at the Nardo track in Italy, the 959S reached 211 mph (339 kph).
As far as the 1990s are concerned, Porsche decided to go with its entry-level sports car rather than featuring the 959’s spiritual successor, the V10-powered Carrera GT. To some extent, it’s understandable why the roadster was chosen over the CGT for this video as many argue the Boxster basically saved Porsche following the dark years of the early 1990s.
The 2000s marked the debut of Porsche’s very first SUV, which went on to become a veritable cash cow for the company. Since then, the Cayenne has gained a kid brother in the shape of the Macan launched in 2014 and about to go through a mid-cycle fresh as demonstrated by the numerous spy shots.
Porsche’s most recent halo car and a former Nürburgring king, the 918 Spyder lapped the Green Hell in 6 minutes and 57 seconds to become the first production model with global homologation to do a lap in under 7 minutes. Only 918 cars were ever made, some of which were equipped with the optional Weissach Package bringing a weight loss among other upgrades.
As for the future, Porsche is betting big on electrification by launching hybrid versions of the Panamera and Cayenne, with the fully electric Mission E sedan to debut before the end of the decade. It will be followed shortly by a more rugged Cross Turismo derivative.