Essential Classics: Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is quite possibly the hottest 50-year-old on the planet. The 911 celebrated the half-century mark this year, making it one of the oldest sports coupe nameplates still in production. Porsche marked the occasion by giving more than 13k Porsche employees a special €8,111 bonus the company called a “turbo-intergalactic special payment.” As of the beloved car’s 50th birthday, more than 820,000 Porsche 911s had been sold.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Porsche 911. The car debuted at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show as the ‘Porsche 901 Classic’ but was soon renamed to settle a legal dispute with Peugeot, which claims the exclusive rights in France to any car names formed by three digits with a zero in the middle. Production began on the official 911 in 1964, and has continued ever since.

Success came from all sides for everyone’s favorite Porsche. It quickly established itself as an icon of ’60s cool, and evolved effortlessly from one decade to the next. It was also a hit on the race track. Naturally aspirated 911 Carrera RSRs won major international races like Targa Florio, Daytona, Sebring, and Nürburgring, and the 911-derived 935 turbo won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979. The car also came in 5th in the 1999 international poll for the award of Car of the Century.

In Popular Culture:
There’s little the 911 hasn’t seen. Over the course of its lifetime, it has been modified by private teams and Porsche itself for racing, rallying, and other forms of automotive competition. The 911 can also be found flying through a plate-glass window in “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” after being stolen by a recently un-retired car thief, and in “Weekend at Bernie’s,” where it is driven by everyone’s favorite corpse (who also owns a red 911-inspired golf cart).

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