The first vehicle to wear the Porsche badge, the Porsche 356, was built in 1948. 2 years later, a New York businessman known as Max Hoffman was the first dealer to bring in these astonishing machines to North America. Presently, the brand is a lot stronger than ever, and 2016 marks the 66th anniversary of the Porsche brand in North America. Every Porsche is a known classic, but here are ten that stand out more than the rest of the clan.
There are many great 911s; it is hard to pick just one. Presented in 1964 as the replacement to the 356, it wrapped leading performance, prestige and technology in one package that still appears fresh and modern in our day. 1966 brought about the more powerful Porsche 911S, which featured an even more powerful 158-horsepower, with bigger brakes as well as a revised suspension.
Powered by the flat-12 engine which is capable of more 620 horsepower, the car was hellishly fast. Moving under the Gulf Racing banner, the car gave Porsche its first win at 24 Hours of Le Mans, a feat it repeated after that year. Porsche retired the car later in 1971, but the vehicle would go on to master racetracks all over the globe for over ten years.
The Porsche 959
The Porsche 959 established the blueprint for the modern-day sports cars, as well as the whole sports car industry. Uncovered in 1983, this model featured progressive technologies like an all-wheel drive system, run-flat tires, 450-horsepower turbo and charged flat-six, magnesium wheels.
Even the body — despite being common-looking nowadays — was incredibly advanced because of its slippery shape, integrated bumpers and flush headlamps. Porsche built more than 200 models to meet the FIA homologation requirements, however, the vehicle never achieved certification for the U.S. In 1998, a U.S. law allowed vehicles such as the 959 to be imported under a “Show and Display” status, finally letting the Yanks enjoy an icon of automotive history.
Known as James Dean’s fateful last ride in the U.S, the 550 Spyder was an intimidating machine in its glory days. This successor to the first 356 was engineered to supplement Porsche’s status in the racing community internationally, and thus has a more rigid frame, with a lightweight, and hand-built aluminum body.
It also had an engine mounted in the center instead of the rear. The power output was at just 70 horsepower. However, the overall package was quite successful. The Porsche 550s won a one-two win during the car’s first race known as 24 Hours of Le Mans. This car continued to dominate renowned events such as the Carrera Pan Americana.
The brand’s 50-plus years of innovations and achievements brought about the Carrera GT. The Carrera GT has a 5.7-liter, and 605-horsepower V10 engine. It was tweaked to make it fit for the street. Coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission, the lump helped push the carbon-fiber-bodied to 60 mph in four seconds. The car’s top speed is 205 mph. Even though it was released less than ten years ago, this race car is considered a classic.
Porsche 718 RS 60
Enter the Porsche 718 RS 60. An advancement from the 356 as well as the 550 race cars, this car carried extra size and weight to meet the fender, trunk, and windscreen requirements enforced by major sanctioning bodies. Inspiring this additional mass was a four-cylinder. This car may be seen as underpowered by standards of today, but in its peak, the car snagged so many important wins for the Porsche, including wins at the Sebring and Targa Florio.
1965 911 Targa
This car was built after threats to pass laws to ban the sale of convertible vehicles in North America. Porsche replaced the car’s top with the 911 roof and a removable panel to permit open-air driving experience. However, everything from the back with a B-pillar remained to appease the NTHSA safety regulations. The brand went one step further to reinforce the remaining vertical pieces using an extra-thick roll bar made of steel.
People who complain about this model diluting Porsche’s identity are not Porsche buyers. Yes, the Cayenne was seen as an obvious attempt to make some money on the SUV craze to sell more vehicles, but it helped Porsche sell more cars, which kept the company alive and allowed the Porsche to fund various projects like RS Spyder.
This vehicle shows that Porsche makes class-defining cars no matter the segment. It is a 5,000-pound, opulently appointed off-road vehicle that can knock a 4.7-second 0-60 out on its way to 170 mph top speed.
911 GT3 R Hybrid
A 25-year-old engineer known as Ferdinand Porsche revealed the first gas/electric vehicle at the World Fair. 150 years later, the gas/electric Porsche transformed motorsports. Using its ultra-hardcore GT3 racer as its base, Porsche engineers placed two 60kW electric motors in the front wheels to offer extra boosts of power when required. This system saves fuel under various race conditions. The Hybrid is evidence that going green does not have to be boring.
The Porsche’s 356 was the first Porsche. It’s the original Porsche-branded vehicle, the first to win a sports competition as well as the first to be sold within the United States. This means that there would be no Porsche model were it not for this 356. The vehicle’s feathery weight and keen attention to performance made it a daunting sports car.