1963. Kennedy was assassinated and an American Baptist minister voiced his dream in DC. A band called The Beatles were on the rise, the Great Train Robbery captivated a nation and for the first time since the end of the war the Berlin Wall opened for one day passes. It’s almost unimaginable what West Germany must have seemed like through the eyes of an Easterner, especially as that first raspy flat six Porsche 911 roared past.
Yes, a lot happened internationally in 1963. After the devastation of war, West Germany was getting back on its feet and proving itself to the world. The country was experiencing an economic boom for the first time and Porsche had shown, with its 356, that people once again had money to spend on sports cars. The Porsche story is one of evolution, and in 1963 the small company unveiled their next move – the 911. The same engine was in the same place (in the 912, at least), and the car had grown in size. There was now a six cylinder option for increased performance and new styling embraced postmodernism yet still remained quintessentially Porsche. I don’t know if people in 1963 knew the importance of the new 911 or maybe it was just another expensive car, but in retrospect it’s clear that an icon was born.
An icon that, whilst now significantly massaged to suit the tastes, demands and regulations of the age we live in, still exists in almost undiluted form some fifty years later. I can’t think of another car, product, place or even an idea that fits that description. We can wax lyrical all we like, but a 911 is still a 911. End of story.
I’m sure I don’t need to illustrate my point but for the sake of overkill, I will. The 1973 Carrera RS and the 2011 GT3 RS 4.0. Two cars built with exactly the same brief, just the passage of time dictating the outcome. And both as highly desirable as the other.
2013 is a good year to be a Porsche enthusiast and Any Given Reason has already enjoyed 50th Anniversary celebrations on the other side of the world, in particular at Le Mans, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and at Porsche’s own Stuttgart Museum (story coming soon). So when news spread that the Porsche Club of South Australia would mark the anniversary with a parade of our favorite rear-engined cars through the streets of Adelaide and up to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, it was obvious that this was not one to miss.
Early on a Sunday morning in late October, over a hundred and thirty 911’s of all vintages gathered at the Harbor Town shopping complex near the airport, before departing for the city. This was not meant to be a frivolous drive, rather a carefully coordinated parade to ensure the chronological order of the group was not disturbed.
Sure, 911’s are built to be driven flat out and one could argue that the best way to celebrate the anniversary would be to hit up a deserted back road at dawn. But you can do that any day of the week – this was something entirely more special.
Sitting at the lights of North Terrace and King William watching the parade gave pause to consider just why, for me, the 911 is the ultimate sports car. Here’s a car, any of these 911’s from 901 through G-series, 993, 996, 997 and 991 fit the definition, that can do anything. They’re reliable enough to perform the duties of an actual car; that is, you can go to the shops and drive it to work everyday if you wish. Come Saturday morning and it’s raw and spirited for an early morning blast to breakfast and then quiet and comfortable enough to take a special someone to dinner that night. And on Sunday; polish it up and put it in a show or slap a number on the side and take it to the track – it’s equally at home and capable at either venue.
And that’s not to mention what a little further development will do. With the right (and surprisingly minimal) modifications, 911’s can be found in events ranging from Le Mans to the Dakar Rally and everything in between.
Tag-along’s are usually discouraged but in this case, other non-911 Porsche’s were encouraged to follow the 911’s at the rear. And I found this an interesting, if somewhat unintended, form of irony. Throughout history it has often been the ‘other’ Porsche’s that have remained profitable enough to keep the 911 as undistiled as it is – it’s widely touted that the 997 series GT3 was only as good as it was because profit from the Cayenne paid for its development. It was somewhat fitting that the other models followed, because in my option they play just as big a part in the 911 story as anything else does.
And bonus points, surprisingly, for the Targa. These have long been the most undesirable 911 (still a very desirable car, mind you) and values have reflected that. They loose the svelte roof and rear window line of the 911 which is one of my favorite elements of the design, but nonetheless I find myself more and more attracted to the Targa.
… titanium pipes and all. Sigh. The good thing about most 911’s is that they aren’t that rare, making certain models somewhat attainable (well, one day). The GT3RS 4.0 on the other hand, with only 600 built, is very rare and is already a museum piece. Despite being less than two years old, prices are already skyrocketing and these will soon be valued up in the stratosphere, along with genuine ’73 RS’s.
But the appeal is that any 911 will deliver an experience unlike anything else and given how interchangeable parts are, you can build the car of your dreams as your budget allows. An entry level G Series with the right 3.0 twin plug engine, modern suspension components, sticky tires and an R Gruppe inspired interior won’t have the build plate to impress the purists, but it will be one hell of a car.