In 1963, the Beatles recorded their debut album, the first James Bond film was shown in the US, and, um, Johnny Depp was born.
All of them insignificant compared to what really happened that year: Porsche unveiled the brand-new 911 at the Frankfurt Auto Salon.
Fifty years ago, Porsche unveiled the iconic 911 in Frankfurt
That was 50 years ago, and no one’s ever been able to design a more beautiful sports car—nor has any other design been good enough to remain fundamentally unchanged for five decades and counting.
That’s what we call a really timeless classic.
This was quickly followed by overall victories in the Monte Carlo Rally and the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1968, and the 12 Hours of Sebring and the World Championship Targa Florio in 1973.
The 911 quickly racked up major racing trophies
And of course since then, the 911 has taken home enough trophies to fill several container ships.
But Porsche has not exactly been resting on its laurels.
The new 911s are on the cutting edge of engineering and automotive technology, and the plaudits keep piling up.
Motor Trend just named the C4S as its Best Driver’s Car for 2013, the result of a fierce competition and the second year running that a 911 has snagged the honor.
On the cutting edge of engineering and automotive tech
In our opinion, it’s very well deserved, and the current 991 series is just the latest affirmation that the 911′s design has more than stood the test of time.
1963 to 1989, aka the “classic” years, remain true beauties and were followed by the 964 series through 1993, equally gorgeous in their own right and increasingly sought after.
The 993 Series (1994 to 1997) and the advent of water-cooled engines in 1998 replacing the much-loved air cooled versions, and the 996 series that took us through 2004, need a bit more time to put them in their proper aesthetic perspective.
The 997 series, which debuted in 2005 and continued through 2012, was the perfect modern evolution of the iconic curved car and the new 991s wisely haven’t deviated too far.
A Carrera 4S from the seventh generation of the 911
This marks the seventh generation of the 911, which brings us to the 2013 4S that was ours for a glorious week—the first four-wheel drive version of the 991s.
We decided that the occasion demanded a few suitably beautiful bookends: the historic Black Point Inn in Scarborough, Maine, and the Norumbega, an 1886 stone castle in Camden, Maine; and all scenic points in between.
The coast of Maine is one of the best spots for motoring in the country, which is in part while we established our HQ there.
Being stuck in traffic on the LIE is not our idea of enjoyable driving.
A thrilling ride up the scenic coast of Maine
Give us the open roads of the least populous state in the USA, with alluring ocean vistas around every bend.
And the 911 to make the most of it.
In this case, an example in Anthracite Brown Metallic, the color of which took a little time to grow on us.
But numbers like 400 hp @ 7,400 rpm, a 0 to 60 mph sprint of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 185 mph were an immediate hit.
On our way up north, we cruised, coasted and crushed it.
On the way up north, we cruised, coasted and crushed it
The 4S was up to it and down for it, in every sense.
It gripped the road like a drunk with a brand-new bottle and the rich, smooth mocha brown leather wrapped us in a hedonistic cocoon.
Sweet sounds emanated from both the sport exhaust and the impressive sound system.
Everyone else had a smile for the 911 as well.
As if extremely cool and tasteful aliens had landed
Other drivers got out of our way.
Little children went bug eyed.
Big children went bug-eyed.
It was if some extremely cool and tasteful aliens had landed.
All of which left us wondering how Porsche continues to make a 50-year-old car seem as exciting as your first kiss.
To take something so precious and keep it true to tradition while ensuring no one ever finds it boring or passé.
Porsche makes a 50-year-old car as exciting as your first kiss
We assume Porsche’s designers and engineers are extremely well paid; they are quite obviously the best in the world.
A 911 of any vintage never fails to turn our head. And that’s the best praise you can get.
Inevitably, we had to give the 4S back. Bitter. Not so sweet. Loved and lost. And so on.
The 911 to me is like the girl who got away, the one you’ve only ever had brief flings with but now realize is “till death do us part” material.
On the 50th anniversary, it’s time to seal the deal
On the eve of the 911′s 50th anniversary, it might just be time to seal the deal.
In the words of the great Fred Astaire (more or less), “My bonds and shares/may fall downstairs/who cares, who cares/I really want that 911 now…”
- Posted September 23, 2013
- Share on