Charles Darwin is most famous for his scientific work on evolution. In his book “On the Origin of Species” he states “I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection.” Many engineering solutions look to nature for inspiration and there is one car in particular that exemplifies the notion of evolution and natural selection. The Porsche 911.
The 911 to many is the ultimate car. Its cult followers will tell you of how they use theirs every day thanks to its practicality, for a sports car, and its sheer enjoyment to drive. Critics have often exclaimed how one 911 to the next has hardly changed, and yes to some degree they are right, but this is evolution. Look through the cars history and you can literally see 50 years of engineers selecting and improving every aspect of the machine to the point where today the car is very near faultless.
Making its debut at the 1963 Frankfurt motor show the Porsche 901 was unveiled to the world with its controversial rear engine layout. Powered by a flat-six it had the worlds media a buzz. When production started in 1964 Peugeot protested the 901 name as although the Porsche sports car got that name from its internal project number, Peugeot held exclusive rights in France to model names with three numbers with a zero in the middle. Porsche quickly changed the name to 911 with only 82 cars being built as 901.
Throughout its generations that followed its sloping shape became more defined and the car even better engineered. The balance and poise of the 911 became a particular characteristic thanks to the weight of the engine in the rear. It had cemented itself as “a true drivers car” and one that enthusiasts loved. Moves from air cooled to water cooled engines made them even more reliable and with further refinements it soon got the reputation of being one of the most bullet proof sports cars on the market.
With new models badged as Turbo, Carrera, RS and the much sort after Targa the 911 was a huge success in the showroom. Porsche’s desire to compete in motorsport has never been quenched as throughout its history the company has competed in everything from rally to Le Mans. The Porsche 911 is in fact the worlds most successful racing car of all-time.
Something the 911 has never lost is that real connection between man and machine. They are communicative when driven hard and provide such an excellent platform for drivers of all talents to learn how to extract the maximum performance. The howl of that unique engine, the quick change of direction and a precision that is found in very few cars all make up the key elements as to why this car is so good.
In modern-day there are more variants of the 911 than there are flavours of ice cream. You can have convertibles, all-wheel-drive, Turbo, GT, you name it. Over the past 50 years the 911 has evolved nut by nut, bolt by bolt. It is this, almost tedious, natural selection over five decades that makes this car what it is today.