It’s called, ‘being in the right place at the right time’! Only the previous day, I had spent photographing the most iconic bunch of Porsche race cars, from Le Mans 24-Hour winners to top international competition cars. It was while I was waiting for the first of the cars to be positioned for me to photograph, that a distinctive looking green 911 was hurriedly wheeled away. When I asked what it was, I was told that I wasn’t supposed to have seen that…, so I assured the chap that I hadn’t!
The next morning when I walked into the Porsche Museum building, I noticed the signs up all over announcing the press conference to present the one-millionth 911. My interest was instantly piqued, and I immediately asked my contact at the Museum if he could get me onto the list of invited journalists. With his normal German efficiency, it was all arranged within minutes, and a quarter of an hour later I was part of a group of international journalists heading for the press conference.
There was no big fanfare or oompah band to announce the occasion, but with a couple of short speeches by Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, and Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, we were introduced to the special car. The ‘star of the show’ was a 911 Carrera S in the special colour Irish Green, with numerous exclusive features echoing the original 911 from 1963. Dr. Wolfgang Porsche told us how the 993 Turbo S in Irish Green was the favourite car of Dr. Ferry Porsche, and so it was fitting that the one-millionth 911 should be finished in his favourite colour.
Porsche is all about the 911, as it is this model that has been at the very heart of the company since 1963, when the ‘901’ was first shown at the Paris Motor Show that year. Peugeot, though, objected to the use of the three-digit model reference with a zero in the middle, as they had recently trademarked this numerical sequence, and so with just 82 cars completed, Porsche changed to the now familiar 911 nomenclature.
Part of the success of the 911 has been its down-to-earth drivability, where the driver can just as easily take his 911 down to the shops, enjoy a spirited drive in the country, or take it on a track day outing. Apart from the practical aspects of ownership, the 911 has been the mainstay of Porsche’s motorsport success, contributing to more than half of the company’s 30,000 international race wins around the world.
I once asked a senior member of the motorsport department several years ago if production of the 911 would ever end, because it had surely reached the pinnacle of its development. “Never!” he said emphatically. This fact was confirmed this morning in the company press release, which stated that Porsche has never strayed from the founding concept of the original 911. “But we have continued to enhance the technology of the 911, refining and perfecting the sports car,” Oliver Blume said, “that’s why it remains a state-of-the-art and technically innovative vehicle. We have also been able to expand the model line very successfully through derivates.”
One significant factor in this success is the production site at the headquarters in Zuffenhausen, where all 911s are manufactured. Today, all two-door cars – 911, 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman – and their various derivatives are handled on one assembly line.
Dr Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Porsche AG, has been a part of the development of the 911 since day one. He said, “54 years ago, I was able to take my first trip over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with my father. The feeling of being in a 911 is just as enjoyable now as it was then. That’s because the 911 has ensured that the core values of our brand are as visionary today as they were in the first Porsche 356/1 from 1948”.
Today, as it was in the past, the quality of the 911 is still legendary. Over 70 per cent of all 911s ever built are still on the road. Its mythology has been cultivated by countless motorsport successes. Designed for both the road and track, no other sports car has achieved this level of practicality over such an extended period of time. The one-millionth 911 will be retained by Porsche AG, and is scheduled to embark on a world tour which will include road trips in the Scottish Highlands, around the Nürburgring and in the USA, China and beyond.
Are you wondering when the next millionth 911 milestone will be reached? You certainly won’t have to wait another 54 years, but stay tuned and we will let you know…
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale