We spend increasing chunks of our daily activities surfing the World Wide Web, or ‘www,’ as it known. Well, we have put our own spin on the ‘www’ and come up with the Where What When of Porsche milestones. This is a brief look at some of the significant milestones in Porsche’s history, because if we had to get really serious about it, we could fill a book. You may have forgotten about some of these milestones, or maybe you didn’t know about them at all, but at the end of the day we hope that you enjoy travelling back in time and rediscovering what we have found. So, read on to find out more of what ‘www’ means in the world of Porsche!
On 25 April, the company ‘Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, Konstruktion und Beratung für Motoren- und Fahrzeugbau’ (Design and Consultancy Company for Engine and Vehicle Construction) was registered in Stuttgart by Ferdinand Porsche. Executive partners included Dr. Anton Piëch and Adolf Rosenberger.
Design drawings for Porsche Type 356 ‘Number One’ were completed on 6 January 1948. This was the first mid-engined roadster (chassis #356-001), and it was registered for road use on 8 June that year.
Sadly, Ferdinand Porsche, the company’s founder died on 30 January that year, at the age of 75 years. This meant that he did not live long enough to see the first Porsche 356 SL cross the finish line in the Le Mans 24-Hours in 20th place overall, and first in the 1100cc class on 24 June that year. Race cars bearing his family name would go on to become the most successful race cars in the history of this great race.
Just eight years after entering motorsport, a Porsche 718 RSK finished third, fourth and fifth in the overall rankings in the 12-Hours of Sebring. This car was a development of the 550-series which was first seen in 1953. Porsches quickly earned the nickname of ‘giant killers’ in international sport, as they were capable of beating race cars that were bigger and much more powerful.
This was the year in which Porsche entered Formula 1. With its well-proven 1.5-litre engines that had powered its earlier sports cars, it may have seemed a natural step for the company to take. But with the benefit of hindsight, Porsche would not be that successful in Formula racing, their race cars would instead become dominant in the world of sports car, prototype racing and rallying – all endurance forms of motorsport.
The company’s new model replacement for the 356 was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September of this year. Given the designation ‘901’ at launch, Porsche had to rename their newcomer ‘911’ due to Peugeot’s objection to the use of a 3-digit model name with a ‘0’ in the middle.
In 1965, with the 911 still in its infancy, Herbert Linge and Peter Falk brought their car home in fifth place overall in the 4600km Monte Carlo Rally that year in what is regarded as the worst weather to hit the rally since its inception. This was the 911’s first international competitive event which saw just 22 of the 237 starters finish the rally.
1966 saw the last of the 356 models leaving the Zuffenhausen production line, this being a batch of ten 356 C convertibles for the Dutch police. A total of 77,766 units of the 356 model had been produced. Also in this year, over in the USA, the new 906 race car took three of the top eight places in the Daytona 24-Hour race. A month later, at the 12-Hours of Sebring, the 906 took fourth place overall. 1966 also saw the 100,000th Porsche produced, a 912 Targa.
Ferdinand Piëch finally achieved what the company had tried for some years to do, and that was to lift the Le Mans 24-Hour trophy. The now famous #23 red/white Porsche 917, driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood, swept to victory in a very wet race, opening the flood gates for a further 17 Le Mans victories, more than any other manufacturer has achieved.
Having outlived its life in Europe where the 917 was now no longer legal, Porsche turned its attention to boosting power in the mighty 12-cylinder engine for its Can-Am application. The all-conquering 917/30 of Mark Donohue was said to produce around 1500bhp on the test bed. With six victories from eight races in the 1973 Can-Am series, Donohue was utterly dominant in his #6 Penske-Sunoco 917/30. This year also saw the introduction of one of the most legendary production Porsche 911s of all time, the Carrera RS 2.7.
This year saw the introduction of Porsche’s first front-engined sports car, the 924. Much-maligned, this model was effectively the company’s saviour at the time, and spearheaded three additional front-engined models, the 928, 944 and 968. When the final one of these transaxle cars rolled off the production line in 1992, around 386,000 units had been produced in total.
The Kremer Brothers racing team achieved the unthinkable when the #41 Numero Reserve Kremer Porsche 935 K3 took the chequered flag at the Le Mans 24 Hours. This was the first time a privateer team had taken victory in this race in a Porsche.
The Group C era is without question, Porsche’s most successful decade in racing. Launched that year, the 956 took the top three places in its second race at Le Mans. The 956’s most successful race was the 1983 Le Mans, where they occupied no less than the top eight places!
In the model year 1989, Porsche introduced its first 4WD model, the Type 964 Carrera 4, powered by a 3.6-litre engine.
The 1993 Detroit Motor Show was the scene of the unveiling of Porsche’s next innovation, the mid-engined Type 986 Porsche Boxster. With deliveries only starting in 1997, this entry-level model would prove an immensely important and popular member of the Porsche model line-up.
This would mark the last year for the production of the air-cooled flat-six engine in the 911. In its place the Type 996 with a water-cooled flat-six engine was introduced. Being the 50th anniversary of the company, it was an especially important year for the company at Le Mans where Allan McNish, Laurent Aïello and Stéphane Ortelli would clinch the Le Mans title once again, bringing to sixteen the number of victories in this 24-hour race.
The new Type 997 version on the evergreen 911 was launched at the Paris Motor Show. The 911 Carrera was powered by a 3.6-litre water-cooled engine while the Carrera S had the larger 3.8-litre engine. Porsche entered the supercar segment with the Carrera GT, shown here at the British Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham in 2004.
The new Porsche Museum/Archive was completed at the end of 2008 exactly on time, and was opened on 31 January 2009. The previous Museum and Archive had been in separate buildings and were wholly inadequate for the company that Porsche had become. Today’s facilities are state-of-the-art, with rotating exhibits from a stock of 300 restored cars that highlight certain milestones or important anniversaries.
The Type 991 Porsche 911 was introduced in 2011, the Carrera being powered by a 3.4-litre engine while the Carrera S was given a 3.8-litre engine. The big difference between the 991 and the outgoing 997 was the increase in wheelbase of 100mm for the new car.
The Carrera 4 version of the Type 991 model (above) was used as the basis for the homologation of the 911 RSR race car. The eagerly awaited return of the works 911 RSR team to the WEC (World Endurance Championship) in 2013 was both successful and a steep learning curve. While just a single victory was forthcoming, it was the most important race of the year, the Le Mans 24 Hours, when Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Romain Dumas brought the #92 car home first in the GTE PRO class.
Much fanfare preceded the return of the works LMP1 prototype team to the WEC after a 15-year absence, and they were rewarded with a third-place finish at their Silverstone debut. A third place at Fuji and a second and third place was the team’s reward in Bahrain, while a victory awaited the #14 car at the season-ending race in Sao Paulo that year. A mixed bag maybe, but an encouraging first season for the Porsche prototype teams.
Against expectations, the #19 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Earl Bamber, Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Tandy won the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hour race, giving the company its 17th victory.
To cap off the 2016 season, the #2 Porsche 919 of Lieb, Dumas and Jani finished fifth in the desert in the final race, the Bahrain 6 Hours, giving them the Drivers’ Championship title.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche, Virtual Motorpix – Glen Smale & John Mountney