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    Seven iconic Porsches from seven decades of Porsche


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    Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

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    No they all don’t look the same

    Starting life as a German government project spawning the iconic Beetle and commissioning some serious war machines, Porsche was officially registered as a manufacturer on 8 June, 1948. Calling the city of Stuttgart home, the name Porsche became synonymous for thoroughbred sports car coming from Germany. So as the brand turns 70 this year, we try and pick the most iconic Porsches from every decade. Trust us, it was not an easy task to select just seven from the rich heritage of the finest German sports cars.

    356 – The Forerunner

    It all started with the 356. First produced by the Austrian company Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH between 1948 and 1949, and later by German company Porsche AG from 1950 to 1965, the 356 is regarded as Porsche's first production automobile. The 356 was a lightweight, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door luxury car available both in hardtop and speedster body style. The granddaddy of the 911, the 356 had a production run of 76,313 units in its lifespan of 17 years. We are not sure how many of them still exist today, but the 356 set the benchmark for its successor, the 911, with its air-cooled pushrod flat-four engine scrounged from the Volkswagen Beetle.

    911 – The Original

    The first of its name, the originator of design, the successor to 356, and the god of all things air-cooled. Initially supposed to be named 901, the allegations from Peugeot forced Porsche to rename it the 911. The name that has stayed tantamount of unadulterated driver’s car till date. Its 2.0-litre air-cooled six-cylinder flat engine delivered 130bhp, with a top speed of 210kmph, that’s back in the 1960’s. Over its course of service, the original 911 proved itself in the realm of motorsports and endurance racing as well while bigger engines and different body styles aided the 911 to show the whole world what it was capable of. 

    928 – Front-mounted warrior

    The 928 was a Porsche grand tourer intended to replace the 911. However, it was a four-seater and had the only front-mounted V8 in Porsche’s history. Sold all the way to 1995, the 928 still remains one of the lesser known Porsches. The 928 had a water-cooled V8 engine with the displacement increasing from an initial 4.5-litres to 5.4-litres while the rear-wheel drive layout remained the same throughout the course of its existence. It was also one the early vehicles to make use of aluminium construction. And the cherry on the German cake was the unique circular pop-up headlights which made the 928 an instant icon.

    959 – Group B Hero

    When Porsche turned its eye at the notorious Group B rally, they prepared a weapon based on the 911. The 959 prototype entered in the Prototype category and therefore also entered production to satisfy FIA homologation regulations. Only 292 road going units were built, according to Porsche, and it instantly became the world's fastest street-legal production car of its time, boasting of a top speed of 317kmph. The 959 also made its name in the treacherous Dakar Rally. It was one of the first high-performance vehicles with an all-wheel drive, providing the basis for Porsche's first all-wheel drive Carrera 4 model.

    986 Boxster – Top-down Savior

    Widely regarded as the savior of Porsche from financial troubles, the 986 Boxster is Porsche's first road vehicle to be originally designed as a roadster since the original 550 Spyder. Although it shared a lot of bits from its bigger brother the 996 911, the Boxster is considered as a poor man’s 911. Which doesn’t matter since the Boxster’s two-door, two-seater 205bhp 2.5-litre flat-six motor gives one of the best top-down motoring experience. It got a coupe sibling few years later called the Cayman, and now the dynamic duo are called 718.

    Carrera GT – One of a Kind

    Porsche in the late 90s and early 2000s was planning a new Le Mans prototype. As a successor to the racing-homologated ultra-rare 911 GT1 Strabenversion (street version), and retirement of LMP1-98, Porsche redesigned the V10 race engine and an all-new car worthy to wield it. In came the Carrera GT with a maniacal 5.7-litre V10 behemoth producing 603bhp and made its mark on the pages of the history books as one of the most compelling hypercar of all time. Only 1,270 units were produced, but the Carrera GT was notoriously famous for its unforgiving driving and stratospheric performance. After all, it is infamous for sending Mr. Brian O'Conner to his holy abode. 

    918 – Electrified hypercar

    The Porsche RS Spyder took top owners in all the major endurance championships in the 2000’s including the coveted Le Mans. Porsche had already showcased a 918 Concept in 2010, as a new-age hypercar. Using the prowess of the RS and the hybrid tech from the 997 GT3, the 918 broke cover as the mid-engined plug-in hybrid sports car from Porsche. Considered as a spiritual successor to the Carrera GT, the 918 packs in a naturally aspirated 4.6-litre V8 engine working in conjunction with two electric motors for a combined output of 900bhp. The 918 is part of the modern-day holy trinity of electrified-hypercars, the other two being the McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari.

    Epilogue

    These are then the iconic Porsches from each decade. Each Porsche is iconic in its own way. And selecting these few from all the legendary names was a tough task. But these are the heroes we all dreamed of at some point in our lives. Here’s to the seven decades and many more that are yet to come. The coming years will bring us newer Porsches with electric and autonomous technologies. Although Porsche purists won’t be happy, but given the fact that each Porsche is an instant-legend, we will reminisce proudly about those cars as well.

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