In a survey conducted by the Luxury Institute in New York, Porsche was awarded the title of “the most prestigious automobile brand”. That’s quite a journey for a company that, after World War II, was producing cars cobbled together with Volkswagen Beetle parts. Indeed, spending its adolescence wringing performance out of leftover components in postwar Austria meant that, by the time the company returned to Germany and re-established its headquarters in Stuttgart in 1950, Porsche’s engineers had come at creating a super-fast, super-sexy automobile from literally the opposite direction. Here are 10 of the very best. Read on — then check out Seven 2017 Sports Cars to Buy Now!
Winning Le Mans in 1951 changed the fortunes of Porsche, a company toiling away in the historic, pretty, but rather unglamorous Austrian town of Gmünd. Proving that it was as nimble as any car produced by Britain or Italy — while being more reliable and powerful — the 356 took the world by storm. Lead designer Franco Scaglione reshaped the 356’s body to reduce both drag and weight. The result was a fast, sexy racecar that established a template that’s still followed almost seven decades later.
Porsche 356 Speedster
Although the 356 proved itself against the ’50s-era race cars of other European producers, in the U.S., British cars were in pole position. The 356 Speedster was a stripped-down 356 that sold for less than regular Porsches and was created solely for the U.S. market. With no side windows, a rinky-dink roof and no heater (unless you paid extra) it was a car that was unabashedly about the joy of driving. A gamble? Yes. But it paid off. The 356 Speedster was an instant success, remaining one of the most iconic and collectible Porsches ever produced. Enthusiastic about supervintage autos? Here are 5 Expert Tips for Starting a Car Collection.
In 1964, this successor to the original 356 debuted at the Paris Motor Show. The main point of difference was six-cylinder power; the 911’s designers chose not to stray too far from their original winner, keeping Porsche’s trademark bathtub styling and rear-engine layout. The first 911 wasn’t a powerhouse, however. The original 2.0-liter engine produced just 148 hp.
Porsche 550 Spyder
As previously mentioned, Porsche was born from the Volkswagen Beetle. Like all of us, it inherited many of its forebear’s traits — some good, some bad. One of the latter was that Porsche engines cantilevered out from behind the rear axle, spoiling the car’s balance. With the 550, engineers decided to flip the drivetrain over and place the engine ahead of the transmission. Of course, that meant losing the back seat seen in the Beetle — and, indeed, the 356 — but, well, who needs it? Check out tomorrow’s most amazing supercars and concepts in our 25 Favorite Cars at the New York Auto Show!
Porsche 930 Turbo
If you’re ever going to race a 930 Turbo, you’ll need some big brass balls. First, it’s very fast. So fast that when people who first raced it in the ’70s would ease off the gas as they headed into a corner, they ended up off the track — or worse. Reducing speed while rapidly going into a corner can cause lift-throttle oversteer and will cause any car’s tail to slide out at speed. In the 930 Turbo, this effect was exacerbated because rear-engine cars have more mass in the back. This would cause the butt of a lightning-fast 930 Turbo to swing back and forth like a pendulum if you didn’t go into a corner without fear.
Porsche 918 Spyder
Fast-forward almost forty years and we see that not all classics are from a bygone era. The production version of the limited-edition Porsche 918 Spyder was launched in 2013 and immediately earned the adoration of Porsche enthusiasts everywhere thanks to its incredible speed and handling. It has a hybrid drivetrain that combines a 570-hp, 4.6-liter V8 gasoline internal-combustion engine with a pair of 100-hp electric motors. What that means: A top speed of 203 mph and an ability to go from 0 to 62 mph in 3 seconds. Check out today’s most amazing supercars in our roundup of The 20 Most Powerful Cars on the Road!
The 917 gave Porsche its first overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971. This 1,100-hp 12-cylinder was so dominant during its late 1960s and early ’70s reign that it’s remembered today as being effectively unbeatable. In the movie Le Mans, Steve McQueen’s tribute to sports car racing, the 917 gets a lot of screen time and deservedly so.
Porsche Carrera GT
Porsche introduced the Carrera GT in 2005. Its aim? To bring its success in sports-car races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the fore. The Carrera GT was designed with a racing-style, mid-engined layout featuring a 605-hp V-10 engine that gave it top speed of 205 mph. Sports Car International named the Carrera GT No. 1 on its list of Top Sports Cars of the 2000s, and No. 8 on its Top Sports Cars of All Time list. Ogle more all-time greats in our rundown of the The 10 Greatest Ferraris of All Time!
In 1993, the 911 was seen as antiquated, and the company as a whole was in dire financial straits because of the recent recession. Then at the Detroit Auto Show, Porsche revealed the Boxster concept car, which revived the mid-engine layout of the classic 550 Spyder and combined it with the 911’s flat-six engine configuration in a modern, water-cooled 201-hp, 2.5-liter form. This hybrid of old and new was hugely popular and pulled the company out of its midlife crisis.
Introduced in 1976, the 935 was an incredibly fast race car that dominated production-based racing for a decade or more. Its 750-horsepower engine pushed the 935 to a blistering 226 mph on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. The 935 went on to win the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans overall, and other major endurance races including Sebring, Daytona, and the 1000-km Nürburgring.
Now rev the engine on your personal dreams: Begin checking off these 50 Things Every Man Must Do in His Lifetime!