1963 Porsche 901 prototype, the first 911Enlarge Photo
As the successor to the Porsche 356, the 911 won the hearts of sports car enthusiasts from the outset. The man responsible for the design was Ferdinand Porsche's own grandson, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche.
The prototype was first unveiled at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show as the 901, and renamed the 911 for its market launch in 1964.
Its air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine delivered 130 horsepower, giving it an impressive top speed of 131 mph.
If you wanted to take things a little slower, starting in 1965 you could also opt for the four-cylinder Porsche 912. In 1966 Porsche presented the 160 horsepower 911 S, which was the first to feature forged alloy wheels from Fuchs.
The 911 Targa, with its distinctive stainless steel roll bar, made its debut in late 1966 as the world's first ever safety cabriolet. The semiautomatic Sportomatic four-speed transmission joined the lineup in 1967.
With the 911T of the same year, and the later E and S variants, Porsche became the first German manufacturer to comply with strict U.S. exhaust emission control regulations.
The Porsche 911 became more and more powerful as displacement increased, initially to 2.2 liters (1969) and later to 2.4 (1971).
The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 of 1972 with a 210-horsepower engine and weighing less than 2200 pounds remains the epitome of a dream car to this day.
Its characteristic “ducktail” was the world's first rear spoiler on a production vehicle.
1974 Porsche 911 SEnlarge Photo
Ten years after its debut, the engineers at Porsche gave the 911 its first thorough makeover. The G-Series was produced from 1973 to 1989, longer than any other 911 generation. It featured prominent bellows bumpers, which arrived in 1974 and were an innovation designed to meet the latest crash test standards in the U.S. Occupant protection was further improved by three-point safety belts as standard equipment, as well as integrated headrests.
One of the most important milestones in the 911 saga was the 1974 unveiling of the first Porsche 911 Turbo with a 3.0-liter 260-horsepower engine and enormous rear spoiler. With its unique blend of luxury and performance, the 911 Turbo became synonymous with the Porsche mystique.
The next performance jump came in 1977 with the intercooler-equipped 911 Turbo 3.3. At 300 horsepower, it was the best in its class.
The 964 (1988)
Just when automotive experts were predicting the imminent end of an era, in 1988 Porsche came out with the 911 Carrera 4 (964). After 15 years of production, the 911 platform was radically renewed with 85 percent new components, giving Porsche a modern and sustainable vehicle.
Its air-cooled 3.6-liter boxer engine delivered 250 horsepower. Externally, the 964 differed from its predecessors only slightly, in its aerodynamic polyurethane bumpers and automatically extending rear spoiler, but internally it was almost completely different. The new model was designed to captivate drivers not only with sporty performance but also with enhanced comfort.
It came with ABS, Tiptronic, power steering, and airbags, and rode on a completely redesigned chassis with light alloy control arms and coil springs instead of the previous torsion-bar suspension.
In addition to the basic Carrera, Cabriolet, and Carrera 4 and Targa versions, starting in 1990 customers could also order the 964 Turbo. Initially powered by the proven 3.3-liter boxer engine, in 1992 the Turbo was upgraded to a more powerful 360-horsepower 3.6-liter powerplant.