The numbers 9, 1 and 1, arranged in that order, are today iconic among sports car fans. The arrangement is the name of the car that signifies the essence of Porsche, so clearly it’s very important to the automaker.
However, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, if it wasn’t for Peugeot, the 911 today would probably be known as the 901.
As Porsche reminds us in a new video, the 911 started out life as a 901, the name signifying that this was a new generation of car unrelated to any previous design like the earlier 718 and 804.
Porsche-restored 1964 911Enlarge Photo
The 901 was first shown as a prototype at the 1963 Frankfurt auto show. It was an instant hit and production followed in 1964. Around 80 examples were built before Porsche received a letter from Peugeot which argued that only it could use a trio of numbers for vehicle names, where the middle number was a 0.
It turns out Porsche had already ordered a number of 9s, 0s and 1s to use as badging. Instead of letting these go to waste, the automaker simply decided to replace the 0 in 901 with a 1, and the rest is history.
Porsche kept the early run of 901s it had built to use as demonstrators. Thankfully, many of these managed to make it into private hands so are still around today. The oldest known 901 in existence is car number 20. Recently, car no. 57 was found in Germany. After acquiring it, Porsche fully restored the 57th car which now sits in the automaker’s official museum in Stuttgart.