By the mid 1950s, Ferry Porsche had decided that completely new model was needed to maintain the technological edge of the Porsche brand. The planning work of the new model started in 1957, after Ferry Porsche had defined the key specifications for successor of the Porsche 356.
The air-cooled boxer engine in the rear was to remain, although the new sports would have to have more output. The engine’s driving smoothess had to be improved, as well as the road holding. The new model would also provide more interior and trunk space. “A set of golf clubs has to be able to easily fit in it”, was one of Ferry Porsche’s requirements.
The one thing that was not agreed on was the design. By 1960, after several internally as well as externally prepared studies, Ferdinand Alexander, the oldest son of Ferry Porsche, demonstrated a promising solution, yet his father decided against further developing the four-passenger “T7” in favor of a “T8” hatchback Coupé with a 2+2 seat configuration. Despite this, the 25-year-old Ferdinand Alexander Porsche specified the direction: “A good product has to be discreet. Design is not fashion”, he said. From 1962 onwards, under the project name model 901, a sports car was developed with features that were already designated for the 356: A fast and reliable sports car that can be driven every day, yet is also socially acceptable and retains its value.
For the 901, the frame and chassis were completely redesigned. For the sake of trunk space, the front front axle had a McPherson front suspension. Engineers replaced the outdated floating axle in the rear with a modern semi-trailing arm axle. The engine was also completely new. Under the supervision of Ferdinand Piech, the nephew of Ferry Porsche, an air-cooled 6-cylinder boxer engine with an axial blower, dry sump lubrication system and two overhead camshafts were developed. With 130 hp the 911 was as powerful as the former 356 Carrera 2, but the improved aerodynamics enabled a higher top speed of around 210 km/h. A five-speed gearbox was fitted from the start.
Porsche introduced the road-ready prototypes of the 901 at the International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt on September 12, 1963 and successfully tested it in the following months. On September 14, 1964, the first mass-produced 901 rolled off the production line. In October, the production-ready model was presented at the Paris Motor Show. Since the French manufacturer Peugeot owned the rights to the 901 number sequence, Porsche changed the model name and 901 became the Porsche 911.
In 1966 the 911 logo on the back changed from slanted to straight and from gold to silver. Instead of a wooden steering wheel the Porsche driver now had a leather wheel to grip. The double-kinked steering column also played a significant role in accident prevention. This welcome safety feature actually appeared accidentally because the steering rack link was mounted in the centre of the car and could therefore be used for the right-hand drive models with no modification. Also in February 1966 Porsche converted to Weber carburettors.
In 1967 Porsche unveiled the Porsche 911 S model, which produced 160 horsepower. The top speed was 225 km/h, which sounded simply absurd and inconceivable for many at that time. Porsche had also updated the chassis and the brakes to higher performance level. The legendary alloy wheel rims, which were developed by the Porsche Studio and manufactured by Fuchs, appeared for the first time in 1967. Also the first Targa models were delivered after this new bodywork variant had been first shown at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1965.
Numerous innovations awaited Porsche customers in 1968. The new 110 horsepower Porsche 911 T model was unveiled to appeal a larger audience. The previous 130 hp 911 stayed in the programme but was to be called the 911 L, due to its luxurious interior. The Porsche 911 S was also still available. A new semi-automatic gearbox, called Sportmatic was available as an option. The Sportomatic was a four-speed gearbox which was operated without a clutch.
The 1969 model got a slightly wider fender to accommodate the wider wheels and tyres. The wheelbase was extended by 57 mm to 2,268 mm, which brought better axle load distribution. The front axle of the 911 E was fitted as standard with hydro-pneumatic suspension struts with level-control. The ventilation system was improved and all the Coupe models had electrically heated rear windows. New to the range was the 140 hp 911 E which replaced the 911 L. Both the 911 S and the 911 E were fitted with a multi-point injection system, which improved performance and offered smaller fuel consumption. The Porsche 911 S delivered 170 horsepower.
1969 was the last year when the Porsche 911 was available with the 2.0-litre engine. In 1970 the Porsche 911 was fitted with a 2.2-litre power source.
Porsche 911 specifications MY 1964
- six-cylinder Boxer
- one upper camshaft each side
- two Solex downdraft carburettors
- 96 kW (130 hp) / 6100rpm
- 5-speed manual gearbox
- wheel base 2211 mm
- length 4163 mm
- width 1610 mm
- height 1320 mm
- 1,080 kg