The original Porsche 911 (pronounced nine eleven, German: Neunelfer) was a luxury sports car made by Porsche AG of Stuttgart, Germany. The famous, distinctive, and durable design was introduced in autumn 1963 and built through 1989. It was succeeded by a modified version, internally referred to as Porsche 964 but still sold as Porsche 911, as are current models.
Mechanically, the 911 was notable for being rear engined and air-cooled. From its inception, the 911 was modified both by private teams and the factory itself for racing, rallying and other types of automotive competition. The original 911 series is often cited as the most successful competition car ever, especially when its variations are included, mainly the powerful 911-derived 935 which won 24 Hours of Le Mans and other major sports cars races outright against prototypes.
The earliest editions of the 911 had an air-cooled, rear-mounted, 2.0L (1991 cc) 130 PS (96 kW) flat-6 “boxer” engine, similar to the 356’s four-cylinder 1.6L unit. It was mated to a five-speed manual “Type 901” transmission. The car had 2+2 seating, though the rear are very small, also like the 356. The styling was largely by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, son of Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche. Erwin Komenda, the leader of the Porsche car body construction department, was also involved in the design.
When 356 production came to an end in 1965 there was still a market for a 4-cylinder car, particularly in the USA. The Porsche 912, a slightly downscaled 911 fitted with the 356’s 90 hp (67 kW) engine, was introduced the same year as its replacement.
In 1967, Porsche introduced the more powerful 160 PS (120 kW; 160 hp) 911S. Alloy wheels from Fuchs, in a distinctive 5-leaf design, were offered for the first time. A 210 PS (150 kW; 210 hp) racing version of the 911 engine was developed and used in the mid-engined Porsche 904 and Porsche 906 track cars.
The Targa version, with a stainless steel-clad roll bar, appeared the same year. Porsche had feared the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would outlaw fully open convertibles, an important market for the 356. It was equipped with a removable roof panel and a removable plastic rear window (although a fixed glass version was offered alongside from 1968).
The name “Targa” – shield in Italian – came from the Targa Florio sports car road race in Sicily, in which Porsche had scored seven victories since 1956, with four more to come through 1973. This last in the subsequently discontinued event is especially notable as it was won with a 911 Carrera RS against prototypes entered by Italian factories of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.
The 110 PS (81 kW; 110 hp) 911T was also launched in 1967 and effectively replaced the 912. The staple 130 PS (96 kW; 130 hp) model was renamed the 911L. The 911R, a lightweight racing version with thin aluminium doors, a magnesium crankcase, twin-spark cylinder heads, and a power output of 210 PS (150 kW; 210 hp), had a very limited production of just 20 cars.
In 1969, the slightly lengthened B series was introduced. It moved the rear wheels on all 911 and 912 models 57 mm aft, increasing wheelbase from 2,211 to 2,268 millimetres (87.0 to 89.3 in) to remedy to the car’s nervous handling at the limit. Fuel injection arrived both for the 911S and a new middle model, the 911E. A semi-automatic Sportomatic model, composed of a torque converter, automatic clutch, and four-speed transmission, was added to the product lineup.