Frankfurt 2013: Porsche 911 at 50The Porsche 911 was launched at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show. We take a look back at where it came from and where it could go.
Porsche has been celebrating the 911's 50th birthday pretty much every day since 2013 began and that's fair enough. It's a very, very big deal but the old girl wasn't unveiled every day in 1963. It got its first official outing at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show. So to celebrate that fact, we're taking a 911 from here in London all the way out to the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show to celebrate its 'Lion King' moment 50 years on. The 911 was, with ease, the follow up to the Porsche 356, the first car Porsche to ever produce with any [unk] and its story is pretty awesome. The 356 was getting a touch long in the tooth and Porsche needed a new car to keep the buyers knocking in their door. Now ought to finding international fame with the 356, Porsche decides to go a little bit bigger, a little bit more refined with a new car -- the 901. Now, I say 901 but I am of course referring to the 911. You see, Porsche got a little bit snippy about the whole number zero, number naming convention and rather just renamed the car for France, they renamed it 911 for everyone. Now the 911 shared the layout with its predecessor; it was a bit bigger, a little bit more refined. The car's designer Ferdinand "Bitzi" Porsche was the grandson of Porsche's founder, Ferdinand Porsche. But unlike his grandfather and his father, also called Ferdinand, he wasn't an engineer but more master designer. Though he prefers to think of himself as a craftsman of shaping, either way, his lines were and remained utterly stunning. The 911 was unveiled in 1963 and production began in 1964 and there started a legacy that few can match. Some of the models remained some of the most sought after and best in the world, like the 2.7-liter Carrera RS or the 930 Turbo. You get where I'm going with this. Now, 1974's were a major aesthetic change for the 911; it had US crash regulation friendly bumpers put in but pretty much every year after the launch were an incremental improvements or upgrade for the 911. 1981, so the first 911 Cabriolet unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Again, it was an instant hit. 1989's over car evolved significantly. This generation dubs 964, so the introduction of optional four-wheel drive, power steering, ABS, and a retractable spoiler that keep Bitzi's line clean when the car wasn't moving but the car starts to ground when it was. Now, the car's four-wheel drive system was derived from the awesome 959 road and race car and is proof that road cars really can benefit from motor sport. 1993, so the introduction of the 993. Its look was inspired apparently by the 959 road and race car and had an upgraded everything. It's also got the owner of being the last air cooled 911, something that its successor has leverage against it. 1998, so the release of the 996, the first water-cooled 911 and also one of the least attractive. Don't get me wrong, it still looks like a 911 but its head lamps make it look like its crying. The 996, even though its ugliest and one many designers wants and once again made sure that 911 was top of any discerning buyers' list. It came in many flavors, from four-wheel drive, to Turbo, to GT2, drop top and-- In 2003, the 997 was launched. Its looked was inspired more by the 993 than the 996. It looked more streamline, pure and 911-ish. As usual, it had more powerful engines, more economical and plenty of upgrades all the way across the board but the 997 also had an ace of its sleeve. It was the first 911 to feature the PDK dual-clutch gear box. That gear box is pretty much the best thing you can get in the 911, according to many. At one point, you could have 25 different models 2.0 and you could get a GT RS version with 620 brake horsepower coming through the rear wheels. Once a rotor in the out in one once, it was quick. 2012, rolled around and this -- the 991 appeared. It's more GT than sports car but now -- now it's the job for the likes of the Cayman and the Boxter. This one in particular is a Carrera S. Now its standard trimmer has 400-horsepower will do now to 62 in around 4 1/2 seconds and has a top speed of 189-miles an hour, unless you spec the power kit which we have in this car. That ups the power to 430, drops the 62 times of 4 seconds and ups the top speed to 191 miles an hour and all of that doesn't affect the mpg. This thing will do around 30 miles to the gallon on the combine cycle which is pretty impressive. Now, notable changes over the 997 are the size of the look and of course the engines more power, more economy exception. And also the steering rack, it's electric rather than hydraulic. A point of contention for peer is that though having driven 997 and the 991 back-to-back, I challenge a normal driver to take one out and try them both then complain. That brings us neatly to the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the 911's 50th and yes, to celebrate the big day -- there is a 50th anniversary. This was well as a Turbo and the Turbo S which marked their 40th Anniversary here as well but also Porsche pull around something that shows how far the company has come over that time. This, the 918 Spyder. It's a hypercar, not a new direction for Porsche. Take a look at the likes of the Carrera GT and the 959 for reference but its part of the growing trend of technologically savvy speed machines. It'll be another bookmark in Porsche's history that shows just what can be done when boundaries are pushed forward yet again. The 918 is essentially a hyper hybrid. It's got a 4.6 liter V8 which coupled with a pretty beefy electric setup which is at 875 brake horsepower. Now, that means it can do now to 62 in just 2.8 seconds, its top speed if you got a big enough piece of [unk] is 214 miles an hour. With a hypercar boasting big numbers, it's hardly a surprise, is it? So how about this, it'll top 85 miles the gallon and emits just 70 grams per kilometer carbon dioxide and it looks like that, and it goes like a cat with a firecracker up its bum. And also, you can drive-- the speed is about to 93 miles an hour, and for electric mode for around 20 miles. It's all seriously impressive stuff. Where the 911 arguably is the definitive Porsche in the 50 years since it's launched, the company has expanded, diversified and become synonymous with high quality, high performance and high core values. Today, 5 decades on from the 911 to big day, Porsche's come out with some of the damned near the perfect car. It's fast, it's efficient, it's good looking. The only thing it can't do is fit a flat [unk] wardrobe in the back, then it would be truly, truly perfect. What we have here to take inside, it could one day make its way down into the 911 just as the 959's four-wheel drive tech did with the 964. Here's to the next 50 years and whatever awesomeness they bring.