901 vs 992: Porsche 911 through the ages

From the the Porsche 901 of 1963 to the latest 992 911, here's your guide to every generation of the world's most iconic sports car

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Guide to every Porsche 911 generation

Evolution has provided the natural world with the ultimate incarnations of the animal kingdom, an attitude Porsche shares with its 911 range. Each generation faster, enhanced, a step closer to what the German marque perceives to be sports car perfection.

With the dawn of the new 992 eighth-generation of Porsche 911, we take a look at this iconic machine’s ancestry.

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1963: Porsche 901

The Porsche 356 acquired a diehard following of enthusiasts that loved the way this sports car drove. From motorsport to the road, fans adored Porsche’s first sports car that spanned over 15 years of production. There were plenty of naysayers who doubted Porsche’s decision to build an all-new model. We wonder how they must feel now?

The new Porsche 901 was presented at the Paris Auto Salon with a 128bhp flat-six boxer engine at the rear. Porsches were named after their internal project numbers — this the 901 — but Peugeot laid claim to the naming convention of road cars with three numbers containing a zero in the middle. Ultimately the name was changed to 911, of which today is synonymous with Porsche.

Like all 911s that followed, this car spawned multiple incarnations including the legendary Carrera RS 2.7.

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1973: Porsche 911 G Series

Introduced in 1973, the G Series Porsche 911 was the model’s first redesign in a decade. As well as extensive safety improvements over its predecessor, this generation ushered in the potent 911 Turbo. Introduced with a 260hp 3.0-litre turbocharged engine, the whale-tail Turbo model is now a staple of Porsche history. A large 3.3-litre engine was added in 1977 making this supercar a true force to be reckoned with.

With production of the G Series ending in 1989, it remains the longest-serving Porsche 911 generation.

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1988: Porsche 911 964

Arguably the perfect blend of classic Porsche design and modern technologies, the 964 generation introduced all-wheel-drive models to the 911 range for the first time in the Carrera 4. One of the most practical sports cars on the market could be enjoyed even when the weather conditions had other ideas. ABS and power steering was also introduced as part of a comprehensive technological upgrade over the previous model.

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1993: Porsche 911 993

Today the 993 is one of the most sought-after Porsche 911s, thanks to being the last to have that iconic air-cooled flat-six engine. Its new aluminium chassis gave the car great agility and its lack of complicated water-cooling bore excellent reliability.

The 993 Turbo was the first turbo model to twin turbocharge — something it has in common with the latest 911 Turbo.

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1997: Porsche 911 996

A huge change arrived in the form of the 996 generation due to the air-cooled engines being replaced with water-cooled units. This car was the most refined 911 to date, offering a more mature ownership experience. Along with more sophisticated internals, the car sported a modern look that was a stark departure from what had come before, but still recognisable as a 911.

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2004: Porsche 911 997

With the bugs of its first water-cooled 911s worked out, the 997 cars were the perfect vision of the modern Porsche age. More model variants were available than ever before, 24 in total, enabling customers to find a 911 that was right for them. Standing atop that list of variants was the 997 GT3, often cited as one of the greatest driver’s cars of all time.

The 997’s exterior design returns to more traditional rounded headlights after the many split opinions formed by the introduction of the 996 some 7 years earlier.

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2011: Porsche 911 991

This car was another big step in terms of technology and refinement for the Porsche 911. The 991 introduced electromechanical steering in place of a traditional hydraulic system and arguably one of the most responsive automatic gearboxes in the form of Porsche PDK. It was also one of the world’s few cars to offer a seven-speed manual transmission.

The 991 also saw the rebirth of the historic Targa model.

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2015: Porsche 911 991.2

While technically a ‘refresh’ as opposed to an all-new model, the 991.2 marked a significant change to Porsche’s engine conventions. For the first time all models – except for GT cars – were turbocharged, allowing for increased torque and lower emissions.

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2019: Porsche 911 992

Welcome to the new eighth-generation of the Porsche 911, the 992. Revealed just ahead of the Los Angels Motor Show, the new sports car will initially be available to order in Carrera S and 4S guises with an updated PDK gearbox. Other model variants and a seven-speed manual transmission will be available as time goes by.

Power comes from a rear-mounted 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six producing 444bhp enabling 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds for the Carrera S and 3.6 seconds for the Carrera 4S. The 992 sits on an all-new platform that is lighter thanks to the increased use of aluminium. A wider front track and longer wheelbase gifts added stability at high speeds and rear-wheel steering boosts agility through slower corners.

Visually the 992 retains its classic 911 characteristics, but appears more muscular in every dimension. Its headlights are emboldened, rear arches more swollen, and its teardrop sloping rear uninterrupted.

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Next: The car that started it all...

You know all about the Porsche 911, but what about the very first Porsche? The story begins some 70 years ago with Porsche No.1.

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