Seven decades of Porsche sportscars

We're often accused of a pro-Porsche bias here at PH - the same charge frequently being levelled when it comes to BMW, Honda, Ford, Audi, Lotus, the GT86, Jaguar, Mercedes, etc, etc - but the fact of the matter is that Stuttgart just happens to really know what it's doing when it comes to making sportscars.

And it's not hard to see why. Today marks seven decades to the day since the first of those cars - chassis number 356-001 - left the production line, with the rest, as they say, being history. A look back at everything that's come since couldn't fail to impress even the most hardened of Porsche cynics so, whether you consider yourself a fan or not, join us in reflecting on some of the greatest road and race machines ever built. And of course, don't forget to share your favourites in the comments below.


1948 was the year in which it all started, with the factory in Gmünd, Austria turning out the very first Porsche Type 356, the "No. 1" Roadster. In the 1950s the company moved to Stuttgart, and production began in earnest. In 1951 it caused a stir with a class victory at Le Mans, and by 1956 it had already sold over 10,000 cars. Unsurprisingly the 356 is rather pricey these days, although not necessarily as rare as you'd think, with quite a few for sale in the Classifieds. This is our favourite, an absolutely stunning, Concours-winning, Aquamarine Blue Metallic example.


We had to wait till the 60s for the car which kickstarted the legend, though. A four seat fastback coupe with a rear-mounted 130hp flat-six engine, the successor to the 356 actually entered production a year earlier as the 901. Peugeot didn't take too kindly to the choice of name, though, and in 1964 it was reborn as the 911. Today, right-hand drive variants carry a significant premium over their European counterparts, but if your desire and bank balance are great enough, you likely can't do much better than this immaculate 1966 car.


Where to begin with 70s Porsche? From the Le Mans winning 917K to the world beating 936 via the Can-Am conquering 917/30, Porsche flexed its muscle on the track like never before. The Carrera RS 2.7 gave customers a taste of that motorsport prowess in 1972, while the Turbo offered them unprecedented performance three years later. In 1976 the front-engined 924 was launched, which today represents one of the easiest ways into classic Porsche ownership. This 77,000 miler, for example, is available for a snip over £4,000.


Mind you, the 80s were no slouch either. On track there were the ground-effect 956 and 962, and off it the Dakar Carrera 4x4c. The Carrera 4 was introduced, which marked the 25th anniversary of 911production by introducing all-wheel drive to the range for the first time, while the transaxle 944, and the stunning 911 Speedster also took to the roads. With 450hp and a 200mph top speed, though, the groundbreaking performance of the 959 makes it, alongside the Ferrari F40, the defining supercar of the decade. Four are currently for sale on PH, with this "Komfort" trim car still managing to seem cheap at £750,000.


The decade in which Porsche produced its millionth car was also a somewhat turbulent one for the manufacturer. The 968 signalled the end of its foray into front-engined coupes, the 911 Turbo went all-wheel drive for the first time, whilst water cooling and 'those' headlights arrived in the 996, not to everyone's satisfaction. The Boxster brought Porsche to the masses in 1996, though, and things began to improve further still as the decade drew to a close. The mega 911 GT1 adorned a new generation of bedroom walls and the 996 GT3 took driver-focussed Porsches to new heights. They may not be as cheap as they once were, but nothing is. With multiple good examples available for between £60-70,000, this properly used but well-maintained car is the one which catches our eye.


This was the period during which Porsche really grew into the company it is today. Branching out into SUVs at the start of the decade with the Cayenne, and saloons at the end of it with the Panamera. In the interim, the Cayman arrived 10 years after the Boxster, further broadening the brand's appeal, and the 911 moved into the 997 era. A new performance benchmark arrived for the new millennium in the shape of the Carrera GT while the RS Spyder achieved remarkable success on the track. With only 55,000 miles this manual Cayman S looks to be in fantastic condition for its asking price, and what better excuse to do the North Coast 500 than going to collect it?


Which brings us up to the present day. The arrival of the Macan may have seen SUV sales make up as much as 70 per cent of Porsche's total output, but since 2010 we've been given fantastic cars in the shape of the 918 Spyder, Cayman GT4, GT3 RS, Boxster Spyder, 911 R, 911 GTS, GT2 RS and 991.2 GT3. Manual transmissions saw a resurgence, too. Not to mention three Le Mans wins on the trot. For its perfect blend of accessibility, practicality and entertainment, our pick of the bunch is this manual 991 GTS. Someone buy it, and drive it. After all, they've been working on it for seven decades, so it ought to be pretty good...

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (14) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Iamnotkloot 08 Jun 2018

    Fantasy car - I’ll take the 959 Komfort, please.

  • Turbobanana 08 Jun 2018

    Lovely idea, execution let down by the need to drive us towards the classifieds. Article makes justifiable mention of some legendary cars, but showcases only ones for sale on the site.

    I understand that to the casual reader PH is a free service, but to promise so much after evidently researching the subject, then deliver so little undermines your credibility as journalists.

    For what it's worth, of those shown, 959 for me please. Or better still Mark Donohue's 917/30 from the CanAm era.

  • Kenny Powers 08 Jun 2018

    Nice article but I get the ever pervasive feeling that the sole reason for anything t exist on this website is to drive clicks to the ads.

    I understand the need, but perhaps a less obvious approach might be better in terms of image.

  • McFarnsworth 08 Jun 2018

    " The 911 Carrera 4 was introduced, which marked the company's 25th anniversary"

    You heard it here first, 1989 was 45 years ago eek

    Either me, or the article, seem to be missing something.

  • PomBstard 08 Jun 2018

    McFarnsworth said:
    Either me, or the article, seem to be missing something.
    Aside from nearly 30 years of front-engined coupes, save a minor mention of a 924. That’s for sale on PH...

View all comments in the forums Make a comment