Life Without The Porsche 911?

Porsche 911 Cabriolet Giveaway 1

I was reading a Car and Driver post this weekend from one of the drivers contributing to the upcoming 10Best feature Car and Driver publishes every year (coming up in the January 2010 issue). He made a comment that got me thinking again about a question that comes up every now and then: “Can you imagine Porsche without its 911?”

He made a couple of statements that caught my attention about the cantankerousness of the 911’s engine setup and the often vastly underrated pleasure of driving a Porsche Cayman. He also suggested that the 911’s GT-oriented customers could, conceivably, be satisfied with some variation of the Panamera.

Of course there’s always more power to wring out of the 911 engine setup. We’ve seen some seemingly limitless possibilities come out of some of the world’s great tuners (as well as some lesser known ones). But the question on many “enthusiast’s” (non-911 enthusiasts in my opinion) is how much longer does Porsche want to deal with the rear engine setup of the 911? Do we have any other current production vehicles that can serve as everyday drivers with a rear engine setup?

Next you have to consider the aesthetics of the current design being enough of a draw to continue to remain the flagship model of the Porsche lineup. How long before people just get sick of the 911 and decide they want something different? Personally I think that’s a stupid question, so I’ll just leave it out there and not try to answer it. I believe the 911 embodies the styling of Porsche as a company with design cues taken from it for every other model we have in production today. INCLUDING the Panamera.

My feeling is Porsche’s design feat with the 911 has actually solidified the 911’s permanent place in the Porsche lineup. Think about the other sports classics. The Corvette: still around, but fundamentally changed over the years. Mustang: still around, but styling is much different. Camero: same thing. What else has survived the ages? No Ferraris. No Lamborghinis. The VW Bug (not even a sports classic), but that was more of a retro re-release than a model that survived the ages.

The Car and Driver post mentioned the Cayman being arguably a better choice for the hardcore enthusiast, primarily because of it’s handling characteristics on the 10Best loop used for determining what cars make the list. And suggested the Panamera could serve as a suitable replacement for GT-oriented customers.

We all already know that the 911 is NOT a perfect car by any means. Sure there are plenty of other cars that will outperform it in nearly every way. That’s always the case though. There will always be a faster, cheaper, “better”, more agile, etc. cars that beat the 911 in categorical tests. They’re made by Asian car companies, not German ones. Oh, and you’ll see 500 of them between here and your half mile drive to store.

The one thing they’re missing is the mystique, intrigue and general desirability of the Porsche 911. The feeling alone that a 911 evokes in both owner and non-owner, in my opinion, will be the one thing that maintains it’s position in the Porsche lineup for years to come. Not to mention it’s viability as a pure sports car, it’s platform that has been finely tuned over decades to offer a true driving experience, and it’s ability to race on the track, yet feel comfortable driving out for a quick errand.

“Can you imagine Porsche without its 911?”

Nope. I’m incapable of imagining such a world.



  1. Ryan, Great post…and another i could do a 19 page essay on lol. To summarize,

    Let those who criticize , Go ahead and miss the mystique,intrigue and desirability! Exactly what you want when you are one who does appreciate the 911

    Quite possibly, The most aesthetically pleasing body style in the history of the auto…..

    ….a great car needs not adapt to the driver, You adapt to it!

  2. Very well written Ryan, and there are many good points mentioned.
    I agree that the 911 is a very desirable sports car and is a classic in its design features. The term mystique is accurate because until you drive one or own one it really feels like it is a sports car that has a lot of mystique attached to it.
    After driving a 911 for a few weeks, I really feel complete in the love of the 911. I have absolutely loved the Porsche 911 since I was a very young teenager. So after 30 years of admiring the beautiful sports car that Porsche created it is such a good feeling to actually drive one. The car is fun to drive and that is the important thing. Yes, as you say, there are cars that will outperform this in different areas, but for Porsche lovers, there is no substitute. Driving a Porsche 911 is a great experience.

  3. Cool to have you lend your thoughts Jeff W….an actual 911 owner! 🙂

  4. Whats the alternative? Like you mention, the panamera and the cayman?

    Why not make us drive the boxter…sometimes I wonder what it takes to make a journalist these days.

  5. There is no Porsche without the 911. They could stop production of the Panamera and the Cayene and I woldnt care. The boxster and cayman are good cars but the 911 is the crown jewel. Porsche is and always been a sports car company. Their racing heritage goes back to the begining of the company and the 911 is the workhorse of those efforts, what would they do without it? Do you think a Panamera will ever win Le Mans.

  6. James O .. So true. I think of all the racing victories that have been chalked up with the 911. Great drivers knew how to drive the 911 to its limits. I agree too, as much as i love the midengine Boxster and Cayman….Its the 911 that IS Porsche and is the single model anyone identifies with a Porsche. Some might say Porsche built the 911, But its the 911 that also built Porsche. Its the bread and butter car that allows Porsche to expand….Not only a workhorse but at the same time a crown jewel like you say.

  7. Mark my words: The 911 is not going away anytime soon.

  8. Richard Wagner says

    After my first exposure to a 930 Turbo some 20 years ago purely as a passenger I have always admired the was not until this year that I decided it was now or never to actually purchase one of these fine machines and bought a 1994 993.i have since suffered buyer’s remorse,and that is that I never bought one 10 years ago.It is the only car I have owned that I actually get butterflies in my stomach when I am about to go for a drive,it is the only car that gets me up out of bed on the weekends while the rest of the family are sleeping to go for a two hour drive and home before anyone has got up.
    To me the 911 is a gold medal in the Olympics,just awesome!!