Being the Porsche fanatic that I am I could not resist re-publishing this gem that I found in the Complex website. I felt compelled to share it. I must agree with the cars in their list, but I miss the 914-6, the 928GTS and some others.
Fasten your seat belts . . . here goes!!
Picking the greatest Porsches is like splitting hairs. All of them are excellent on some level. But some have become legendary, and a handful of modern models are destined to become classics. With the help of Dave Engleman, media relations manager for Porsche in North America, we have highlighted 25 models for their impact on the company, on racing, and on the history of the automobile. We ranked 10 race cars, followed by 15 road cars, rather than mix apples with oranges. We did not consider cars from tuners like RUF, nor ones still under development, such as the 918 Spyder. The latest 911 looks like a winner, but it's not ranked either, because it was just released, and it has to prove itself over the long haul. As hard as we tried to be circumspect and all-inclusive, this list will certainly spark debate. We welcome it.
In 1998, this car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans—a grueling endurance race that is the holy grail of motor sports—not because it was faster than competitors like the legendary Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, but because it was more reliable. It placed first and second overall and solidified Porsche's reputation for building bullet-proof race cars. Although a road version was created to satisfy homologation rules, the GT1-98 was a purpose-built prototype with a 3.2-liter, mid-mounted 6-cylinder engine that put out 592 hp.
24. 908Year: 1968-1971
The 908 was Porsche's foray into the upper reaches of prototype racing, which sought overall wins—not just class wins—at important races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 908 didn't achieve victory there, but in 1969, a long-tail, closed-top version—the 908 LH Coupe—came in second, behind a Ford GT40. Smaller, nimbler open-top versions, known as 908/2 Spyders, were suited to slower twisty tracks. They dominated other races in '69, sometimes sweeping the top five spots in a single race.
The RS Spyder marked Porsche's return to prototype racing after it abandoned the pursuit in 1999. It was developed not for the top class of race cars, but for the slower LMP2 class. That's why its overall victory at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring race—where it beat more powerful competitors—was so remarkable.
The RSR firmly established Porsche's commitment to turbocharging as an engineering strategy in motor sports. It also laid the groundwork for what would become a long-running tradition of racing 911s that are built on the same factory line as road-going versions. Today, classic RSRs easily command six figures.
The 956 and 962 are among the most successful Porsches ever raced. Factory-backed 956s swept first, second, and third places at the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Porsche started selling the cars to privateers after that, until noted German driver Stefan Bellof died at age 27 after crashing one in 1985. The 962 was subsequently developed to improve safety. It was slightly longer, with the front wheels set further forward, so that the driver's feet weren't positioned ahead of the centerline. Like its predecessor, the 962 was hugely successful
20. 911 (997) GT3 RSR and other racing variants
Each generation of 911 has an internal name to distinguish it from the others. The 997 is ending production to make way for a new generation, the 991. Whereas purpose-built race prototypes were often the pinnacle of Porsche racing in the past, the 911-based GT3 race cars have been the company's main focus in motor sports over the last decade or two. The 911 GT3 in its various racing forms is one of the most successful race cars in history. The number of class and overall wins it has earned is staggering. Even more incredible is that it starts life on the same assembly line that builds road-going Porsches
The 718 RS 60 Spyder is an evolution of the 550 Spyder, a sports car for the street discussed further up the list. Rather than having an engine behind the rear wheels, like on a 911, its small four-cylinder engine is just ahead of the rear wheels. This is a “mid-engine” setup, and it was used on other Porsche race cars, such as the 965, 962, and GT1-98. The 718 RS 60 was light, nimble, and efficient—besides being gorgeous. Among its competitive accomplishments was an overall victory at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race.
Don't be fooled by the term “hybrid” in this car's name. It is a beast. So much so that racing governing bodies are grappling with how to change rules in order for it not to have an unfair advantage. You see, other race cars don't have a 102-hp electric motor powering each front wheel. That's in addition to the 480-hp six-cylinder gasoline engine at the rear. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid is a game changer.
The 917 is one of the most legendary race cars of all time. Porsche built it expressly to dominate motor sports. And that it did, but not without a rocky start in 1969. It wasn't until a shortened version of the race car with a reworked rear end, called the 917 Kurzheck (“short-tail”), or 917K, was developed that it clinched first and second places at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1970. It was also notable for being the first Porsche with a 12-cylinder engine.
|Porsche 917 engine|
Porsche shifted its attention to the North American Can-Am Challenge in 1972. So the 917 morphed into an even bigger beast. Its 12-cylinder engine was enlarged and enhanced with twin-turbochargers. Max output was up to 1,580 hp, though it usually ran in races with less than that. It could go from 0-62 mph in 1.9 seconds and on to 100 mph in 3.9 seconds. Top speed was more than 260 mph. It absolutely dominated the 1973 Can-Am season.
|Porsche 917 turbo chargers and gearbox|
Now the list shifts from race cars to road cars. The Porsche that many people think of when they're asked to picture a 911 is the one that ran nearly unchanged in terms of looks from 1974 all the way through 1989. The 911 has evolved slowly but steadily over years. The 3.2 Carrera—particularly the 1989 model, which was this generation's last year of production—is the pinnacle of classic-looking Porsches, having benefited from many incremental improvements over more than a decade. After 1989, things started to change more dramatically for the 911, so purists who seek the ultimate in old-school Porsche engineering and styling often look to the later years in this generation of 911.
Purists say that the engine should unequivocally go in the back of a Porsche. But with the 944, the company proved it can build a killer front-engine sports car just as well. The 944 is a 1980s icon that is so good in terms of driving performance that it’s still being raced at an amateur level in Sports Car Club of America events. The turbo model really kicked the performance of its four-cylinder engine way up. The 944 Turbo, with its wider body and special bumpers, looked pretty badass at the time, too. In fact, it still does.
To casual onlookers, it might seem as if decades pass with little change to the 911. Yet, what might appear to be just a “run of the mill” 911 is often rare—like the Carrera RS. Two things help make it among the most desirable classic 911 models ever: 1) It was built so that Porsche could enter a race series that required a minimum number of road cars of the same type, and as such it had the most powerful engine to date of any Porsche 911. 2) Shortly after it came out, Porsche changed—or sullied, many say—the look of the 911 with larger bumpers.
The Porsche 911, known internally as the 993, was an important stepping stone for the company. It ushered in a new era of styling and chassis engineering, although it held fast to some traditional 911 cornerstones that diehard fans adore—namely, the compact dimensions, upright windshield, and, most importantly, the traditional air-cooled engine architecture that traces back to the very first Porsches. Rear suspension geometry was a quantum leap over previous technology, taming many of the 911's deficiencies that stemmed from its rear weight bias. The 993 was the last of the so-called “air-cooled” Porsches, and for that reason alone, it is hallowed by many.
Porsche 911 Turbos are special—and ones with an “S” on them, even more so. The Turbo S has 30 hp more than regular Turbo models, for a total of 530 hp. It comes with the company's seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Until the next generation (991) Turbo S comes out, this one is at the top of the heap, barring the truly hardcore GT models which, of course, are on this list.
The Boxster Spyder is perhaps the purest of all modern Porsches. It is not the most powerful or technologically advanced, but it's certainly the lightest and most uncomplicated. It recalls the classic 550 Spyder and 356 Speedster, featured higher up on this list. Basically, it's a lightened and more potent Boxster that eschews creature comforts—folding soft top, stereo, air conditioning, cupholders—in favor of a more visceral driving experience. In terms of balance and weight distribution, its mid-engine layout is inherently better than the rear-engine setup of Porsche 911s. Thus, the Boxster Spyder is the ultimate open-top Porsche for driving enthusiasts.
The Cayman is the closed-roof equivalent of the Boxster. To many, it surpasses the 911 because its mid-engine layout allows better weight distribution. The Cayman is so good that Porsche has been very careful since it launched in 2005 not to let it eclipse the 911 by reserving the most powerful engines only for the 911. The Cayman R comes close to unseating its bigger brother. It applies the same weight-saving principles as the Boxster Spyder to improve driving dynamics, but has a more rigid chassis. And it gets 10 hp more, besides.
The 911 GT2 RS is the most powerful production 911 in history. It is the culmination of 50 years of Porsche engineering progress. The standard GT2 has the same output as a Turbo S—530 hp—but has a stripped-down interior and numerous improvements to make it better suited for track driving. The GT2 RS is even more extreme. It weighs 150 pounds less than a “regular” GT2 and adds 90 hp, for a total of 620 hp.
The GT3 RS 4.0 is arguably the best modern 911 ever. While the Carrera GT is more exotic and the turbocharged GT2 RS is more powerful, the 500-hp GT3 RS is raw and closer to real Porsche race cars in terms of engineering. That's because current racing regulations make it unfavorable to run turbos. Thus the non-turbocharged GT3 RS is, for all intents and purposes, a street-legal Porsche track car, with race-spec suspension, chassis, brakes, and engine. The latest 4.0 version has a slightly larger engine than the “regular” GT3, which gives it an additional 56 hp.
If there is one Porsche that can be considered ground zero for the company's now legendary racing heritage, it is the 550 Spyder. Based on the 356, it started as a road car and evolved into a purpose-built race car—the 550A. Unlike the rear-engine 356, the 550 Spyder uses a mid-engine layout, which makes it handle far better. Only about 90 were produced. Some call it the "giant killer," for its ability to beat larger, more powerful race cars. Besides winning, it is known infamously for being the car that actor James Dean died while driving on Sept. 30, 1955
The lowly Boxster—internally designated the 986—helped save Porsche from bankruptcy in the mid-1990s. It uses the same mid-engine architecture as the 550 Spyder and remains one of the best sports cars of all time, with better inherent driving dynamics than the 911. Early models were underpowered and had shoddy interiors. Porsche fixed the former with a more potent S model in 2000, and the latter with a thoroughly updated new version of the car in 2005, known internally as the 987.
Year 2012: The new Porsche Boxster
Porsche has embarked on its most comprehensive model change to date and it's evident in the all-new Boxter.
The open-top two-seater now has a completely new lightweight body and a completely revamped chassis. Together with its longer wheelbase, wider track and larger wheels, the mid-engine Boxster's driving dynamics, which is already the best in its class, is enhanced even further. Other changes to the Boxster are its shorter overhangs, significantly forward-shifted windscreen and a flatter silhouette.
Powering both the Boxster and the Boxster S are a flat-six engine with direct port injection with its efficiency enhanced further by electrical system recuperation, thermal management and start/stop function. A 2.7-liter, 265hp engine is utilized by the standard Boxster while the Boxster S has a 3.4-liter mill that puts out 315hp.
Both models feature a manual six-speed gearbox as standard with the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) available as an option although according to Porsche, both sports cars achieve their best fuel consumption and acceleration performance with the PDK.
Porsche said the all-new Boxster is 15 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. Depending on the variant, its fuel consumption is at least less than eight liters of fuel for every 100 kilometers.
With the PDK, the Boxster's fuel consumption is at 7.7 liters for every 100 kilometers (12.987km/L) and its zero to 100kph sprint time is at 5.7 seconds. As for the Boxster S, its fuel consumption figure is 8.0 liters for every 100 kilometers (12.5km/L) while its zero to 100kph time is at 5.0 seconds.
The all-new Boxster officially goes on sale globally on April 2012. It will be in South Africa by June 2012. I cannot wait to see it!
The original 911 Turbo, known internally as the 930, was conceived as a road-going version of a race car to satisfy regulations that required a certain number of production cars be built. Although it spawned an entire generation of Porsche race cars, its true success was in how it enabled the company to better compete with pricier and more exotic Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The 930 was a revelation: a 911 on steroids. A single turbocharger gave a huge boost in engine output. Unlike the smooth, predictable performance of modern Porsche turbos, the 930 had the disposition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Turbo boost had an on-off switch—it was all or nothing—and it could easily unsettle the tail-heavy car. This danger and unpredictability made the 930 all the more alluring to many enthusiasts.
The Porsche 959 came out of nowhere to shock and awe the world. It was eons ahead of its time, with innovations like sequential turbocharging, lightweight composite body panels, and even tire pressure monitoring, which is now on every vehicle. It proved the importance of all-wheel-drive not just for off-road applications, but in high-speed super cars going fast around a race track. After the 959, every 911 Turbo would have all-wheel drive. Although the 959 has since been surpassed, it will always remain a crowning technical achievement for Porsche.
One car that surpasses the 959 is the Carrera GT. Made out of shelved racing parts from a still-born Porsche motor sports program in the late 1990s, the Carrera GT is the most extreme production Porsche ever built. It proves that if the company wanted to, it could quite possibly beat the Italians at their own game of building super-exotic sports cars. The Carrera GT has a 612-hp V10 mounted just ahead of the rear wheels, instead of just behind them, as on the Porsche 911. It cost $440,000 when it came out in 2004. Less than 1,300 were built. Actor/comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a noted Porsche enthusiast, wrote a review of it for Automobile magazine when it debuted.
The 356 Speedster is a Porsche in its purest form. It was a stripped-down 356 that sold for less than regular Porsches and was created solely for the U.S. market. There were no side windows. The folding top was rudimentary. Even a heater cost extra. It was the ultimate statement of driving for the sake of enjoyment. It helped Porsche gain a stronger foothold in the U.S. at a time when British sports cars were dominating. The 356 Speedster was an instant success, and to this day it remains one of the most iconic and collectible Porsches ever produced.
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