17 Feb 2011


 Back in the early 1960's the Porsche 911 was conceived as a compact, light, high performance sports car. An early Porsche 911 such as my 1971 2.2 litre 911T exactly meets this definition .It is an amazing car to drive . Very involving and very responsive .There is no brake booster ,no ABS, no power steering and the steering is very direct .The clutch is cable operated , the flywheel is light and it has Weber carbs so it is very responsive. There is no aircon ,or electric windows or central locking or electric mirrors . Indeed it only has a driver's side external mirror and an interior mirror. My 911T does not even have a radio or radio aerial.

Over the years the 911 line put on weight . At first the weight gains were small year by year but in the last 15 years the 911 has moved into the seriously podgy class . Today the 911, or as it is now badged, the Carrera, is an obese car and some derivatives are more obese than others. To my mind it is too big ,too heavy and way too complicated and arguably way too expensive .Driving a current 911 Carrera is just not an involving experience for me. It is like driving a very fast model of any brand of luxury car .It does not give me the "buzz" of excitement of driving a special car .

I cannot see many of today's Porsches lasting forty years outside of museums as their electronics will literally crumble and the cars will be unsustainable .Not a unique Porsche problem but still relevant to being an icon cherished in the future. Why design a car where disconnecting the battery results in memory loss of driveablity parameters from one of the electronic control units ?

The 911 has lost its sparkle and now Porsche are resorting to tacky marketing to try and make the old dowager sell . Dozens of different variants are being produced but sales are still sagging .You can tell when sales are slow when the manufacturer resorts to putting numbered plaques on the dashboard of special editions. Avoid all cars with tacky numbered plaques on the dashboard .Perhaps the worst manifestation of the derivatives is the new 2011 Speedster. It looks like a giant cockroach . Compare the two cars in these images.. The same bloodline ? I'm not so sure anymore. Yes, they both have 6 cylinder motors behind the rear wheels and Porsche badges but really that is all they have in common.One is pure sports car and the other is Moscow gangster wheels meets Shanghai boulevard cruiser meets travelling electronics showroom.

Of course there are still some real humdingers in the GT3 variants of the 911/Carrera but these are essentially race cars for the road-- lightened and stripped of much of the over the top equipment and ancilliaries
Changing consumer needs and above all else legislative requirements mean that Porsche could not build and sell a 1970's 911 today but it is sad to see such an icon going downhill like some once well respected political figure who is well past his or her use by date but who won't quit .
 Rumour has it that the next generation 911 -- due in 2012 --will be even bigger and heavier .Oh dear .
I count myself very lucky to own two of the true 911s .I won't be lining up to buy a Speedster.


  1. Spot on. The 911 has become stale and boring. In the 12 years since I bought my 996 the cars have become progressively uglier. There is a limit to the number of times you can rehash a design and they reached that about 15 years ago. Having said that my 996 is still an enjoyable drive but there wont be another new Porsche in my garage.

  2. Since it doesn't have a radio, can I buy your period radio sitting on the shelf ;)

  3. so, 911 is dead ... any thoughts on the cayman, or the panamera bubble-butt, or cayenne-peppercorn ... indeed, for any step in the 'right' direction it seems there are several in the wrong. but there is a proliferation of small, sporty, light cars today... I would hate to market myself against the miata, honda, subaru and all the hotboxes and funboxes ... maybe is time to give the replica's a try, wonder if i could license a Beck 904 over here in Belgium?

  4. didn't stop me from buying the 43rd scale model of it though!

    Apart from being astronomically expensive... the older cars are just more appealing.