Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Porsche 911


The Porsche 911 (pronounced as nine eleven) is a sports car made by Porsche AG of Stuttgart, Germany. The famous, distinctive and durable car has undergone continuous development since its introduction in 1964. Mechanically it is notable for being rear engined and, until the introduction of the all-new Type 996 in 1999, air-cooled.

Since its inception the 911 has been modified, both by private teams and the factory itself, for racing, rallying and other types of automotive competition. It is often cited as the most successful competition car ever, especially when its variations are included, mainly the powerful 935.

In the international poll for the award of the world's most influential car of the twentieth century the 911 came fifth after the Ford Model T, the Mini, the Citro├źn DS and the Volkswagen Beetle. It is the most successful surviving application of the air (or water) cooled opposed rear engine layout pioneered by its original ancestor, the Volkswagen Beetle.

The Porsche 911 was developed as a much more powerful, larger, more comfortable replacement for the Porsche 356, the company's first model, and essentially a sporting evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle. The new car made its public debut at the 1963 Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, better known to English speakers as the Frankfurt motor show.

It was designated as the "Porsche 901" (901 being its internal project number). Peugeot protested on the grounds that they owned the trademark to all car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. So, before production started, the new Porsche had its name changed to 911. It went on sale in 1964.

The earliest editions of the 911 had a 130 PS1 (96 kW) six-cylinder engine, in the "boxer" configuration like the 356, air-cooled and rear-mounted, displaced 1991 cc compared with the 356's four-cylinder 1600 cc unit. The car had four seats although the rear seats are very small, and the car is usually called a 2+2 rather than a four-seater (the 356 was also a 2+2). It was mated to a five speed manual "Type 901" transmission. The styling was largely by Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche, son of Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche. Erwin Komenda, the leader of the Porsche car body construction department, was also involved in the design.

The 356 came to the end of its production life in 1965, but there was still a market for a 4-cylinder car, particularly in the USA. The Porsche 912, introduced the same year, served as a direct replacement. It used the 356's 4-cylinder, 1600 cc 90 PS (66 kW) engine but wore the 911 bodywork.

In 1966 Porsche introduced the more powerful 911S, the engine's power raised to 160 PS (118 kW). Alloy wheels from Fuchs, in a distinctive 5-leaf design, were offered for the first time. In motorsport at the same time, installed in the mid-engined Porsche 904 and Porsche 906, the engine was developed to 210 PS (154 kW).

In 1967 the Targa version was introduced. The Targa had a removable roof panel, a removable plastic rear window (although a fixed glass version was offered alongside from 1968) and a stainless steel-clad roll bar. (Porsche had, at one point, thought that the NHTSA would outlaw fully open convertibles in the US, an important market for the 911, and introduced the Targa as a "stop gap" model.) The name "Targa" came from the Targa Florio road race in Sicily, in which Porsche had notable success: victories in 1956, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1973.

The 110 PS (81 kW) 911T was also launched in 1967 and effectively replaced the 912. The staple 130 PS (96 kW) model was renamed the 911L. More excitingly, the 911R was produced in tiny numbers (20 in all). This was a lightweight racing version with thin aluminum doors, a magnesium crankcase, twin-spark cylinder heads, and a power output of 210 PS (154 kW).

In 1969 the B series was introduced: the wheelbase for all 911 and 912 models was increased from 2211 mm to 2268 mm, an effective remedy to the car's nervous handling at the limit. The overall length of the car did not change: rather, the rear wheels were relocated aft. Fuel injection arrived for the 911S and for a new middle model, 911E. A semi-automatic Sportomatic model, composed of a torque converter, an automatic clutch, and the four speed transmission, was added to the product lineup.

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