Throughout the history of motoring, automakers have sought to express their greatest achievements through a top-tier model. A brand might roll out a handful of powerful sports cars to illustrate their racing prowess or latest engineering feat while the bulk of the cars that come off the line are A-to-B utility mobiles. Porsche is expressly not like other automakers.
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The Stuttgart-based brand is quite literally based on creating sports cars—machines of passion and driving experience that elicit emotion. Namesake founder Ferry Porsche once famously said, “In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself.” That was in 1948 and the car he’s referring to is the Porsche type 356 “No. 1” Roadster, an iconic example of automotive design and performance.
Now 70 years later that trailblazing mentality has solidified Porsche’s dominance in both racing and engineering. As the brand moves forward into production electric vehicles with its Mission E program and continues to change racing with its hybrid vehicles and upcoming Formula E program, it carries with it the spirit of ingenuity and the quest for pure performance that inspired it in the first place.
The history of Porsche is rich with victories on the track and on the open road. Just three years after the first chassis was built, the young company earned its first (of many) victories at the storied 24 hours of Le Mans event in France in 1951.
Then in 1963 the brand introduced a model that would set the unbeatable standard for sports cars that lives on today: the 911. The birth of the 911 represented the purest translation of racing prowess to motorists around the world. Now the excitement and soul of Porsche’s race cars was available to anyone who could get in the driver’s seat of a 911.
Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s Porsche continued to dominate various classes of auto racing while introducing industry first innovations to their production cars. They counted their first overall win at Le Mans in 1970 and during the oil crisis in 1975 introduced the first production sports car to feature an exhaust turbocharger and pressure regulator. In 1984, the 911 Carrera 4×4 earned its first win in the Paris-Dakar Rally and inspired 911-enthusiasts around the world to opt for mud instead of the tarmac.
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Over the 1990s, Porsche continued to refine the comfort and performance of its sportscars by incorporating all-wheel drive and new turbo configurations including offering a twin-turbo in the 911 for the first time in 1995. Far from just a spirited driving experience, the brand also gained recognition for its feats in aesthetics as the Carrera GT was exhibited at the Louvre in 2000.
In the modern era, Porsche has expanded its repertoire of firsts including the launch of the company’s first SUV in 2002 and its first fuel-electric race car in the form of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid in 2010, and setting a Nürburgring lap record for road-approved sports-cars with the 918 Spyder in 2013. Just four years later the brand added another striking success to its already lengthy list of genuine achievements in Motorsport: three consecutive overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the 919 Hybrid. Not only is the car one of the most decorated in history, it stands as testament to a continued era of innovation for the brand: electric.
The Mission E concept—now known as the Taycan—is a watershed moment for the brand that will see it utilize its 70 years of racing and design innovation to reach new levels of speed and performance. Adopting the concept of a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) frees designers and engineers from the constraints of combustion engines. Porsche concedes that certain elements of the experience will be different, such as the engine sound, but other aspects of driving performance will be greater pronounced like acceleration—a tradeoff most enthusiasts will easily stomach.
Whether combustion or electric, a Porsche will always feel like a Porsche. Ensuring that each car has a unique feeling and soulful driving experience will remain not just a priority, but a necessity to continuing in the rich legacy of the brand.