Stuttgart, Germany was Porsche’s first home in 1931. The Porsche Engineering Office in Stuttgart was the incubator for the entire line of kick ass sport cars this visionary auto manufacturer has graced the world with. The first Porsches were two-seater sports cars based on a Volkswagen chassis. These early Porches (1948-50) were produced in Austria. Later Ferdinand and his son Ferry moved production to Zuffenhausen, Germany. Porsche has long had ties to Volkswagen, especially when you consider that the very first production car Ferdinand worked on was the VW Beetle. It was a no brainer then, that Porsche would use the same sort of air-cooled, rear- mounted engine when producing his luxury sports cars.
By the 1950s the Porsche Empire was rolling along. This decade brought the world two icons: the 356 Speedster and the 550 Spyder. Both cars earned Porsche wins on the racetrack and cemented the legacy for power, performance and styling that the car maker enjoys to this day. By the mid 1960s, the 356 had been phased out in favor of the truly sublime 911. The 911 had a six cylinder engine and won back to back titles at Monaco. Following the example of VW., the 911’s air-cooled engine was located in the rear of the sports coupe.
The 1970s saw the introduction of the first “affordable” Porsche – the 914 with the targa top. This groovy decade also brought the world the pumped up 911 turbo, the underpowered, front mounted, four cylinder 924 and the 928 - the front mounted, eight cylinder 4 seat coupe. All but the 914 went on to evolve into the next generation of Porsche’s. The 914 was always underappreciated. I mean, come on, who wants an “affordable” Porsche, right?
The 1980s brought the birth of Porsche’s most successful racecar of all time: the 956. Also in this decade, the twin-turbo, all-wheel-drive 959 hit the streets. This car became the first sports car to win the Paris-Dakar Rally. The street version of the powerful 959 hit speeds of nearly 200mph. The popular and iconic 944 debuted in 1983 as did the convertible 911 Carrera – one of the most gorgeous cars to exist to this day. This was the first convertible for the venerable German automaker and filled a niche that had previously been lacking. The 1980’s also brought the return of the 924 – this time packing the 944’s one hundred and forty seven horsepower inline four.
The 1990s saw the phasing out of the 928 and the replacement of the 944 with the similar looking 968. Porsche suffered some economic difficulties in this decade. Not only was the luxury sports car market lagging behind the excessive consumption that the 1980s were, but the company as a whole was suffering a sort of image crisis. Their product line was, to be blunt, stale. The turnaround for Porsche would not come until 1997 when the Boxster debuted. The spirit of the 550 Spyder lives on in this car that turned the fortunes of Porsche around. Considered an “affordable” Porsche, this time consumers flocked to the stylish, powerful and accessible Boxster. The world embraced the Boxster and Porsche was reborn.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Porsche was still riding the high that the success of the Boxster had given them. Then, in 2003, Porsche threw all caution to the wind and entered an entirely new segment of the car business. Known for race cars and sports cars for over seven decades, the Porsche Cayenne, a luxury SUV hit the market. The Cayenne doesn’t look all that different from other luxury auto makers’ SUVs. However, what the Cayenne has that those others do not is a Porsche engine. Specifically, an option for a four hundred and fifty horsepower turbo engine. In a sporty SUV. In other words, a soccer mom/dad’s wet dream. In 2005, the robust Carrera GT supercar hit the market. This latest beast from the house that Ferdinand built has a mighty six hundred and five horsepower engine.
If a sports car is what you want, you cannot go wrong with a Porsche. Not only are they powerful and pretty, but they are enduring. Not a day goes by that a vintage Porsche can’t be seen driving along the streets of Southern California. And what every driver of a Porsche has in common? The smile on their face.