356 was the first car carrying the name "Porsche". Based on the Beetle's drive train, further finished with a drag-free body and Porsche's own chassis, it became the most beloved sports car in the 50s accompanied with Jaguar XK120. Despite of frequent updating, its upgradability finally ran out in the 60s because of its VW origin. As a result, Ferry Porsche started working on the drawing board again to create a new sports car.
'As early as 1956 we started with the plans for a new model,' recalled Ferry Porsche. 'It was to be a comfortable touring car but, unlike the 356, parts from the large-series cars were not utilised as these were no longer suitable for further development.'
'Various models were designed, even some with a notchback with the aim of creating a true four-seater. But finally it remained a sports car in concept, with 2+2 packaging. We didn't want to allow the Porsche shape, which had become world famous in the meantime, to disappear. As a power unit, a 6-cylinder engine was chosen. But then it occurred to me, remembering our motorsport activities, that front engines were not competitive enough on a long term basis, and so we kept to the rear engine.'
Early project name was "Type 7", it was soon renamed to "901". However, as Peugeot objected to the use of its traditional three figures designation with a zero in the middle, Porsche simply changed the name to 911.
The project was handled by body engineer Erwin Komenda. Ing Hans Tomala was responsible for engine development. Ferry's nephew, Ferdinand Piech (now VW's boss), joined at the final stage as chief of engine development. On the other hand, Ferry Porsche's own son, Butzi (who is a stylist rather than an engineer, now heads Porsche Design), designed the shape which later became one of the most memorable icon in automotive history.
course, there were many problems occurred during the development. However,
we skip that and would rather show you the final result, the 911 which
was unveiled in the 1963 Frankfurt motor show:
|Styling :||911 preserved the general shape of 356, but with slightly better aerodynamics - 0.381 vs 0.40. Butzi Porsche did not created a very handsome shape. However, it was undoubtedly a very unique design that everyone can easily recognise.|
structure was conventional steel monocoque (Galvanised steel was not arrived
until 1971). Suprisingly, it was 2.4 in narrower than the 356, but the
wheelbase and overall length are 5 in and 6 in longer respectively, thus
enabled considerably more interior space.
Given the rear-engined layout, weight was inevitably biased towards the rear end - 40 : 60 distribution between front and rear wheels. Porsche claimed this could free up the steering weighting without the use of servo, thus avoided any artificial feeling.
flat-six air-cooled engine employed single overhead camshaft per bank instead
of pushrod of the 356. Power jumped dramatically to 130 hp from merely
2 litres, still very impressive by nowadays' standard. Note that dry sump
lubrication was opted for the benefit of motor racing.
Sufficient space was preserved for future enlargement to 2.7 litres, however, it was eventually skretched to 3.8 litres!
'Had I known, at that time, that the unit could actually be stretched to 3.3 litres and still be completely reliable, even in racing form, I would almost certainly have decided that it was unnecessarily large and heavy, and would have asked the designers to scale it down', said Ferry Porsche, 'Now I am glad I didn't!'
|Gearbox :||Of course was Porsche's patented synchromesh unit, with 5 speed.|
|Suspensions :||Disappointingly, Porsche placed luggage space in prior to suspensions, therefore it adopted space-saving MacPherson struts in the front, with the aid of lower wishbones. In the rear, again the space problem led to the use of semi-trailing arms. However, it was still a big improvement over 356's swinging-axles.|