Although the origins of Porsche date back to the early days of motoring, with the electric P1 concept from 1898, it wasn’t until 1950s that the marque produced its first sports car – the 356.
Since then, the Porsche name been inseparably linked with high performance vehicles. Combining timelessly iconic design with cutting-edge technology that has often been proved on the racetrack.
Future Classic – 968
At the time of its release in 1991, the 968 was criticised for being out of date. However, twenty years later many of these criticisms don’t hold the same weight and even arguably make it more desirable as a future Porsche classic.
The 944 was one of the eighties best handling sports cars. When the 968 replaced it, the new model followed suit, sharing its predecessor’s front-engined rear-wheel drive layout and with the gearbox rear-mounted for that near-perfect weight distribution.
Up front, the trusty straight-4 engine from the 944, with capacity increased to 3 litres (a whopping 750cc per cylinder). Driving through an all-new 6-speed gearbox, the unit produced 240bhp, enough to propel the car from 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 160mph.
Outside the 968’s lines were smoothed and brought more up to date with early nineties tastes. Engineers claimed the 968 “83% new” when compared to the 944, but this didn’t make it 83% more desirable and resulted in a production run of just 15,000 cars.
That makes the 968 a relatively rare car today. Prices start at around £7,800 but are now rising, as Porsche fans re-discover everything this underappreciated sports car has to offer.
The One to Buy Now – 928 S4
The 928 enjoyed a long production run from 1977-1995, meaning there are plenty of models to choose from. While the later GTS version is arguably the more desirable model – it’s rarer, more powerful and the final 928 produced, but it also commands top prices. Hence we at Carphile think the 928 S4 marks the undiscovered gem in the range to try and find right now.
The S4 may not have the outright power of the GTS but with a 170mph top speed the car wasn’t exactly sluggish. Its V8 engine had swelled to 5.0 litres, delivering 320bhp. This cooled itself intelligently through computer-controlled air-intake louvres. Outside it was sleeker, with smoothed out front and rear bumpers and a larger rear spoiler.
The great news is that it’s possible to pick up an S4 for less than £10k at the moment (while 928 GTS’s generally now start at £20,000 plus), a tempting ownership proposition for this classic high-performance Porsche GT car.
The Superstar – 911 2.7 RS
Rolling off the production line since 1963 the 911 is undoubtedly Porsche’s most iconic and instantly recognisable car. With the car in production for over half a century it’s hard to pick one stand out model but for many Porsche fans the 2.7 RS is considered to be that car.
The RS stands for ‘RennSport’ (race sport) and the cars were built to fulfil the required number of production cars produced for Porsche to compete in GT racing.
It is lighter than the 911S it was developed from. The 2.7 RS engine was larger and more powerful, the Koni suspension stiffer, with wider 7-inch ‘Fuchs’ alloy wheels hidden under distinctive flared arches at the rear. Finally, there was the (optional) ducktail spoiler and colour coded ‘Carrera’ stripes down both sides, hallmarks that have been a kind of 2.7 RS signature mark ever since.
Originally intended to be a run of 500 cars, but demand ultimately led to 1,590 being produced. The 2.7 RS is considered one of the Porsche 911’s greatest prizes, with the best examples changing hands for over half a million pounds.
The Game Changer – Boxster 986
Porsche in the early nineties was a very different company from the highly profitable, global automotive brand they are today. In comparison, in 1991 Porsche was small, fiercely independent and in the fast-changing sports car climate, worryingly vulnerable.
With not one, but three aging model ranges, the recession early in the decade exposed the need for small (and fiercely independent) Porsche to develop not only an all-new 911 but also a more affordable sports car to replace the 968. Many doubted whether Porsche had the funds to develop one new model, let alone two.
Released in 1997, the mid-engined Boxster was ingeniously developed alongside the all-new, (996) 911 released in the same year. Designed to appeal to a younger audience, the mid-engine roadster went from drawing board to production in just three years. It was the quick-fire hit that Porsche hoped and needed. Both the Boxster and 996 (911) were quicker, cheaper and more profitable to build than their predecessors. This helped pull Porsche away from the brink, setting the company on a new trajectory, which ultimately led to the Porsche we know today.
The Legend – 959
In the late-eighties the supercar battle every one wanted to see was the Ferrari F40 vs the Porsche 959. Both owed a lot of their performance to motorsports technology but while the F40 achieved its performance through meticulous paring back of weight, Porsche took a different approach with the 959 by packing it with cutting-edge technology
Developed in the early-eighties as a homologation model so Porsche could enter Gruppe B racing, the 959 was developed from the 911 but with twin-turbochargers, carbon-fibre body panels, active suspension, a six speed gearbox, four-wheel drive and tyre pressure sensors. The 959 wasn’t only one of the fastest but also one of the most technologically advanced cars ever built.
It was released in 1986, with a top speed of 197mph delivered from its twin-turbocharged, 450bhp, flat-6 engine. Four-wheel-drive, not common on supercars then, made this performance accessible, in any driving conditions. Allowing the 959 to scrabble from 0-60 in an incredible 3.7 seconds.
Only 292 road-going 959’s were produced between 1986 and 1989. While its great rival, the Ferrari F40 sold over 1,300 cars and is arguably remembered more fondly. The technological leap Porsche made with the 959 is still impressive and a benefit to road cars to this day.