Porsche is one of the most beloved and revered car brands in the world. Headquartered today in Stuttgart, Germany and owned by Volkswagen AG, Ferdinand Porsche founded the company as a design firm in 1931. It initially started out by developing cars for German middle class workers, resulting in the famous Volkswagen Beetle. However, it didn’t take long for Porsche to switch its focus to actually building the high-performance luxury cars they are more commonly known for. Here is a list of 11 of the greatest Porsche models built to date.
11. Porsche 968 Club Sport
From 1992 until 1995, Porsche offered a lighter “Club Sport” version of its 968 car, which was developed for owners looking to run their cars on the racetrack, as well as on city streets. The result was to install less sound deadening material to keep the weight down, and options such as power windows and seats were replaced by manually operated components, although Recaro racing seats were still included.
The 968 Club Sport also featured wider wheels (17 inches instead of 16 inches) and wider tires than those found on the standard coupe model. The suspension system was lowered by 20 millimeters and was tuned for more optimal performance around corners. The 968 Club Sport was named “Performance Car of the Year” in 1993 by Performance Car magazine. It’s not necessarily the coolest Porsche of all time, but it was a solid racer.
10. Porsche 964 Carrera 4 Lightweight
Created by Porsche’s motorsport division in 1990, the Porsche 964 Carrera 4 Lightweight is a vehicle to behold. The car earned the name “Lightweight” because of its aluminum front lid, aluminum doors, Plexiglas side windows, and a fiberglass rear engine lid that combined to bring its weight down to just 2,200 pounds, thus making for an exceptional power to weight ratio.
This Porsche also features a five-speed transmission with a lightweight flywheel, an aluminum safety cage, two Recaro race seats with five-point safety belts, and S sport steering wheel coupled to a power assisted steering rack. Carpeting was even removed to further keep the weight down and help the 964 Carrera 4 Lightweight reach a top speed of 161 miles per hour.
9. Porsche 959 Rally
In addition to its prowess on the track, Porsche has also dabbled with off-road rally racing, most notably with the Porsche 959. It was an off-road rally car built in the mid-1980s that won the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1986. Looking nothing like a traditional Porsche, this all-wheel drive behemoth had an engine that could crank out 400 horsepower and delivered power to all four wheels via a six-speed transmission and a unique electro-hydraulically controlled center differential.
A synthetic body helped to make the vehicle considerably lighter than most other Porsches of that time. Driving across the Sahara Dessert during the Paris-Dakar Rally, the Porsche 959 reached speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. Impressive.
8. Porsche 930 Turbo
The 930 Turbo used a turbocharger to transform a typical Porsche 911 into a fearsome car. When first introduced in 1975, people had never seen anything like the 930 Turbo. The car’s insane speed blew people’s minds. The 930 Turbo also proved to be one of the first (and best) drift missiles, with the ability to swing like a pendulum around corners at high speeds and keep going.
With a top speed of 170 miles per hour and the ability to reach 60 miles per hour in under five seconds, the 930 Turbo (known in the U.S. as the 911 Turbo) was the fastest production car available in Germany during its run from 1975 to 1989. It remains one of the fastest street cars of all time and endures as a legend among Porsche aficionados all over the world. The 930 Turbo is also one of the most sought after Porsche models by car collectors.
7. Porsche Boxster
The early 1990s were a difficult time for Porsche. In 1993, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy following a recession and a generation of new drivers (Generation X) who found the brand uncool and opted instead to buy vans and retro cars such as the Volkswagen Beetle. Sales were in the toilet and Porsche was forced to announce several rounds of employee layoffs. The once top-selling 911 was antiquated as it inched towards its 30th birthday.
Luckily, Porsche’s fortunes changed once the company unveiled the Boxster concept car at the Detroit Auto Show in 1993. The Boxster singlehandedly revived the mid-engine layout of the classic 550 Spyder and combined it with the flat-six engine configuration of the 911, but with a water-cooled 201 horsepower, 2.5-liter engine. It was a huge hit and helped to revive sales and propel Porsche to new heights.
6. Porsche Carrera GT
In the mid-2000’s Porsche introduced the Carrera GT, arguably one of its best cars ever. The Carrera GT is powered by a 5.7-liter V10 engine that pumps out 603 horsepower and can reach 60 miles per hour from a standing start in only 3.5 seconds. The maximum speed of the Carrera GT is a laudable 205 miles per hour. The Carrera GT owes its design to the 911 GT1, on which it is based.
After Porsche discontinued its racing program in the late 1990s, much of the technology developed by that program remained and was put into the Carrera GT. A total of 1,270 Porsche Carrera GT’s were built between 2004 and 2007. While this is less than the originally planned production run of 1,500 units, the official reason for the car’s premature discontinuation centered around changing airbag regulations in the United States. Still, there is no denying that this is a classic Porsche
5. Porsche 919 Hybrid
With the 919 Hybrid, Porsche created a gas-electric hybrid vehicle that can hold its own on the racetrack. With a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a direct injection, two energy recuperation engines, and a battery-based hybrid system, the 919 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015. After Le Mans, the car won the five remaining races of the 2015 season.
The 919 Hybrid was retired in 2017 after it won the FIA World Endurance Championship and won at Le Mans again in 2016 and 2017. After such impressive victories, it seemed that there was nothing left for the much beloved 919 Hybrid to accomplish. Many automotive journalists consider the 919 Hybrid to be one of the best performance race cars ever built.
4. Porsche 918 Spyder
Another impressive hybrid made by Porsche is the 918 Spyder, a mid-engined, plug-in hybrid supercar powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 608 horsepower. Paired with two electric motors that deliver an additional 279 horsepower each, for a cumulative combined total of 887 horsepower. Supercar, indeed! Production of the 918 Spyder began in September 2013 and each car had a starting price of $845,000 – and that was for the base model!
Despite the sticker shock, the Spyder sold out. Production of the brand ended in June 2015 once the initial orders were filled. In an independent series of speed tests, the 918 Spyder reached 62 miles per hour in just 2.6 seconds and 100 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds. The bottom line is that the 918 Spyder is one of the fastest accelerating cars ever manufactured.
3. Porsche 356
This was the first real Porsche car as we know them. Built in 1948, the 356 provided the initial look and feel of Porsche that endures to this day. The 356 established the template for the entire car brand, with its rear-engine and elegant design. The 1.1-liter four-cylinder engine was meek by today’s standards, producing only 40 horsepower, but it evolved during its production run (which lasted until 1964) and led to both a coupe and convertible editions. The 356 also featured rear-wheel drive and used an entirely new body design that incorporated engine and suspension components that had initially been developed for Volkswagen.
By the early 1950s, the 356 had gained some recognition amongst automotive enthusiasts both in Europe and in the U.S. for its aerodynamics, handling, and quality. In 1951, a Porsche 356 was entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and won its class, completing 210 laps during the 24-hour race. This accomplishment bolstered sales, and it became common for owners of the 356 to race their cars, as well as drive them to work each day.
2. Cayman GT4
The Cayman GT4 is one of the newer Porsche models but it’s destined to become a classic. It contains an engine carried over from the Porsche Carrera S and a tuned chassis, brakes and aerodynamics. Reviewers have called the Cayman GT4 the “perfect mid-engine sports car for road and track.” This is due to the GT4’s 3.8-liter flat-six engine that produces 385 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
Compared with the standard Cayman, the GT4’s chassis was lowered by 30 millimeters and bigger brakes were added, with many aspects of its suspension carried over from the 911 GT3. With a perfect combination of speed and balance, the Cayman GT4 is an enviable Porsche and likely to be an icon of the automotive industry in the near future.
1. Porsche 911
When it comes to the greatest Porsche of all-time, we’ve got to go with the 911 — the model that is most associated with the brand. A two-door high performance rear-engine sports car first introduced in 1963 and that has been made continuously since, the 911 is the car most people think of when you say “Porsche.” Modified and used for racing, rallying, and other forms of competition, the Porsche 911 is also one of the most successful competition cars ever. In an international poll conducted in 1999 to determine the “Car of the Century,” the 911 placed fifth.
In May 2017, the one millionth Porsche 911 rolled off the assembly line in Germany, marking yet another milestone in this car’s illustrious history. And though there have been many versions of the 911 over the years, the original 1963 model gets our vote as top Porsche ever made. In 2004, Sports Car International named the original 911 number three on its list of the “Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.”
Newer versions of the 911 also continue to impress. In 2012, Motor Trend chose the Porsche 911 Carrera S as its Best Driver’s Car of The Year, and in 2015, Car and Driver magazine named the Porsche 911 “the best premium sports car on the market.” Hard to argue with all those accolades.