20 Porsches We Dream About Driving

Porsche 959

Porsche AG

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Porsche 959
Porsche AG

Porsches We Dream of Driving

There are two types of Porsches. The one-offs, racing cars, custom jobs, and limited-edition rarities are pretty much reserved for the Seinfelds, Lenos, and Arabian oil princes of the world. Then there are the production models, which anyone can buy — “anyone” meaning those with pockets deep enough to buy even a common Porsche. If you’re a regular person of regular means, chances are good you’ll never find yourself behind the wheel of either. But there’s nothing wrong with a little daydreaming while you’re saving your pennies.


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Porsche 356A
Wikimedia Commons

Porsche 356A

The Porsche 356 arrived in 1948, but all that came before the year 1955 are known as pre-A models. That’s when the sleek, round, fast, and agile rear-engine two-door coupe got an upgrade and became the 356A. That upgrade was something that would change Porsche’s lineage forever: the 100-hp 1500cc four-cam Carrera engine. The A model also helped define Porsche handling with the most significant suspension upgrade in the history of the line, which ran all the way through 1965. 

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Porsche 718 RSK
Porsche 718 RSK by Lothar Spurzem (CC BY-SA)

Porsche 718

One of history’s most iconic racing cars, the 550 Spyder — notorious for being the car James Dean died in — earned Porsche the nickname of “the Giant Killer” for beating bigger, more established racing teams in the late 1950s. The Porsche 718 inherited and lived up to that glory, slaying giants and winning races into the ’60s. Although its 142 horsepower seems minuscule by today’s racing standards, the 718 represented the pinnacle of the four-cylinder flat engine design that Porsche lived and died by for a generation. 

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Porsche 904 at speed
Porsche 904 at speed by Harlo Petoskey (CC BY-NC)

Porsche 904

Officially known as the Carrera GTS, the Porsche 904 arrived in 1964 and would survive for only one year before the venerable 911 spelled the end for a vehicle designed to replace the 718. It’s not hard to find a Porsche enthusiast who considers the 904 the finest road racing car Porsche ever built, although that can be debated. What is not up for discussion is the fact that it served as the genesis for an entire generation of winning Porsche race cars.

Porsche 911 (1963-1973)
Porsche 911 (1963-1973) Porsche AG

Porsche 1967 911 S Coupe

In 1964, the Porsche 901 became the Porsche 911. The rest is high-performance sports car history — and there have been so many amazing 911 models, variations within models, experiments, and one-offs, that a best-of list based only on the 911 would be too exhaustive to read. The ’67 911 S Coupe might just be the Porschiest Porsche in 911 history, though. On aesthetics alone, it’s a drool-worthy piece of machinery, thanks to its minimalism and dramatically swooping body design. It was also much more powerful and robust than its predecessors, signaling the start of the 911 as a racing-inspired vehicle.

Porsche 917
Porsche 917 by Curt Smith (CC BY)

Porsche 917

Unveiled in 1969, the Porsche 917 earned the automaker its first win in the famous 24-hour Le Mans race in 1970, relived by Steve McQueen just a year later in the movie “Le Mans.” Powered by a flat-12 engine, the 917 roared from zero to 62 mph in 2.3 seconds and zero to 124 mph in 5.3 seconds with a top speed north of 240 mph. In 2017, the most famous 917 in the world also became the world’s most expensive Porsche — that's when the car McQueen drove in the film fetched $14 million at auction.

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Le Mans Classic Porsche 936 Spyder
Le Mans Classic Porsche 936 Spyder by crazylenny2 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Porsche 936 Spyder

The 1977 Porsche 936 Spyder looks more like an airplane with wheels than a car, and in terms of performance, it did everything but leave the ground. A highly successful race car that won a string of prestigious international victories in the late ’70s, the 936 Spyder’s flat-six engine had a top speed of 224 mph. The car’s low, short body and efficient aerodynamics glued all that power to the track for victory after victory in its time.

Porsche 935/78 'Moby Dick'
Porsche 935/78 'Moby Dick' by clucksworld (CC BY-NC-ND)

Porsche 935/78

Known as “Moby Dick” for its long and exaggerated rear tail, this updated Porsche 935 arrived on the international racing scene in 1978. Thanks to maximum brake horsepower of 850 and a top speed over 220 mph, it made a statement, to say the least. The most powerful 911 ever built, the 935/78 was also the last and most impressive 935 ever made — Porsche raced it only a handful of times before putting it out to pasture in the Porsche museum.

Porsche 956C
Porsche 956C by Nic Redhead (CC BY-SA)

Porsche 956

Porsche owned nearly every world racing title worth owning in the early and mid-to-late 1980s, and it’s all thanks to two vehicles. One was the 956, with 620 horsepower engines good for north of 217 mph. Racing cars, however, can’t win races on power alone. Designed originally to accommodate changes in FIA racing rules, the 956 allowed drivers to corner at incredible speeds. Its designers crafted the game-changing car to get the most out of the so-called “ground effect,” which gives tires greater grip at high speeds around tight turns through aerodynamic-driven downforce. 

Porsche 924 Carrera GT
Porsche 924 Carrera GT by Kieran White (CC BY)

Porsche 924 Carrera GT

Before the 2000s supercar came another, mostly forgotten Carrera GT. It was based on the much-maligned 924, which arrived as Porsche’s entry-level model in 1976. Developed originally for Volkswagen, it had a wimpy four-cylinder VW engine that couldn’t justify its relatively high $9,000 price tag (about $40,000 today). Porsche responded with a much more capable turbo model, and that turbo 924 was eventually modified for racing. The result was the 1981 924 Carrera GT. Only 406 were ever made, and they remain among the coolest examples of early-’80s Porsche awesomeness.

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Porsche B32 (Volkswagen T3)
Porsche B32 (Volkswagen T3) by peterolthof (CC BY-ND)

Porsche B32

If you never knew Porsche built a cargo van with a 911 engine, you are not alone. The Porsche B32 is a little-known and impossibly awesome machine designed for speed, power, storage, and utility. Porsche built only 15 of the big, expensive vans — prototypes included — between 1983-1985, and for a single purpose: It needed a support vehicle fast enough to keep up with its Group B 959 race car at the grueling Paris to Dakar rally. Thanks to a 3.2-liter flat-six 911 Carrera engine in the rear, it could drum up 231 horsepower and go from zero to 62 mph in 8 seconds. In a twist, the world’s most famous German automaker named the hulking beast of a machine after an American heavy bomber from World War II. 

Porsche 962
Porsche 962 by Jim Culp (CC BY-NC-ND)

Porsche 962

Unveiled in 1984, the 962 was essentially a 956 modified for competition in U.S. races. At a glance, they look similar, but they’re very different cars inside — including a double clutch gearbox, each applying torque to only the even or odd gears. The end result was the same: success on the track. The 962 joined the 956 as Porsche’s one-two punch behind the brand’s suffocating dominance over the 1980s racing world.

1986 Porsche 944 Turbo Coupe
1986 Porsche 944 Turbo Coupe by Daniel J. Leivick (CC BY-SA)

Porsche 944 Turbo

Another good thing to come out of the mostly unfortunate legacy of the 924 is the Porsche 944 Turbo. Although it wasn’t unveiled until 1985, its lineage dates back to the ultra-rare 1981 924 GTP Le Mans. The modified and upgraded 924 turned in stellar racing performances, largely because of its reliability, fuel economy, and all-around strong engineering. By 1985, it had evolved into the 944 Turbo, one of the bestselling Porsches of all time.

Porsche 959
Porsche 959 by Steve Masiello (CC BY-NC-ND)

Porsche 959

Today, turbocharged supercars with all-wheel drive are the norm in high-performance sports cars. That standard was set in 1987 with the arrival of the Porsche 959, which arrived when the supercar concept was personified by the gaudy and impractical but undeniably awesome Lamborghini Countach. The 959 was more low-key in appearance, but upon its release, it was the fastest and most technologically advanced street-legal production car in the world. The addition of all-wheel drive — unheard of on high-performance sports cars of the time — proved so good at managing the vehicle’s immense turbocharged power (zero to 60 in 3.6 seconds) that it became the standard supercar configuration and remains so more than 30 years later.

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Teo Fabi's 1988 Porsche 2708
Teo Fabi's 1988 Porsche 2708 by RWD Cars (CC BY)

Porsche IR01 IndyCar

Porsche owns only one IndyCar victory. In 1989, driver Teo Fabi made history when he overcame a potentially catastrophic on-track mistake to win the CART IndyCar Series at Mid-Ohio. The vehicle he did it in was the Porsche IR01. Porsche built the IR01 from scratch, designing an original chassis designated No. 2708 and outfitting its Indy golden child with a 2.65-liter turbocharged V-8 engine.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster by Iain Cameron (CC BY-ND)

Porsche Boxster

Since they were purpose-built racing cars whose rarity and popularity make them super-expensive collector’s items, the 956 and 962 are likely out of reach for most. There is, however, such a thing as a Porsche for the masses. By the mid-90s, Porsche was sinking in financial quicksand and seeming an eternity away from its ’80s heyday. In model year 1997, Porsche changed its fortunes with the Boxster, which was the result of clever wordplay based on its roadster body and boxer engine. The first-gen Boxster 986 was a sleek and stylish mid-engine two-seater powered by a 2.5-liter flat-six that could generate 201 horsepower — a Porsche all the way. But with a starting MSRP under $40,000, the roadster that saved Porsche was truly a production car.

Porsche Carrera GT
Porsche Carrera GT by Nino - www.thelittlespotters.fr (CC BY-NC)

Porsche Carrera GT

Unveiled in 2003 for 2004, the supercar known as the Porsche Carrera GT is almost certainly the greatest sports car of the 2000s and arguably the greatest of all time. Powered by a beastly 5.7-liter Porsche engine, it was clocked at 208 mph in testing and capable of catapulting from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. its enormous ceramic brakes could take it from fast to slow in an equally impressive and short span of time. Beyond its raw power and stunning design, it was lauded out of the gate as a game-changer that waltzed seamlessly between gears and was packed with feats of engineering that made drivers forget they were behind the wheel of one of the world’s most powerful cars.

2008 Porsche 911 GT3
2008 Porsche 911 GT3 by AVIA BavARia (CC BY)

Porsche 911 GT3 997.2

Like the 911, there are enough amazing GT3s to pack a list dedicated only to them. Gen 2 of the 997 series, however, might just be the best of the bunch. It debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 2009 and ran for only a few production years, but its upgraded power and handling ranks it easily among the top of the 997 line. With a top speed of 194 mph, it could go zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds, thanks to an upgraded 3.8-liter engine made from intensely strong titanium and forged aluminum.

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Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

While its body style doesn’t scream Porsche and its name is a mouthful at best, this hybrid muscle wagon makes the list, if for no other reason, because it’s a hybrid muscle wagon. Making its debut in Detroit in 2017, it’s the most powerful Panamera ever built. It has the same ginormous 550-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine as the Panamera Turbo, but that apparently wasn’t enough. Porsche modified it with an electric motor that can generate a total output of 680 horsepower — enough to launch history’s most powerful production wagon from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds.

The 2017-specification Porsche 919 Hybrid
Wikimedia Commons

Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo

In 2018, driver Timo Bernhard completed the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the most difficult track in the world, in a little over five minutes, or 5:19.55. Making history twice, he became the first person to break the elusive six-minute mark while also crushing by a full 51.58 seconds the previous record, which had been in place for more than 35 years. He did it in a Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo — and it wasn’t the car’s first historic milestone. That same year, a driver pushed the three-time Le Mans winner to a record-breaking run on the Grand Prix circuit in the Belgian Ardennes Mountains, lapping faster than a Formula One car.

Porsche Taycan
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG

Porsche Taycan

When Porsche unveiled its first fully electric concept sports car in 2015, it was billed as the Mission E. Last year, it was announced as a production car — although the world is still waiting — and renamed the Porsche Taycan. It promises a range of 300 miles between charges, billed by Porsche as the “911 of ecars.” The automaker has succeeded in the hybrid realm, and now its first true ecar looks to have a sub-3.5-second zero-to-60 run and a leap from zero to 124 mph in less than 12 seconds.

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