The 911 is a sports car icon. For decades, it has been synonymous with the art of design and engineering. But what exactly makes the 911 so special? Journalist Fabian Mechtel searches for the answer.
Legend, myth, icon – for generations, the car that has left the Zuffenhausen plant bearing the moniker of the 911 is a success story that carries many names. But what has made it such a special automobile since 1964? Why do its devotees speak of it in almost hallowed terms?
It was 1992 when I saw a Porsche 911 at my front door for the first time. It looked incredible. Dark grey, gleaming in the sun, and with those large rims and the brake discs clicking quietly underneath. I almost touched the fan grill of the engine cover with my nose as the 911 burned into me. My shin felt the force of the exhaust pipe. But my head also felt this car – and my heart. I felt it deep in my heart.
The Porsche 911 is an incredibly intense experience
There are countless stories like mine that connect people with the Porsche 911. Because there is not just one story that describes this car. Rather, everyone has their own personal connection to it: Some were captivated by it from childhood, when they gazed upon a 911 for the first time. Others had never even seen it – only heard about it. And anyone who sat in the driver's seat could not fail to fall in love with the car. But why?
Probably because the Porsche 911 is an incredibly intense experience. It is a dynamic car, but not without compromise; it is suitable for everyday driving. It is wonderfully small and compact, but it also has space for the kids. It is not exotic and certainly no prima donna; instead, it is almost discreet and unassuming.
Interplay of steering, shifting, acceleration, braking and sound
And because it has embodied all of these traits since 1964, every 911 seems immediately familiar. It starts with the arrangement of the seats, steering wheel and the other important control elements. Everything feels solid and secure in your hand. It is all about taking aim and hitting the targets. It is intuitive, like being blindfolded. There are no distractions; you can concentrate fully on driving and on the wonderful feeling of the 911.
The multitude of fine details are crafted with a precision that allows them to come together and create a piece of utterly flawless design. It is this interplay of steering, shifting, acceleration, braking and sound that never loses focus and concentration – the factory in Zuffenhausen seems to employ a philharmonic orchestra rather than engineers. That’s because their interpretations are not just unique; by making small changes, they can also completely transform a model.
Being one with the car – that is the 911 feeling
But whichever one you choose–whether a perfect, high-speed new model or a characteristic older version–there is one thing that never changes: You are the conductor. You have an immediate connection with the 911. You are a part of the experience. And it is precisely this feeling of being one with the car that makes it so special. For me, that is the 911 feeling.