And Porsche has done precisely that with the 911. The design still holds a purity, a respect for heritage and an engineering determination you cannot help but admire.
The early models weren’t very powerful, as sports cars go, but this was probably a good thing. As power outputs increased the 911 had the unenviable reputation of exiting corners backwards into a hedge. So, right away there was a certain intimidation factor.
Porsche never altered its relatively basic origins with the general layout and broad design found in 356. This can even be traced back to the VW Beetle, which was definitely no fireball. And certainly didn’t handle very well. Nonetheless, the 911 has kept its physically compromised rear-engined format throughout its lifespan.
The 911 may seem diminutive in size, especially when parked next to an F40, but not so in spirit. It was never the most powerful, nor the loudest (aurally or design-wise). Nonetheless, it over-delivered and was never really upstaged on track or up the Stelvio pass. Steering feel was key, along with a crisp gear change and that smooth six-cylinder urging you on from behind. It could punch far above its own weight, which held an appeal of its own.
Porsche’s racing heritage and the adaptability and durability of the design meant you could find 911s contesting Ferraris and Aston Martins at Le Mans or battling the rally stages of Monte Carlo, and even the mighty dunes of Dakar. Try that in your Corvette. Their competitive success speaks for itself.
More than anything, if you’re wondering whether a sports car can ever be good value, the Germans got it right with the 911. And they keep developing it right. Build quality and reliability mean you can ‘daily drive’ it and then head for a track day on the weekend. And if you feel the need for speed, it has more than enough performance to satisfy anyone this side of Walter Rohrl. After all sports cars are meant to be driven, supercars are meant to be looked at.
There is something for everyone here as well. Through the years there have been many different versions of the ‘standard’ 911 Carrera. Think Targa tops, Cabriolets, Speedsters, Turbos, GT3s, RSs and more. From the last air-cooled 964 to the ‘less optically pleasing’ 996, the purity of a 2.7RS or the excellence of the latest 992, all of the models hold an equal appeal.
It also retains the 2+2 seating, so you can take your ‘smaller’ friends along to enjoy the creamy, smooth, punchy flat-six snarl. Chase McLarens down a country road and dare yourself to keep your foot in it through that blind left-hander at a higher rate of knots than intended. All in the knowledge that it will fire up in the morning and behave itself in traffic for the run into work. Now, isn’t that perfection?