Is it time for Porsche to let go of the 911?
Is it just me, or is it getting a bit old?
They say a change is as good as a holiday, and I totally agree with that. There is nothing more refreshing than getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. The people at Porsche, however, don’t seem to think this way. For over 50 years they have rather had the mentality of, “Why change a winning formula ?” with regards to their special child, the one, the only, the arguably perfect 911.
Now look, I am all for a winning recipe but keeping a sports car, such as the 911, in production for almost 60 years now is getting a bit tiring. Sure, the 911 has been the benchmark for the sports car since inception for the overall package, but in terms of design it has never been able to compete with the likes of Porsche’s Italian, or even British competitors. I mean not much has changed at all since 1963 in terms of shape. Besides the headlamps, rear lights, interior and putting a wing on the back occasionally, unless you are a die-hard 911 fan, the body shape looks pretty much the same.
Porsche really, really likes re-inventing the wheel, too. Let us look at the variants that Mercedes offer with the AMG-GT; a suitable competitor for the 911. We have the GT, the GTS, the GTR and the GTC. Nice and simple. But what if you were looking to buy a 911? *Brace yourself* We have the: Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera Cabriolet, Carrera S Cabriolet, Carrera 4, Carrera 4 S, Carrera 4 Cabriolet, Carrera 4 S Cabriolet, Carrera T, Targa 4, Targa 4 S, Turbo, Turbo S, Turbo Cabriolet, Turbo S Cabriolet, Turbo S Exclusive Series, Carrera GTS, Carrera GTS Cabriolet, Carrera 4 GTS, Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet, Targa 4 GTS, 911 R, 911 Speedster, GT3, GT3 Touring, GT3 RS and GT2 RS. That is 27 model variants - in simple terms, too many. Why do we need so many!?
I also have an issue with the amount of money people are prepared to spend on a 911, particularly the 911 R. When Porsche announced they will be making essentially a wingless, manual 991 GT3 with two stripes on it, 911 fanatics absolutely lost their minds and sang hallelujah to the fact that Porsche was keeping the manual gearbox. With 500bhp, it seemed the perfect driver’s car. As a result, premiums for this car reached hilarious levels. People were prepared to pay $750 000 (as per one example in Florida). To counteract 911 R prices, Porsche announced the GT3 Touring, a wingless, manual GT3 with 500 horsepower. Two identical cars, with separated only by name and stripes and as a result of the Touring, second hand 911 R owners are now losing a lot of money on the cars they paid so much for.
If any other manufacturer’s model production run exceeds, say, 5 or 10 years people tend to get impatient, take Lamborghini and the Gallardo as an example. By the time the Gallardo was in production for 10 years, people would much rather go to the Ferrari 458 or McLaren as their choice of car. This was because the Gallardo was lacking power and all round dynamics compared to its competitors, but my point is not many people seem to question how much better the 911 could be if Porsche replaced it rather than simply revising it year after year after year for 60 years.
I do not hate on the 911, not at all. All things considered, it is arguably the best sports car money can buy. Besides the sound department (excluding the GT models), they are pretty much perfect. My problem is Porsche’s unwillingness to evolve their A-student in terms of design, not just change 997 to 991, or 992 to 993 etc. Yes, the devoted 911 enthusiasts will be sad, but they will get over it and can look forward to making a new *insert 911 replacement name here* fan clubs. So, please Porsche, make the leap of faith. I am sure people will welcome it with open arms. Probably.
Photo: CAR Magazine